John Courtenay, 15th Earl of Devon

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Sir John Courtenay
Tiverton , Tiverton Castle Ruins - geograph.org.uk - 1272097.jpg
Ruins of Tiverton Castle, seat of the Earls of Devon
Noble family Courtenay
Father Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon
Mother Margaret Beaufort
Born c.1435
Died 4 May 1471
Tewkesbury

Sir John Courtenay (c. 1435 – 4 May 1471) was the third son of Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, and Margaret Beaufort, and was styled "earl of Devon" by Lancastrians in exile, following the execution of his brother the 14th earl in 1461.[1]

Family[edit]

Courtenay is said to have been born in 1435, the third son of Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, by Margaret Beaufort, the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset. Through his mother Courtenay was a great-grandson of King Edward III. He had two brothers and five sisters:[2]

Career[edit]

John Courtenay is said to have been originally intended for a career in the church.[3] He was knighted by his brother, Thomas Courtenay, 14th Earl of Devon, after the Battle of Wakefield. After the Battle of Mortimer's Cross Edward, Earl of March marched and took the capital from the Lancastrians. Parliament voted an attainder on his opposition, and John declared a traitor. The effect of the attainder was to terminate the Barony of Okehampton (creation 1299), so that the earldom inherited from the Redvers family was in abeyance,[citation needed] passing laterally to the descendants of Courtenay's sisters [4] The new King, Edward IV, marched north and sealed his reign with the bloody victory at the Battle of Towton, following which his brother was beheaded. About 1465, Courtenay was in exile in France with King Henry VI's, Queen, Margaret of Anjou.[5] he was titular earl of Devon from 1469.

At the readeption of King Henry VI on 9 October 1470, Courtenay was briefly restored to his honours,[6] which earlier that year had been granted by Edward to John Neville, along with the title of Marquess of Montagu, as compensation for the loss of his earldom of Northumberland.[7] However, he gained little political power, being appointed only to "a solitary commission [of the peace] in Devon.".[8]

Following Edward IV's return to England to challenge the restored Lancastrian regime in 1471, Courtenay was in London with Henry VI and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset while Edward gathered troops in the East Midlands and manoeuvred against the Lancastrians under Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. However, Somerset and Courtenay left the city to rendezvous in south-west England with Margaret of Anjou and her son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, who were returning from France. This thwarted Warwick's hopes of trapping Edward IV between his own army and the forces in London, and cleared the way for Edward to occupy the capital and capture Henry VI.[9] Warwick was defeated and killed by Edward at the Battle of Barnet, just outside London, on 14 April.

Margaret landed in England two days later, and met Devon and Somerset in Cerne Abbey,[10] where they "assured her that their cause was far from lost".[11] They received commissions from the Prince of Wales to raise an army in the south-west.[12] Courtenay gathered forces from the traditional Courtenay powerbase in Devon, while Somerset raised troops in Cornwall.[13] Marching to unite with other Lancastrian forces being assembled in the West Midlands and Wales, they were intercepted by Edward IV and brought to battle at Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. Courtenay, commanding the Lancastrian left battle, was among those slain on the field- "in plain battle"[14]- when the division "took to flight".[15] He was buried, with other noble dead, in Tewkesbury Abbey churchyard.[16]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Ross, C., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 157
  2. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 547; Richardson IV 2011, pp. 38–43.
  3. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 41.
  4. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 327.
  5. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 41;
  6. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 41
  7. ^ Lander, J.R., The Wars of the Roses, Stroud (repr.) 2009, p. 302
  8. ^ Ross, C., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 157
  9. ^ Hicks, M.A., The Wars of the Roses, Totton 2012, p. 204
  10. ^ Ross, C., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 169
  11. ^ Lander, J.R., Government and Community: England 1450-1509, Great Britain (repr,) 1988, p. 272
  12. ^ Scofield, C. L., The Life and Reign of Edward IV Vol. I, London 1923, p. 575
  13. ^ Hicks, M.A., The Wars of the Roses, Totton 2012, p. 204; Ross, C., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 169
  14. ^ Scofield, C. L., The Life and Reign of Edward IV Vol. I, London 1923, p. 587
  15. ^ Ross, C., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 172
  16. ^ Scofield, C. L., The Life and Reign of Edward IV Vol. I, London 1923, p. 88

References[edit]

  • Cokayne, George Edward (1916). The Complete Peerage, edited by Vicary Gibbs. IV. London: St. Catherine Press. 
  • Hicks, Michael A (2012). The Wars of the Roses. Totton. 
  • Lander, John R (2009). The Wars of the Roses. Stroud. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.  ISBN 1449966373
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City.  ISBN 1460992709
  • Ross, Charles (1975). Edward IV. Trowbridge. 
  • Weir, Alison (1999). Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy. London: The Bodley Head. p. 106. 

External links[edit]