Allow me to give you a little history lesson regarding Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the Kingmaker. In the beginning, Warwick was a powerful supporter of Edward, Earl of March, since before Edward’s father died. It was thanks to Warwick’s efforts that Edward became king of England and overthrew Henry VI. In Edward’s early reign, Warwick served as the king’s right hand man and made sure that Edward’s hold on the throne was rock solid. In his heart, Warwick wanted to be Edward’s right hand man because it gave him a golden opportunity to be the true power behind the crown. However, what Warwick did not consider is whether or not his hold over Edward would last once Edward was crowned.
After successfully negotiating a political marriage for Edward with France, Warwick returns to England to find that Edward was already married to a minor noblewoman named Elizabeth Woodville. Like most of the senior nobles, Warwick found the Woodvilles’ sudden rise to power hard to swallow because he viewed them as opportunists muscling in on the established order. Warwick felt so betrayed that he did not bother attending some of Edward’s meetings with his privy council.
Some time later, Edward sends Warwick to negotiate a trade deal with France, but it was only a pretext to keep Warwick out of the way. While Warwick was away, Edward formed an alliance with the duchy of Burgundy, who were the Woodville’s favourites and the sworn enemies of the French at the time. When Warwick hears of this, he becomes increasingly paranoid that he was losing his control over Edward along with his power over the court.
In an attempt to outmaneuver the Woodvilles and reestablish some of his lost power, Warwick tried to negotiate marrying one of his daughters to Edward’s younger brother, George the Duke of Clarence. Until Elizabeth Woodville produced a son, Clarence was heir to the throne. However, Edward refused because he planned to marry George off for political gain, which was pretty rich considering Edward’s own choices. It was at this moment that Warwick fully realized that his power and influence over Edward was completely gone, which was an intolerable position for him to be in after all of his efforts. However, Warwick was not the kind of man who would go down without a fight and he started planning his revenge against his king and the Woodvilles.
A few years later, Warwick sent one of his servants to start an uprising in northern England by spreading rumors that the Woodvilles were stealing tax money for themselves. All of a sudden, Edward needed Warwick back in the game. Warwick did not reply and married his daughter to the Duke of Clarence in defiance of the king’s orders. Edward marched to the north to quell the uprising and summoned Warwick to explain himself after hearing Warwick disobeyed him. In response, Warwick and Clarence published an open letter that accused the entire Woodville family for enriching themselves at the kingdom’s expense and invited anyone who shared their opinion to join them in Canterbury. Warwick’s letter was an open invitation to rebellion and high treason.
Warwick eventually captured Edward and imprisoned him. Warwick’s original plan was to have Edward declared a bastard and replaced by his brother the Duke of Clarence, but that would never work as long as Edward was alive. For sentimental reasons, Warwick did not have either the spine, guts, or balls to kill the king and kept him alive in order to keep his own options open. Unable to bring himself to kill his king, Warwick instead unleashed his frustration and hatred in a killing spree that was meant to exterminate as many of the Woodvilles as possible. Ultimately, Warwick did not think his plan through because without a king to govern the kingdom, the chaos he orchestrated in the north spread south. Warwick tried to ask support from the other nobles, but they just laughed at him because he was the one who arrested the king and started all the trouble in the first place.
With no other options open to him, Warwick had no choice but to release Edward and hope that his life would be spared for his treason. At this point, Edward was too soft to do what needed to be done. Therefore, he forgave Warwick and Clarence, but the three of them would never be fully reconciled.
A few years later, another revolt broke out in Lincolnshire and Edward sent the troops to reestablish order. When the rebels were defeated, Edward’s men found letters that implicated both Warwick and Clarence in the rebellion. Knowing that they would not be forgiven a second time, Warwick and Clarence fled to France and brokered an alliance with Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. As part of the deal they made, Warwick and Margaret plotted to overthrow Edward and replace him with Henry VI.
Fortunately, Edward managed to escape to Flanders before Warwick and his men could capture him. Also, Edward’s wife and children sought refuge in a church and were protected by the laws of sanctuary. That meant that Warwick and his men could not attack them without suffering dire consequences from the Pope. With Edward and his heirs out of the way, Warwick quickly established Henry VI to the throne, but Henry proved to be as weak and simple minded as before.
Edward returned to England after raising an army across the channel. In an attempt to raise support for Henry VI, Warwick paraded the old king through London, but all the people saw was a feeble and senile man. When Edward came to London, he was seen as an ideal warrior king at the head of an army and many lords gathered to their cause. Henry VI was imprisoned again and Edward’s wife and children were safe. With those two things on the to do list done, Edward and his forces hunted Warwick down.
Warwick and Edward faced one another off one final time in Barnet with Warwick’s army numbering 15,000 and Edward’s numbering 12,000. Despite being outnumbered, fortune favored Edward as bad weather caused Warwick’s army to accidentally attack itself. With Warwick’s army in disarray, Edward’s host mowed them down. When Warwick saw the battle was lost, he attempted to run for his life, but he was hunted down and killed by Edward’s men.
With the threat of Warwick finally over, Edward had his body displayed outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral as a warning to anyone who would defy him. Shortly afterwards, Henry VI was clubbed to death in his prison cell, which removed the Lancastrian threat to Edward’s rule once and for all. Overall, Warwick was an interesting historical figure and a gold mine of inspiration to draw from.