Earl of Salisbury (1478-1484)
Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1483-1484)
Born 1473 Died 1484
Middleham is a parish in the wapentake of Hang West, and therefore part of the liberty of Richmondshire in north Yorkshire which passed through a number of hands and ended up in the possession of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who made Middleham Castle one of his northern strongholds. After Richard Neville's death at the battle of Barnet his estates fell into the hands of the crown and Middleham was granted by king Edward IV to his brother Richard, then Duke of Gloucester. Richard took a fancy to Middleham and made the castle there his home, which is where his only son Edward was born around the December of 14731, and therefore known as Edward of Middleham after his birthplace.
There is little to say of the life of Edward; his mother was Anne Neville, daughter and co-heiress of the aforementioned Richard Neville, and he was granted the title of Earl of Salisbury by his uncle and namesake Edward IV on the 15th February 1478. When his father Richard was crowned as Richard III on the 26th June 1483 he became heir apparent, automatically became Duke of Cornwall, and created by Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on the 24th August 1483 and underwent a ceremony of investiture at York Minster on the 8th September 1483. He was also appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland on the 19th July 1483, an entirely honorary position, since all the work of actually governing Ireland was carried out by the Lord Deputy.
However whilst the court was at Nottingham in the spring of 1484 he was "seized with an illness of but short duration" according to the Croyland Chronicle. Edward was removed to Middleham Castle where he died on the 9th April 1484 at the age of ten. It has been suggested that appendicitis or even tuberculosis was the cause of death, but this is only a supposition as no contemporary accounts of the nature of his fatal illness have survived. Edward was probably buried at the church in Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire where a "tomb bearing the much-damaged alabaster effigy of a little boy, beneath a window containing fragments of fifteenth-century glass showing the Yorkist Sun in Splendour, may mark his last resting place."2
Edward's death was obviously a personal blow to his parents; the Croyland Chronicle reported "you might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering madness by reason of their sudden grief". Naturally many of Richard's contemporaries viewed his son's death simply as divine vengeance for the murder of his two nephews, a crime of which he was widely believed to have been responsible for at the time. But in a more practical sense it was a significant blow to the political stability of Richard's regime, exacerbated by the fact that Anne Neville herself was unwell and unlikely to bear another child. (She died within a year of her son's death on the 16th March 1485.) Richard was left to cast around elsewhere for an heir, selecting first his nephew Edward, Earl of Warwick and then rejecting him in favour of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln.
1 Although it has been argued that he was born later in the period 1474-1476.
2 According to Alison Weir. Although Ricardian sources tend to express no doubt on the matter whatsoever.
- Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (Pimlico 1997)
- P.W. Hammond, Edward of Middleham