George, Duke of Clarence


George, Duke of Clarence

George, Duke of Clarence, was a younger brother of King Edward IV, during the period of the Wars of the Roses. He rebelled against his brother several times, and was rumoured to have been executed by his exasperated sibling by being drowned in a vat of wine.

George Plantagenet was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. Both his elder brother Edward and his younger brother Richard became Kings of England - Edward IV and Richard III respectively.

When George was born in 1449 in Dublin, his father was beginning to challenge the lacklustre rule of King Henry VI. In the ensuing battle for the throne, George's father and one of his brothers was killed.

When George was 12, his eldest brother Edward captured Henry VI and seized the throne - becoming Edward IV. George was made Duke of Clarence. Despite his youth, he was appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the same year.

Turmoil around the throne continued into George's adulthood, but now he was old enough to take part in the fun himself. In 1470 Clarence conspired with his father-in-law the Earl of Warwick to return Henry VI to the throne. Big brother Edward IV had to flee abroad.

When Edward returned to the following year to reclaim the crown, Clarence swapped sides and joined him. Warwick was killed in battle, as was Henry VI's son and heir. King Henry himself was captured. Now that his son was dead, it was safe to dispose of him, and Henry mysteriously died - allegedly from "melancholy".

Clarence failed to take the hint from his brother's ruthlessness. Though he was for a time reconciled with his brother Edward IV, Clarence became unstable after the death of his wife and joined another rebellion against his brother.

Clarence was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason. Found guilty, he was privately executed in the Tower, and soon after the event, a rumour spread that he had been drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. One wonders how George and Edward's mother reacted to this execution of one brother by another, as she was still alive at the time.

Clarence's two children, now orphaned, grew up in the shadow of the axe, as they had a claim to the English throne. Clarence's son Edward Plantagenet was imprisoned in the Tower as a child by Henry VII and later executed. His daughter, Margaret, lived to 67, when she was executed by Henry VIII, who suspected her of treason.

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