George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
George Plantagenet, First Duke of Clarence (1449 – 1478), was the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York whose claims on the crown led to the Wars of the Roses, and the brother of King Edward IV of England, who made him the Duke of Clarence after defeating the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in 1461 and getting himself crowned king. The following year, King Edward made his youngest brother Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as well, notwithstanding that George was only 13 at the time. George repaid his brother’s generosity with multiple conspiracies until the exasperated Edward finally ordered his death.
As he grew into manhood, George idolized and came under the influence of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as “The Kingmaker”, who had been instrumental in deposing the Lancastrian king Henry VI and replacing him with Edward IV. George married Neville’s daughter in defiance of the king’s wishes to marry his youngest brother into a European royal family to secure a dynastic alliance.
Neville eventually fell out with king Edward and deserted to the Lancastrians, and George, despite being a member of the York family, took his father-in-law’s side, betrayed his brother, and joined the Lancastrian camp. Thanks to the Kingmaker’s intrigues, Edward IV was deposed and forced to flee England in 1470, while king Henry VI was restored to the throne.
However, George then started to mistrust his father-in-law, and switched his support from the Kingmaker back to his brother. Edward IV returned to England in 1471 and defeated the Lancastrians. The Kingmaker was killed in battle, and the twice deposed Henry VI was murdered, soon after his sole son and heir was executed, to ensure that neither he nor his line would pose any future threats. The wayward George was pardoned by Edward IV.
However, George once again betrayed his elder brother and was caught conspiring against him. Fed up, Edward IV jailed George in the Tower of London and tried him for treason, personally conducting the prosecution before Parliament. George was convicted, attainted, and sentenced to death, and on February 18th, 1478, he was executed by getting dunked into a big barrel of Malmsey wine, and forcibly held under its surface until he was drowned.