Richard, George, Edward and HENRY at the same wedding….?

marriage of richard of york and ann mowbray

Here is a strange identification. While seeking more information about the duel that had supposedly taken place at Richard and Anne’s wedding, I happened upon a source that made it clear the Richard and Anne in question were the little Duke of York, son of Edward IV, and Anne Mowbray, and the wedding date was 15th January 1478, at St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster. (The source claims 1477, but it is shown that this is because the old calendar was used – the year, by our reckoning, was 1478.)

The source I refer to is Illustrations of ancient state and chivalry from manuscripts preserved in the Ashmolean museum [ed. by W.H. Black]. – Ashmolean Museum. January 1st, 1840. William Nicol, Shakespeare Press. 

On page 31 it says:- “. . . . And then, at the first side table, satt the Marquis of Dorsett; the length of the same table accomplished [i.e. occupied] with ladyes and gentlewomen; and, at the other end, my Lord of Richmond [Footnote: Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII. He was twenty two years old at the time of this festival] . . . .”

And on page vi, the writer insists that among those present were the bridegroom’s “sister Elizabeth, and the young Earl of Richmond, who but nine years afterward (exactly almost to a day) were married and seated together on the throne of England”.

This whole account is very detailed indeed, naming everybody who was present at these celebrations (including Richard, Duke of Gloucester), but how could Henry Tudor be there as well? He had been in exile since 1471, and would remain so until 1485. So the reference cannot possibly be correct. Can it?

Bearing in mind that I am NOT a historian of any sort, let us consider the title, Earl of Richmond. Please forgive any bloopers. It had been Edmund Tudor’s, and would have gone to his son, Henry (future Henry VII) but the small matter treason and attainder got in the way, and the Yorkists confiscated it in 1461. Edward IV then gave the Honour of Richmond to his brother, George, Duke of Clarence, who became the new Earl of Richmond.

Anyway, naturally enough, Henry Tudor disputed all this from exile in Brittany. He wanted his father’s title, but Edward did not oblige. The Yorkist king actually tried to get the inconvenient Lancastrian back from exile (no doubt to shove him in jail, or worse) but Henry very wisely stayed where he was.

It is totally unlikely that there would have been a truce for the wedding, with Henry trotting along, present in hand, to enjoy all the entertainments. Then trotting back to Brittany to continue his defiance from afar. It is also unlikely that the table in question was so long that its other end was actually in Brittany, so Henry could sit down quite safely.

But by 1478, George had really annoyed Edward IV. One treason too many. He had been arrested in May 1477 and flung in the Tower. He was certainly out of the way on the date of the wedding, so could not be the Earl of Richmond referred to. Besides, he was still the Duke of Clarence, and would hardly be referred to by a lesser title. He was eventually attainted on 19th January 1478, the day after his execution on 18th January. The wedding had been on 15th January. A busy few days for Edward IV.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester was also present at the wedding, and is referred to throughout by this name and title, not a lesser one. Yet another reason to scratch George from the contenders for being this mysterious wedding guest. Richard succeeded to the earldom when he became king, which wasn’t—as we know!—until 1483.

So, who is this enigmatic guest? The editor of the source, W. H. Black, is definite about it being Henry Tudor. Can’t have been. Any suggestions . . .?

Marriage_Of_Richard_Of_Shrewsbury,_Duke_Of_York,_To_Lady_Anne_Mowbray with Henry - 1
The Marriage Of Richard Of Shrewsbury, Duke Of York, To Lady Anne Mowbray. James Northcote (1746-1831). Oil On Canvas, 1820.(tweaked)


  1. I agree with you that Henry dropping by for the wedding is the most unlikely scenario, so it could more likely have been someone else.
    I found a reference in Wikipedia to the Dukes of Brittany being titular Earls of Richmond (Comte de Richemont), the last one to use that title being Francis II, who was contemporary to Henry Tudor. It had something to do with the history of the Honour of Richmond which was tied in with Britanny. Does your source quote their source documents verbatim? It’s possible the original text just referred to an Earl of Richmond and the author automatically assumed it had to be Henry.
    Another possibility might be tied to the fact that Margaret Beaufort was still styling herself Countess of Richmond. Her husband might have been referred to as Earl of Richmond iure uxoris (the same way Warwick got his title). Which would mean the solution of the riddle might again be slippery Stanley.
    Or it might be that Clarence passed the Honour of Richmond on to his son, who only after his father’s attainder became Earl of Warwick. I have not found anything on the titles the child held while his father was alive, but I understand that it was customary for noble families where the head of the family held more than one title to pass one of the minor titles on to the eldest son and heir presumptive (as Edward who was styled Earl of March while his father lived).

    So I think there is more than one possibility. Then again, putting someone grown-up and high-ranking at the lower end of the table might have been taken as an insult, so my money is on little Edward.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Julia. You may well be right. The ‘fact’ that Henry was the Earl of Richmond in question seems to have been made by the editor, because it appears in a footnote, not in the original text. But it seems an oddly clunking error for a leading antiquarian to make. I don’t know anything about him beyond his frequent appearance as editor, and what is stated at,_William_Henry_(DNB00)

      I noticed that George of Clarence was given the Honour of Richmond which, presumably, Francis II already held? How could Edward IV do that? As I said, I’m not a historian, so am just feeling my way here…


      1. I was surprised, too, but it seems that the titular earldom was passed on in Britanny while someone else held the real earldom in England, which is unusual enough to have escaped the author, and he does not seem to have checked his interpretation for plausibility.. The Honour of Richmond, as far as I understand, was a piece of property (lands) which obviously could be passed on independently of the title.


      2. The original text does not even mention any earl but just “my Lord of Richmond”, so the Earl part is also an interpolation by the editor. Significantly, all the other noblemen present are painstakingly referred to by their titles – Duke, Marchess- so it seems that someone referred to as “my Lord of” would not have been an Earl, would he?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thomas Stanley couldn’t have been given the title of Earl of Richmond. For him to be Earl of Richmond iure uxoris, Margaret would have had to be Countess of Richmond suo iure – which she wasn’t. It was a title given to Edmund Tudor by Henry VI. Margaret was still Countess of Richmond as his widow, because as a widow, you never lost a title you got by marriage (unless it was annulled), but the Earldom actually passed to her son Henry (not counting any attainders). Stanley was no more Earl of Richmond than Richard Woodville was Duke of Bedford after marrying Jacquetta of Luxemburg, Duchess of Bedford, or Thomas Seymour was King of England after marrying Queen Katherine Parr.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Richmond title was bestowed on the dukes of Brittany at one point, and was removed and restored on several occasions, usually for diplomatic reasons – i.e. whether or not Brittany was willing, or claiming to be willing to ally against the French. Arthur de Richemont, Constable of France in the mid 15th, got his appellation from his family’s claim to Richmond. (His mother was of course Henry IV’s queen.)

    It seems highly unlikely that Henry Tudor would have been present on this occasion, but the documentation is nevertheless very intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It probably was a mistake on the part of the author and instead of Lord meant Lady, who was Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII’s mother). She was always refered to as Lady Richmond. Besides in the account of the wedding the author when naming the principal guests at the wedding feast or reception names only women. Other ladies presiding tables where the Duchess of Norfolk (the little bride’s mother) and the Duchess of Buckingham (Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s youngest sister). The account seems to imply that that particular wedding feast (not attended by the King, Queen , Groom and the royal couple’s other children) was for the bride and ladies only.


  4. Also, this particular feast (reception) immediately after the wedding. The author clearly tells us that the Duke of Gloucester (Richard III) conducted the bride by the hand (bear in mind that she was only five years old) from St Stephen’s Chapel (the place of the wedding) to the Painted Chamber (the place of the feast). He also tells us that the Bishop of Norwich was waiting or recieved the bride there. The only male named at this reception was the Marquis of Dorset (Elizabeth Woodville’s eldest son from her first marriage), but he could have meant his wife (remember the account is in Middle English). Also the account tells us that in the tables, with the named noble ladies, were seated “ladies and gentlewomen”. And that after this feast, there was other (bigger one) given, where the author says that the noble participants there were too many to mention.

    My take is that that feast was some sort of a wedding breakfast (weddings were in the morning) given by the foremost ladies of the court but who werent immediate members of the Royal Family (the Queen, her daughters or her mother-in-law) to the bride and the officiating bishop; and that it was, besides the Bishop, “women only”. So it probably was Lady Richmond who the author was refering to.


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