Piers Curtes, Keeper of the King’s Wardrobe

Amongst the political refugees from Richard III’s regime who took sanctuary in the waning months of Richard’s rule was Piers Curtes, a royal functionary and aspiring aristocrat who served as MP for decades and as keeper of the King’s Great Wardrobe from 1472 to 1485. Appointed originally by Edward IV (in whose household he had served from early in the reign), Curtes continued as Keeper of the Wardrobe when Richard III took the throne. But by early 1485, things had gotten dicey in Richard’s governing circles (I picture something similar to reports of chaos and paranoia in the late Trump White House). Curtes was removed from his office and fled to sanctuary at Westminster.


In 1486 Henry VII restored Piers to office because “of his true heart and service and of the great persecution, dangers and losses of goods, sustained by him in the king’s cause, he having kept sanctuary at Westminster long time in sadness, punishment, and fear, awaiting the king’s arrival.”

CPR 1485-94, 26

In the early years of his reign Henry VII used flights to sanctuary of men like Curteys to emphasize the righteousness of his own kingship in contrast to the tyranny of Richard III. This made it tricky for him later to deal with opponents to his own regime who fled to sanctuary: but in the short and even medium term it helped brand him as a just and fair king who would rule very differently from his predecessor.

Henry VII. Source

Reference: CPR 1485-94, 26; and see my article about a questionable marriage situation Curteys involved himself in a year or so later; and the original marriage case here. Top image British Library, link.

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