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John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)


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Earl of Oxford for fifty years, and subject of six kings of England during the political strife of the Wars of the Roses, John de Vere's career included more changes of fortune than almost any other. He recovered his earldom after the execution of his father and brother for treason, but his resistance to Edward IV led to a decade in prison. He escaped in time to lead Henry Tudor's vanguard at Bosworth in 1485 and subsequently enjoyed twenty-five years as perhaps "the foremost man of the kingdom", virtually ruling East Anglia for the king.
This is the first full-length study of de Vere's life and career. Through this lens it also tackles a number of broader themes. It reconsiders the role of the nobility under Henry VII, challenging the common perception of Henry as an anti-aristocratic king. It also explores East Anglian political society in the second half of the fifteenth century, how the earl came to dominate it, how successfully he exercised his power, and the personnel, including the Paston family, he used to run the region.

James Ross holds his doctorate from the University of Oxford.


Offers a rounded and nuanced picture of a man whom Ross rightly calls 'the last great medieval nobleman', and is a valuable contribution to the scholarship of the end of the middle ages and of the late medieval nobility.ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A well-written, well-researched and extremely engaging look at an influential player during a pivotal time in British history. H-WAR

Drawing on a multiplicity of sources and presented in an attractive volume by the Boydell Press, [the book] adds much to our understanding of the period and the dilemmas confronting noblemen at a time of civil war. HISTORY

[A] notable work. THE RICARDIAN

A fine book that gives us a keenly nuanced appraisal of the workings of high politics during Henry VII's pivotal reign. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

This study of a nobleman who has not been seriously treated before is a welcome addition to the shelf. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW


First Published: 17 Mar 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843836148
1 black and white, 3 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 294
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The Earl's Familial Inheritance
  • 3  The Thirteenth Earl: Sedition, the Readeption, and Imprisonment, 1462-85
  • 4  Estates and Wealth
  • 5  'His principal servant both for war and peace': Political life under Henry VII
  • 6  Oxford's 'Satrapy' - East Anglia, 1485-1513
  • 7  'My retainers...come to do me service' - The Earl's Affinity
  • 8  Private and Public
  • 9  Conclusion
  • 10  Appendix
  • 11  Select Bibliography