Thomas Vaughan

Born: c. 1410

Died: June 25, 1483

Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England (Age c. 73)

Vaughan in History

Virtually nothing is known about the early life of Thomas Vaughan, and he does not seem to have had any sort of influence whatsoever until the mid-1440s when he, most likely, served under John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, a member of the House of Lancaster. Vaughan continued to serve the Lancastrians throughout the 1450s, acting as an envoy and associating with men such as Jasper Tudor (uncle to the future Henry VII). When the rival houses of Lancaster and York fought for control of England towards the end of the decade, Vaughan switched his allegiance to the Yorkists and was among those attainted for treason in 1459. When Edward IV rose to the throne in 1461, however, Vaughan, as well as all other Yorkist supporters, was returned to favor. Vaughan was given a number of important responsibilities which included being made ambassador to France, Burgundy and other countries. He most likely joined Edward IV in exile during the brief Lancastrian revival of 1470-71 but was, once again, returned to favor when the Yorkists regained power.

As a man now of roughly sixty, Vaughan was, by this point, considered to be a wise, respected elder statesman, and his primary duty during the final decade of his life was to act as a mentor to Edward IV's eldest son (also named Edward). He was assigned the tasks of chamberlain and councilor to the young prince of Wales and was undoubtedly one of the biggest influences on the future Edward V. When Edward IV died in 1483, Vaughan was unquestionably happy that his pupil would now be ascending the throne. The new King Edward V and his party, which included Vaughan and several members of his maternal relatives, the Woodvilles, headed south for the youth's coronation. Unfortunately, their party was intercepted by that of Richard of Gloucester, younger brother of Edward IV, and his ally the Duke of Buckingham. There did not seem to be any immediate danger for the party, and Gloucester treated the men kindly. The king was then seized and Vaughan, along with Anthony Woodville and his nephew Lord Grey, was arrested and imprisoned at Pontefract Castle. It became clear that Gloucester was to have himself crowned king, and Vaughan, Woodville and Grey were all executed in June 1483. Vaughan, who was a man of over seventy, turned out to be one of the many victims of the future Richard III. This was far from deserved when one looks at his loyal service throughout his long life.

Vaughan in Shakespeare

Appears in: Richard III

Sir Thomas Vaughan appears in only a single scene in Richard III where he is seen just before his execution with Earl Rivers and Lord Grey.



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