A Letter of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, to His Wife

On the anniversary of the battle of Barnet, which was fought on April 14, 1471, I thought I’d share this letter from the Paston collection (from John Fenn’s edition). It was written by John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, shortly after the Lancastrian defeat at the battle. Oxford probably did not see his wife again until 1485, when after years of exile and imprisonment, he returned to England with Henry Tudor’s forces and joined in the victory at Bosworth.

To the right reverend and worshipful Lady:

Right reverend and worshipful lady, I recommend me to you, letting you weet that I am in great heaviness at the making of this letter; but thanked be God I am escaped myself, and suddenly departed from my men; for I understand my chaplain would have defrayed [betrayed] me: and if he come into the country let him be made sure, &c.

Also ye shall give credence to the bringer of this letter, and I beseech you to reward him to his costs; for I was not in power at the making of this letter to give him, but as I was put in trust by favour of strange people, &c.

Also ye shall send me in all haste all the ready money that ye can make; and as many of my men as can come well horsed, and that they come in divers parcels.

Also that my horses be sent with my steel saddles, and bid the yeoman of the horse cover them with leather.

Also ye shall send to my mother, and let her weet of this letter and pray her of her blessing, and bid her send me my casket by this token; that she hath the key thereof, but it is broken.

Also ye shall send to the Prior of Thetford, and bid him send me the sum of gold that he said that I should have; also say to him by this token; that I showed him the first privy seal, &c.

Also let Paston, Felbrig, and Brews, come to me.

Also ye shall deliver the bringer of this letter an horse, saddle, and bridle.

Also ye shall be of good cheer, and take no thought, for I shall bring my purpose about now by the grace of God who have you in keeping.

4 thoughts on “A Letter of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, to His Wife”

  1. I love this letter. He was the eternal optimist. Margaret had a pretty rough time of it while he was away, but they did get to spend the last twenty odd years of her life together. Though pardoned a couple of times after 1472, she didn't receive an annuity until 1482. Another tough Nevill woman!

  2. His experience just shows how fortunes swung that day – from mashing Gloucester (and reports getting to London that Edward had lost because of it) – to fleeing for his life!

  3. Businesslike and to the point. I wonder if they had any trouble adjusting to life together again after so long apart?

  4. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks for stopping by, all! Carla, that would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?

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