Soldier, Rebel, Traitor
John, Lord Wenlock and the Wars of the Roses
John Wenlock, first Lord Wenlock, was a leading diplomat, courtier and soldier during the Wars of the Roses whose remarkable career offers us a fascinating insight into one of the most turbulent periods in English medieval history. And yet he has hitherto been overshadowed by his more illustrious contemporaries. Alexander Brondarbit’s meticulously researched and perceptive biography is overdue. It establishes Wenlock as a major figure in his own right and records in vivid detail how this shrewd nobleman found his way through the brutal conflicts of his times.
Wenlock served in Henry V’s military campaigns in France in the 1420s before moving on to a career in the royal households of Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and Edward IV. As a diplomat, he led multiple embassies to Burgundy and France and, in addition to the kings he served, he was closely connected with other notable figures of the age such as Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. But Wenlock’s speciality was on the battlefield – he took part in many raids, skirmishes and sieges and in three major battles including the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 where he lost his life.
Using primary sources as well as contemporary assessments in chronicles and letters, Alexander Brondarbit gives a nuanced description of the main episodes in Wenlock’s long career and throws new light on the motivation of a man who has been labelled a ‘Prince of Turncoats’ because of his frequent changes of allegiance.