Thursday, July 13, 2017

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence. Died as He Lived


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George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence
George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence was a noted soldier and schemer. He had fought with distinction in the War of Roses, but not always for his brother the King. George aided Richard the 'Kingmaker' Earl of Warwick in an attempt to destabilize Edward after his unpopular marriage. The plot was put down, and George was forgiven, but the King never quite forgot.

Now, what you have to understand about the court of George's brother, Edward IV, was that it was a complete and total disaster. The court was split into two major factions- the supporters of the Wydvilles--the family of the queen, and everyone who hated them.

They Wydville's were new nobility, having obtained their positions entirely from the fact that Elizabeth Wydville married the King. Despite their complete lack of experience in political matters, the Wydville's turned out to be incredibly good at politics, much to the dismay of the old nobility. Using their influence over the King, they managed to obtain almost complete control over Wales, as well as Edward's heir. They were fabulously wealthy, and were getting wealthier with every post, marriage, and wardship they managed to acquire.

Now, George was aligned with the faction opposing the Wydvilles. He didn't like the queen, not even a little bit. He disliked her so much that he tried to pin the death of his wife on her, as well as accuse her of witchcraft. He was, obviously, unsuccessful, and only succeeding in pissing off the Queen. They had a bit of a back-and-forth, where the collateral damage could be measure in lives, until finally George snapped. He stood before the council one day, and denounced not only the Queen, but his brother the King. His claims were of the treasonous and destabilizing sort, and so he was promptly thrown in prison. He was taken before Parliament, and found guilty in a trial that wasn't entirely legal, and sentenced to death.

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George represented in a window at Cardiff Castle
As you might imagine, Edward IV was finding it a bit difficult to condemn his brother to death, and he put off signing to execution order for several days, until his counselors finally pressured him into signing it. Before the act was carried out though, their mother, Cecily Neville stepped in. She made two requests of Edward, both of which he granted. The first being that George be executed privately, and the second that George not be beheaded, but allowed to choose his own method of execution.

George had often joked that he wanted to die by being drowned in a barrel of wine. George was known for being a heavy drinker, and if he requested this method, or if Edward remembered his jokes and decided on the method of execution, this is how George died. On February 18, 1478, George was drowned in a 'butt' or barrel, of malmsey wine.

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Sources
The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
Encyclopedia Britannica
English Monarchs
Windsbird

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