The Wars of the Roses/[NevillFeast]/Letter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick to King Edward IV

In historical fiction, Warwick is often portrayed as impatient (at the least) with Edward IV from the very start. Impatient, contemptuous and imperious. This letter suggests something quite different.

This comes from The Politics of Fifteenth-Century England: John Vale’s Book, eds, Kekewich, Richmond, Sutton, Visser-Fuchs & Watts. Allan Sutton, 1995. I have both shamelessly and mercilessly plundered this book for my files!

This is the commentary after the letter:

“Never printed. The letter seems to be datable to October 1463 when it had become apparent that the major campaign against the Scots being prepared by Edward IV was unnecessary and the Scots were prepared to negotiate.”

It was written while Warwick was in Newcastle.

My most dread soveraigne lord, aftre humble recommendacion to your good grace. Please it the same to wite yesterday I received your most noble lettres delivered me by your humble subgiet maister .N. whereby I understande to the greate and special comfort and reioysing of me and all your trewe subjiettes in thise parties that your highnesse is purposed towardes this contrie with your mighti powair tothentent tentre into Skotland for the subduyng of your adversaries there. Whiche purpose I beseche our lord ye may bring tagood and aworshipful coclusion aftre thentent of youre most noble acourage and so I doubte nat with Goddis mersy ye shal to the grettest comforte and wele of alle your trew subgiettes of this your roialme and perfite tranquilite of the same and utter confusion and distruccion of your said adversaries. So that your said highnesse be purveyde of suche thinges as is necessarily required for the sure and siker perfourmyng of your saide noble purpose, that is to saye of sufficiant victaile by the see to serve your people during the tyme of your abode in the said Scotlande, and to be sure that the said victaill be before you. Also that your said highnesse have with you sufficient stuff of all maner artillerie, that is to saye grete gunnes for beting of places and other gunes for the felde, suffycient powdre, stones and all othre stuffe for the same, grete quantitie of bowes, arows, stringes, speres and all othre habiliments of werre, sufficient nombre of men for ordinaunce as gonners and othre. Without the whiche provision afore your coming, it is thought, undre your most noble correccion, to the lords and men of reputacion in thise parties that inno wise ye shulde come but rathre differre your most noble purpose to such tyme as ye may be sure of the said provision, and yif your said highnesse be purveide as is abovesaid that it may like the same thenne to come, and I trust in our lord ye shal have as worshippful a journay as ever had enyt of your most noble progenitours. Beseching humbly your good grace to geve credence to the berer of this, and to certifie me your most noble pleasire in the premisses to thentent that yif your hignesse come over, I may make me redie tawaite upon the same and warne all your subgiettes in thise parties to do the same, wherto I dar say they wilbe as wel willed to their powair as eny subgiettes that ye have lyving. God knowith, whom I beseche ever to preserve you in joieux prosperite and victorieux felicite.

Writen with my simple hand at your town of Newcastell, your trewe and humble subgiett and liegeman Richard Warrewic

Warwick knows the north of England, and he knows what it’s like to deal with the Scots (for which I have long forgiven him) and is, couched in just the right language, reminding Edward of this. I’m not sure that the ‘never printed’ means in the commentary. but if the letter was sent and read by Edward, he may well have thought his cousin was teaching him to suck eggs. But the two men (along with Warwick’s brother, John) were still very much in partnership at this time which, I think, this letter clearly illustrates.

Such a pity so little of Warwick’s correspondence survives.

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