Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Warwick the Kingmaker
Lived from 1428-1471
The earl of Warwick, known as the "kingmaker," was the most famous man in England
for many years after the death of Henry V. He lived in a great castle with two towers
higher than most church spires. It is one of the handsomest dwellings in the world and is
visited every year by thousands of people. The kingmaker had a guard of six hundred
men. At his house in London meals were served to so many people that six fat oxen were
eaten at breakfast alone. He had a hundred and ten estates in different parts of England
and no less than 30,000 persons were fed daily at his board. He owned the whole city of
Worcester, and besides this and three islands, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, so famed
in our time for their cattle, belonged to him.
He had a cousin of whom he was as fond as if he were a brother. This was Richard, duke
of York, who was also own cousin to King Henry VI, the son of Henry V.
One evening as the sun was setting, and the warders were going to close the gates of the
city of York for the night, a loud blast of a horn was heard. It was made by the sentry on
the wall near the southern gate. An armed troop was approaching. When they drew near
the gate their scarlet coats embroidered with the figure of a boar proved them to be the
men of the earl of Warwick. The earl himself was behind them. The gate was opened.
Passing through it and on to the castle, the earl and his company were soon within its
strong stone walls.
"Cousin," said the earl of Warwick to the duke of York as they sat talking before a huge
log fire in the great room of the castle, "England will not long endure the misrule of a
king who is half the time out of his mind."
The earl spoke the truth. Every now and then Henry VI lost his reason, and the duke of
York, or some other nobleman, had to govern the kingdom for him.
The earl of Warwick added: "You are the rightful heir to the throne. The claim of Henry
VI comes through Lancaster, the fourth son of Edward III--yours through Lionel, the
second. His claim comes through his father only--yours through both your father and
mother. It is a better claim and it is a double claim."
"That is true, my cousin of Warwick," replied the duke of York, "but we must not plunge
England into war."
"Surely not if we can help it," replied the earl. "Let us first ask for reform. If the king
heeds our petition, well and good. If not I am determined, cousin of York, that you shall
sit on the throne of England instead of our insane sovereign."