Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lord William Hastings

Born approximately 1431, Lord Hastings was the son of Leonard Hastings from Leicestershire, an esquire of Richard of York. He was married to Katherine Neville, one of the sisters of the infamous Earl of Warwick. As one of Edward IV’s favorites and a Yorkist supporter during battles including Ludford Bridge, Mortimer’s Cross and Towton, Hastings possessed many landholdings and was the Master of the Mint, Captain of Calais, was raised to a Baron, and became a Privy Council member and Lord Chamberlain in 1461, a chief officer in the royal household and cabinet with prime access to the king. Due to his close relationship with Edward IV, Hastings received bribes at times from various nobles, most notably the Earl of Warwick and Elizabeth Woodville on her arrival to court. He also received fat pensions from both Louis XI and the Duke of Burgundy in France. His most important landholdings were in the Lancastrian Midlands where he helped Edward control the region.

Hastings' Coat of Arms.

Not only does it make sense that Hastings would have initially supported Richard’s pursuit of the crown following his brother’s death due to the loyalty and fondness that Edward IV had himself shown Richard, there was also another “natural alliance of interests” between the two men. A long standing feud existed between Hastings and the Woodvilles, his greatest rivals being Thomas Woodville, the marquis of Dorset and Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son, and her brother Anthony Woodville, earl Rivers who had been another candidate for the position in Calais. Edward V on the throne meant that the queen’s family would have the power to “avenge the injuries they claimed that [Hastings] had done them,” and thus presented Hastings with a serious threat (Gillingham 218).

Hastings’ historical death is just as mystifying as his fictional one. Along with the other members of his council whom Richard believed to be opposed to his plans, Hastings was dispatched. On June 13, 1483, he was arrested while sitting in a council in the Tower of London and immediately taken to his execution on Tower Hill. Sir Thomas More’s account suggests that Richard first accused Hastings of treason while banging his fist against the table, revealing where Shakespeare was perhaps inspired for his own version of the story. The scene where Ryan appears with Hastings’ indictment also seems to have some basis in reality, since Richard apparently sent a herald to offer an official explanation that a conspiracy involving the Hastings, the queen, and Jane Shore had been uncovered. It sounds just unlikely enough to have perhaps been a real cause for Richard’s concern. However, most historians accept that Hastings had simply been opposed to Richard’s desire to use force in order to remove Richard, duke of York, Edward V’s brother, from sanctuary with his mother and sisters. Even so, it seems that Richard respected his brother Edward’s desire that Hastings lie near to him at St. George’s at Windsor upon his deaths.


“Back to Basics: A Series for Newer Members.” Issue 4, June 1993. The Richard III and Yorkist History Sever. Web. Accessed 2-12-10. <>.

Gillingham, John. Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in 15th Century England. Phoenix Press. 2005. Print.

Wagner, John A. Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. 2001. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment