1461: James Butler, War of the Roses casualty

It is thought that on this date in 1461, weeks after the bloodiest battle on English soil, the Lancastrian noble James Butler was beheaded at Newcastle.

Once associated with Butler’s relative Thomas Boleyn, this picture has been identified as James Butler by Eric Ives. (H/t to Lara at Tudor History.)

Surviving the Battle of Towton, where some 1% of the era’s English population is thought to have perished in a savage fight, was trick enough for Butler, the Earl of Ormonde (or simply Ormond) and Earl of Wiltshire, and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

Since both sides’ battlefield policy that day was to grant no quarter, the prisoner rolls were not extensive.

A bit of someone’s personal correspondence from the time indicates that, at least in this instance, it was a no more desirable fate:

[T]he Erle of Wylchir is hed is sette on London Brigge. (Source)

Like many a noble who rates little but a face in the crowd for us today, Butler linked a chain of some illustriousness. The Ormonde estate’s ancestry reached back to the family of Edward II; its succession fell to James’ younger brother Thomas, who was great-grandfather to Anne Boleyn. (Anne’s father Thomas Boleyn was the 8th Earl of Ormonde.)

On this day..

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