English history/[NevillFeast]/Letter from Richard, Earl of Cambridge [father of Richard, Duke of York], to King Henry V/Confession and plea for mercy

Richard, Earl of Cambridge, was executed nevertheless in 1415,
leaving his son,  later the  Duke of York behind as an orphan, since his
mother, Anne Mortimer, died, bringing him into the world.

While hunting down the full text of the Manner & Guiding, I stumbled across these two (too?) sad pieces of correspondence.

(from Ellis’s Original letters)

In 1415, when his son, Richard (later duke of York), was four years old, Richard, earl of Cambridge, was “accused of a treasonable conspiracy, indicted, convicted and beheaded” (p45). This has come to be known as the Southampton Plot. During his captivity he wrote two letters to the king, Henry V: a letter of confession and a plea for mercy, “but neither had any effect upon Henry” (p45).

Cambridge’s letter of confession:

My most dredfulle and sovereyne lege Lord, lyke to yowre hynesse to wete touchyng the purpose cast ageyns ʒowre hye estate. Havyng ye Erle of Marche by his aune assent, and by the assent of myself, Wher of y most me repent of all worde [worldly] thyng and by the acord of the lord Scrop and Sir Thomas Grey, to have hadde ye forseyd erle into the lond of Walys wyth outyn yowre lycence, takying upon hym the sovereynte of ʒys lond; ʒyf yondyr manis persone wych they callyn kynge Richard hadde nauth bene alyve, as Y wot wel yat he nys not alyve, for the wyche poynt I putte me holy in ʒowre grace. And as for ye forme of a proclamacyon wych schulde hadde bene cryde in ye Erle name, as he heyre to the Corowne of Ynglond ageyns ʒow, my lege lord, calde by auntreu [untrue] name Harry of Lancastre usurpur of Yngland, to the entent to hadde made the more people to hadde draune to hym and from ʒow, of the wych crye Scrop knew not of by me, but Grey dyd, havyng wyth the erle a baner of ye Armes of Ynglond, havyng also ye coroune of Speyne on a palet, wych, my lege Lord, is one of ʒowre weddys, for ye wych offence y put me holy in ʒowre grace. And as for ye p’pose takyn by Unfrevyle and Wederyngtoun for ye bryngyng in of that persone whych they namyd kyng Richard, and Herry Percye oute of Scotland wyth a power of Scottys, and theyre power togedyrs neyming to theyme able to geve ʒow a bataylle, of ye wych entent Sir Thomas Grey wyste of, and i also, but nauth Scrop as by me; of ye wych knawing i submytte me holy into ʒowre grace. And as touchyng the Erle of Marche, and Lusy hys man, they seyden me both yat the Erle was nauth schreven of a great whyle, but at all hys confessours putte hym in penaunce to clayme yat yey callyddyn hys ryth that wold be that tyme that every iknew, heny thyng yat ever to hym longyd … … … Of ye which poynttes and artycles here befor wretyn, and of al odyr wych now arne nauth in mynde, but treuly as oft as heny to myn mynd fallyn i schal deuly and treuly certefye now thee of, besekyng to now, my lege Lord, for hys love yat syffyrd passyoun on ye good fryday see compassyoun on me ʒowre lege men, and yf heny of thes persones whos names arne contenyd in ʒyz tyme, i schalle be redy wyth the myth of god to make hyt good, as ʒee my lege Lord will awarde me.


Brian Wainwright, over at The Yorkist Age has some thoughts on the Southampton Plot here and here.


A plea for mercy

Myn most dredfull and sovereyne Lege Lord, i Richard York ʒowre humble subgyt and very lege man, beseke ʒow of Grace of al maner offenses wych y have done or assentyd to in heny kynde, by steryng of odyr folke eggynge me yer to, where in y wote wel i have hyll offendyd to ʒowre Hynesse; besechyng ʒow at the reverence of God yat ʒyke to take me in to the handys of ʒowre gred goodnesse. My lege Lord, my fulle trust is yat ʒee wylle have consyderacyoun, thauth yat myn persone be of none valwe, ʒowre hye goodnesse wher God hath sette ʒow in so hye estat to every lege man yat to ʒow longyth plenteousely to geve grace, yat ʒow lyke to accept ʒys myn symple reqwest for ye love of oure Lady and of ye blysfulle Holy Gost, to whome I pray yat yey mot ʒowre hert enduce to all pyte and grace for yeyre hye goodnesse.


The earl of Cambridge was executed on 5 August 1415.

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