Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York

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Richard of Shrewsbury
Duke of York; Duke of Norfolk
Richard of Shrewsbury.jpg
Spouse Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk
House House of York
Father Edward IV
Mother Elizabeth Woodville
Born (1473-08-17)17 August 1473
Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Died Unknown (presumed c. 1483)

Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Nottingham, Earl Marshal (17 August 1473 – ?) was the sixth child and second son of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville, born in Shrewsbury. He and his older brother, who briefly reigned as King Edward V of England, mysteriously disappeared shortly after Richard III of England seized the throne in 1483.


Prince Richard was created Duke of York in May 1474 and made a Knight of the Garter the following year. From this time on, it became a tradition for the second son of the English sovereign to be Duke of York. On 15 January 1478, in St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, when he was about 4 years old, he married the 5-year-old Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk, who had inherited the vast Mowbray estates in 1476. Because York's father-in-law's dukedom had become extinct when Anne could not inherit it, he was created Duke of Norfolk and Earl Warennne on 7 February 1477. He was created Earl of Nottingham on 12 June 1476. When Anne de Mowbray died in November 1481 her estates should have passed to William, Viscount Berkeley and to John, Lord Howard. In January 1483 Parliament passed an act that gave the Mowbray estates to Richard, Duke of York and Norfolk, for his lifetime, and at his death to his heirs, if he had any. The rights of the two co-heirs at law were extinguished; Viscount Berkeley had financial difficulties and King Edward IV paid off those debts. Berkeley then renounced his claims to the Mowbray estate before parliament in 1483. Nothing was done for Lord Howard. Some have asserted that this step provided Howard with the motive to kill the Princes in the Tower.

Heir presumptive[edit]

Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London by Paul Delaroche

His father died on 9 April 1483. Thus his brother Edward, Prince of Wales, became King of England and was acclaimed as such, and Richard his Heir Presumptive. This was not to last. A priest, now generally believed to have been Robert Stillington, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, testified that Edward IV had agreed to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot in 1461.[1] Lady Eleanor was still alive when Edward married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. The Regency council under the late King's brother Richard Duke of Gloucester, concluded that this was a case of bigamy, invalidating the second marriage and the legitimacy of all children of Edward IV by this marriage. Under Gloucester's influence, both Edward and Richard were declared illegitimate and removed from the line of succession on 25 June 1483. The Duke of Gloucester, as the only surviving brother of Edward IV, became King Richard III.

The Princes in the Tower by John Everett Millais

Possible fate[edit]

The Duke of York was sent to the Tower of London, then a royal residence, by King Richard III in mid-1483. What happened to him and his brother—the Princes in the Tower—after that has been the subject of much speculation and debate. Due to Tudor propaganda efforts, it was long believed that they were both murdered not long afterward on Richard III's orders; however, the lack of any conclusive proof of their fate has led to alternative scenarios being proposed: for instance, the theory that both boys were murdered on the orders of someone other than Richard, the alternative suspects being Margaret Beaufort, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, John Morton and Henry VII, or that one or both boys survived. In the 1490s, Perkin Warbeck, a Pretender for the English crown, claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, but he is generally considered to have been an impostor, and was labeled thus by the Tudor regime. There have been some, a minority, in every generation since then who have believed that Warbeck was Richard, Duke of York, while others have alleged that he was an illegitimate son of either Edward IV or Richard III. The skeletons of two children discovered in a chest in the Tower in 1674 were presumed to be the princes, but the evidence is not conclusive because the bones could not be dated and neither could their sex be established. These remains were subsequently interred in Westminster Abbey; however, in 1789, when restoration work was being carried out at the tomb of Edward IV in Windsor Castle, the coffins of two mysterious, unidentified children were found in what appeared to be a secret vault adjoining the main vault of the king and queen. But these were never examined.[2]

Coat of arms of Richard, 1st Duke of York

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]


As son of the sovereign, Richard was granted use of the arms of the kingdom, differentiated by a label argent, on the first point a canton gules.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

The comedy series The Black Adder features an alternative history where Richard succeeded his uncle King Richard III to the throne as King Richard IV of England (portrayed by Brian Blessed).

Richard appears in Philippa Gregory's 2009 fictionalized novel The White Queen, which follows the theory that Richard's mother, Elizabeth Woodville, never gave young Richard over to the custody of his uncle, instead swapping him with a changeling and sending the true prince into hiding in Tournai, Belgium. He appears later in the novel under the assumed name, Perkin Warbeck. The escape plot also is repeated in the television miniseries The White Queen, with Richard returning to his mother at the end of the series.

Richard is a character in the young adult series of novels, The Missing, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. He appears in the second book, Sent, as the character Alex Polchak.

Richard appears in the Japanese anime Kuroshitsuji as a small boy, who, together with his older brother, Edward V, haunts Ludlow Castle, until they can both find salvation and be sent to Heaven. Edward believes that, to do that, he must gather the skulls of his whole family but cannot, since, for some reason, which is revealed later, Richard refuses to hand over what is presumed to be his own. He is voiced by Sasamoto Yuuko in the original and by Maxey Whitehead in the English dub.

In Vanora Bennett's historical novel Portrait of an Unknown Woman, Richard is depicted as a grown man, John Clement, a member of Thomas More's household, and husband to his adopted daughter Meg Giggs.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Hancock, Richard III and the Murder in the Tower (History Press, 2011), ISBN 0752457977
  2. ^ 1.Chapter Records XXIII to XXVI, The Chapter Library, St. George's Chapel, Windsor (Permission required) 2.William St. John Hope: "Windsor Castle: An Architectural History", pages 418-419. (1913). 3.Vetusta Monumenta, Volume III, page 4 (1789).
  3. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  • Ashley, Mike (2002). British Kings & Queens. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1104-3.  page 218
  • Weir, Alison (1995). The Princes in the Tower. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39178-0. 
  • Ross, Charles (1974). Edward IV. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02781-7.  page 248

External links[edit]

Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York and 1st Duke of Norfolk
Born: 17 August 1473 Died: 1483?
English royalty
Preceded by
Edward, Prince of Wales
Heir to the English Throne
as heir presumptive
9 April 1483 – 22 June 1483
Succeeded by
Edward of Middleham,
Prince of Wales
Political offices
Preceded by
Countess of Norfolk
as Countess Marshal
Earl Marshal
1476 – 1483
Succeeded by
The 1st Duke of Norfolk
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of York
2nd creation
1474 – 1483
Duke of Norfolk
2nd creation
1477 – 1483
Earl of Nottingham
3rd creation
1476 – 1483