YORK, RICHARD, DUKE OF , was born on Sept. 21, 141 I , the son of Richard, earl of Cambridge. He became duke of York in 1415, and on the death of Edmund Mortimer in 1425 he represented in the female line the elder branch of the royal family. He had been kindly treated by Henry V., and his name appears at the head of the knights made by Henry VI. at Leicester on May 19, 1426. York served in France and in 1432 he obtained livery of his lands and went over to Ireland to take possession of his estates there. In Jan. 1436 he was appointed lieutenant-general of France and Normandy. He showed vigour and capacity, and recovered Fecamp and other places in Normandy. He was not supported cordially by the home Government, and in 1437 applied to be recalled. York returned to England in the autumn of 1437. From this time he attached himself to Humphrey of Gloucester's party, in opposition to the Government under Cardinal Beaufort. By his marriage in 1438 to Cicely, sister of the earl of Salisbury, he allied himself to the rising family of the Nevilles. On July 2, 144o, York was again appointed to the French command. His previous experience made him stipulate for full powers and a sufficient revenue. He did not go to Rouen till June 1441. During his second governorship York maintained the English position in Normandy. Hampered by his political opponents at home, he was recalled in 1446 on the pre text that his term of office had expired.
The death of Humphrey of Gloucester in 1447 made York the first prince of the blood. Suffolk, now Henry's chief minister, found a convenient banishment for a dangerous rival by appoint ing York to be lieutenant of Ireland for ten years (Dec. 9, 1447). Yolk, however, put off his departure for 18 months.
During his absence Jack Cade's rebellion occurred. In Sept. 1450 York landed in Wales, came to London with an armed retinue and forced himself into the king's presence. He declared that he desired only justice and good government. He took part in the punishment of Cade's supporters, and discountenanced a proposal in parliament that he should be declared heir to the crown. In March 1452 he came once more in arms to London, and en deavoured to obtain Somerset's dismissal. On a promise that his rival should be held in custody he disbanded his men, and, thus outwitted, found himself virtually a prisoner. However, a nom inal agreement was concluded, and York accepted the king's par don. The situation was changed by the birth of a prince of Wales and the king's illness in Oct. 1453. York secured his recognition as protector on March 27, 1454. But at the end of the year the king's sudden recovery brought York's protectorate to an end.
When it was clear that the queen and Somerset would proceed to extremities, York and his friends took up arms in self-defence.
Even when the two armies met at St. Albans, York endeavoured to treat for settlement. The issue was decided by the defeat and death of Somerset on May 22, 1455. York used his success with moderation. He became constable of England, and his friends obtained office. This was no more than a change of ministers. But a return of the king's illness in Oct. 1455 made York again for a brief space protector. Henry recovered in Feb. 1456, and at Coventry, in October, the Yorkist officials were displaced. Still there was no open breach. York would not again accept honour able banishment to Ireland, but made no move till the queen's preparations forced him to act. In Sept. 1459 both parties were once more in arms. York protested that he acted only in self defence, but the desertion of his best soldiers at Ludlow on Oct. I 2 left him helpless. With a few followers he escaped to Ireland, where his position as lord-lieutenant was confirmed by an Irish parliament, and he ruled in full defiance of the English govern ment. In March 146o the earl of Warwick came from Calais to concert plans with his leader. York landed in England on Sept. 8, and marched on London. On reaching Westminster, he took up his residence in the royal palace, and formally asserted his claim to the throne in parliament. A compromise was arranged; Henry was to retain the crown for life, but Richard was to succeed him. On Nov. 8, he was accordingly proclaimed heir-apparent and protec tor. Early in December, Richard went north with a small force. On Dec. 3o, he was hemmed in by a force of Lancastrians at Wakefield. Declaring that he had never kept castle in the face of the enemy, Richard rashly offered battle, and was defeated and slain. His enemies had his head cut off, and set it up on the walls of York adorned with a paper crown.
Richard of York was not a great statesman, but he had quali ties of restraint and moderation, and might have made a good king. He had four daughters and four sons. Edmund, earl of Rutland, his second son, was killed at Wakefield. The other three were Edward IV., George, duke of Clarence, and Richard III.