Richard Neville was born on 22, November 1428 at Middleham Castle, to Richard, Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montagu. He spent his youth mainly at the northern castles of Raby and Middleham, though he may have traveled abroad to France with his father on more than one occasion. He married Anne Beauchamp at the tender age of eleven, and it was through her that he inherited the earldom of Warwick in 1449.
The Nevilles were engaged in a long feud with their neighbors, the Percy family of Northumberland. Because of increasing hostilities Warwick and Salisbury allied themselves to their relative the Duke of York around 1453. In 1455 they supported his bid for power, and struck a blow for themselves against the Percies, at the battle of St Albans. The battle was won, chiefly because of Warwick’s keen military eye.
A short while after the Yorkist victory at Bloreheath, Warwick and his family were forced into flight and exile abroad. Secure in Calais Warwick launched an invasion of England and at the battle of Northampton captured King Henry VI. With Henry in Yorkist hands it was left to Queen Margaret to carry on fighting. At the battle of Wakefield she defeated and killed York and his son Rutland, along with Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas Neville. In one day Warwick lost his father, a brother, an uncle and a cousin. After this there was no turning back; Warwick now enthusiastically supported his cousin, the new Duke of York’s claim to the throne. Edward was declared King in London on March 4 and crowned on June 28, following the battle of Towton.
For the first few years of Edward IV’s reign the Earl of Warwick ruled England in all but name while Edward enjoyed the more entertaining privileges of kingship. By the mid 1460s however Warwick was slowly being alienated by Edward: firstly his constant refusal to let his brothers marry Warwick's daughters angered the Earl. Edward’s own marriage to a commoner was extremely harmful to Warwick’s politics, and the elevation of the Lancastrian Woodville family and subsequent marriages to nobles around the country was embarrassing if not plain insulting to the Nevilles. Finding his grip on the king slipping away Warwick mounted a successful coup d’état in 1469, overthrowing Edward’s Woodville government and imprisoning him. Warwick actually had the audacity to have two King’s in prison at this time: Edward at Warwick Castle and Henry VI at London, in the Tower. Eventually, finding it hard to govern England with the King imprisoned; the Earl was forced to release Edward, who was quick to return to power.
Warwick soon rebelled again with another strategy, if he could not rule England through Edward then he would put the King’s weaker brother, the Duke of Clarence on the throne and make his own daughter Anne queen. Warwick’s army of rebels (mainly a peasant rabble) however, was defeated before Warwick could reach it. The Earl fled to France with Clarence where he was well received by Louis XI. Warwick abandoned his original plan when Louis persuaded him to reinstate the Lancastrian King Henry – for the price of land on the continent. Louis financed the invasion and Warwick led it after being reconciled with Henry’s queen, Margaret of Anjou. London was captured, Edward fled into exile, and Henry VI was reinstated: the ‘Kingmaker’ had done it again.
In 1471 Edward landed in England and on 14th April met Warwick in battle at Barnet, where the Earl was defeated and slain. His body was displayed in London the following day before being buried in Bisham Abbey, the ancestral tomb of the Nevilles.