William Hastings was undoubtedly the closest and most loyal friend, councillor and advisor of Edward IV, whose Lord Chamberlain he also was. He fought beside Edward in the battles that constituted the Wars of the Roses and also married the sister of Warwick the Kingmaker. Even so, when Warwick forced Edward to leave the country and go into exile in the Low Countries, Hastings followed him
When the king died in April 1483 he agreed to protect the young king, Edward V. He was not, however, a friend of the queen and her Woodville kinsmen, most particularly her son Thomas Grey, with whom he had had a couple of lengthy feuds.
After the death of Edward it seems that Hastings was worried about the actions of the queen who is said to have tried to consolidate the power of her family and appointing members of the same for key positions around the young king, who after all was her son, as well as pushing for the coronation of young Edward.
It seems that Hastings wrote to Richard who at this point was in Yorkshire and asked him to come to London at the earliest possible moment. This was the prelude to the events at Stony Stratford which saw Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey arrested while young Edward was brought to the Tower to never emerge from there again.
Hastings supported Richard´s installation as Lord Protector, but by all accounts he did not support that actions taken to bar the young king from the throne. There has been much speculations over the centuries what it was that led up to the events on June 13, 1483. It has been suggested that Hastings had been part of a plot where his mistress Jane Shore, formally the mistress of Edward IV had acted as go-between between Hastings and Elizabeth Woodville at her sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.
Other theories and speculations relate for example to the possibility that Hastings had known that Edward had been married to Eleanor Butler which was the foundation of Richard´s proclamation of all his nieces and nephews as illegitimate, and that Hastings was arrested and executed for not having come forward with what he knew.
A probably more plausible theory is that Hastings instead knew that no pre-contract or marriage to Eleanor had ever existed and that the proclamation of the young king as illegitimate was absolutely unlawful.
In any event, during a council meeting that took place on this day, events changed very rapidly. After leaving the meeting for a short while, Richard returned in a fury, ordering the arrest of several council members such as the archbishop of York and the bishop of Ely among others. But there was only one man who was dragged out of the council meeting which was held at the Tower, and exected on Tower Green, and that was William Hastings..
Richard III: a study of service – Rosemary Horrox
Murder in the Tower – Peter A Hancock
Coat of Arms – Rs-nourse