George of Clarence

The 18th February is generally taken as the date that George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, was executed in the Tower of London.

It was done on the orders of his brother Edward IV, and was said to be done by drowning him in a butt of malmsey wine.

His crime was treason.  A wide ranging title for crimes in medieval times.

He is said to have gone a little crazy after the death of his wife Isabel.  Maybe he needed help and support rather than execution!  He was stupid to have blamed Isabel’s lady for her poisoning and thene execute her without Edward’s permission, but this could maybe have been looked on as the actions of a grief stricken man?

There is another theory about why Edward had him locked up and silenced.  Around the same time as George was imprisoned, the Bishop of Bath and Wells was also locked in the Tower.  This man was called Bishop Stillington, a name which is familiar to anyone who knows the story of this time.

This bishop would become famous years later when he took the information about Edward IV’s previous marriage to Richard Duke of Gloucester, information which would later cause the Parliament to declare Edward’s sons illegitimate and offer the crown to Richard.

The theory is that this Bishop took the same information to Clarence first.  In his grief stricken state, George made a spur of the moment decision and went to hisbrother to confront him about this situation.  Of course, his previous marriage to Eleanor Talbot made his boys bastards and made George the true heir of the crown.

Edward must have been spooked to know that his trusted priest, who had carried out his secret marriages in the past (some think up to four of them), had been talking about them.  It created problems in the succession.  His brother was a loose cannon and Edward could not be sure to control him and keep him quiet about this, especially as it offered the chance of the crown for George.  Putting him away in the Tower was his best option.

Perhaps George refused to stay silent on the secret.  It went in his favour if Edward’s boys were bastards, after all.  Perhaps the Bishop was easier to silence.  He would be released after a few months in the dungeons.  George though, was a bigger problem.  Edward had to silence him permanently to keep his sons safe.

So the attainder and vague charge of treason was placed upon him and his death was decided.  Maybe Edward thought the threat of execution would be enough and that his brother would kowtow afterwards, but he did not.  George may have thought that Edward would never go through with the killing, after all, George had done far more treasonous things in the past and always been forgiven, why should he think this time would be any different??

The 18th of February came and George was taken to the Bowyer Tower.  Did he struggle?  Did he accept his brother’s sentence?  Did Edward watch his brother die?  Did he regret killing his own kin?  Was he really drowned in a vat of wine?  Answers we will never know.

Instead of burying George in the Tower’s chapel as was the norm with traitors, George was buried in the vault at Tewkesbury Abbey where his wife Isabel and young son had been buried very recently.

Clarence left behind a young son and daughter.  His son was granted the title of Earl of Warwick, his daughter would later be granted the title of Countess of Salisbury.  Both would be executed by Tudor Kings in years to come, one by Henry VII and one by Henry VIII.

His young son, Edward, would be imprisoned in the Tower also, by Henry VII.  He spent most of his life there, until he was joined by a rebel called Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be one of Edward IV’s sons.  They would both allegedly attempt to escape the Tower and be executed for it soon after.

Clarence’s daughter Margaret, was married to a Tudor knight, Richard Pole, who was in the service of Henry VII.  This could only have been to control her and her bloodline.

The marriage was not an unhappy one and they had five children together.  Henry, Arthur, Reginald, Geoffrey and Ursula.

All execpt Reginald of these children produced children of their own, so that bloodline was not as controlled as he may have liked.

Modern times show many descendents from Margaret, including myself (through one of the 14 children that Ursula produced!), probably into the thousands !!!!

Margaret would later fall foul of Henry VIII, when he began worrying about others with strong blood claims to the throne, and she was executed at the age of 68.  Her son Henry and one of his sons are said to have been executed at the same time.

She was later made into a martyr in 1886.

My family history through Margaret makes Clarence my distant grandfather, so RIP to my 17th x great granddaddy !!!!

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