Listen to this article

House of York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
House of York
Arms of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York.svg
As descendants of the sovereign in the male line the dukes of York bore the arms of the kingdom differentiated by a label argent of three points, each bearing three torteaux gules
Parent house House of Plantagenet
Founded 1385
Founder Edmund of Langley
Final ruler Richard III of England
Current head Extinct
Dissolution 1499
Deposition 1485
Ethnicity English
  1. ^ a b titular claim rather than de facto

The House of York was a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet. Three of its members became Kings of England in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the male line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented Edward's senior line, being cognatic descendants of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III's second surviving son. It is based on these descents that they claimed the English crown.[1][2] Compared with the House of Lancaster, it had a senior claim to the throne of England according to cognatic primogeniture but junior claim according to the agnatic primogeniture. The reign of this dynasty ended with the death of Richard III of England in 1485. It became extinct in the male line with the death of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick in 1499.

Descent from Edward III[edit]

For a more detailed family tree, see English monarchs family tree.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 1st Earl of Cambridge, KG (5 June 1341 – 1 August 1402) was a younger son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, the fourth of their five sons who lived to adulthood. He was the founder of the House of York, but it was through the marriage of his younger son, Richard to Anne Mortimer that the Yorkist faction in the Wars of the Roses made its claim on the throne. The other party in the Wars of the Roses, the Lancasters, were descendants of Edmund's elder brother, John of Gaunt whose son Henry usurped the throne of Richard II in 1399.

Edmund had two sons, Edward, and Richard of Conisburgh. Edward succeeded to the dukedom in 1402, but was killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, with no issue. Richard married Anne Mortimer, a great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the second son (cadet line) of Edward III. Furthermore, Anne's son Richard also became heir general to the earldom of March, after her only brother, Edmund, 5th Earl, died without issue in 1425. Their father Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March had been named heir presumptive of Richard II before Henry IV's accession; although it had been passed over at the time, Anne's son Richard also inherited this claim to the throne.

Richard of Conisburgh was executed following his involvement in the Southampton Plot to depose Henry V of England in favour of the Earl of March. The dukedom of York therefore passed to his son, Richard Plantagenet. Through his mother, Richard Plantagenet also inherited the lands of the earldom of March, as well as the Mortimer claim to the throne.

House of York
Edward III,
King of England

1st Duke of Clarence

5th Countess of Ulster

1st Duke of York

4th Earl of March

Anne Mortimer
3rd Earl of Cambridge

2nd Duke of York

3rd Duke of York

Edward IV,
King of England

Earl of Rutland

1st Duke of Clarence

Richard III,
King of England

Edward V,
King of England

1st Duke of York

17th Earl of Warwick

Prince of Wales


Wars of the Roses[edit]

Main article: Wars of the Roses
English Royalty
House of York
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke
Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke
Edward IV
Edward V
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
Richard III

Despite his elevated status, Richard Plantagenet was denied a position in government by the advisers of the weak Henry VI, particularly John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and the queen consort, Margaret of Anjou. Although he served as Protector of the Realm during Henry VI's period of incapacity in 1453-54, his reforms were reversed by Somerset's party once the king had recovered.

The Wars of the Roses began the following year, with the First Battle of St Albans. Initially, Richard aimed only to purge his Lancastrian political opponents from positions of influence over the king. It was not until October 1460 that he claimed the throne for the House of York. In that year the Yorkists had captured the king at the battle of Northampton, but victory was short-lived. Richard and his second son Edmund were killed at the battle of Wakefield on 30 December.

Richard's claim to the throne was inherited by his son Edward. With the support of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ("The Kingmaker"), Edward, already showing great promise as a leader of men, defeated the Lancastrians in a succession of battles. While Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were campaigning in the north, Warwick gained control of the capital and had Edward declared king in London in 1461. Edward strengthened his claim with a decisive victory at the Battle of Towton in the same year, in the course of which the Lancastrian army was virtually wiped out.

Reigns of the Yorkist Kings[edit]

The early reign of Edward IV was marred by Lancastrian plotting and uprisings in favour of Henry VI. Warwick himself changed sides, and supported Margaret of Anjou and the king's jealous brother George, Duke of Clarence, in briefly restoring Henry in 1470-71. However, Edward regained his throne, and the House of Lancaster was wiped out with the death of Henry VI himself, in the Tower of London in 1471. In 1478, the continued trouble caused by Clarence led to his execution in the Tower of London; popularly he is thought to have been drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.

On Edward's death in 1483, the crown passed to his twelve-year-old son Edward. Edward IV's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was appointed Protector, and escorted the young king, and his brother Richard, to the Tower of London. The famous Princes in the Tower were never seen again. However it is unknown whether they were killed or who killed them if it happened. Parliament declared, in the document Titulus Regius, that the two boys were illegitimate, on the grounds that Edward IV's marriage was invalid, and as such Richard was heir to the throne. He was crowned Richard III in July 1483.

Defeat of the House of York[edit]

Richard III had many enemies. Though the House of Lancaster had been extinguished, the Lancastrian sympathisers survived, who now rallied behind Henry Tudor, a descendant of the Beauforts, a legitimized branch of the House of Lancaster. Moreover, the family of Edward IV, and the Edwardian loyalists, were naturally opposed to him, essentially dividing his Yorkist power base. A coup attempt failed in late 1483, but in 1485 Richard met Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth Field. During the battle, some of Richard's important supporters switched sides or withheld their retainers from the field. Richard himself was killed. He was the last of the Plantagenet kings, and the last English king to die in battle.

Henry Tudor declared himself king, took Elizabeth of York, eldest child of Edward IV, as his wife, symbolically uniting the surviving houses of York and Lancaster, and acceded to the throne as Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty which reigned until 1603.

Later claimants[edit]

The de la Pole family were sometimes suggested as heirs to the Yorkist cause, but Henry Tudor and his son Henry VIII of England efficiently suppressed all such opposition.

Another Yorkist branch descends from George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, and younger brother of Edward IV. The heir to this branch is the Earl of Loudoun, currently Simon Abney-Hastings. There was in Edward IV's reign a suspicion that this king was illegitimate. In 2004, the British station Channel 4 revived the George branch's claim as "Britain's Real Monarch". The Earls of Loudoun would then, at least, be the heirs to the Yorkists.[3]


Upon Henry Tudor's uniting the rival houses of Lancaster and York, the title Duke of York became a royal prerogative and is traditionally accorded to the second son of the reigning monarch. Beginning with Richard of Shrewsbury (son of Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower), none of its holders were able to transmit it; they either died without a male heir or succeeded to the throne. The title is held today by Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II and her consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The symbol of the House of York was a white rose, still used as the badge of Yorkshire and Jacobitism. York, Pennsylvania, is known as the White Rose City after the symbol of the House of York. The rivalry between York and Lancaster, in the modern form of the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, has continued into the present day on a more friendly basis.

Dukes of York[edit]

Duke Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edmund of Langley
(House of York founder)
Edmund of Langley 5 June 1341
Kings Langley
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Isabella of Castile
3 children

Joan de Holland
ca. 4 November 1393
no children
1 August 1402
Kings Langley
age 61
Edward of Norwich
Edward of Norwich 1373
son of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile
Philippa de Mohun
c. 1397
no children
25 October 1415
age 42
Richard Plantagenet
Richard Plantagenet 21 September 1411
son of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Anne de Mortimer
Cecily Neville
13 children
30 December 1460
age 49
Edward Plantagenet
Edward Plantagenet 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
1 May 1464
10 children
9 April 1483
age 40

Edward Plantagenet became Edward IV in 1461, thus merging the title of Duke of York in crown.

Yorkist Kings of England[edit]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edward IV
4 March 1461 –
3 October 1470

11 April
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[4]
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
10 children[4]
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
age 40[4]
Edward V
9 April–25 June 1483[5]
Edward V 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville[5]
unmarried c. 1483
age about 12 (traditionally: murdered)[6]
Richard III
26 June
Richard III 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[8]
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son[8]
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
age 32 (killed in battle)[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morgan, Kenneth O. (2000). The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 623. ISBN 0-19-822684-5. 
  2. ^ "House of York". Retrieved 4 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "Channel 4 website devoted to "Britain's Real Monarch"". 3 January 2004. 
  4. ^ a b c d Edward was briefly deposed during his reign by Henry VI. Lundy, Darryl. " - Person Page 10164". Retrieved 25 October 2007. [unreliable source?]
  5. ^ a b Edward V was deposed by Richard III, who usurped the throne on the grounds that Edward was illegitimate. "EDWARD V -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  6. ^ Lundy, Darryl. " - Person Page 10165". Retrieved 25 October 2007. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ "RICHARD III -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  8. ^ a b c Lundy, Darryl. " - Person Page 10163". Retrieved 25 October 2007. [unreliable source?]

External links[edit]

House of York
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Preceded by
House of Lancaster
Ruling house of the Kingdom of England
Succeeded by
House of Lancaster
Ruling house of the Kingdom of England
Succeeded by
House of Tudor