Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Forgotten Son of York

First of all, I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful & safe holiday season. 2015 will be a banner year for Ricardians worldwide, as this is the year King Richard III finally gets permanent tomb where we can visit to pay our respects.

Lately, however, I've been wondering about Edmund, Richard's older brother who died at 17 when he was murdered by Clifford the Butcher.  What would his life have been like, had he survived to help Edward win the Crown? What would have happened to George & Richard then, as well?  And what I really want to know is: what personal device did Edmund use?

My curiosity was piqued by a photograph of the pulpit donated to Fotheringhay Church by Edward IV, which includes the Sunne in Splendour, the Black Bull of Clarence, and the White Boar of Gloucester.  All of these are the personal devices of Edward IV, George, & Richard respectively.  But what about Edmund? Why did Edward leave his brother out?  As they were raised together at Ludlow, I don't think it was oversight, but that Edmund didn't have a personal device. I puzzled over this because George & Richard selected theirs when they were barely in their teens. Certainly Edmund would have chosen his around that age too, right?

Well, in answer to my query, several people pointed out that younger, unmarried sons used their father's if their father was still alive.  Since both Richard, Duke of York and Edmund, Earl of Rutland both died at & after Wakefield, Edmund may not have had his own device. He did, however, carry his own coat of arms, the same coat of arms used by Edward, Earl of March.

Someone else pointed out the possibility that Edmund's device was the peacock as that has long been associated with the Earls of Rutland. So of course, I had to go look that up.

It is true that the peacock is associated with the Dukes & Earls of Rutland, but only as far back at Thomas Manners, First Earl of Rutland, as created by Henry VIII in 1525.  Thomas Manners was not only a favorite of the king, they were cousins. Manners was the grandson of Anne of York, sister of Edward IV & Richard III. The peacock appears at the top of his Garter Stall plate:

While the peacock appears in many other places associated with the Earls, & later Dukes, of Rutland, titles still held by the Manners family, it does not seem to have any association with the York family in general nor Edmund in particular.  Or does it?

In medieval times, the peacock symbolized resurrection.  Could Henry VIII himself have selected the peacock as the symbol for the Earl of Rutland, as he was, in a sense, resurrecting a title that had died with his uncle Edmund 65 years earlier? And if so, why was Henry VIII going around resurrecting a Yorkist title?


  1. To join the speculation game: could it be that Edmund's device was either the Black Bull, the White Boar, or even the Sunne in Splendour (don't know when Edward took it), and that it was taken over by one of his brothers, to honour him, or just because they liked it? ... one speculation is as good as the other :-P

  2. I'm not surprised that Henry VIII would resurrect a Yorkist title; he was noted as taking after his Yorkist grandfather. Also, his claim through Elizabeth of York was particularly important -- since Emperor Charles (and Katherine of Aragon) both were descended from Edward III through John of Gaunt, and his second marriage, they had better Lancastrian claims than did the Tudors, who claimed through John of Gaunt and his third marriage.


  3. I would not be too surprised at Henry Viii resurrecting a Yorkist title since his bloodline included Yorkists. His mother, his grandfather, his uncle, great-grandparents on down the line. It was all a part of Henry's family history whether he liked it or not. He would have had to come to terms with the fact at some point. Very interesting article. Thank you!