George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence

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George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (21 October 1449 – 18 February 1478) was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. He is also remembered as the character in William Shakespeare's play Richard III who was drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine.

Contents

Life

George was born on 21 October 1449 in Dublin, at a time when his father was beginning to challenge Henry VI for the crown, and his godfather was James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond. He was the third of the four sons of Richard and Cecily who survived to adulthood. Following his father's death and the accession of his elder brother, Edward, to the throne, George was created Duke of Clarence in 1461.

On 11 July 1469, George married Isabel Neville, elder daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

Clarence had actively supported his elder brother's claim to the throne, but, following his marriage, he began to play a dangerous game. When his father-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, became discontented and jealous, and deserted Edward to ally himself with Margaret of Anjou, consort of the deposed King Henry, Clarence joined him in France, taking his pregnant wife, Isabel. She gave birth to their first child, Anne on 16 April 1470, in a ship off Calais. The child died shortly afterwards. Henry VI rewarded Clarence by making him next in line to the throne after Edward of Westminster, justifying the exclusion of Edward IV either by attainder for his treason against Henry or on the grounds of his alleged illegitimacy.

After a short time, Clarence realised that his loyalty to his father-in-law was misplaced: Warwick had his younger daughter, Anne, marry Edward of Westminster, King Henry VI's heir. Since it now seemed unlikely that Warwick would replace Edward IV with Clarence, Clarence changed sides.

Warwick's efforts to return Henry VI to the throne ultimately failed and Warwick was killed in battle. George was restored to royal favour by his brother King Edward. As his father-in-law was dead, George became jure uxoris Earl of Warwick but did not inherit the entire Warwick estate as his younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, married the widowed Anne Neville, for which George resented his brother.

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