Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: Edward IV

[An image showing Who Are All These Kings?: Edward IV]Edward IV, the first king of the House of York, had two spells as King of England, having been deposed and restored soon after.

He was born in 1442 at Rouen in Normandy, the son of Richard, Duke of York, and his wife Cecily. However, gossip at the time pointed to his mother`s friendship with a handsome knight, and that Edward`s mighty height and physique were very different from the rest of his family, who tended towards the physically slight.

Edward, styled Earl of March, and his brother Edmund spent their childhood at Ludlow Castle. His first experience of battle was the defeat at Ludford bridge, near Ludlow, in 1459, but he was at the much more successful Battle of Northampton, where Henry VI was captured.

Richard was declared heir to the throne in 1460, but shortly afterwards was executed after his defeat at the Battle of Wakefield. Edmund too lost his life at the battle.

The 18 year old Edward raised an army with his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and having defeated Jasper Tudor and the Lancastrian forces at Mortimers Cross in 1461, they successfully invaded London, with Edward being proclaimed king as Edward IV.

Three weeks later, they decisively defeated the forces of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou at the bloody Battle of Towton, fought in a snowstorm on Palm Sunday. Henry and Margaret fled to Scotland, and were granted sanctuary by James III, while Edward was duly crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Edward was initially a popular king. He was six foot three, handsome, an able soldier and with an affable manner, having the gift of remembering people`s names. He set about making the country`s administration more efficient, although he spent some of the money he saved on his own pleasures.

He delegated the task of defeating the Lancastrian resistance, mostly in the North, to the brothers Richard and John Neville. After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Hexham in 1464, John Neville was given the Earldom of Northumberland.

Around this time, Richard, Earl of Warwick, began negotiating a treaty with Louis XI of France, including Edward`s mariage to Bona of Savoy, a French princess, although Edward himself was considering a marriage alliance with Burgundy.

But Edward allowed his own lustful nature to get in the way of all this. He secretly married, at Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire, Elizabeth Woodville of Groby in Leicestershire, the daughter of Lord Rivers and the widow of Sir John Grey, who had been killed in battle in1461. It was said that she rejected his amorous advances, but would agree if he married her, which he promptly did, in 1464, and kept it secret for several months.

According to rumour, he had already become engaged to Lady Eleanor Butler, which at the time would have made his actual marriage bigamous, as a contract to marry was regarded as being tantamount to marriage itself. The whole episode was raked over for years afterwards, and was certainly disapproved of by Warwick, who felt humiliated, as well as losing the chance of gaining property in France.

From this point, the Woodville family started to exploit their new found status, threatening to lose Warwick his position as second most powerful man in the land.

In 1468, Edward married his sister Margaret to Charles, Duke of Burgundy. This was the last straw for Warwick, who withdrew his supprt for Edward and sided with George, Duke of Clarence, the king`s brother, who himself harboured ambitions of becoming king. If the rumours about Edward`s paternity were true, he had a case. Warwick also allied himself wih Louis XI of France, who promised him lands in France in return for Edward`s otherthrow.

In 1469, Warwick secured a marriage between George and his own daughter Isabella, knowing that Edward strongly opposed the match. Orchestrating a number of uprisings in the North, including the one led in Yorkshire by Robin of Redesdale, Warwick issued a proclamation that Edward must mend his ways or be deposed.

Taking up arms, Edward suffered a defeats at Nottingham and Edgecote and, realising that his support was limited, allowed himself to be captured by Warwick, who imprisoned the king at Warwick Castle and sought to govern in his name.

But support for Warwick started to fade and Edward regained his freedom, and inflicted a defeat on Warwick`s supprters in the East Midlands at Losecoat Field near Empingham in Rutland. He returned to London, to public acclaim, reconciling himself, at least officially, with both Warwick and his brother George.

Warwick now realised that in order to retain power he needed to throw in his lot with Henry VI and the Lancastrians. To this end, in 1470, an invasion fleet landed at Dartmouth. John Neville sent an army ostensibly to support Edward, but at the last minute declared his support for Henry. Hugely outnumbered, Edward fled to Burgundy, and refuge with his brother-in-law.

Warwick released Henry VI from imprisonment in the Tower of London and restored him as king, thus cementing his reputation as Warwick the Kingmaker.

But Henry`s second reign did not last long. Warwick decared war on Burgundy. In response to this, Charles of Burgundy granted Edward an army and a fleet, and in 1471 he returned to England.

On Easter Sunday, although outnumbered three to one, he defeated Warwick`s army at the Battle of Barnet, where both Warwick and his brother John were killed. Edward marched victoriously upon London and was restored to the throne.

At the Battle of Tewkesbury, Edward defeated the forces of Margaret of Anjou, Henry`s Queen, and in the battle Edward, Prince of Wales and Henry`s son, was killed.

Realising that the simple Henry would continue to be a focus for the Lancastrian cause, Edward then ordered that he must be murdered, which was accomplished by a dagger in the back while he was at prayer, although it was announced that he had died of natural causes. Later propaganda claimed that the deed was done by Edward`s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later to become Richard III.

As a restored king, Edward continued his policies of reforming the administration and encouraging profitable trade. Richard of Gloucester led a campaign against the Scots in 1482, regaining Berwick-on-Tweed. But Edward`s brother George, who still wanted to be king, continued to plot against him, and this time he was tried and executed for treason in 1478. The traditional story is that he was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine, and inevitably Shakespeare made the future Richard III the perpetrator.

Edward was a notable patron of the arts, for example encouraging the printing pioneer William Caxton. He also instigated building works at Windsor Castle and Eltham Palace.

But in the last few years of his life, he became less active than before, and his mighty body started to turn to fat. He died in 1483 at the Palace of Westminster, at the age of forty, suffering a variety of ailments. There is little doubt that his overindulgence in various pursuits, especially his overeating, caused his untimely death.

He was buried at St. Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle.

His wife Elizabeth Woodville had two children by Sir John Grey. Thomas, Marquess of Dorset was born in 1455. He married Anne, daughter of Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter and secondly Cecila, daughter of William Bonville, Baron Harington.

Edward and Elizabeth had several children.

Elizabeth was born in 1466 at the Palace of Westminster. She married Henry VII at Westminster Abbey in 1487 and died in the Tower of London in 1503, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Mary was born in 1467 at Windsor Castle She died at Greenwich Palace in 1482 and was buried at St. George`s Chapel at Windsor.

Cecilia was born in 1469 at the Palace of Westminster. She married John Welles in 1487 and secondly Thpmas Kyme of Wainfleet in 1502. She died at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight in 1507, and was buried there.

Edward was born was born in 1470 in The Sanctuary at Westminster Abbey. He briefly succeeded his father as Edward V, and is remembered as one of the Princes in the Tower.

Margaret was born in 1472 at Windsor Castle and died in 1472. She was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Richard was born in 1473 at the Dominican Friary at {/locale/shrewsbury/], and was created Duke of York in 1474, establishing the tradition that the sovereign`s second son holds that title. He married at the Palace of Westminster in 1478 Anne, daughter of John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. The date and circumstances of his death are unknown, and he is remembered as one of the Princes in the Tower.

Anne was born in 1475 at the Palace of Westminster. She married at Greenwich Palace in 1495 Lord Thomas Howard, later Earl of Surrey, then Duke of Norfolk. She died in 1511 and was buried at Thetford Priory. Her remains were later moved to Framlingham Church.

Goerge was born in 1477 at Windsor Castle. He died in 1479 at Windsor Castle and was buried in St. George`s Chapel.

Katherine was born in 1479 at Greenwich Palace. She married William Courtenay, later Earl of Devon, in 1495. She died in 1527 at Tiverton Castle and was buried at Tiverton Church.

Bridget was born in 1480 at Eltham Palace. She became a nun at Dartford Priory in 1487, and died and was buried there in 1513.

Edward was also the father of a number of illegitimate children.

By Eleanor Butler: Edward de Wigmore, born and died in 1468.

By Elizabeth Lucy: Arthur Plantagenet, born in 1461 and died in 1542: and Elizabeth, born in 1464.

By an unknown mother: Grace.

Edward was briefly succeeded by his young son Edward V.