De la Pole, Father and Son
The Duke, The Earl and the Struggle for Power
- Michèle Schindler
15th December 2022
John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk (27 September 1442–May 1492), was a major magnate in 15th-century England. His youth was overshadowed by the political fall and subsequent murder of his father in 1450, who had been a favourite of King Henry VI, but was increasingly distrusted by the rest of the nobility. His second marriage, to Elizabeth of York, the sixth child and third daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, made him the brother-in-law of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III. The eldest of his eleven children from the marriage, also John, would eventually be named heir to Richard III in 1484 and die in battle in the Yorkist cause. The father would outlive the son.
Part of the fascination in this dual biography is the relationship between these two powerful figures and their differing involvement in the Wars of the Roses. Did John Senior approve of John Junior’s rebellion and close involvement in the Simnel conspiracy? How much did he support his son in his claim to the throne? After his son’s death he had to show allegiance to the new Tudor king. The differences between the political decisions of the Duke of Suffolk and the Earl of Lincoln are profound, despite the ties of blood. By focussing on these two overlapping lives, Michèle Schindler provides a new perspective on the tumultuous events of 15th-century England and the birth of the modern nation-state.