The Earls of Devon of the 15th Century were very much caught up in the Wars of the Roses, and no fewer than three Courtenays of Bickleigh were executed or killed in battle.
Thomas Courtenay (5th Earl of Devon) married Margaret Beaufort (of the Lancastrian side in the Wars of the Roses) who was Henry VII's great-aunt through the marriage of her brother's daughter (also Margaret Beaufort, the character portrayed in 'The White Queen') to the father of King Henry VII. The 5th Earl of Devon had Bickleigh Castle greatly expanded with the addition of a fine 'turretted and castelated' manor house (later destroyed during the English Civil War) and his many children lived there.
Thomas Courtenay, Earl of Devon (his eldest son) was taken prisoner at the Battle of Towton in 1461 (Wars of the Roses) and was executed at York the same year.
Henry Courtenay (second son) de jure 7th Earl of Devon, was beheaded for treason in the market place at Salisbury, Wiltshire on 17 January 1469 (Wars of the Roses)
William Courtenay (1st Earl of Devon in a new creation of 1511 and of a different branch of the Courtenay family) was married to Princess Katherine Plantagenet, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen) and King Edward IV. Princess Katherine frequently stayed at Bickleigh Castle and is believed to have lived there for most of her widowhood (1511 to 1527). Princess Katherine was a sister of Elizabeth of York, wife of King Henry VII and the favourite aunt of Henry VIII (his senior by only 12 years). She was the last child of Edward IV to die. While things could have been difficult financially for Princess Katherine after her husband's demise, Henry VIII ensured she was properly provided for.
There is a substantial plaque at Bickleigh Castle commemorating the upheavals of the period, believed to have been commissioned by Princess Katherine.