Edmund of Langley
                      1st Duke of York 
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 Edward of Norwich                 Richard of Conisburgh 
 2nd Duke of York                    Earl of Cambridge
  (b1372-d1415)                         (b1376-d1415) 
                                     Richard Plantagenet
                                      3rd Duke of York  
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   Edward IV           Edmund Plantagenet      George Plantagenet            Richard III
 4th Duke of York       Earl of Rutland         Duke of Clarence          Duke of Gloucester
   (b1442-d1483)         (b1443-d1460)           (b1449-d1478)              (b1452-d1485)              
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   Edward V         Richard Plantagenet          Edward Plantagenet       Edward of Middleham
 Prince of Wales       Duke of York                Earl of Warwick          Prince of Wales
  (b1470-d1483)        (b1473-d1483)               (b1475-d1483)              (b1473-d1484)    

The birth of the House of York

Edmund was the fifth son of Edward III and known as Edmund of Langley after his birthplace of King's Langley in Hertfordshire. In common with all of Edward III's sons he was granted a dukedom, in Edmund's case that of York, making Edmund the 1st Duke of York and the founder of what has been termed the House of York.

Edmund married Isabella of Castille, daughter of Peter the Cruel the king of Castille and Leon; there was a daughter namedConstance (c1374-1416) who married Thomas Despenser, the Earl of Gloucester and two sons Edward of Norwich who eventually succeeded as 2nd Duke of York, and his younger brother Richard of Conisbrough the Earl of Cambridge.

Edward was killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 and although his younger brother Richard of Conisbrough, was already dead (executed in 1415 at Southampton for treason by Henry V prior to his departure to France) Richard did have issue. He had earlier married Anne Mortimer, who was the daughter of Philippa Plantagenet and Roger Mortimer, and Philippa was only daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence, and the second son of Edward III.

This marriage produced two surviving children, a son Richard Plantagenet, who therefore succeeded his uncle and became the 3rd Duke of York and a daughter Isabel (1409-1484) who married Henry Bourchier, the Earl of Essex.

The rise of the House of York

Richard Plantagenet 3rd Duke of York came of age when the reigning king was Henry VI a direct descendant of John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. Although Richard was the grandson of the fifth son of Edward III, through his mother (as note above) he could also claim descent from the second son of Edward II. Therefore Richard believed he had a better claim to the throne than the incumbent House of Lancaster and formally adopted Plantagenet as his family name (a name that had not been previously used since the days of Geoffrey Plantagenet in order to emphasise his royal pretensions.

Had Henry VI been of the same ilk as his father then it is likely that these ambitions would have got absolutely nowhere, but as it was Henry VI was mentally ill, his government dominated by his wife Margaret of Anjou and his Beaufort cousins and generally unpopular as it presided over defeat in the final phase of the Hundred Years War. Thus began the Wars of the Roses as Richard Plantagenet pressed his claims first to be included in the government of Henry VI and later to take the throne for himself . He was however eventually defeated and killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460.

Richard had taken as his wife Cecily Neville daughter of Ralph Neville the Earl of Westmoreland, and the marriage proved reasonably productive. In addition to the four sons shown below, there were also a number of sons who did not survive infancy, namely; Henry (born 10 Feb 1441), William (born 7 Jul 1447), John (born 7 Nov 1448) and finally Thomas (born about 1451).

Of the four sons who survived into adulthood;

Regarding the daughters of Richard and Cecily, there was a Joan (born 1438) and an Ursula (born 1454) who both died young. Of the three surviving daughters, there was;

The Last Generation of York

Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville daughter of Richard Woodville much to the annoyance of his mother and almost everybody else.

Of their sons, the eldest Edward was briefly recognised as king Edward V between the 9th April and the 25th June 1483, before being deposed by his uncle Richard. Both Edward and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York were imprisoned by Richard III and were most likely both killed on Richard's orders sometime in the late summer of 1483.

Of his daughters, the eldest Elizabeth of York eventually married the Lancastrian claimant Henry VII, successor to Richard III, thus uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York. The younger daughters were all married off by Henry to Tudor loyalists (or at least those he hoped would be loyal);

The exceptions were Bridget Plantagenet (1480-1517) who became a nun and Mary (born 1467) and Margaret (born 1472) who died in infancy.

Both George and Richard followed their father's example and married Nevilles, being respectively Isabelle and Anne both daughters and co-heiresses of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and son of the aforementioned Ralph Neville.

As far as George's offspring are concerned; Edward, Earl of Warwick spent most of his life in prison and was executed for treason by Henry VII in 1499. His sister Margaret fell foul of the wrath of Henry VIII and was herself executed for treason in 1541.

Richard and his wife Anne Neville had but one child Edward of Middleham who died of natural causes on the 9th April 1484.


  • Burkes Peerage Vol 11 1851 Reproduced at http://www.maximiliangenealogy.co.uk/burke2/Burkeindex.htm
  • Royal Genealogy information held at University of Hull see
  • RoyaList Online at http://www.royalist.info/royalist/index.html