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Title: The Wydeviles 1066-1503 : a re-assessment
Author: Pidgeon, Lynda
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2011
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Who were the Wydeviles? The family arrived with the Conqueror in 1066. As followers in the Conqueror’s army the Wydeviles rose through service with the Mowbray family. If we accept the definition given by Crouch and Turner for a brief period of time the Wydeviles qualified as barons in the twelfth century. This position was not maintained. By the thirteenth century the family had split into two distinct branches. The senior line settled in Yorkshire while the junior branch settled in Northamptonshire. The junior branch of the family gradually rose to prominence in the county through service as escheator, sheriff and knight of the shire. These roles enabled them to meet and work with men who had influence at court. The Wydevile that gave the family their entrée into royal service was Richard (ii), appointed steward to King Edward III’s daughter Isabella and then as steward at the king’s castle of Moor End. His son John (iii) maintained a similar pattern of service within the county and managed to negotiate the difficult years of Richard II’s reign and the usurpation of Henry IV without diminishing the family standing within the county. It was his sons who were to work closely with the royal family. Thomas and Richard (iii) served the Lancastrian royal princes loyally. Richard (iii)’s position led to a knighthood for his son Richard, so that by 1426 the family were at the highest level of the gentry, just below the aristocracy. Accused of being an ignoble family their status is traced from 1066 to the early fifteenth century. In 1448 Sir Richard Wydevile brought the family into the ranks of the nobility through an advantageous marriage. His secret marriage to Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of the duke of Bedford made him a member of the royal family, albeit a minor member. This connection led to his creation as lord Rivers in 1448. Rivers continued the family tradition of loyal service to the crown. His service in France and in England enabled him to find suitable marriages for three of his children by 1460/61 into baronial families. Like his great-grandfather Richard (ii), he managed to negotiate a change in king, moving smoothly from service to the Lancastrians to service with the Yorkists under Edward IV. In 1464 his daughter Elizabeth secretly married King Edward IV. It was this second secret marriage that led to the assault on the Wydeviles’ reputation and questioned their status. The political instability of the period required scapegoats each time a king was overthrown. The propaganda this generated is traced to establish if there is any truth in the charges of greed and covetousness made against the Wydeviles.
Supervisor: Curry, Anne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D111 Medieval History