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John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)

John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513): `The Foremost Man of the Kingdom'

James Ross
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 294
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  • Book Info
    John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)
    Book Description:

    Earl of Oxford for fifty years, and subject of six kings of England during the political strife of the Wars of the Roses, John de Vere's career included more changes of fortune than almost any other. He recovered his earldom afterthe execution of his fath

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-840-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    John de Vere, thirteenth earl of Oxford, was the last great medieval nobleman. Earl of Oxford for fifty years, subject of no fewer than six kings of England during one of the most turbulent periods of English history, de Vere’s career included more changes of fortune than almost any other. His life might be used as an exemplar for the widespread medieval idea of a wheel of fortune: ‘Fortune is like a turning wheel – one moment she suddenly lifts a man up, the next she throws him down, and conversely she raises the man who is prostrate and trodden...

  7. Part I: The de Veres in Crisis, 1450–1485

    • 1 The Earl’s Familial Inheritance
      (pp. 13-47)

      Despite its numerous inaccuracies and exaggerations – the presence of a de Vere at either Hastings or the capture of Jerusalem remains unproven, it was the father of the first earl who was one of Henry I’s leading ministers, the third earl was not a signatory to Magna Carta, though he was a guarantor – this piece by one of England’s more famous and eloquent historians is rather illuminating. What became etched on the consciousness of this historian, as well as others subsequently, about the de Veres were not primarily their achievements, but their longevity. Of the twenty de Vere...

    • 2 The Thirteenth Earl: Sedition, the Readeption, and Imprisonment, 1462–85
      (pp. 48-86)

      For all that the executions of 1462 were a tragedy for the young John de Vere, the irony was that it was this event that was the making of the man. Prior to the shocking death of his father and brother, John had been destined for a career as a second son, a member of the gentry. Born on 8 September 1442, and nineteen years old in February 1462, his father would presumably have been looking for a gentry heiress for his second son to marry, and although Aubrey had not yet had any children, his position as second in...

  8. Part II: The ‘Principal Personage in the Kingdom’, 1485–1513

    • 3 Estates and Wealth
      (pp. 89-113)

      Ownership of land was the basis of political power in the later Middle Ages. It was possible for those without much land to wield power through office-holding, manipulation of the law, and perceived power and influence at court, but such rule was usually temporary, difficult to pass on to an heir, and often resented by those under its sway. There were obviously exceptions, when such power did not lead to opposition: William, Lord Hastings, whose mediocre territorial endowment was greatly supplemented by royal grants of land and office, dominated much of the midlands during the second half of Edward IV’s...

    • 4 ‘His Principal Servant Both for War and Peace’: Political Life under Henry VII
      (pp. 114-149)

      Henry VII faced an immediate problem when he ascended the throne. He had only one adult male among his immediate family, his uncle Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke, shortly to be created duke of Bedford. Henry was unmarried in 1485, and it would therefore be a long time before he had sons to shoulder any of his burdens. He had no surviving brothers to rely on, as Edward IV had in Richard of Gloucester, or Henry V had in the dukes of Bedford, Clarence and Gloucester. While his formidable mother, Margaret Beaufort, was to become influential in parts of the...

    • 5 Oxford’s ‘Satrapy’ – East Anglia, 1485–1513
      (pp. 150-175)

      There is consensus among historians that Oxford held sway over East Anglia during Henry VII’s reign.³ Dairmaid MacCulloch argues that ‘there was no one to challenge him in his control of the region’. Christine Carpenter comments that ‘Oxford may have been given regional authority in East Anglia, and especially in Essex’. Roger Virgoe states that ‘From 1485, John, 13th earl of Oxford, was the dominant figure in Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as in the neighbouring counties’. Such historiographical agreement demands acceptance. Yet, given that no previous earl of Oxford had ever been the foremost magnate in the region, how...

    • 6 ‘My Retainers … Come to Do Me Service’ – The Earl’s Affinity
      (pp. 176-202)

      When assessing the following of a late medieval magnate, it is inevitable that the historian will concentrate on those who can be proved to be connected to the nobleman directly; in practice this usually means where a cash fee, either as a retainer or in return for administrative or legal service can be traced, or where other non-financial bonds, such as an enfeoffment, are identified. With the affinity often described in terms of a series of concentric circles, these followers are part of the inner rings of a magnate’s following.³ This study is no different – perforce it must concentrate...

    • 7 Private and Public
      (pp. 203-222)

      Despite the earl’s relatively well-documented public career, he remains something of a shadowy figure in terms of his personality. Oxford perhaps has more sources than most late medieval noblemen, though in quality or quantity they do not match those of his cousin, John Howard, but no full personal study could be written – the best that can be done in terms of appraising his character is to survey what we know of his activities outside of the political sphere, which allows a glimpse of a more rounded individual. Some of the evidence for such activities does, however, come from the...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 223-227)

    John de Vere, thirteenth earl of Oxford, died at nine in the evening on 10 March 1513 at his ancestral home of Castle Hedingham at the age of seventy-one.² A detailed account of his funeral survives. On 22 April the corpse ‘was born out of his chappelle by vi gentlimene and so layd in a cheaire well covered with black velvet and garneshed with scocheones of his arms and of his mariages and viii baner roles of his descent’, and taken to the parish church at Hedingham accompanied by the:

    parson and mynesteres of the chorche and the deane of...

  10. Appendix – The de Vere Affinity
    (pp. 228-240)
  11. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 241-254)
  12. Index
    (pp. 255-282)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. None)