Pontefract Castle – 15th Century

DateEvent
5/1/1400On 5th January 1400, Henry IV sent Edward of York, reputedly a co-conspirator in a plot to reinstate former king Richard II (held prisoner at Pontefract Castle) who had now sided with Henry, to tell his erstwhile colleagues that all was now discovered and that they must flee the king’s large army; which many did to Oxford.
6/1/1400According to a French text, ‘The Betrayal and Death of Richard II’, on 6th January 1400, Sir Piers Exton (or Bucton or Buxton) with the knowledge of Charles VI of France, was commanded by Henry IV ‘to go and deliver (Richard) straightaway from this world’ at Pontefract Castle. It seems that Bucton was only to kill Richard if he fell into rebel hands as Richard’s death is most probably six weeks later.
6/1/1400Richard of Bordeaux, the former King Richard II, turned 33 years old in prison at Pontefract on 6th January 1400.
8/1/1400On 8th January 1400, after a failed plot (Epiphany Rising) by the Earls of Salisbury, Huntingdon (Richard’s half-brother), Rutland and Kent (Richard’s nephew) and the Lord Despenser to seize Henry IV and his sons and arrange for Richard II's release from imprisonment at Pontefract Castle, Salisbury was lynched at Cirencester. Lord Despenser managed to escape to Bristol but was murdered on the 15th January. The Earl of Huntingdon was seized at Pleshey in Essex and beheaded for his role in the attempted coup.
10/1/1425On 10th January 1425, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, wrote his will only seven days before his death. It included a bequest of 24 marks (nearly £19,000 in today's money) a year for three chaplains to pray for three souls in addition to his own: his wife, Henry IV and, surprisingly, the soul of Richard II. No mention was made of Henry V.
17/1/1425On 17th January 1425, Robert Waterton, Steward and Constable of Pontefract Castle and Master Forester, who had had custody of Richard II, Charles, Duke of Orleans, Jean I, Duke of Bourbon, James I of Scotland and the son of the Earl of Athol died at Methley. In addition, he was at various times Constable at Tickhill and Donnington castles, Henry IV’s Master of Horse, chief steward of the northern areas of the Duchy of Lancaster (later chamberlain) and Sheriff of Lincolnshire. He was one of the executors of Henry IV’s will. His military and diplomatic skills were evidenced by his part in quelling the Percy ‘revolts’ of 1403 and 1408 and negotiations with ambassadors from France.
22/1/1425In late January 1425, Richard Neville, later to be Earl of Salisbury and brother-in-law to Richard, Duke of York, was made Constable of Pontefract Castle, succeeding Robert Waterton.
1/2/1419On 1st February 1419, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, took charge of Arthur de Richemont, brother of John V, Duke of Brittany, who had been captured at Agincourt. Arthur was released by the English in 1420 and later became Duke of Touraine, Constable of France (fighting alongside Joan of Arc) and, briefly, Duke of Brittany.
1/2/1456At the beginning of February 1456, Richard Duke of York’s second Protectorate was coming to an end. When Henry Bolingbroke had become Henry IV in 1399, one of the uses the Lancastrian kings put their private estates to was the endowment of their queens. Consequently, Margaret of Anjou held great swathes of the Duchy of Lancaster including Pontefract Castle. With the ending of Richard Duke of York’s second Protectorate, Margaret was in a position to continue this trend. This led to a tension-filled stalemate in the summer of 1456 with John Bocking reporting in June that ‘My lord of York is at Sandal still and waits on the queen, and she upon him’. This endowment to the Lancastrian queens would explain why Pontefract was a Lancastrian stronghold, but Sandal a Yorkist fortress, given its importance to Richard as his northern base.
1/2/1463In early February 1463, the remains of Lord Salisbury and his second son, Thomas, both killed at or soon after the Battle of Wakefield, left Pontefract for Bisham Abbey on the borders of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Their funeral was a joint one with Alice Montagu, Countess of Salisbury who had died the previous December.
3/2/1455On 3rd February 1455, Henry VI ordered the release of the Duke of Exeter from Pontefract Castle. Lord Salisbury, Chancellor and constable of the castle ignored the order and was relieved of his chancellorship on the 9th March. Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, ordered Exeter’s release on pain of an exorbitant fine.
8/2/1400On or around 8th February 1400, whilst imprisoned at Pontefract Castle, ex-king Richard II’s fate was considered after Henry IV had thwarted a plot (the Epiphany Rising or Revolt of the Earls as it became known) to kill Henry and his four sons and to release Richard led by the earls of Salisbury, Huntingdon, Rutland and Kent and Lord Despenser. The minute of the meeting implied that Richard was to be ‘disposed of’.
12/2/1424On 12th February 1424, the prisoner James I of Scotland and Joan Beaufort were married at Bishop Henry Beaumont’s (Joan’s uncle) Winchester Palace. London. James later claimed in a poem ‘Kingis Quair’ that he had been captivated by seeing her walking in the gardens of the tower where he was being held. The political reality of their union was more to do with a promise that James could return to Scotland after being held prisoner by the English for nearly twenty years and that Henry VI’s government could avert Scottish military support to the Dauphin of France and receive £40,000 (over £50 million in today’s money) for James’ expenses whilst imprisoned. James had been held for the latter part of his captivity at Pontefract Castle and Joan Beaufort was the granddaughter of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, by Katherine Swynford. James was allowed to return to Scotland in April 1424 with Joan as his Queen.
14/2/1400Richard II (now referred to as Sir Richard of Bordeaux) died age 33 at Pontefract Castle on or around the 14th February 1400. On the 17th, a payment of £80 (£90,000 in today's money) was made to William Pampilion to go to the town and transport the body of Richard to London. Various theories surround the cause of Richard's death including a combination of his grief and voluntary abstinence leading to self-starvation, deliberate starvation by his gaolers and foul play (as per Shakespeare). No marks of violence were found on the remains of Richard's body when it was exhumed in the nineteenth century. The painting is of Richard II at Westminster Abbey.
21/2/1478On 21st February 1478, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was given the office of Great Chamberlain giving him authority over the Palace of Westminster. This office, in addition to his position as Lord High Admiral and Lord High Constable meant Richard now held three of the nine great offices of State, confirming his wide-ranging influence in national affairs.
29/2/1484On 29th February 1484, Katherine Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of Richard III (or Duke of Gloucester at the child’s conception) and half-sister of Richard’s other known illegitimate child, John of Pountfreit (Pontefract) was covenanted by William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon, ‘to take to wife Dame Katherine Plantagenet, daughter to the King, before Michaelmas of that year’. It is surmised that Richard III’s mistress, and Katherine’s mother, was Katherine Haute, wife of James Haute whose own mother Joan Woodville was cousin to ex-queen Elizabeth Woodville. On the orders of Henry VII, Katharine was, some sources suggest, arrested at Raglan Castle immediately after the Battle of Stoke Field in June 1487 and apparently died prior to her cousin Elizabeth of York's coronation on 25 November 1487.
1/3/1474On 1st March 1474, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was at Pontefract where he granted an annuity of twenty pounds (nearly £26,000 in today's money) to Alice Burgh, possibly the mother of his illegitimate son, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester).
1/3/1486On 1st March 1486, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester), illegitimate son of Richard III, was granted an annual income of twenty pounds sterling (nearly £24,000 in today's money) by Henry VII. This was ‘issuing from the revenues of the lordship or manor of Kyngestonlacy, parcel of the duchy of Lancaster, in co. Dorset’. Kingston Lacy had once belonged to Henry de Lacy.
4/3/1461King Henry VIOn 4th March 1461, Henry VI's reign ended with his formal deposition by  Edward IV, who was proclaimed King in Westminster Hall. There were now two kings of England, but for Edward, a formal coronation would have to wait, for he was determined to finally, decisively beat Henry VI and his Lancastrian supporters. Edward would begin to march north to Pontefract arriving on the 27th March 1461. He gathered his troops at Pontefract in readiness for the Battle of Towton on March 29th 1461.
6/3/1400On 6th March 1400, having journeyed slowly from Pontefract to allow the body to be displayed and witnessed in the major towns, a requiem mass was celebrated in St Paul’s Cathedral for Richard (II) of Bordeaux, attended by Henry IV. The royal almoner distributed 25 marks (over £19,000 in today's money) to various priests to say a thousand masses for the king’s soul while a confessor doled out pennies to the poor.
7/3/1400On 7th March 1400, Richard II’s body was laid to rest at the Dominican friary at King’s Langley, later being re-interred in 1413 at Westminster Abbey on the accession of Henry V. Richard's remains joined those of his first wife Anne of Bohemia in the tomb Richard had erected for them in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, next to that of Edward III. The bodies lie in the tomb chest below the effigies. The tomb was made in 1396-1399 by London masons Henry Yevele and Stephen Lote, and coppersmiths Nicholas Broker and Godfrey Prest cast the gilt bronze effigies. The total cost was £933, 6 shillings and 8 pence (£588,000 in today's money) . Richard and Anne were originally depicted holding hands (as Richard had specified), but they have been broken off. This was the first double royal tomb and the effigies were cast in two sections rather than a single piece like Eleanor of Castile's effigy.
9/3/1416On 9th March 1416, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, was made guardian for the four-year-old Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, whose father, the Earl of Cambridge, had been executed in August 1415 for his part in the Southampton Plot against Henry V. Richard’s paternal uncle, Edward, second Duke of York, had been killed at Agincourt two months later. The king awarded Waterton £100 pa (£107,000 in today's money) for the duke’s expenses,who remained with his household in Methley until December 1423 when his guardianship was transferred to the Earl of Westmorland.
9/3/1455On 9th March 1455, Lord Salisbury, chancellor and constable of the castle was relieved of his chancellorship for ignoring the order of Henry VI, on 3rd February 1455, to release the Duke of Exeter from Pontefract Castle. Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, had been imprisoned for involving himself in the northern war between the Nevilles and the Percys, which was in direct disobedience to an oath all lords had taken to keep and respect royal authority during the illness of Henry VI.
9/3/1485On 9th March 1485, a warrant was made to deliver clothing to ‘the Lord Bastard’, John of Pountfreit/Pontefract (sometimes called ‘of Gloucester’), known illegitimate son of Richard III (or Duke of Gloucester at the child’s conception). It has been surmised that Richard’s mistress was Alice Burgh, a nurse, who was also given an allowance to look after Edward of Warwick, Richard III’s nephew by his murdered brother, George, Duke of Clarence.
11/3/1461Edward IVOn 11th March 1461, the Yorkist army began leaving London heading north; the first to leave being Lord Fauconberg at the head of Edward IV's vanguard. Edward himself left on the 13th. They followed the same route that his father, Richard Duke of York, had taken the previous year in his campaign against the Lancastrians. York had planned to use Pontefract as his base in 1460 only to be side-tracked to Sandal when he realised the Lancastrians were there before him. Edward realised in 1461 that Pontefract Castle would still make an ideal base from which  to launch his war in Yorkshire and beyond against the Lancastrians.
11/3/1468On 11th March 1468 (as far as can be ascertained), John of Gloucester (or John of Pontefract) was probably born at Pontefract Castle. He was the illegitimate son of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and was knighted in September 1483 at York Minster and made Captain of Calais in March 1485; a position later revoked by Henry VII. Richard’s letter of appointment for Captain of Calais referred to him as ‘our dear bastard son’ and an order referring to his appointment calls him ‘John de Pountfreit Bastard’. Although’ tolerated’ by Henry VII, it seems likely he was executed in 1499.
11/3/1485On 11th March 1485, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester), an illegitimate child of Richard III, was officially appointed Captain of Calais. An order relating to this appointment calls him ‘John de Pountfreit Bastard’ and Richard’s letter of appointment refers to him as ‘our dear bastard son.’ The patent appointing John gave him all the requisite powers of his position except of appointing officers, reserving these until he was twenty-one. In addition, John received the fortresses of Rysbank, Guisnes, Hammes and Lieutenant of the Marches of Picardy for life. After the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry VII removed John from the position of Captain of Calais but, as far as is known, did not persecute him further. John’s fate is not known for certain but a 17th century historian, George Buck, surmised that he was executed by Henry VII in 1499 to prevent his becoming a focus for Irish rebellion.
13/3/1471On 13th March 1471, Lord Montagu was at Pontefract when Edward of York landed at Ravenspur on the Humber on returning from exile, but he made no attempt to intercept Edward’s small force as he headed south to Nottingham. Edward, at this stage, declared himself only interested in reclaiming his title as Duke of York.
15/3/1455In mid-March 1455, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, ordered his son, the Earl of Warwick, to release the scheming Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, from his place of imprisonment at Pontefract Castle. Henry had been imprisoned for involving himself in the Northern war between the Neville and the Percy families, which was in direct disobedience to an oath all lords had taken to keep and respect royal authority during the illness of Henry VI.
16/3/1410On 16th March 1410, John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and first son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his mistress (at the time), Katherine Swynford, died. He had been born (sources quote 1371-73) whilst Gaunt was married to his second wife, Constance, and given the surname Beaufort after Gaunt’s French lands, Montmorency-Beaufort. Beaufort was created Earl of Somerset on 10th February 1397, only days after Parliament ‘legitimised’’ the four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) of John of Gaunt. Pope Boniface IX acceded to Parliament’s actions. Beaufort was the great grandfather of Henry VII.
27/3/1461On 27th March 1461, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and his uncle, William, Lord Fauconberg, arrived in the vanguard of Edward IV’s army at Pontefract Castle. The castle was in Yorkist hands at this time; either the constable of the castle had changed sides since the Battle of Wakefield or the castle had been abandoned. Warwick’s father, Lord Salisbury, had been beheaded here months earlier after the Battle of Wakefield with Robert, Bastard of Exeter, the older half-brother of the Duke of Exeter, held personally responsible for this act. Warwick had overseen the summary execution of Robert around 8th March in Coventry. Late on 27th March 1461, Edward, heir to  Richard Duke of York reached Pontefract, having travelled north collecting men in their thousands, ahead of the Battle of Towton. He camped his army (reputedly nearly 40,700 strong) on the triangular piece of land below the castle known locally as Bubwith Heath. On the afternoon and evening of that date the Battle of Ferrybridge took place, which was little more than a skirmish. When the Yorkist force, under Lord Fitzwalter, drove the defending Lancastrian forces off the bridge,  Fitzwalter camped there for the night as it was too late to return to Pontefract.  
28/3/1461Earl of Warwick, Richard NevilleOn the morning 28th March 1461, the second attack on Ferrybridge took place by the Lancastrian forces, under Lord Clifford and John, Lord Neville , (a younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Westmorland) with 500 men. The Yorkists were routed and fled to Pontefract Castle causing fear to spread through the Yorkist ranks assuming the Lancastrians were in close proximity. The Lancastrians were not following, however, but were defending the bridge. According to legend, in trying to dispel panic in the Yorkist ranks, the Earl Of Warwick , despite an arrow wound to the leg, slew his horse in front of the Yorkist army stating 'let him fly that will, for surely I will tarrry with him that will tarry with me'. In the afternoon, Warwick led the Yorkist men back to Ferrybridge and with Lord Fauconberg outflanking the defending Lancastrians, by crossing the river at Castleford, the Lancastrian forces were defeated and Lords Clifford (by an arrow in the throat) and Neville killed.
29/3/1424On 29th March 1424, Henry VI ordered Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, to deliver David, son and heir of the Earl of Athol, and nine other hostages, to Robert Scot, Lieutenant of the Constable of the Tower of London. Similar letters were sent to Sir Richard Hastynges, the Constable of Knaresborough Castle for certain hostages’ handover and to Sir Thomas Burton to deliver seven hostages to the Constable of Dover Castle.
29/3/1461The_Battle_of_Towton_by_John_QuartleyAfter having assembled at Pontefract days before, on Palm Sunday, 29th March 1461, the Yorkist forces under Edward IV, the Earl of  Warwick and Lord Fauconberg met with the Lancastrian forces under the Dukes of Northumberland, Somerset, Exeter at the Battle of Towton. Upwards of 50,000 men clashed at what would become England's bloodiest battle. It was fought in a snowstorm, and many of the fleeing Lancastrians drowned in the rivers Cock and Wharfe. Reputedly, the pursuing Yorkists could cross the water using dead bodies as 'stepping stones'. The Yorkist victory was overwhelming and led to Edward being officially pronounced the only King of England. Following the battle, the Wars of the Roses would continue for over 20 years. The picture is of the Battle of Towton by John Quartley in 1878. On this date also, Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, died at the Battle of Towton fighting on the Lancastrian side. He had helped Queen Margaret win the second Battle of St Albans in February 1461. Inheriting his baronetcy on the death of his grandfather in 1421, Lionel’s wardship was granted to his future father-in-law, Robert Waterton, ex-Constable of Pontefract Castle (he was to be re-appointed to this position by Henry VI in 1422). Lionel married Waterton’s daughter Jane (some say Joan or Cecily) and, secondly, Margaret Beauchamp, mother of Margaret Beaufort. By this marriage he became the step-grandfather of Henry VII. He was buried with his first wife in St Oswald’s Church, Methley.
30/3/1461St Richards FriaryOn 30th March 1461, Edward IV arrived at York following the Battle of Towton and had the rotting heads of his father Richard and brother Edmund and the Earl of Salisbury removed from Micklegate Bar and taken to be interred reverently at St Richard's Friary in Pontefract with the rest of their bodies. The friary was situated in the present day Valley Gardens.
2/4/1432On 2nd April 1432, Sir Thomas Swynford, son of Sir Hugh Swynford and Katherine (later Duchess of Lancaster) died in Kettlethorp, Lincolnshire. Thomas had been gaoler of the deposed Richard II at Pontefract Castle.
4/4/1413On 4th April 1413, Sir Robert de Neville died (some sources say) at the age of around ninety, a remarkable age for the time. He was JP for Yorkshire, Sheriff of Yorkshire and Constable of Pontefract Castle sometime before February 1399. His marriage to Margaret de la Pole, daughter of Sir William de la Pole, 4th Earl of Suffolk, (sometime Admiral of England and Baron of the Exchequer), enabled de la Pole to temporarily win his way back into royal favour by connection to one of the north’s leading families. After Neville’s marriage in 1344, he spent long periods overseas fighting with the Black Prince in France (including Crecy 1346, Poitiers 1356), being rewarded with an annuity of 100 marks a year (£79,000 in today's money) . From 1351, he assumed the arduous responsibility for the post of overseer of the prince’s horses, harness and fodder for his campaigns abroad. He even endured a short period of imprisonment for debt in Newgate gaol. Neville accused one of Richard II’s favourites, Edward, Earl of Rutland and Duke of Aumale, of depriving him of the constableship of Pontefract Castle. He was present at Ravenspur with a sizeable body of men in July 1399 to welcome Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) from exile and provided Henry with an armed bodyguard during the October Parliament. Henry IV sanctioned the marriage of Neville’s granddaughter and heir, Margaret, to his own half-brother, Thomas Beaufort, the youngest of his father’s three sons by Katherine Swynford. On Neville’s death, the majority of his estates descended to Margaret, then Countess of Dorset, but she died childless before April 1424.
11/4/1492In the Spring of 1492, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and 2nd Duke of Norfolk, was sent north by Henry VII as the King’s Lieutenant administering law and order, collecting taxes and dealing with dissent, including riots which took place at Ackworth, near Pontefract. Interestingly, Howard had been badly wounded at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 fighting for Richard III against Henry Tudor (VII).
15/4/1408On 15th April 1408 (Easter Sunday), Henry IV was at Pontefract Castle, remaining there for the feast of St George. It was the first time in his reign that he was not at Windsor to oversee the Garter festivities in person.
17/4/1486On 17th April 1486 (until the 20th), Henry VII was at Pontefract Castle on his way to York. He had set off from the Priory of St John of Jerusalem near London in mid-March on his first official progress of the North. Although the first armed uprising against Henry, after the Battle of Bosworth, by Yorkist supporters Francis Lord Lovell and Humphrey Stafford, did not occur until Eastertime 1486 (Easter Sunday was 4th April), after Lovell and Stafford had escaped from sanctuary at Colchester Abbey, the new king had been monitoring their activities for some time. An attempt to capture Henry VII at York was apparently foiled by Henry Percy on St George’s Day. Lovell fled to Flanders and the Stafford brothers were forcibly removed from sanctuary at Culham on the 14th May. Humphrey was executed but his younger brother, Thomas, was pardoned.
20/4/1408On 20th April 1408, Henry IV, at Pontefract, made the following letter of safe protection for Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden, Scotland: '… Know ye, that being prompted by affection, and at the special request of our dearly beloved cousin Archibald Earl of Douglas, we have taken and do hereby take under our special protection, safe keeping and defence. Master Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden in Scotland, wheresoever the said Provost may happen to be in person within the Kingdom of Scotland; also, the said place of Lincluden and the poor chaplains serving God therein; also, the lands of the said Provost round the church, with his granges, crops, cattle and goods of whatever sort whether ecclesiastical or temporal. Therefore we command you and each of you that ye neither inflict nor allow to be inflicted any injury, molestation, loss, violence, interference or any other hardship, upon the said Provost wheresoever he may be in person in the said Kingdom of Scotland, or upon the said place of Lincluden, or upon the chaplains and poor men serving God in the said place, either on their persons, lands, granges, crops, goods, cattle or property of any kind whatever aforesaid……….. This (mandate) to remain in force for three years. In testimony whereof, &c., the King, at the Castle of Pontefract, this twentieth day of April [1408].’
22/4/1473On 22nd April 1473 (possibly 1476) a signet letter close (a letter sent closed-up and sealed with a signet ring and written on paper not vellum) signed and dated from Pontefract is sent by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to a group of Westmorland councillors regarding a dispute between some tenants of Ralph Nevill, Earl of Westmorland, concerning leaseholds around Raby and Brancepeth in County Durham. The letter was sold at Christies in 2012 for £21,250.
24/4/1483On 24th April 1483, Richard Duke of Gloucester came to Pontefract Castle prior to meeting Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers and Richard Grey at Northampton on the 29th. It was at Northampton that Gloucester had agreed to meet with his supporter Buckingham, who had a retinue of 300 men, the same as the Duke of Gloucester. After an apparently convivial dinner Earl Rivers and Richard Grey found that their rooms were locked from the outside. In the morning, they were arrested by Gloucester and Buckingham. Following the arrest, Richard and his retinue rode the fifteen miles to Stony Stratford where they dismissed the king's (Edward V) escort and arrested two of his household; the chamberlain Thomas Vaughan and Richard Haute, who along with Earl Rivers and Richard Grey would be subsequently executed at Pontefract in June. It was from that day that Richard's plan to take control of Edward V gathered pace.
25/4/1408On 25th April 1408, whilst at Pontefract, Henry IV delegated to the Earl of Westmorland the right to pardon or punish six rebels captured after the Battle of Bramham Moor (on 19th February)
27/4/1473On 27th April 1473, in a letter dated at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, granted Richard Knaresborough an annuity of six marks (£5,000 in today's money).
29/4/1484On the 29th April 1484, Richard III arrived at Pontefract Castle on his northern progress of that year, before heading off to York. From there, Richard would go on to Middleham, Barnard Castle, Newcastle and Durham which he would reach on the 14th May.
30/4/1408Having spent three weeks over Easter at Pontefract, Henry IV left the castle on 30th April 1408 arriving at Windsor by 21st May and the Tower of London 29th-31st May. Henry had headed for Yorkshire to supervise the arrests and executions of fugitives from the Battle of Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, in February in which Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, was killed and his invading army from Scotland routed. Percy’s ‘treacherous’ body was hanged, drawn and quartered, his head placed on London Bridge and other parts of his anatomy displayed in various locations.
30/4/1474On 30th April 1474, in letters dated that day at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, ordered £29 12s (£20,300 in today's money) worth of seafish from Thomas and Robert Burdon for his household and £54 (£37,000 in today's money) of sheep and cattle from Matthew Metcalfe.
1/5/1484On 1st May 1484, a German Silesian knight and traveller, Niclas Von Popplau, passed or visited  Pontefract on a visit to King Richard III who was in residence at York. This visit may have been a diplomatic mission on behalf of Maximillian Duke of Burgundy, who was in conflict with the French king Louis XI who also claimed the Burgundian title.  This is a translation of the 15th century text of his visit by Niclas; “Ten miles from Doncaster as we travel towards York, there is a castle. In there the king keeps his treasure and all great gentlemen, also the kings children and the sons of princes, which are kept like prisoners. And the castle is called Pons Fractus as the king himself by the name of Richard King of England .... told me and explained to me. I arrived on the day Phillip and Jacobi, that is the first of May (1484) on Saturday, and graciously granted me audience on the next day.” It is interesting to speculate who the 'children and sons of princes' may have been. Much controversy has surrounded the deaths of the two princes in the Tower in 1483, but it worth noting what Popplau then goes on to say; 'And King Richard who reigns now, had put to death the sons of King Edward, they say, so that not they but he was crowned. But many say (and I count myself amongst them) they still live and are kept in a very dark cellar'. Readers are invited to share their thoughts and comments and any evidence they have on this world - famous 'murder mystery', with us via the 'Contact Us' button on the right hand side of this page.
2/5/1483On 2nd May 1483, at the command of Richard IIISir Thomas Vaughan, the personal chamberlain to the young Edward V, was dispatched as a prisoner to Pontefract Castle where he was executed later that year. On the same day, Edward’s uncle, Anthony Woodville (Earl Rivers), and Sir Richard Grey were dispatched to Sheriff Hutton Castle and Middleham Castle respectively. All three, along with Richard Haute (the latter is open to question), were executed in June at Pontefract Castle. The picture above is of Edward V from Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace.
2/5/1484On 2nd May 1484, Niclas Von Popplau was granted an audience with Richard III, ‘in the presence of the princes, earls, councillors and all his nobility, in front of which I spoke Latin'. This meeting was held at York and Popplau delivered to Richard letters from His Imperial Majesty the King and the Duke of Burgundy. We do not know the content of these letters but, after Popplau left the king's court on that day, he was conducted to a nearby inn by a gentleman of the Royal Chamber, quickly finding they were not alone as they were followed by many women and maidens. It is at this meeting that Richard III mentioned to Popplau that the castle he had passed or visited on his way from Doncaster to York, 'is called in Latin pons fractus, which was confirmed to me later by the word of the king himself, whose name is Richard King of England.....'  Again, as per our entry for the 1st May 1484 it is intriguing to consider the possibility that Popplau's travel-diary comment 'the king's children and sons to the princes just like you keep prisoners'  may refer to the two ‘Princes in the Tower’ supposedly murdered in 1483. We would invite any comments, evidence or discussion upon this fascinating mystery through the 'Contact Us' button to the right of this page.
3/5/1484On 3rd May 1484 Richard III asked Niclas Von Popplau to join him at mass at a nearby church in York. Popplau, who on the previous day had discussed with Richard  the 'stronghold castle ....... called in Latin pons fractus',  wrote that he would hear ‘the most delightful music that I heard in all my life … with voices compared to angels’. Richard had had a tent erected near the church and this is interesting for the fact that it is one of the few insights we get to see the majesty of Richard’s court during his short reign. Popplau was struck by the lavish nature of the tent - ‘I saw the king’s bed covered in red velvet and a cloth of gold. And in the king’s tent there was also a table covered all around with cloths of silk embroidered with gold set up next to the bed". At the king's table, where Richard wore a collar of gold with many pearls the ‘size of peas’, were Richard’s princes and lords. According to Popplau, Richard continually talked to him and hardly ate, asking him about His Imperial Majesty (Frederick III) and the kings and princes of the empire. Popplau’s account of Richard’s court at York shows a king who was kind, learned and very passionate about events and people, a stark contrast to the Richard portrayed by Shakespeare.
6/5/1471On 6th May 1471, two days after the Battle of Tewkesbury, a court of chivalry under Richard, High Constable of England, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, convened to try various opponents for treason. Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, Hugh Courtenay, cousin of the Earls of Devon, and Sir John Langstrother, prior of the military order of St John were amongst the Lancastrians executed after makeshift trials.
12/5/1423On 12th May 1423, it was determined that James I of Scotland should be allowed to meet at Pontefract Castle with Scottish ambassadors and those of Henry VI to negotiate his release from captivity and return to Scotland. Safe passage was granted to the Scottish ambassadors on this date also. The first treaty was concluded in London (10th September) with the Bishop and Archdeacon of Glasgow and Abbot of Balmerinoch amongst the Scots’ delegation and the Bishop of Worcester and Stafford, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle amongst the English commissaries.
15/5/1401Whilst the exact cause of the death of Richard II will remain a point of conjecture, what is certain is that Thomas Swynford, Richard II's gaoler at Pontefract Castle, prospered under Henry IV, being made the Sheriff of Lincolnshire and on 15th May 1401, being granted the stewardship of the Lancastrian honour of Tickhill. In 1402, Henry would choose Thomas as one of his chamber knights.
18/5/1407On 18th May 1407, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle (and also Constable at Tickhill Castle and Castle Donington), was appointed by Henry IV as Chief Steward of the northern parts of the Duchy of Lancaster. Unfortunately for Waterton, this appointment was not renewed on the accession of Henry V.
18/5/1471On 18th May 1471, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester, steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent and later Richard III, with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was granted the office of Great Chamberlain of England, previously held by the Earl of Warwick. This office was superior to that of Constable given to Richard in 1469.
21/5/1424On 21st May 1424, David Menzies, hostage for James I of Scotland was sent from Pontefract Castle to the Tower of London under the following order in the name of Henry VI: ‘The K(ing) orders Robert Waterton, Esq., Constable of Pontefract Castle, to deliver David, eldest son and heir of the Earl of Athol; Alexander, Earl of Crawford; Alexander of Gordoune, John Lindesay; Patrick, eldest son and heir of Sir John of Lyon, knight; Andrew Gray of Foullys; David of Ogilvy, Sir William of Rothvane, knight; David MEIGNEZ (Menzies), and William Olyfaunt, Lord of Abirdalgy — hostages under the treaty with the K(ing) of Scots. To Robert Scot, Lieutenant of the Constable of the Tower of London.’
28/5/1405On 28th May 1405, Henry IV arrived at Derby after dashing from Hereford and informed his council of a revolt in the name of Edmund Mortimer against his rule, being called a usurper. By the previous day, 8000-9000 people had gathered on Shipton Moor outside York under the incitement of Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, and Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Norfolk, intending to link up with Henry Percy’s, Earl of Northumberland rebellious forces against the king. Henry IV asked for a rendezvous at Pontefract. The Earl of Westmorland and Henry’s son Prince John, arrived in Yorkshire from the North with their Border forces and Henry reached Pontefract on 3rd June.
28/5/1463In late May 1463 (possibly 28th/29th), John, Lord Montagu, brother of the Earl of Warwick, presented Henry VI’s bycoket (style of hat fashionable in 15th century Europe turned up at the back and pointed at the front like a bird’s beak and commonly associated with depictions of Robin Hood) to Edward IV at Pontefract. This had been left behind at Bywell Castle by Henry in his rushed departure after the defeat of Lancastrian forces, led by the Duke of Somerset, at Hexham on 14th May.
30/5/1472On 30th May 1472, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, Countess Rivers, died. She was the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of Edward IV, and Anthony Woodville executed at Pontefract Castle in 1483 by Richard III. Having previously been wife to the Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry V, she had been allied to both the Lancastrian and Yorkist dynasties. Her second husband, Sir Richard Woodville had been executed by the Earl of Warwick in 1469 and her eventful life saw her accused of witchcraft shortly afterwards albeit she was exonerated in January 1470. After her death, Richard III, without proof, revived this claim in the Act of Titulus Regius stating she had procured her daughter’s marriage to Edward IV through witchcraft.
1/6/1417Charles, Duke of OrleansIn June 1417, Charles Duke of Orleans was sent by Henry V to Pontefract Castle in the custody of Sir Robert Waterton (largely in the cell once occupied by Richard II). Charles, captured at the Battle of Agincourt on the 25th October 1415, was imprisoned (later with Jean II Le Maingre, Marshall Boucicaut, who died in captivity in Yorkshire in 1421) but was treated fairly leniently, being allowed to visit Waterton’s estate at Methley, six miles away, to hunt. Throughout his 25 years’ captivity, Charles was held at various other castles, including: Tutbury, Fotheringhay, Bolingbroke, Ampthill, Wingfield, Sterborough, Stourton, Windsor and the Tower of London. He was finally released on the 28th October 1440 and sailed for Calais on the 5th November. Charles was seen as an accomplished medieval poet who produced over 500 poems, written in both French and English, many of which were compiled during his time in captivity.
3/6/1405On 3rd June 1405, Henry IV and his half- brother, Thomas Beaufort, arrived at Pontefract Castle where Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, and Thomas Mowbray, earl of Norfolk, had been imprisoned. Scrope and Norfolk, seeking revenge for the execution and banishment respectively of their kinsmen, had been persuaded to surrender their forces outside York by Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland. An eight-man commission sat in judgement on Scrope and Norfolk at the archbishop’s own palace of Bishopthorpe, south of York on the 8th June with both men executed that same day outside York’s town walls. Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, was later accused by the Scottish chronicler, Walter Bower, of having counselled Henry IV to execute Archbishop Scrope. Henry IV attained the status of the only English monarch to have authorised the killing of both an archbishop and a king.
3/6/1484Cecily NevilleOn 3rd June 1484, whilst staying at Pontefract Castle, Richard III wrote to his mother Cecily - 'Madam I recommend myself to you as heartily as is possible to me; beseeching you in my most humble and affectionate manner of your daily blessing to my especial comfort and defence in my need. And, madam, I heartily beseech you that I may often hear from you to my comfort. And such news as there is here my servant Thomas Bryan, this bearer, shall show you; to whom it may please you to give credence ... And I pray God send you accomplishment of your noble desires. Written at Pontefract, the 3rd day of June, with the hand of Your most humble son, Ricardus Rex.'
8/6/1484On 8th June 1484, whilst staying at Pontefract Castle between 30th May and the 13th June, in seeking a truce between England and a weak and divided France (due to the conflict between the houses of Orleans and Bourbon), Richard III signed a treaty forming an alliance between England and Brittany, thereby refraining from war until the following April 25th. There was a secret codicil in the treaty that stated in return for the aid of 1,000 archers  against France and for grants of the revenues of rebels' estates, Pierre Landois, treasurer and chief officer of Brittany, would return Henry Tudor to the same 'careful custody' in which he had been kept until the death of Edward IV.
10/6/1483Elizabeth WoodvilleRichard III put in motion a plan to destroy the  Queen Dowager, Elizabeth Woodville, and the Woodville family forever. On the 10th June 1483, Richard wrote  to the Mayor of York, John Newton, requesting that he 'come unto us to London in all the diligence you can possible, after the site thereof, with as many as ye can make defensibly arrayed, there to aid to assist us against the Queen, her blood, her adherents and affinity, which have intended and daily doth intend to murder and utterly destroy us and our cousin the Duke of Buckingham.' The troops were asked to gather at Pontefract before proceeding to London.
11/6/1483On 11th June 1483, Richard Duke of Gloucester (ostensibly believing/proclaiming there was a plot against him) wrote a request to Lord Ralph Neville to meet with his men at Pontefract prior to marching to London.
12/6/1475On 12th June 1475, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was granted the lordships and manors of Skipton and Marton, previously owned by Lord Clifford who had reputedly killed Edmund, Earl of Rutland (Richard’s elder brother) after the Battle of Wakefield and had died fighting for Henry VI at Ferrybridge in 1461.
13/6/1484On13th June 1484,  Richard III left Pontefract Castle having spent the previous two weeks here as he journeyed southwards again following his northern progress of that year. This stop was part of a prolonged stay in Yorkshire residing in castles at Pontefract, York and Scarborough. It was during this stay that Pontefract was established as a borough.
15/6/1483Rivers_&_Caxton_Presenting_book_to_Edward_IVOn 15th June 1483, Richard Ratcliffe, a north country ducal councillor, at the behest of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector, reached York where he delivered to the civil council the Protector's  order for them to send an armed force to the Earl of Northumberland at Pontefract Castle forthwith. The force was intended to bolster Richard's supposed precarious position after the death of his brother, Edward IV. This order was part of a series of events from the 30th April 1483 at Northampton when Earl Rivers was arrested by the Duke. Rivers was detained for moving the young King Edward V to Stony Stratford without the knowledge of Richard and for withholding news of the death of his brother Edward IV. Richard was wary of the Woodvilles' manipulation of the young king and his likely figurehead role (only) as Protector.
16/6/1483On receiving a letter from Richard Duke of Gloucester pertaining to the alleged plot against the Protectorate of the Realm, the Earl of Northumberland undertook the forty miles' journey on horseback to Hull. He approached the port with a proclamation 'that all men between the ages of 60 and 16 should be ready to attend of my said Lord of Northumberland at Pontefract'. The port's reaction was not enthusiastic, and they agreed to send only twelve men to Pontefract, with each man paid 12d (£35 in today's money) for twenty days.
17/6/1453On 17th June 1453, Malise Graham, Earl of Menteith (formally Strathern), was released from imprisonment at Pontefract Castle having entered England in November 1427 as a hostage for King James I of Scotland. It appears that the King’s ransom money promised to England was never paid, except a part of the first year’s instalment; and in consequence of this, Scottish hostages were detained in England. Many of them died in England, some ransomed themselves, a few escaped. In June 1453, the Earl of Menteith, who had gone to England as a hostage, was liberated from Pontefract castle, when his son Alexander surrendered himself in his stead with the Earl of Douglas and Lord Hamilton becoming sureties for his return in case of the escape of his son.
18/6/1483On 18th June 1483, reports began to spread that 20000 men that had gathered at Pontefract (including 300 from York) on the orders of Richard III, were now heading to London from the north in ‘frightening and unheard of numbers’. Following the death of Edward IV on the 9th April that year, Richard, through manipulation, had taken the two princes into his custody for safe-keeping - Edward Prince of Wales at Stony Stratford on the 30th April, and Richard, Duke of York, from sanctuary at Westminster Abbey on the 16th June. A week earlier on the 9th June, William, Lord Hastings and one of Richard’s great supporters, had, at a council meeting, opposed the removal of the young Richard from sanctuary, perhaps coming to realise the true intentions of Richard himself. It would seem that the council meeting was the final straw for Richard and he decided to strike first. Richard was now showing his hand and his actions leading to his intended usurpation of the throne were now in full force (see entry for 10th June 1483 for the content of Richard’s letter asking for men to be sent to the capital).
21/6/1483After Edward IV's death in April 1483, Richard Duke of Gloucester became Protector of the Realm. In June 1483, Richard declared there was a conspiracy against the Protectorship. Richard directly accused Hastings, Stanley, Morton and Rotherham of plotting with the Woodvilles, including the Queen Dowager, Elizabeth Woodville, against the government. Richard sent letters to his supporters in the north, including York, Hull and Northumberland. The Burghers of York proclaimed that an army of no less than 300 men should meet up at Pontefract Castle before marching to London on 21st June 1483.
22/6/1484Between 22nd and 23rd June 1484, Richard III stayed at Pontefract Castle after visiting York. During June of this year, Richard had been at Pontefract for twenty two days.
23/6/1483On 23rd June 1483, in his prison at Sheriff Hutton, prior to his being escorted to Pontefract the following day, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, was informed he had been sentenced to death by Richard of Gloucester, Constable and Protector, as a result of his sister’s plotting. His will, dated from Pontefract, concludes with an appeal to Richard: ‘I humbly beseech my lord of Gloucester in the worship of Christ’s passion, and for the merit and weal of his soul, to help and assist as supervisor of this testament, that mine executors may, with his pleasure, fulfil this my last will’.
24/6/1483On 24th June 1483, Earl Rivers, Lord Richard Grey, Sir Thomas Vaughan and possibly Sir Richard Haute are brought to Pontefract Castle prior to their execution the following day, on the orders of Richard III. Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, wrote this poem knowing he was to die: Sumwhat musyng, and more mornyng, In remembring the unstydfastnes; This world being of such whelyng, Me contrarieng, what may I gesse? I fere dowtles, remediles, Is now to sese my wofull chaunce. For unkyndness, withouten less, And no redress, me doth avaunce, With displesaunce, to my grevaunce, And no suraunce of remedy. Lo in this traunce, now in substaunce, Such is my dawnce, wyllyng to dye. Me thynkys truly, bowndyn am I, And that gretly, to be content: Seyng playnly, fortune doth wry All contrary from myn entent. My lyff was lent me to on intent, Hytt is ny spent.  Welcome fortune! But I ne went thus to be shent, But sho hit ment; such is her won.'
25/6/1483On 25th June 1483, four nobles who had supported the young king Edward V  viz Earl Rivers, Richard Grey, Thomas Vaughan and possibly Richard Haute ( there is debate as to whether he was in fact executed at this time) were condemned to death by the Earl of Northumberland on the charge of plotting the death of Richard Duke of Gloucester, soon to be Richard III. They were 'tried' without being able to make a vocal defence and were summarily beheaded. Many contemporary writers agreed that the four had committed no crime. There is also some debate as to whether the seventy-years-old-plus Vaughan was executed with Rivers and Grey as various chroniclers (Mancini, Rous) do not mention him and his tomb at Westminster Abbey would seem a curious honour for a man deemed a traitor by the reigning king.
26/6/1404On 26th June 1404, Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales (later Henry V), wrote to his father from his Worcester headquarters thanking him for his kind letter written from Pontefract five days earlier. The king had requested his son to go to the help of the Sheriff of Hereford who was suffering ‘greatly from the ravages of the Welsh rebels.’
26/6/1483On 26th June 1483, after being petitioned at Baynard's Castle by a delegation from the City of London to take the throne,  Richard Duke of Gloucester deposed Edward V and reigned as Richard III. Richard’s right to reign was confirmed by the Act Titulus Regius which denounced any further claims through his brother’s, Edward IV , heirs. The Titulus Regius was issued in 1484 and repealed the following year by Henry VII.
27/6/1461On 27th June 1461, an eight-years-old Richard, brother of Edward IV and later to be Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was amongst twenty-eight Knights of the Bath created by Edward in preparation for his coronation the following day.
30/6/1404On 30th June 1404, Henry IV, from Pontefract, issued a passport for a quarter of a year to Sir John Sinclair, brother of Henry II Sinclair, Earl of Orkney. Henry had been captured following the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1402 and released on ransom. The battle had been a disastrous defeat for the Scots under Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas, but a triumph for English forces led by Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his son Harry ‘Hotspur’. It is surmised that Sinclair’s passport was a ‘safe passage’ granted by the king.
8/7/1423On 8th July 1423, the Calendar of Patent Rolls recorded that William Welles was appointed “to take and provide beeves, muttons, fish, capons, hens, chickens, geese and other victuals belonging to the offices of the caterer and of the poultry for the household expenses of the king of Scots during his journey to Pontefract, and for his return to London”. James I of Scotland (king in absentia) was taken to Pontefract for negotiations regarding his release from English captivity.
10/7/1423On 10th July 1423, safe conduct was granted to William de Fowlis, secretary of Archibald, Earl of Douglas, to travel to Pontefract to treat for a final peace between Scotland and England.
12/7/1444On 12th July 1444, a Charter of Confirmation was made at Pontefract by, John, 7th Earl of Sutherland: ‘Charter of Confirmation by John, seventh Earl of Sutherland, to Alexander Sutherland, lord of Torboll, of the lands of Torboll. Confirmation, by John, seventh Earl of Sutherland, narrating that he had seen and caused to be read before him at Pontefract in England, a resignation made by Nicholas of Sutherland, lord of the castle of Duffus, at St. Andrew's chapel, of the lands and tenements of Thurboll with the pertinents, namely, lands to the worth of £40 lying within the earldom of Sutherland and shire of Inverness, into the hands of Robert, Earl of Sutherland, as his overlord, whereupon the Earl granted them to Henry of Sutherland, son of Nicholas, in fee and heritage, to him and his heirs male from the Earl and his heirs, for payment of ward and relief and for rendering three suits at the court of the said Earl in Sutherland.’
21/7/1476On Sunday 21st July 1476, the bodies of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were exhumed at the Priory of St Richard near Pontefract Castle, both killed at Wakefield some sixteen years before. Their coffins were placed beneath cloths of gold coverings bearing a white satin cross with so many burning candles surrounding the caskets that the church’s doors had to be kept open and some windows removed. A life-sized effigy of York kneeling in prayer above his coffin, was dressed in dark blue gowns trimmed with ermine, the mourning clothes of a king. His claim to have been King by Right of England and France was reinforced by an angel holding a crown just above his head.
22/7/1476On 22nd July 1476, the Fotheringhay Procession left Pontefract with the bodies of Richard Duke of York (former lord of Sandal Castle) and his son Edmund Earl of Rutland, who had both been killed at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460. These bodies had been interred in the Franciscan Friary of St Richard, which was located on the site of the present day Valley Gardens. Led by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the procession passed through Doncaster, Blyth, Newark, Grantham and Stamford reaching Fotheringhay on the 29th July.
24/7/1454On 24th July 1454, Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, son-in-law of Richard Duke of York, was apprehended and imprisoned in Pontefract Castle. Exeter believed he had been overlooked for the Protectorship of England, granted to York on the 27th March ‘by advice and assent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the Commonality of England’ by virtue of Henry VI’s six months’ continuing incapacitation. Exeter was released in mid-March 1455 after Henry’s recovery.
27/7/1476On 27th July 1476, the Fotheringhay Procession of Richard, Duke of York’s corpse, passed through Grantham on its way from the Priory at Pontefract, led by Edward IV. A later historian making notes on Grantham and its church, recorded: ‘His coffin lay on a funeral car drawn by seven horses, the figure of an angel robed in white, stood at the foot of the bier, bearing in his hand a crown, to signify that had he lived he would have reigned……His widow held the Lordship of Grantham and its Soke, and owned the George hostelry as her private property, which she left in remainder to Fotheringhay Priory, her husband and her own burial place. She may have joined the funeral procession from her house, the George…’
3/8/1403On 3rd August 1403, Henry IV arrived at Pontefract Castle from Nottingham after the Battle of Shrewsbury on 21st July at which Henry Percy (Hotspur) had been killed and Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester (Hotspur’s uncle) and Sir Richard Vernon and Sir Richard Venables beheaded. Henry was pursuing Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland (Hotspur’s father), for his complicity in the Percy family’s revolt and his mustering an army against him at Tadcaster.
6/8/1403On 6th August 1403, Henry IV departed Pontefract Castle for York awaiting the arrival of the Earl of Northumberland and for his complete submission to Henry after the Percy rebellion. The Earl’s son’s head (Henry Hotspur) had been placed over one of York city’s gates after defeat at the Battle of Shrewsbury.
7/8/1405On 7th August 1405, Henry IV issued a writ from Pontefract to the Constable of Hereford, directing him to raise a force to defend against Charles VI’s French invasion (led by Marshal Jean de Rieux and Jean de Hanguest, lord of Hugueville) in support of Owen Glendower. The combined forces had burned the towns of Haverfordwest, Tenby and Carmarthen and were within ten miles of Worcester when Henry arrived there. This fifth Welsh campaign by Henry was, like its predecessors, short and inconclusive.
9/8/1484On 9th August 1484, Pontefract’s first mayor, John Hill, was confirmed by Parliament. He was the only man to have been Mayor of Pontefract three times. Richard III's charter to Pontefract borough, incorporating this role, was confirmed at Westminster on this date and witnessed by two Archbishops (Bourchier and Rotherham), the Bishops of Lincoln (Russell), Bath and Wells (Stillington) and London (Kemp), the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, the Sheriff of London, Sir Thomas Stanley,, Sir John Wade and the Keeper of the Privy Seal (John Gunthorpe).
13/8/1403On 13th August 1403, Henry IV arrived at Pontefract with his prisoner, the Earl of Northumberland, travelling from York in a day. After being pardoned, the Earl was later killed at the Battle of Bramham Moor (19th February 1408) and his body dismembered and exhibited around the country at Berwick, Lincoln, Newcastle and York with his head impaled on a pike on London Bridge.
15/8/1403On 15th August 1403, Henry IV, having accepted the Earl of Northumberland’s submission at York, made him seal documents at Pontefract commanding his officers to surrender all his castles and all the knights and esquires in Northumberland county to swear an oath of loyalty to Henry. On this day, Henry also commanded his sheriffs to raise forces to meet him at Worcester on the 3rd September for a fourth Welsh campaign in order to quell Owen Glendower’s rebellion.
15/8/1417On 15th August 1417, Joan Waterton, daughter of Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle (and also Constable at Tickhill Castle and Castle Donnington), was married to Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, at St Oswald’s church, Methley with a young Richard Plantagenet (Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle) as a guest. Lionel later became stepfather to Lady Margaret Beaufort and step-grandfather to Henry VII.
18/8/1483On 18th August 1483, only two months after his coronation and on his ‘royal progress’, Richard III wrote to seventy-one knights and gentlemen when he stopped at Leicester on his way to York, instructing them to meet him at Pontefract Castle on the 27th of that month. Some commentators believe that Richard’s four months’ absence from London, starting merely a week or so after his coronation, was a major error and allowed the fomentation of rebellion.
19/8/1407On 19th August 1407, Henry IV arrived at Pontefract Castle from Nottingham on his journey through the north travelling between his castles and pilgrimage sites. Henry’s wishes to lead French and Welsh campaigns that year were stymied by his increasing frailty and political and financial obstacles.
24/8/1460On 24th August 1460, after the Yorkist nobles Salisbury, Warwick and the Earl of March were victorious at the Battle of Northampton, they returned to London. The remaining Lancastrians were gathering in the north and so the Yorkist lords sought to crush them. On 24th August, a commission, headed by the Yorkist lords, was charged with arresting fifteen men who were said to be uttering falsehoods to arouse discord. On the same day, the Earl of Northumberland was ordered to surrender Pontefract and Wressle Castles.
24/8/1469On  24th July 1469, the Yorkist forces had been defeated at the Battle of Edgecote by those of Robin of Redesdale and the Earl of Warwick. Warwick, feeling frozen out by his long-time friend, Edward IV,  had now switched sides to the Lancastrian cause. Edward, captured by Warwick’s brother George Neville at Olney, was placed in confinement at Warwick and Middleham, before being moved to Pontefract Castle. On 24th August 1469, whilst Edward was still a prisoner at Pontefract, Margaret Beaufort met with Edward’s brother, George Duke of Clarence, an ally of Warwick, to discuss how her son’s lands - Henry Tudor - would be returned to him. Margaret was desperate to use the ongoing situation to obtain the best possible outcome for Henry Tudor. On his release from Pontefract, Edward would swiftly gain revenge on the Lancastrian forces, the result of which would see Warwick flee into exile. The next two years would see this section of the Wars of the Roses reach a climax with Henry VI briefly restored, Edward IV in exile before his eventual victory at the climactic battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. Henry VI would either die or be murdered on the orders of Edward on the 21st May 1471.
24/8/1483Following his coronation on 6th July 1483, King Richard III, in his progress through his kingdom, entered Yorkshire. On 24th August, he reached Pontefract having summoned to meet him seventy one knights and gentlemen of the North. The purpose of this meeting was to enquire into the state of local affairs and to provide direction in administering justice as he had to the Lords in London. On the same day, Prince Edward was reunited with his parents at Pontefract. While at Pontefract (some sources say  the official appointment was made at Nottingham Castle on this date but this is questionable),  Prince Edward was pronounced Prince of Wales (with a later ceremony in York) and Earl of Chester.
26/8/1483Whilst at Pontefract on 26th August 1483, Richard III restored the landed endowment of the Dominican Friary of St Richard. He chastised his late brother for having taken ownership of it when it should have been used to provide masses for the soul of Richard Duke of York, who was buried there till 1476.
27/8/1483On 27th August 1483, Richard III, whilst at Pontefract Castle with his wife, issued a signed warrant conferring on the Duke of Buckingham his share of the Bohun inheritance (lands resulting from the marriage of Eleanor de Bohun and Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III, in 1376).
28/8/1483On 28th August 1483, Richard III, whilst at Pontefract Castle with his wife, appointed the Duke of Buckingham to take part, together with the Duke of Norfolk and others, in commissions of oyer and terminer (inquiries into all treasons, felonies and misdemeanours in the specified counties) in London and the counties of Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Middlesex, Oxford, Berkshire, Essex and Hertford.
31/8/1407On Henry VI’s accession on 31st August 1422, Robert Waterton was re-appointed to his offices of constable at Pontefract and Tickhill Castles.
6/9/1483On 6th September 1483, Richard III conferred Pontefract’s first Charter of Incorporation, creating John Hill as the first mayor of the borough the following July.
8/9/1483On 8th September 1483, Richard III’s son, Edward of Middleham, was knighted and invested as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in York Minster. He had left Middleham around the 19th August to join his parents at Pontefract on 24th August and formally given these titles on that date. Edward’s health was so poor that he had had to be conveyed in a chariot on this journey. Richard’s nephew Warwick and his bastard son, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester), were also knighted at this time.
10/9/1400On around the 10th September 1400, after a disastrous Scottish expedition for which Henry IV expected Robert III of Scotland to do homage to him, but failed, Henry’s shortage of provisions for his army caused a retreat via Newcastle, Durham and Northallerton to arrive at Pontefract. There he issued writs summoning a parliament to meet at York on 27th October.
10/9/1469On 10th September 1469, Edward IV was released from custody at Middleham Castle. The Earl of Warwick had withdrawn his support for Edward following the latter's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and had, in fact, defeated the king at the Battle of Edgecote Moor. However, once he had Edward in captivity, Warwick literally did not know what to do with him and by September 1469 Edward was released and permitted to go to Pontefract. During these September days at Pontefract, Edward made plans for his future. He summoned the chief lords of his council to come immediately to Pontefract and they arrived with several hundred men horsed and armed. Edward and his supporters, including the Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Buckingham, Earls of Essex and Arundel, Lords  Buckingham, Dacre, Mountjoy and a thousand horse, made for London where they were heartily welcomed into the capital.
13/9/1409Isabela_richard_weddingIsabella of France was Queen Consort of England as the second spouse of King Richard II. She married the king at the age of six and was widowed three years later. She later married Charles, Duke of Orléans when he was twelve and she was sixteen. Isabella died in childbirth at the age of nineteen on 13th September 1409.
15/9/1483On 15th September 1483, Richard III’s court was at Pontefract after Edward of Middleham’s being knighted and invested as Prince of Wales at York. The Middleham household-book mentioned that five marks (£2800 in today’s money) were paid to Michell Wharton for bringing the prince’s jewels to York for his investiture.
21/9/1474On 21st September 1474, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), opened a commission of oyer and terminer (judges of assize inquiring into all treasons, felonies and misdemeanours in specified counties) at Pontefract Castle. The commission, lasting until the 25th of the month, was intended to resolve peacefully a bitter dispute between two of the North’s most powerful lords, Sir John Savile and Sir John Pilkington but, unfortunately, clashes continued until Pilkington’s death in 1479. Richard’s unsuccessful intervention in this case was, nevertheless, indicative of his overall ‘calming’ influence during his tenure as ‘Lord of the North’ which improved the prospects of peace and prosperity in the region.
21/9/1478Between 21st and 25th September 1478 at Pontefract Castle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, presided, with Edward IV, over a commission of oyer and terminer (an inquiry into treasons, felonies and misdemeanours committed in specific counties).
21/9/1483On 21st September 1483, Richard III and Queen Anne left York having witnessed their son’s investiture as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, to travel to Pontefract, staying there until early October. It is likely that news of potential uprisings in the south reached Richard at this time.
22/9/1465On 22nd September 1465, a nearly thirteen-year- old Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was a principal guest at the enthronement (and later immense feast) of George Neville, the new Archbishop of York, at Cawood Castle, the palace of such archbishops. Seated with Richard were his elder sister Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk, the Countesses of Westmorland and Northumberland and two of the Earl of Warwick’s daughters, Isabel and Anne; the latter to be Richard’s wife and queen.
22/9/1483On 22nd September 1483, whilst at Pontefract Castle, Richard III, hearing news of southern discontent, removed Robert Morton, a nephew of Bishop John Morton, from his post as Master of the Rolls of Chancery, a key administrative position. On this day, Richard also wrote to Southampton and probably other south coast towns telling the mayor to prevent the wearing of livery badges within the town, concerned about such ports being incited to rebel from foreign shores.
23/9/1483On 23rd September 1483, whilst at Pontefract Castle, Richard III, hearing news of southern discontent, seized all the possessions of Lionel, Bishop of Salisbury, one of Elizabeth Woodville’s brothers.
25/9/1478On 25th September 1478, Edward IV was at Pontefract Castle where he witnessed the founding of the Nowell Chantry by Roger Nowell of Wakefield, at the altar of the blessed Apostle Peter, in the north aisle of the Parish Church of All Saints, Wakefield. The chantry was sometimes erroneously called the Thurstan or Banaster (after Sir Thurstan Banaster) chantry who was the cousin of Roger Nowell; Banaster being mentioned in the deed of foundation.
8/10/1472On 8th (or 9th) October 1472, at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, ordered the arrest of Thomas Farnell for the murder of Katherine Williamson’s husband.
9/10/1483Around 9th or 10th October 1483, Richard III, on hearing news of southern discontent, hurriedly left Pontefract to reach Lincoln, via Gainsborough, on his return south. It was here that he heard of Henry Stafford’s, Duke of Buckingham, intention to rebel, possibly because of the delay in his gaining access to the de Bohun inheritance. On the 12th October, Richard wrote to the Chancellor, John Russell, requesting the Great Seal be sent to him immediately.
12/10/1462On 12th October 1462, a ten-years-old Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was appointed Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine. Two months previously, in order to support his status, Richard had been given the castle of Gloucester, the constableship of Corfe Castle, the manor of Kingston Lacy and lordship of Richmond (soon to be transferred to his brother George). Around this time, Richard was also given property from the Duchy of Lancaster valued at £1000 a year (£1 million in today’s money) to provide a suitable income.
13/10/1472On 13th October 1472, at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, sent a letter to Sir William Plumpton concerning cattle stealing: 'R: Glocestre. Right trustie and welbeloued, we grete you well and whearas att the freshe pursuit of our welbeloued Christopher Stansfeild, one Richard of the Burgh that had take and led away feloniously certaine ky and othe cattell belonging to him, was take and arested with(in) the said manor att Spofford, wheras they yett remaine. Wheafore we desire & pray you that vpon sufficient suerty found […] by the said Christopher to sue against the said felon, as the law will for that offence, ye will make deliuery vnto him of the said cattell, as is according with right showing him your good aide, favour and benevolence,the rather att the instaunce of this our letters. And our Lord preserue you. From Pontefrett vnder our signett, the thirtenth of October. Endorsed: To our right trustie & wellbeloued Sir William Plompton knight, stuard of the lordshipp of Spofford, and to the bailife of the same, and to ether of them the duke of Glocester, constabl and admirall of England.'
17/10/1469On 17th October 1469, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was given the important office of High Constable of England for life, relinquished by Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, after his capture at the Battle of Edgecote in July of that year and beheading seventeen days later. The Constable had responsibility for national security, military matters and application of justice against treasonable acts against the Crown.
19/10/1469On 19th October 1469, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was made Chief Steward of the queen’s lands for life with an income of £100 a year (£115,000 in today’s money).
20/10/1484On 20th October 1484, Richard III sent Nicholas Leventhorp a warrant to see that the house of Dame Margaret Moulton 'Anchres of Pountfret' and the chapel adjoining were newly 'redeified' at the king's costs. An annuity of 40s (nearly £1400 in today's money) plus restoration of rights to twenty acres of pasture to the Priory of St John was also made.
25/10/1415Agincourt1415On 25th Oct 1415, Henry V defeated the French armies at the Battle of Agincourt. Following the battle, many of the defeated French nobles were brought to England in captivity, including the Duke of Orleans who was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle. Charles, Duke of Orleans, nephew of the French King Charles VI who was absent from the battlefield, was only twenty years old with no military experience and had arrived at Agincourt only the previous day. The duke was found beneath a pile of French dead. Estimates of the French dead were between 3,000 and 12,000 whilst English mortalities varied between 20 and 1,600 with only two of Henry V’s nobles killed: the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk. Thomas Halliday, of Pontefract, commanded five hundred archers in Sir John Shirley's division of the English army at this battle.
4/11/1461On 4th November 1461, a nine-years-old Richard, brother of Edward IV, soon to be steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was created Duke of Gloucester. The title was highly significant because of its association with the youngest sons of previous kings (Edward III’s, Henry IV’s) and, in Edward’s eyes bolstered the legitimacy of his claim to the throne by identifying his father (Richard, Duke of York) as a rightful king.
9/11/1427On 9th November 1427, Malise Graham, Earl of Menteith (formally Strathern), became one of the hostages (later held at Pontefract Castle) for the payment of the ransom of King James I of Scotland.
21/11/1485On 21st November 1485, the attainder on Henry VI was reversed by Henry VII as part of the legitimisation process for his family. The Parliament that had opened twenty-four years earlier on 4th November 1461 had been an assembly designed to set a seal on a change of dynasty (from Lancaster to York) and deny the rights to the Crown of the three Lancastrian monarchs, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI and the consequent invalidation of their acts. This earlier Parliament had also sanctioned the transfer of Henry IV’s patrimony, the Duchy of Lancaster (of which Pontefract Castle had been a key element since the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311), on Edward IV and his successors. An extract from Henry VII’s Parliamentary Roll of 1485 declared: ‘…all acts of atteynder, forfeture and disablement made or hadde in the said parliament or in any parliament of the said late Kynge Edwarde, ayenst the said moste blessed prince Kynge Herry……….voyde, adnulled, repelled and of no force ne effecte.’
28/11/1483On 28th November 1483, Richard III issued a warrant to the receiver of Pontefract to pay Thomas Langton and William Salley £40 (£27,650 in today's money) for 'bilding and edifieng' the chapel at Towton. Later, he also awarded Sir John Batmane seven marks a year (£3,235 in today's money) from the Honour of Pontefract to sing at Towton Chapel for life with his successors to receive the same sum.
1/12/1488After withdrawing  Richard III's Pontefract's Charter on his accession, Henry VII issued a virtually identical one for the town in his capacity as Duke of Lancaster on 1st December 1488. He confirmed to the comburgesses the right to choose the town's mayor.
4/12/1423On 4th December 1423, another treaty was agreed for the liberation of James I, King of Scotland, who was imprisoned for a time at Pontefract Castle. Hostages of Thomas, Earl of Moray, Alexander, Earl of Crawford and 19 others were demanded.
7/12/1419On 7th December 1419, Charles, Duke of Orleans, a prisoner at Pontefract Castle since June 1417, was given over to the custody of Sir Nicholas Montgomery at Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire.
13/12/1419On 13th December 1419 (St Lucy’s Day), according to Walter Bower’s ‘Scotichronicon’, Richard II died at Stirling Castle. Although supposedly dying at Pontefract Castle nearly twenty years earlier, a self-called Richard II appeared in Scotland in 1402 having been liberated from there, he claimed, and a body-double buried in his place. Some sources claim that he was found in the Western Isles, serving in the kitchen of the Lord of the Isles and recognised by Donald of the Isles’ fool who had served at the English court and/or Margery Bisset who had seen Richard on his Irish campaigns. ‘Richard’ (The ‘Mammet’/puppet) was sent with Montgomery of Ardrossan to King Robert III who placed him in the care of Sir David Fleming of Cumbernauld and then the Duke of Albany, King Robert’s younger brother and effective ruler of Scotland. He was given a small allowance, housed in Stirling Castle and word spread that he would soon invade England to regain his throne. The mastermind behind the so-called Richard II, William Serle, a chamber varlet from Richard II’s court, who had led the murder of the Duke of Gloucester on the king’s orders in 1397, was executed at Tyburn in 1404. He confessed to forging letters with Richard’s personal seal from Scotland to make the ‘Mammet’ seem a more plausible pretender. Acutely conscious of ‘Richard’ being a focus for rebellion and/or invasion, particularly by the Scots, against him, Henry IV named the pretender as Thomas Warde of Trumpington.
15/12/1461After the accession of Edward IV, and on succeeding to his father’s possessions, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, became the Chief Steward and Constable of the Honour of Pontefract on 15th December 1461.
28/12/1460Sandal_Castle_panorama On the morning of 28th December 1460, a Lancastrian army of 15,000 set out from Pontefract Castle marching the nine miles south west to fields and woods surrounding Sandal Castle in preparation for the upcoming Battle of Wakefield. The leaders of the Lancastrian force included the Duke of Somerset, Lord Clifford, Earls of Wiltshire and Devon, Lord Roos, Lord Dacre, and the Earl of Northumberland. The centre of the Lancastrian army, led by Duke of Somerset and the Earl of Northumberland, was drawn up on Wakefield Green on the open ground to the north of the Castle between the castle itself and the town of Wakefield. The left wing of the Lancastrian army, under the Earl of Wiltshire and Andrew Trollope, was hidden in the woods to the east, whereas the right wing under Lord Clifford was drawn up resting near the River Calder. The castle could not hold the whole of the Yorkist forces, so those that weren't absent on foraging duties would have taken up a position on the flat ground to the north of the castle.
31/12/1460On 31st December 1460, following the Yorkist defeat at Sandal the previous day, prisoners including the Earl of Salisbury, Sir Ralf Stanley, Walter Limbrick, John Harrow, and Captain Hanson were brought to Pontefract Castle. The Earl of Salisbury was to be spared for a huge ransom; however, he along with other prisoners were probably beheaded by common people of Pontefract who 'loved him not'.