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Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, 6th Earl of Suffolk, KG (c. 1471 – April 30, 1513), Duke of Suffolk, was a son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York, the sixth child and third daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (a great-grandson of King Edward III) and Cecily Neville. She was thus a sister of King Edward IV and of King Richard III.

Although the male York line ended with the death of Edward Plantagenet 17th Earl of Warwick (February 25, 1475 – November 28, 1499) who was the son of Isabel Neville and George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III.

The 17th Earl of Warwick was a potential claimant to the English throne during the reigns of both his uncle, Richard III (1483–1485), and Richard’s usurper, Henry VII (1485–1509). He was also a younger brother of Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury.

The Poles at first swore loyalty to the Tudor king of England, they later tried to claim the throne as the Yorkist claimant. Edmund was ultimately executed at the Tower of London.

Yorkist claim

Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, 6th Earl of Suffolk

Edmund de la Pole was a son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, and Elizabeth of York. His mother was the second surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. She was also a younger sister to Kings Edward IV and Richard III.

Service to the Tudors

De la Pole’s eldest brother John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln (c. 1464 – 1487), was the designated heir of their maternal uncle Richard III, who gave him a pension and the reversion of the estates of Lady Margaret Beaufort.

Meanwhile, Edmund was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Richard III, and was present at the coronation of his cousin Elizabeth of York in 1487. Following the Battle of Bosworth Field, Lincoln took the oath of allegiance to Elizabeth’s husband, Henry VII, instead of claiming the throne for himself. In 1487, Lincoln joined the rebellion of Lambert Simnel and was killed at the Battle of Stoke.

After the death of his older brother, Edmund became the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne, and succeeded to the title Duke of Suffolk in 1492. Edmund took part in the Siege of Boulogne in October 1492.

However, he is said to have subsequently agreed with King Henry VII, by Indenture dated February 26, 1492/3, to surrender the dukedom (with, apparently, the marquessate) of Suffolk, and to be known henceforth as the Earl of Suffolk only, this being ratified by Act of Parliament in 1495.

In consideration of this surrender and “of the true and diligent service done to his Highness by the said Edmund” the King granted to him, for £5,000, a portion of the lands forfeited by his elder brother John, Earl of Lincoln, in 1487.

Suffolk was one of the leaders against the Cornish rebels at Blackheath, June 17, 1497. However, in Michaelmas term 1498 he was indicted for murder in the King’s Bench and, though afterwards pardoned, he fled overseas to Guisnes, July 1499, returning to England after September.

He was at this time recorded as stout and bold and of courage. On May 5, 1500 he witnessed at Canterbury the treaty for the marriage of King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Arthur with Catherine of Aragon.

He then left for France, arriving there on the 13th, and attended the King at his meeting with Archduke Philipp of Austria, and titular Duke of Burgundy at Calais, on June 9, 1500.

Yorkist claimant

In August 1501 he and his brother Richard again left England without royal leave (apparently assisted by James Tyrrell, who was subsequently executed for these actions), and joining Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in the Tyrol, he assumed his former title of Duke of Suffolk, being also known as the “White Rose” (Yorkist Pretender).

For his alleged projected rebellion he was proclaimed an outlaw at Ipswich, December 26, 1502, and with his brothers William (arrested on suspicion and sent to the Tower, which he never left, early in 1502) and Richard, was attainted in Parliament January 1503/4, whereby all his honours were forfeited, backdated to July 1, 1499. Seward relates that throughout this period until Edmund’s death he used a Thomas Killingworth, gentleman of East Anglia and London, as his Steward, for which Killingworth later received a Royal Pardon.

On July 28, 1502 Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian signed a treaty at Augsberg whereby, in return for £10,000, he undertook not to help the English rebels.

Nevertheless, Suffolk was allowed to remain at Aix, 1502–04, though on leaving he had to leave his brother Richard as hostage for his debts. Upon leaving Aix about April 1504 in an attempt to join the Duke of Saxony in Friesland, he was imprisoned by the Duke of Gueldres at Hattem and subsequently by Archduke Philipp of Austria and Duke of Burgundy, at Namur into 1506.

Imprisonment and execution
While sailing to Spain to secure his wife Joanna’s inheritance of the Crown of Castile, Archduke Philipp of Austria (future King Felipe I of Castile) was blown off course to England, and reluctantly and unexpectedly became a guest of Henry VII.

Needing to continue his journey, Archduke Philipp was persuaded by Henry to hand over the Earl of Suffolk in the treaty Malus Intercursus. Henry VII committed the Earl to the Tower on his arrival in London, late in March 1505/6.

On the accession of Henry VII and Elizabeth’s son Henry VIII, Edmund being still in the Tower, was (with his two brothers) excepted from the new king’s general pardon of April 30, 1509. After being a prisoner in the Tower for 7 years, he was (since his brother Richard had joined the service of France, with whom England was then at war), without any further proceedings, beheaded on Tower Hill aged about 42.

Montaigne, in his Essays, said that Henry VII, in his will, instructed his son to put Suffolk to death immediately after his own death, and the author criticized the father for requiring that his son do what he himself would not.

Marriage and heirs

Edmund married, before October 10, 1496, Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope, second son of Henry Scrope, 4th Baron Scrope of Bolton. Margaret died in 1515. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, who became a nun and died of the Black Plague in the Convent of the Minoresses without Aldgate, London, in 1515.

Edmund’s younger brother, Richard de la Pole, declared himself Earl of Suffolk and was the leading Yorkist pretender until his death at the Battle of Pavia on February 24, 1525.