Edward IV of England

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Edward IV
King Edward IV.jpg
Posthumous portrait, c.1540
King of England
  • 4 March 1461 3 October 1470
  • 11 April 1471 9 April 1483
Coronation 28 June 1461
Predecessor Henry VI
Successor Edward V
Born28 April 1442
Rouen, Normandy, France
Died9 April 1483 (aged 40)
Westminster, Middlesex, England
Burial18 April 1483
(m. 1464)
House York
Father Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Mother Cecily Neville
Signature Edward IV signature.svg

Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, [1] [2] then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England fought between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions between 1455 and 1487.


Edward inherited the Yorkist claim when his father, Richard, Duke of York, died at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460. After defeating Lancastrian armies at Mortimer's Cross and Towton in early 1461, he deposed King Henry VI and took the throne. His marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 led to conflict with his chief advisor, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the "Kingmaker". In 1470, a revolt led by Warwick and Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence, briefly re-installed Henry VI.

Edward fled to Flanders, where he gathered support and invaded England in March 1471; after victories at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, he resumed the throne. Shortly afterwards, Henry VI was found dead in the Tower of London. Despite a continuing threat from Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, the last Lancastrian claimant, Edward reigned in relative peace for the next twelve years. When he died suddenly in April 1483, Edward was briefly succeeded by his son Edward V, but his brother Richard III soon seized the throne.

Birth and ancestry

Edward was born on 28 April 1442 at Rouen in Normandy, eldest surviving son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. [3] Until his father's death, he was known as the Earl of March. [4] Both his parents were direct descendants of King Edward III, giving Edward a potential claim to the throne. This was strengthened in 1447, when York became heir to the childless King Henry VI on the death of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. [5] [lower-alpha 1]

Allegations of illegitimacy were discounted at the time as politically inspired, and by later historians. [6] [lower-alpha 2] Edward and his siblings George, Duke of Clarence, and Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, were physically very similar, all three being tall and blonde, in contrast to their father, the Duke of York, who was short and dark. [7] His youngest brother, who later became King Richard III, closely resembled their father. [8] [lower-alpha 3]

Early life

Drawing of Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, c. 1445 Richard of York Talbot Shrewsbury Book.jpeg
Drawing of Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, c. 1445

Edward grew up amidst a background of economic decline at home, and military defeat abroad, exacerbated by a weak and corrupt central government. Both he and his younger brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were born in Rouen, where their father, the Duke of York, served as governor of English lands in France until 1445, when he was replaced by Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset. Edward and Edmund were probably brought up at Ludlow Castle, in the Welsh Marches, where the Duke of York was the dominant landowner. [9]

In 1447, the Duke of York was made chief governor of Ireland, although he did not take up the post until 1449. Shortly thereafter, a French offensive recaptured Normandy, leaving Calais as the last English possession in Northern France; despite responsibility for this defeat, Somerset was appointed King Henry's chief minister. [10] English politics became dominated by the struggle between the Yorkists and supporters of the House of Lancaster, or Lancastrians, notably the Duke of Somerset, William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and King Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou. [10]

Matters came to a head in August 1453 when King Henry VI collapsed into a catatonic stupor on hearing news of the loss of Gascony, an English possession for over 300 years. The Duke of York took over government, his chief supporters being Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and his eldest son, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. [11] In January 1454, 12-year-old Edward rode beside his father when he entered London to attend the Great Council. [4]

However, the birth of King Henry VI's son, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, in October 1453 created a viable Lancastrian figurehead, and the 1450s was dominated by political conflict between the two factions. By the age of 17, the Earl of March was a political and military leader in his own right; after their defeat at the Battle of Ludford Bridge in 1459, his father and brother Edmund fled to Ireland, while the Earls of March, Salisbury and Warwick made their way to Calais. Edward's name appears alongside those of his father, Warwick and Salisbury in widely circulated manifestoes declaring their quarrel was only with Henry's evil counsellors. [12]

In 1460, Edward crossed the English Channel with Warwick and Salisbury, and marched into London. At Northampton in July, he commanded one of three divisions in a Yorkist victory that led to the capture of Henry VI. [13] York crossed from Ireland to England; on entering the Palace of Westminster, he declared himself king, a claim greeted by the assembled lords in silence. [14] The Act of Accord agreed a compromise, whereby Henry remained king, but York and his descendants were designated his successors. [15]

The implications of removing the legally accepted heir to the throne created substantial opposition to the Yorkist administration; in late 1460, Edward was given his first independent command and sent to deal with a Lancastrian insurgency in Wales. Warwick remained in London, while York, Salisbury, and Edmund marched north to suppress another in Yorkshire; all three were killed following defeat at Wakefield on 30 December, leaving Edward as the new head of the Yorkist party. [16]


Accession to the throne

Towton Cross, commemorating Edward's victory at the Battle of Towton DacreCross.JPG
Towton Cross, commemorating Edward's victory at the Battle of Towton

At this stage of Edward's career, contemporaries like Philippe de Commines described him as handsome, affable, and energetic. [17] Unusually tall for the period at 6 feet 4 inches (193 centimetres), he was an impressive sight in armour, and took care to wear splendid clothes. This was done deliberately to contrast him with King Henry VI, whose physical and mental frailties undermined his position. [18]

On 2 February 1461, [lower-alpha 4] Edward won a hard-fought victory at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. The battle was preceded by a meteorological phenomenon known as parhelion, or three suns, which he took as his emblem, the "Sun in splendour". [19] However, this was offset by Warwick's defeat at the Second Battle of St Albans on 17 February, the Lancastrians regaining custody of Henry VI. The two met in London, where Edward was hastily crowned king, before marching north, where the two sides met at the Battle of Towton. Fought on 29 March in the middle of a snowstorm, it was the bloodiest battle ever to take place on English soil, and ended in a decisive Yorkist victory. [20]

Estimates of the dead range from 9,000 to 20,000; figures are uncertain, as most of the mass graves were emptied or moved over the centuries, while corpses were generally stripped of clothing or armour before burial. Nevertheless, casualties among the Lancastrian nobility were enormous, and explains the enduring bitterness among those who survived. Since 1996, excavations have uncovered over 50 skeletons from the battle; an analysis of their injuries shows the brutality of the contest, including extensive post-mortem mutilations. [21]

Margaret fled to Scotland with Edward of Westminster, while the new king returned to London for his 28 June 1461 coronation. [22] [23] Henry VI remained at large for over a year, but was caught and imprisoned in the Tower of London. There was little point in killing him while his son remained alive, since this would have transferred the Lancastrian claim from a frail captive to one who was young and free. [24]

1461 to 1470

Rose Noble coin of Edward IV, minted in 1464 Rose Noble, Edward IV, from 1464 - Bode-Museum - DSC02744.JPG
Rose Noble coin of Edward IV, minted in 1464

Most of the nobility had either remained loyal to Henry or stayed neutral, forcing Edward to rely heavily on the Nevilles. Consolidating the regime initially took precedence, but John Neville's victory at the 1464 Battle of Hexham seemed to end the Lancastrian threat. [25] This exposed internal divisions, particularly over foreign policy, which in this period largely focused on the relationship between England, France and the Duchy of Burgundy, with two of the parties manoeuvring to form an alliance against the third. [26] Although Edward preferred Burgundy as a partner, he allowed Warwick to negotiate a treaty with Louis XI of France, which included a suggested marriage between Edward and Anne of France or Bona of Savoy, respectively daughter and sister-in-law of the French king. [27]

In October 1464, Warwick was enraged to discover that on 1 May, Edward had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two sons, whose Lancastrian husband, John Grey of Groby, died at the Second Battle of St Albans. [28] If nothing else, it was a clear demonstration he was not in control of the king, despite suggestions to the contrary. [29] Edward's motives have been widely discussed by contemporaries and historians alike. Although Elizabeth's mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, came from the upper nobility, her father, Richard Woodville, was a middle ranking provincial knight. The Privy Council told Edward with unusual frankness that "she was no wife for a prince such as himself, for she was not the daughter of a duke or earl." [30]

The marriage was certainly unwise and unusual, although not unheard of; Henry VI's mother, Catherine of Valois, married her chamberlain, Owen Tudor. By all accounts, Elizabeth possessed considerable charm of person and intellect, while Edward was used to getting what he wanted. [31] Historians generally accept the marriage was an impulsive decision, but differ on whether it was also a "calculated political move". One view is the low status of the Woodvilles was part of the attraction, since unlike the Nevilles, they were reliant on Edward and thus more likely to remain loyal. [32] Others argue if this was his purpose, there were far better options available; all agree it had significant political implications that impacted the rest of Edward's reign. [33]

The marriage of Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville, from the illuminated manuscript Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre, by Jean de Wavrin Marriage Edward IV Elizabeth Woodville Wavrin Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre Francais 85 f109.jpeg
The marriage of Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville, from the illuminated manuscript Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre, by Jean de Wavrin

One reason for this was that twelve of the new queen's siblings survived into adulthood, creating a large pool of competitors for offices and estates, as well as in the matrimony market. Resentment built when her sisters made a series of advantageous unions, including that of Catherine Woodville to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham; Anne Woodville to William, heir to Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex; and Eleanor Woodville with Anthony, heir to Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent. [34]

In 1467, Edward dismissed his Lord Chancellor, Warwick's brother George Neville, Archbishop of York. Warwick responded by building an alliance with Edward's disaffected younger brother and heir, the Duke of Clarence, who held estates adjacent to the Neville heartland in the north. Concerned by this, Edward blocked a proposed marriage between Clarence and Warwick's eldest daughter Isabel. [35] In early July, Clarence defied his brother by traveling to Calais, where he married Isabel in a ceremony conducted by George Neville and overseen by Warwick. The three men issued a 'remonstrance', listing alleged abuses by the Woodvilles and other advisors close to Edward and then returned to London, where they assembled an army to remove these 'evil councillors' and establish good government. [36]

With Edward still in the north, the royal army was defeated by a Neville force at Edgecote Moor on 24 July 1469. After the battle, Edward was held in Middleham Castle; on 12 August, his father-in-law Richard Woodville and Richard's younger son, John Woodville, were executed at Kenilworth. However, it soon became clear there was little support for Warwick or Clarence; Edward was released in September and resumed the throne. [37] Outwardly, the situation remained unchanged, but tensions persisted and Edward did nothing to reduce the Nevilles' sense of vulnerability. The Percys, traditional rivals of the Neville family in the North, fought for Lancaster at Towton; their titles and estates were confiscated and given to Warwick's brother John Neville. In early 1470, Edward reinstated Henry Percy as Earl of Northumberland; John was compensated with the title Marquess of Montagu, but this was a significant demotion for a key supporter. [38]

Watercolour by George Townsend, 1885, of King Edward IV's reception to Exeter in 1470 The South Gate, Exeter - The Reception of King Edward IV, 1470.jpg
Watercolour by George Townsend, 1885, of King Edward IV's reception to Exeter in 1470

In March 1470, Warwick and Clarence exploited a private feud to initiate a full-scale revolt; when it was defeated, the two fled to France in May 1470. [39] Seeing an opportunity, Louis XI persuaded Warwick to negotiate with his long-time enemy, Margaret of Anjou; she eventually agreed, first making him kneel before her in silence for fifteen minutes. [40] With French support, Warwick landed in England on 9 September 1470 and announced his intention to restore Henry. [41] By now, the Yorkist regime was deeply unpopular and the Lancastrians rapidly assembled an army of over 30,000; when John Neville switched sides, Edward narrowly escaped capture and was forced to seek refuge in Bruges. [42]

Exile and restoration

Edward IV (left) watching the execution of Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, at Tewkesbury, 1471 Beheading duke somerset.jpg
Edward IV (left) watching the execution of Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, at Tewkesbury, 1471

Edward took refuge in Flanders, part of the Duchy of Burgundy, accompanied by a few hundred men, including his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Anthony Woodville and William Hastings. [43] The Duchy was ruled by Charles the Bold, husband of his sister Margaret; he provided minimal help, something Edward never forgot. [44]

The restored Lancastrian regime faced the same issue that dominated Henry's previous reign. Mental and physical frailties made him incapable of ruling and resulted in an internal struggle for control, made worse because the coalition that put him back on the throne consisted of bitter enemies. Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, held Warwick responsible for his father's death in 1455, while he had executed his elder brother in 1464; Warwick and Clarence quickly found themselves isolated by the new regime. [45]

Backed by wealthy Flemish merchants, in March 1471 Edward landed near Hull, close to his estates in Yorkshire. Supporters were initially reluctant to commit; the key northern city of York opened its gates only when he claimed to be seeking the return of his dukedom, like Henry IV seventy years earlier. The first significant contingent to join was a group of 600 men under Sir William Parr and Sir James Harrington. [46] Parr fought against the Yorkists at Edgecote in 1469 and his defection confirmed Clarence's decision to switch sides; as they marched south, more recruits came in, including 3,000 at Leicester. [47]

Edward entered London unopposed and took Henry prisoner; Warwick was defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April, while a second Lancastrian army was destroyed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May. Sixteen-year-old Edward of Westminster, the heir to the throne, died on the battlefield, with surviving leaders like Somerset executed shortly afterwards. This was followed by Henry's death a few days later; a contemporary chronicle claimed this was due to "melancholy," but it is generally assumed he was killed on Edward's orders. [48]

Although the Lancastrian cause seemed at an end, the regime was destabilised by an ongoing quarrel between Clarence and his brother Gloucester. The two were married to Isabel Neville and Anne Neville, respectively, the daughters of the Earl and Countess of Warwick and heirs to their mother's considerable inheritance. [49] Many of the estates held by the brothers had been granted by Edward, who could also remove them, making them dependent on his favour. This was not the case with property acquired through marriage and explains the importance of this dispute. [50]

1471 to 1483

Edward IV c. 1520, posthumous portrait from original c. 1470-1475; it shows signs of the corpulence that affected him in later life Edward IV Plantagenet.jpg
Edward IV c.1520, posthumous portrait from original c.1470–1475; it shows signs of the corpulence that affected him in later life

The last significant rebellion ended in February 1474 with the surrender of John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, who survived to command the Lancastrian army at Bosworth in 1485. Clarence was widely suspected of involvement, a factor in his eventual execution in the Tower on 18 February 1478; claims he was "drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine" appear to have been a joke by Edward, referring to his favourite drink. [51]

In 1475, Edward allied with Burgundy, and declared war on France. However, with Duke Charles focused on besieging Neuss, Louis opened negotiations. Soon after Edward landed at Calais, the two signed the Treaty of Picquigny. [52] Edward received an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns, plus a yearly pension of 50,000 crowns, thus allowing him to recoup the costs of his army. [53]

In 1482, Edward backed an attempt to usurp the Scottish throne by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, brother of James III of Scotland. Gloucester invaded Scotland and took the town of Edinburgh, but not the far more formidable castle, where James was being held by his own nobles. Albany switched sides and without siege equipment, the English army was forced to withdraw, with little to show for an expensive campaign, apart from the capture of Berwick Castle. [54]

Illness and death

Edward's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments; his physicians attributed this in part to a habitual use of emetics, which allowed him to gorge himself at meals, then return after vomiting to start again. [55] He fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but survived long enough to add codicils to his will, the most important naming his brother as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483 and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. His twelve-year-old son, Edward V, was never crowned, Gloucester becoming King Richard III in July. [56]

The cause of Edward's death is uncertain; allegations of poison were common in an era when lack of medical knowledge meant death often had no obvious explanation. Other suggestions include pneumonia or malaria, although both were well-known and easy to describe. One contemporary attributed it to apoplexy brought on by excess, which fits with what is known of his physical habits. [57] Another theory is that Edward died of syphilis. [58]

While the War of the Roses has been documented by numerous historians, Edward as an individual is less well known; 19th century historians like William Stubbs generally dismissed him as a bloodthirsty nonentity. The most comprehensive modern biography was written by Charles Ross in 1974, who concluded the peace and stability of his later reign was squandered in short-term aggrandisement. [59] He further suggests that Edward "remains the only king in English history since 1066 in active possession of his throne who failed to secure the safe succession of his son. His lack of political foresight is largely to blame for the unhappy aftermath of his early death." [60]


Presentation miniature from Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, printed in England by William Caxton in 1477. Edward is shown receiving a manuscript copy from Woodville, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, his eldest son Edward, and his brother Richard Rivers & Caxton Presenting book to Edward IV.JPG
Presentation miniature from Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers , printed in England by William Caxton in 1477. Edward is shown receiving a manuscript copy from Woodville, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, his eldest son Edward, and his brother Richard

Commentators observe a marked difference between Edward's first period as king, and the second. The failure of attempts to reconcile former enemies like Somerset meant he was noticeably more ruthless after 1471, including the execution of his brother Clarence. [61] In his youth, Edward was a capable and charismatic military commander, who led from the front, but as he grew older, the energy noted by contemporaries became less apparent. [62]

One effect of this was that Parliament became increasingly reluctant to approve taxes for wars which Edward failed to prosecute, then used the funds instead to finance his household expenditures. Under his rule, ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster was transferred to the Crown, where it remains today. In 1478, his staff prepared the so-called 'Black Book', a comprehensive review of government finances, still in use a century later. [63] He invested heavily in business ventures with the City of London, which he used as an additional source of funding. [64]

Although the economy recovered from the depression of 1450 to 1470, Edward's spending habitually exceeded income; on his death in 1483, the Crown had less than £1,200 in cash. His close relationship with the London branch of the Medici Bank ended in its bankruptcy; in 1517, the Medicis were still seeking repayment of Edward's debts. [65]

Economics was closely linked to foreign policy; Edward's reign was dominated by the three-sided diplomatic contest between England, France, and Burgundy, with two of the three seeking to ally against the third. [lower-alpha 5] As Flemish merchants were the largest buyers of English wool, Edward was generally pro-Burgundian, although Duke Charles' reluctance to support him in 1471 impacted their relationship. The death of Charles in 1477 led to the 1482 Treaty of Arras; Flanders, along with the lands known as the Burgundian Netherlands, became part of the Holy Roman Empire, and France acquired the rest. Edward and his successors lost much of their leverage as a result. [66]


Edward's Great Hall at Eltham Palace in southeast London, 2018 Eltham Palace, April 2018 (4).jpg
Edward's Great Hall at Eltham Palace in southeast London, 2018

Edward's court was described by a visitor from Europe as "the most splendid ... in all Christendom". [67] He spent large amounts on expensive status symbols to show off his power and wealth as king of England, while his collecting habits show an eye for style and an interest in scholarship, particularly history. He acquired fine clothes, jewels, and furnishings, as well as a collection of beautifully illuminated historical and literary manuscripts, many made specially for him by craftsmen in Bruges. [68] [69]

These included books for both entertainment and instruction, whose contents reveal his interests. They focus on the lives of great rulers, including Julius Caesar, [70] historical chronicles, [71] and instructional and religious works. [72] In 1476, William Caxton established the first English printing press in the outbuildings of Westminster Abbey; on 18 November 1477, he produced Sayengis of the Philosophres , translated into English for Edward by Anthony Woodville. [73]

It is not known where or how Edward's library was stored, but it is recorded that he transferred volumes from the Great Wardrobe to Eltham Palace and that he had a yeoman "to kepe the king's bookes". [74] [75] More than forty of his books survive intact from the 15th century, which suggests they were carefully stored, and are now included in the Royal Collection of manuscripts, held by the British Library. [76]

Edward spent large sums on Eltham Palace, including the still-extant Great Hall, site of a feast for 2,000 people in December 1482, shortly before his death in April. [77] He also began a major upgrade of St George's Chapel, Windsor, where he was buried in 1483; later completed by Henry VII, it was badly damaged during the First English Civil War, and little of the original work remains. [78]

Marriage and children

As Duke of York, Edward bore the royal arms quartered with those of de Burgh and Mortimer Arms of Edward, 4th Duke of York.svg
As Duke of York, Edward bore the royal arms quartered with those of de Burgh and Mortimer

Edward had ten children by Elizabeth Woodville, seven of whom survived him; they were declared illegitimate under the 1484 Titulus Regius , an act repealed by Henry VII, who married Edward's eldest daughter, Elizabeth. [79]

As King he bore the royal arms undifferenced. Examples exist of several varying combinations of crest, supporters and motto. Coat of Arms of Edward IV of England (1461-1483) Variant Motto 1.svg
As King he bore the royal arms undifferenced. Examples exist of several varying combinations of crest, supporters and motto.

Edward had numerous mistresses, including Lady Eleanor Talbot and Elizabeth Lucy, possibly daughter of Thomas Waite (or Wayte), of Southampton. The most famous was Jane Shore, later compelled by Richard III to perform public penance at Paul's Cross; Sir Thomas More claimed this backfired, since "albeit she were out of al array save her kyrtle only: yet went she so fair & lovely … that her great shame wan her much praise." [80]

Edward had several acknowledged illegitimate children;

There are claims for many others, including Mary, second wife of Henry Harman of Ellam, and Isabel Mylbery (born circa 1470), who married John Tuchet, son of John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley. However, the evidence for these is circumstantial. [85]


Edward IV's eldest son, also named Edward, was made Prince of Wales when he was seven months old and given his own household at the age of three. Based in Ludlow Castle, he was supervised by his uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, who also acted as his regent for the Council of Wales and the Marches. [86] The historical consensus is he and his brother Richard were killed, probably between July and September 1483; debate on who gave the orders, and why, continues, although their uncle Richard III was the beneficiary. [87]

By mid-August, Elizabeth Woodville was certain of the deaths of her sons; after her initial grief turned to fury, she opened secret talks with Margaret Beaufort. She promised her support in return for Henry's agreement to marry her eldest daughter Elizabeth. [8] In December 1483, Henry swore an oath to do so, which he duly carried out after his coronation in October 1485. [88]

Prior to his succession, Richard III declared his nephews illegitimate, on the grounds his brother's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid. [8] The Titulus Regius argued that since Edward had agreed to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot, his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was void. Both Eleanor and Edward were dead, but Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, further claimed to have actually carried out the ceremony. Once secure on the throne Henry VII annulled the Titulus and arrested Stillington, since his marriage to Elizabeth's daughter added legitimacy to his claim; Stillington died in prison in 1491. [89]

Despite this apparent resolution, the Yorkist cause continued well into the 16th century. The most famous are the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, but Yorkist challengers remained a concern for Henry VII and his son. In 1541, Henry VIII executed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, daughter of the Duke of Clarence, while a number of attempts were made on the life of her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, who died in 1558. [90]

Genealogical table

Edward IV's position in relation to the houses of York and Lancaster (selective chart) [91]
Edward III Philippa of Hainault
Edward, Prince of Wales Lionel, Duke of Clarence John, Duke of Lancaster Edmund, Duke of York
Richard II Philippa, Countess of Ulster
Henry IV
Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March Joan Beaufort
Henry V
Anne Mortimer Richard, Earl of Cambridge
Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury
Margaret of Anjou Henry VI Richard, Duke of York Cecily Neville
Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
Edward, Prince of Wales Edward IV George, Duke of Clarence Richard III

See also


  1. Henry's grandfather was Henry IV of England, whose father John of Gaunt was Edward III's third surviving son. Henry IV had deposed Richard II from the senior line. The Duke of York's claim derived from Edward III's fourth son, Edmund, 1st Duke of York, but his mother Anne de Mortimer was the senior descendant of Edward III's second son, Lionel of Antwerp. By modern standards, York was the senior heir, although this was less clear at the time. In practical terms, it meant both he and Edward had a legitimate claim to the throne. [5]
  2. A 2004 television documentary that supported these claims was subsequently discredited. [6]
  3. When Richard III declared his nephews illegitimate in 1483, he did so on the grounds Edward's marriage to their mother was invalid. [8]
  4. Now the generally accepted date, although others suggest it was fought on 3 February
  5. This resurfaced in the 17th century contest between England, the Dutch Republic, and France under Louis XIV.


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Cecily Neville was an English noblewoman, the wife of Richard, Duke of York (1411–1460), and the mother of two kings of England—Edward IV and Richard III. Cecily Neville was known as "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle in Durham, and "Proud Cis", because of her pride and a temper that went with it, although she was also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle".

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Jacquetta of Luxembourg was a prominent, though often overlooked, figure in the Wars of the Roses. Through her short-lived first marriage to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V, she was firmly allied to the House of Lancaster. However, following the emphatic Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, she and her second husband Richard Woodville sided closely with the House of York. Three years after the battle and the accession of Edward IV of England, Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville married him and became queen consort of England. Jacquetta bore Woodville 14 children and stood trial on charges of witchcraft, of which she was exonerated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers</span> 15th-century English noble, courtier, and writer

Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, was an English nobleman, courtier, bibliophile and writer. He was the brother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville who married King Edward IV. He was one of the leading members of the Woodville family, which came to prominence during the reign of King Edward IV. After Edward's death, he was arrested and then executed by the Duke of Gloucester as part of a power struggle between Richard and the Woodvilles. His English translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers is one of the first books printed in England.

John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu was a major magnate of fifteenth-century England. He was a younger son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and the younger brother of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the "Kingmaker".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings</span> English nobleman

William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings KG was an English nobleman. A loyal follower of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses, he became a close friend and one of the most important courtiers of King Edward IV, whom he served as Lord Chamberlain. At the time of Edward's death he was one of the most powerful and richest men in England. He was executed following accusations of treason by Edward's brother and ultimate successor, Richard III. The date of his death is disputed; early histories give 13 June, which is the traditional date.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln</span> Earl of Lincoln

John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln was a leading figure in the Yorkist aristocracy during the Wars of the Roses.

Thomas Fauconberg or Thomas Neville, sometimes called Thomas the Bastard, or the Bastard of Fauconberg, was the natural son of William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, who was a leading commander in the Hundred Years' War and, until joining his cousin, Richard Neville in rebellion on the Lancastrian side against another cousin, Edward IV, served on the Yorkist side in the Wars of the Roses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anne, Duchess of Exeter</span> Duchess of Exeter

Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter, aka Anne Plantagenet, was the first child of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. She was thus the eldest sister of kings Edward IV (1461–1483) and Richard III (1483–1485) and their siblings Edmund, Earl of Rutland; Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk; Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy; and George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence.

Events from the 1460s in England.

Anne Woodville, Viscountess Bourchier was an English noblewoman. She was a younger sister of Queen Consort Elizabeth Woodville to whom she served as a lady-in-waiting. Anne was married twice; first to William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, and secondly to George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent. Anne was the grandmother of the disinherited adulteress Anne Bourchier, 7th Baroness Bourchier, and an ancestress of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

Katherine Neville, Baroness Hastings, was a noblewoman and a member of the powerful Neville family of northern England. She was one of the six daughters of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and the sister of military commander Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known to history as Warwick the Kingmaker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Readeption of Henry VI</span> 1470 restoration of Henry VI to the throne of England

The Readeption was the restoration of Henry VI of England to the throne of England in 1470. Edward, Duke of York, had taken the throne as Edward IV in 1461. Henry had fled with some Lancastrian supporters and spent much of the next few years in hiding in Northern England or in Scotland, where there was still some Lancastrian support. Henry was captured in 1465 and was held as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Following dissent with his former key supporter, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Edward was forced to flee in 1470. Henry was then restored to the throne, although he was deposed again the following year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wars of the Roses</span> Dynastic civil war in England from 1455 to 1487

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), known at the time and for more than a century after as the Civil Wars, were a series of civil wars fought over control of the English throne in the mid- to late fifteenth century. These wars were fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: Lancaster and York. The wars extinguished the last male line of the house of Lancaster in 1471, leading to the Tudor family inheriting the Lancastrian claim to the throne. Following the war and the extinction of the last male line of the house of York in 1483, a politically arranged marriage united the Houses of Tudor and York, creating a new royal dynasty which inherited the Yorkist claim as well, thereby resolving the conflict.


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Works cited

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  • Crawford, Anne (2008). The Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty. A&C Black. ISBN   978-1-84725-197-8.
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    (2004). "Shore [née Lambert], Elizabeth [Jane]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25451.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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Further reading

Edward IV of England
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 28 April 1442 Died: 9 April 1483
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of England
Lord of Ireland

Succeeded by
King of England
Lord of Ireland

Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Duke of York
Earl of Cambridge
Earl of March

Merged in Crown
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Earl of Ulster
Merged in Crown