Bonville–Courtenay feud

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The Bonville–Courtenay feud was a violent rivalry between two eponymous families during the Wars of the Roses in 15th-century England, sparked by a dispute over a coveted ducal office and a fight for local supremacy.


Both families were based in the southwest of England, in the regions of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. The Courtenays held the Earldom of Devon and the Bonvilles were the lords of Harington. The ongoing civil war was a time of shifting allegiances in British history as the chaos of war presented opportunities for advancement to various factions.


In 1441 the Courtenay Earl of Devon was appointed to the lucrative stewardship of the Duchy of Cornwall, an office Henry VI had already conferred on Sir William Bonville.[1] The position of Steward was not a sinecure but a prestigious and financially rewarding position. Bonville was a West Country gentleman whose growing influence at court was seen as a threat to Courtenay dominance in the region, and a bitter feud between the two families ensued. The Courtenays backed the House of Lancaster in opposition to the Bonvilles' support of York, the better to use the ongoing war as a means of competition. While many members of both families were killed in battle, the more personal family conflict peaked with the murder of Nicholas Radford by the Earl of Devon, who was punished for a time with imprisonment in the Tower of London before his release by Queen Margaret of Anjou.[2] The feud subsided soon after.

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Wagner, Encyclopedia of the War of the Roses 2001