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Chapter 10 - The Admiralty and Constableship of England in the Later Fifteenth Century: The Operation and Development of these Offices, 1462–85, under Richard, Duke of Gloucester and King of England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2018

Anne F. Sutton
Affiliation:
Mercers’ Company of London
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Summary

It was unusual for the same man to combine the roles of Admiral and Constable, but it was a logical pairing. From 1462 to 1483 Richard, duke of Gloucester, was Admiral and from 1469 to March 1470 and from 1471 to 1483 he was Constable. The two decades were a time of change for both these offices: they were increasingly subordinated to the appointment by king and Council of specific commissions to deal with all matters of disorder and treason, whether on sea or land. When he became king, Richard III's experience in the two posts allowed him to make beneficial changes in the management of the Admiralty and navy and in effect to bring the role of the Constable to an end.

It is surprising that the earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, was not automatically made Admiral on Edward IV's accession, given his achievements as captain of Calais from 1456, and his ownership of a fleet sufficient to ensure that the king hardly needed to think of acquiring his own ships in the 1460s. He remained Keeper of the Seas, however, and was Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and so had little practical need of the title. Edward IV appointed Warwick's uncle, William Neville, Lord Fauconberge and newly created earl of Kent, as Admiral on 30 July 1462, but only during the king's pleasure and coincidental to his command of a fleet to raid the French coast. This was a compliment to that useful and loyal noble and would not have offended Warwick. Richard of Gloucester can be understood to have had the title and profits of the office by 12 August and the formal appointment from 12 October 1462, while Neville went off on Edward's northern campaigns – where he died before the end of the year.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

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