‘TWO ROBINS’ ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION (1469)

June 10, 2009 0 Comments

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The Robin of Redesdale Rebellion, an uprising in Yorkshire in the spring of 1469, was secretly directed by Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, as part of his plan to wrest control of the kingdom from EDWARD IV.

Although the Redesdale rebellion, along with several other nearly simultaneous uprisings, such as the ROBIN OF HOLDERNESS REBELLION, opened the second phase of the WARS OF THE ROSES, in which Edward IV was eventually to lose and regain his throne, little is known for certain about the nature and course of these movements. The contemporary evidence for the northern disorders of 1469 is slight and contradictory, and modern historians have proposed several accounts of events. In late April 1469, a large body of troublemakers under a mysterious captain calling himself Robin of Redesdale (or Robin Mend-All) was scattered by John NEVILLE, earl of Northumberland, Warwick's brother. Whether these first disorders were unrelated to Warwick, or whether Robin had simply taken the field before the earl was ready to support him, is unclear. Northumberland's role is also uncertain; the earl may have been unaware of his brother's plans, or he may have acted only to make the king think so. In any event, Northumberland moved with sufficient slowness to allow Robin to escape.

In late May or early June, Robin of Redesdale, who was possibly Sir William Conyers, a kinsman of Warwick's, incited a new uprising and issued a manifesto denouncing Edward's government. The rebels demanded that Edward remove his wicked advisors, namely the WOODVILLE FAMILY and such other rivals of Warwick as William HERBERT, earl of Pembroke. Although Robin called his pronouncement a "popular petition" (Haigh, p. 99), it was probably drafted by Warwick, for it ominously compared Edward's regime to those of Edward II, Richard II, and HENRY VI, all monarchs who had been deposed. As the king moved north to suppress the rebellion, Warwick cemented his alliance with Edward's brother, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, by arranging the duke's marriage to his eldest daughter, Isabel NEVILLE. By mid- July, Warwick and Clarence had openly declared their support for the aims of the Redesdale manifesto, while the rebel leader had raised sufficient support to outnumber the king's forces and threaten Edward's position at Nottingham. On 26 July, Robin, who was marching south to join Warwick and to cut the road to LONDON, clashed with a royalist army under Pembroke at the Battle of EDGECOTE. Pembroke was defeated, captured, and executed, but Robin of Redesdale and many of his rebels also died in the battle. Hemmed in by superior forces, Edward surrendered himself to Warwick's custody on 29 July.

Finding themselves unable to govern effectively without Edward's cooperation, Warwick and Clarence extracted a pardon from the king and released him before the end of the year. With the failure of their 1469 coup attempt, Warwick and Clarence raised another rebellion in the following spring. Robin of Redesdale resurfaced in March 1470, apparently in the person of Sir John Conyers, Sir William's brother, who assumed the guise of Robin to briefly involve himself in the new uprising. He submitted to the king at York in late March, having done little to support Warwick but much to confuse later historians as to the identity of the original Robin of Redesdale.

Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud,Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:YaleUniversity Press, 1998).


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