Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter

Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter, 3rd Earl of Huntington (27 June 1430 – September 1475) was a Lancastrian leader during the English Wars of the Roses. He was the only son of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter, and his first wife, Anne Stafford. His maternal grandparents were Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford, and Anne of Gloucester.

Arms of Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter: England, a bordure of France


He inherited the Dukedom of Exeter and Earl of Huntington when his father died in 1447. However, he was cruel, savagely temperamental and unpredictable, and so had little support. P.M. Kendall describes him as "dangerous", and was seen as "cruel and fierce" by contemporary Italian observers.[1]

Constable of the TowerEdit

Exeter was for a time Constable of the Tower of London, and afterwards the rack there came to be called "the Duke of Exeter's daughter".[2]

Wars of the RosesEdit

In 1447 he married Anne, the eight-year-old daughter of Richard of York. However, in the Wars of the Roses, he remained loyal to Henry VI against the Yorkists. He was imprisoned at Wallingford Castle when York briefly seized power after the First Battle of St Albans in 1455. In 1458 he participated in The Love Day, an attempt at reconciliation between the rival factions. He was a commander at the Lancastrian victories at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 and the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461, and in the decisive defeat at Towton in 1461. He fled to Scotland after the battle, and then joined Queen Margaret in her exile in France. He was attainted in 1461, and his estates were given to his wife, who separated from him in 1464. During the brief period of Henry VI's restoration he was able to regain many of his estates and posts.

At the Battle of Barnet, Exeter commanded the Lancastrian left flank. He was badly wounded and left for dead, but survived. Afterwards he was imprisoned, and Anne divorced him in 1472. He "volunteered" to serve on Edward IV's 1475 expedition to France. On the return voyage he fell overboard and drowned, his body being found in the sea between Dover and Calais, Fabyan saying "but how he drowned, the certainty is not known".[3] However, Giovanni Panicharolla, the Milanese envoy to the Burgundian court, was told by Duke Charles that the King of England had given specific orders for the sailors to throw his former brother-in-law overboard.[4][5]


Before 30 July 1447, he married Anne of York, the eldest child of Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville.[6] She was an older sister of Edward IV and Richard III.

He had one legitimate child:[6]

Since Henry had no legitimate male issue the disposition of his estates became a complex matter for his widow, the dowager Duchess of Exeter.



  1. ^ Kendall, P.M. Warwick the Kingmaker. p. 305.
  2. ^ However, Stubbs says it was named after the 2nd duke, who was also constable of the Tower, in his The Constitutional History of England in Its Origin and Development, vol. 3, p. 302
  3. ^ Robert Fabyan. The new chronicles of England and France, in two parts, pg 663. [1]
  4. ^ Desmond Seward. The Wars of the Roses and the Lives of Five Men and Women in the Fifteenth Century, Constable & Robinson, 2002. pg 240.
  5. ^ Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan 1385-1618, pg. 220 [2]
  6. ^ a b Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, Genealogical Publishing, 2005. pg 299-301. Google eBook
  7. ^ Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 57, fol. 2*r
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Suffolk
Lord High Admiral
Succeeded by
The Earl of Kent
Peerage of England
Preceded by
John Holland
Duke of Exeter