Richard only became king because of the Council of the North. Got it….?

Something caught my attention in this article about the role York has played in our history. Here is the relevant extract:-

“….In 1405, the Percys seriously proposed to create a separate Northern kingdom forever. The Wars of the Roses was at heart all about that divide. Richard III became king only because he had his own power-base in York as leader of the Council of the North….”

Really? That last sentence is wrong on various counts, which I paraphrase from comments made by a friend on Facebook. Firstly, the Council of the North was based in Sheriff Hutton, not York. Secondly, it wasn’t a power base for Richard, but an arm of the Crown’s power, i.e. his brother Edward IV. It was there for the petitions of people in the north, thus sparing them from having to go all the way to London for their cases to be heard. Thirdly, it was necessary in order to “keep the peace” between rival northern factions and to secure the border with Scotland. And lastly, Richard didn’t become king because he was president of the Council of the North; he became king because he was the rightful heir after the death of his brother.

End of paraphrasing. Now then, we all know that Edward’s “marriage” to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous and the children thereof were illegitimate. We all know that George of Clarence had been attainted and executed for treason and his children set aside from the succession (not by Richard, but by Edward!) That only left Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was the sole surviving Yorkist brother. Richard had every rightful claim to be King of England, and it’s about time this was realised by all the scribblers who gleefully repeat any old so-called fact they happen upon. Or they happen to dream up. Most of these flights of fancy are derived from Tudor spin.

1 comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more about this article in the Yorkshire Post, which is inaccurate and also an oversimplification of KR3’s connection with the ‘Council of the North’. To correct any misleading impression about the values of the Council in the North, I thought a few details might be helpful. King Richard created the King’s Council in the North in 1483 after he was crowned. He appointed his son Edward Prince of Wales (the earl of Lincoln succeeded to the post following Edward’s death) as the King’s Lieutenant General in the North and gave him a council to run it. The Council had both administrative and judicial functions, for the conduct of which King Richard drew up a comprehensive set of regulations to ensure efficient governance and impartial justice for all. It was called the King’s Council so that everyone knew that it was the King’s justice that was being given. This was important, because for years past, royal authority had been largely absent from ‘the northern parts’, and injustice and corruption had thereby flourished. King Richard directed that the Council should sit in York whenever possible and he gave it an annual budget to be paid from Crown revenues. The Council’s authority was, however, limited to Yorkshire, by far the biggest and the most populace region north of the Trent. The Percy earls of Northumberland were responsible for the security and administration of the Scottish marches, and the Duchy of Lancaster was under direct Crown control anyway. The Council that King Richard created was in fact the logical refinement of the ducal council that he had presided over during the 1470’s as Edward IV’s official fixer north of the Trent. The King’s Council in the North remained in being for two centuries until it was disbanded and the monarchy abolished in the seventeenth century.

    Liked by 1 person

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