John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford

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John de Vere

Also Known As: "13th Earl of Oxford", "Lord Great Chamberlain", "Knight of the Garter", "Knight of the Bath"
Birthplace: Castle Hedingham, Essex, England
Death: March 10, 1513 (66-74)
Castle Hedingham, Essex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth de Vere
Husband of Elizabeth de Vere and Margaret Neville, Countess of Oxford
Father of Katherine Broughton
Brother of Richard Vere; Joane Norris; Elizabeth de Vere; Sir Thomas de Vere; Sir George de Vere, Kt. and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
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About John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford,_13th_Earl_of_Oxford

John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford (8 September 1442 – 10 March 1513) was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses.

War of the Roses

Early in the reign of Edward IV, Oxford's father, the 12th Earl, and his elder brother were executed for plotting against the king (1462). However, Edward was pursuing a policy of conciliation with Lancastrian families, and de Vere was allowed to succeed to his father's estates and titles. He was allowed to assume his family's traditional role as Lord High Chamberlain, officiating in that capacity at the coronation of Edward's queen, Elizabeth Woodville, in 1465. Around the same time he married Margaret Neville, daughter of Alice Montagu, Countess of Salisbury, and sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. He kept a playing company whose recorded performances span the years 1492-1499.[1]

In 1468 Oxford was caught in a plot against the king. He spent a short time in the Tower of London, but was released and pardoned early in 1469. He probably avoided execution due to the influence of his brother-in-law. Oxford was very likely quietly involved in Warwick's schemes against Edward in 1469 and 1470. In the latter year he fled to Margaret of Anjou's court in exile in France. Given his position as the leader of a steadfast Lancastrian family and also as Warwick's brother-in-law, Oxford negotiated the switch of Warwick to the Lancastrian side. He returned to England when Henry VI was restored in 1470. Oxford was appointed Constable of England.

Oxford was one of the Lancastrian commanders at the Battle of Barnet (1471). After this defeat, and the death of Warwick, he fled again, this time to Scotland and then to France. With a little aid from Louis XI of France he took to piracy against English ships and the occasional raid on the coast. Then came the most puzzling incident of Oxford's career. In 1473 he seized St Michael's Mount, a small rocky island off the coast of Cornwall. His motives are not clear. Most likely, this was to be the prelude to an invasion of England intending to depose Edward and put his brother, George, Duke of Clarence, on the throne. No invasion or help came, and in early 1474 he surrendered. Oxford was imprisoned in the fortress of Hammes, near Calais.

Battle of Bosworth

Three years later, Oxford leapt off the walls of Hammes into the chin-deep moat. Whether he meant to escape or to kill himself is not known; he accomplished neither. He remained imprisoned there until 1484, when he persuaded the captain of Hammes, Sir James Blount to escape with him to the court in exile of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England). It is said that Henry was "ravished with joy incredible" at this event. As by far the most experienced Lancastrian, Oxford was the real commander at the Battle of Bosworth Field, though Henry was theoretically in charge. Oxford commanded the centre, and held off the downhill charge of the Duke of Norfolk at the beginning of the battle. To celebrate the Tudor victory at Bosworth, he commissioned the building of St. Peter and St. Paul, Lavenham.

Tudor Court

Oxford was now restored to his estates and titles, and was also appointed Lord High Admiral and Constable of the Tower. He was given the honour by Henry VII of England of being the godfather of baby Prince Arthur Tudor however he was late to the baptism in Winchester as Arthur had been premature and Oxford was further delayed when he received the news due to severe flooding of the roads from the rain in September/October 1486. His fighting days were not quite over. Two Yorkist pretenders invaded England in the early years of Henry's reign. Oxford commanded the vanguard at the Battle of Stoke Field (the only part of the royalist army that actually had to fight), and was then commander in chief at the Battle of Blackheath.

Oxford was succeeded as Earl by his nephew.

John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford

M, #11718, b. 8 September 1442, d. 10 March 1512/13

Last Edited=22 May 2004

Consanguinity Index=0.2%

    John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford was born on 8 September 1442. He was the son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth Howard. He married Lady Margaret Neville, daughter of Richard de Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montagu, Countess of Salisbury.1 He married, secondly, Elizabeth Scrope, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne, between 28 November 1508 and 10 April 1509.2,3 He died on 10 March 1512/13 at age 70.2

John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford gained the title of 13th Earl of Oxford. He held the office of Lord Great Chamberlain [England].

[S8] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 17. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition.

[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume II, page 64. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.

[S2] Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Sutton Publishing, 1998), page 78. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV.

John De VERE

(13th Earl of Oxford)

Born: 8 Sep 1442

Acceded: 1462

Died: 10 Mar 1513, Hedingham Castle, Essex, England

Buried: Colne Priory

Notes: Knight of the Garter. The Complete Peerage vol.X,p.239-244.

Father: John De VERE (12° E. Oxford)

Mother: Elizabeth HOWARD (C. Oxford)

Married 1: Margaret NEVILLE (C. Oxford) AFT 1459

Married 2: Elizabeth SCROPE (C. Oxford) 1508

Second son of John, 12th Earl of Oxford, a prominent Lancastrian, who, together with his eldest son Aubrey De Vere, was executed in Feb 1462. John De Vere the younger was himself attainted, but two years later was restored as 13th earl. But his loyalty was suspected, and for a short time at the end of 1468 he was in the Tower. He sided with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the king-maker, in the political movements of 1469, accompanied him in his exile next year, and assisted in the Lancastrian restoration of 1470-1471. As constable he tried John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, who had condemned his father nine years before. At the battle of Barnet, Oxford was victorious in command of the Lancastrian right, but his men got out of hand, and before they could be rallied Warwick was defeated. Oxford escaped to France. In 1473 he organized a Lancastrian expedition, which, after an attempted landing in Essex, sailed west and seized St Michael's Mount in Cornwall. It was only after a four months' siege that Oxford was forced to surrender in Feb 1474. He was sent to Hammes near Calais, whence, ten years later, in Aug 1484, he escaped and joined Henry Tudor in Brittany. He fought for Henry in high command at Bosworth, and was rewarded by restoration to his title, estates and hereditary office of Lord Chamberlain. At Stoke on the 16 Jun 1486 he led the van of the royal army. 7 Apr 1487, King Henry VII fearing an attack by Yorkists to regain the throne, commissioned John, Duke of Suffolk; John, Earl of Oxford; John, Lord Fitzwalter; Sir William Knyvett; Sir Henry Heydon; Sir Philip Calthorpe; William Boleyn and Ralph Shelton to array and guard the seacoast and warn people in that county of the coming of the King’s enemies. 28 Aug 1490 John, Duke of Suffolk; John, Earl of Oxford; Sir Thomas Lovell; Sir William Boleyn; Sir Ralph Shelton; Richard Southwell and others were commissioned to raise men at arms and place beacons “in the usual places” to warn the people of the coming of the King’s enemies. In 1492 he was in command in the expedition to Flanders, and in 1497 was foremost in the defeat of the Cornish rebels on Blackheath. Bacon (Hist, of Henry VII. p. 192, ed. Lumby) has preserved a story that when in the summer of 1498 Oxford entertained the King at Castle Hedingham, he assembled a great number of his retainers in livery; Henry thanked the Earl for his reception, but fined him 15,000 marks for the breach of the laws. Oxford was high steward at the trial of the Earl of Warwick, and one of the commissioners for the trial of Sir James Tyrell and others in May 1502. Partly through ill-health he took little part afterwards in public affairs, and died on the 10 Mar 1513. He was twice married, but left no children. His first wife was Margaret Neville, a sister of the king-maker; the second was Margaret Scrope, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne. He was suc. by his nephew, John, son of his brother, Sir George.

Oxford is frequently mentioned in the Paston Letters, which include twenty written by him, mostly to Sir John Paston the younger. See The Paston Letters, ed. J. Gairdner; Chronicles of London, ed. C. L. Kingsford (1905); Sir James Ramsay, Lancaster and York; and The Political History of England, vols. iv. and v. (1906). (C. L. K.)

John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford gained the title of 13th Earl of Oxford.

He held the office of Lord Great Chamberlain [England].

James Ross. John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford: ;The Foremost Man of the Kingdom". Rochester Boydell Press, 2011. 266 pp. $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84383-614-8.

British National Archives medieval specialist James Ross gives us the first complete biography of "The Foremost Man of the Kingdom," John de Vere, the thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513). Oxford's life and work deserves exploration, in Ross's view, because he was "the last great medieval nobleman" who survived "no fewer than six kings of England during one of the most turbulent periods in English history," the Wars of the Roses. He lived through "many changes in fortune" during his lifetime, ranging from military defeat and imprisonment to a position of power second only to Henry VII (p. 1). Ross explores not only how he weathered these changes, but also the ways in which he exercised his power and authority. And, on the whole, despite some minor issues, it is a well-researched look at a historical actor who certainly deserves the attention.

Indeed, overall the book is a well-written, well-researched, and extremely engaging look at an influential player during a pivotal time in British history. It fills a notable gap in the historiography, given that it is the first full-length biography of the thirteenth Earl of Oxford, and it provides a substantial source base from which other historians can begin their own exploration of Oxford's political role or other topics related to Oxford's life and experiences. It is therefore a must read for any historian of the Wars of the Roses or the reign of Henry VII, and is an accessible biography for the nonhistorian who wishes to learn more about a historical actor who has, until now, remained hidden from view.

Citation: Sarah Douglas. Review of Ross, James, _John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford: "The Foremost Man of the Kingdom"_. H-War, H-Net Reviews. January, 2013. URL:

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John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford's Timeline

September 8, 1442
Castle Hedingham, Essex, England
March 10, 1513
Age 70
Castle Hedingham, Essex, England
Great Chamberlain