The events in the first phase of the Wars of the Roses that led Edward, Duke of York’s accession to the English throne in the spring of 1461 as Edward IV are well-established, yet Edward’s personality and activity before he became king have remained opaque to historical scrutiny. How much of a role did he play in seizing the crown? Was he a cipher of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick in the initial stages of his career? A rare signet warrant from Edward granting protection to the Lancastrian foundation of Eton College just days prior to his usurpation of Henry VI illuminates the role Edward played at this early stage of his political career. By the date of the grant, Edward was already an accomplished military leader with a substantial ducal affinity; however, he was a relative unknown with little experience in national politics, overshadowed by his more illustrious cousin whom has been remembered as the ‘Kingmaker’. This document attests to Edward’s emerging political agency, placing the duke’s signet warrant within the context of earlier Yorkist rhetoric and providing a more nuanced view of events on the ground on the eve of his usurpation.
How to Cite:
Brondarbit, A., 2017. 'Into our defense and saveguarde': Eton College and the Good Lordship of Edward, Duke of York. Royal Studies Journal, 4(1), pp.1–14. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21039/rsj.v4i1.93