Edward IV of England

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Edward IV
King Edward IV.jpg
King of England
1st Reign4 March 1461 – 3 October 1470[1]
Coronation28 June 1461
PredecessorHenry VI
SuccessorHenry VI
2nd Reign11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483
PredecessorHenry VI
SuccessorEdward V
Born28 April 1442
Rouen, Normandy
Died9 April 1483 (aged 40)
Westminster, Middlesex, England
Burial18 April 1483
Elizabeth of York
Mary of York
Cecily of York
Edward V of England
Margaret of York
Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York
Anne of York
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Bedford
Catherine of York
Bridget of York
FatherRichard, 3rd Duke of York
MotherCecily Neville
SignatureEdward IV's signature
English Royalty
House of York
Arms of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York.svg
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke
Arms of Edward, 4th Duke of York, before he became King Edward IV

Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470,[1][2] and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist king.

As a child, he grew up during the early phases of the Wars of the Roses, with his father Richard, 3rd Duke of York claiming to be the rightful heir to the throne in opposition to Henry VI. Richard had multiple times been offered, and later denied, the throne. A series of Yorkist military victories led, in 1460, to the Act of Accord, in which Henry VI disinherited his own son Edward of Westminster and recognized Richard as his heir. The war continued, however, under the leadership of Henry VI's wife Margaret of Anjou, and only a few weeks later Richard was killed in battle, his claims to the throne devolving to his own son Edward. After a series of Yorkist victories over the Lancastrians, Edward proclaimed himself king in March, 1461, traveled to London, and had himself crowned.

While many leading families still supported Henry VI, Edward was able to gain the throne and maintain control of it through the patronage of the Neville family, primarily Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, who was known to history as "The Kingmaker" for his role in bringing Edward to the throne. Edward's impetuous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville greatly offended the Nevilles, largely because Warwick had been negotiating several continental alliances to support Edward's tenuous reign, including a marriage to one of several family members of Louis XI of France. Warwick, embarrassed by the actions of Edward, withdrew his and his family's support for the Yorkist faction. As Edward showered honors and titles upon the Woodville family, his support among the other nobles of the realm evaporated, and the Wars of the Roses began anew. The Lancastrian faction won several battles throughout 1469 and 1470, and Edward had to flee to Flanders as Henry VI was restored to the throne.

Edward did not wait idle in Flanders; he used his alliance with the Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy to support a small invasion force which landed in the city of York (the base of his power in England) in early 1471, and marched south, gaining supporters along the way. After first defeating and killing Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, his forces fought and won the Battle of Tewkesbury in which Edward of Westminster, Henry's heir, was killed. Henry died under mysterious circumstances only a few days later, and Edward was restored to the throne. Having resoundingly defeated all of his opposition, he reigned in relative domestic peace until his sudden death in 1483, leaving two young sons, the older of which became king briefly before being declared illegitimate, whereupon Edward's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester was advanced to the throne.

Early life

Edward of York was born at Rouen in Normandy, the second son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York (who had a strong genealogical claim to the throne of England[a]), and Cecily Neville.[3] He was the eldest of the four sons who survived to adulthood.[4][5] He bore the title Earl of March before his father's death and his accession to the throne.

Edward's father Richard of York had been the designated heir to King Henry VI (reigned 1422–1461) until the birth of Henry's son Edward in 1453. Richard carried on a factional struggle with the king's Beaufort relatives. He established a dominant position after his victory at the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, in which his chief rival Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was killed. However, Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou, rebuilt a powerful faction to oppose the Yorkists over the following years. In 1459 Margaret moved against the Duke of York and his principal supporters—his brother-in-law Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and Salisbury's son Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who rose in revolt.

The Yorkist leaders fled from England after the collapse of their army in the confrontation at Ludford Bridge. The Duke of York took refuge in Ireland, while Edward went with the Nevilles to Calais where Warwick was governor. In 1460 Edward landed in Kent with Salisbury, Warwick and Salisbury's brother William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, raised an army, and occupied London.[6] Edward, Warwick and Fauconberg left Salisbury besieging the Tower of London and advanced against the king, who was with an army in the Midlands, and defeated and captured him in the Battle of Northampton. York returned to England and was declared the king's heir by parliament (in the Act of Accord), but Queen Margaret raised a fresh army against him, and he was killed at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460, along with his second surviving son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the Earl of Salisbury.[5]


Accession to the throne

His father's death left Edward as Duke of York; described by contemporaries as handsome and affable, at this stage of his career, he showed great energy when needed. Equally important was the contrast with Henry VI, whose frailty weakened his cause; Edward had an imposing physique, his height estimated at 6 feet 4.5 inches (1.943 m), making him the tallest among all English, Scottish, and British monarchs to date.[7][page needed] On 2-3 February 1461, Edward won a hard-fought victory at Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire; this was preceded by a meteorological phenomenon known as parhelion, or three suns, which he took as his emblem, the "Sun in splendour.[8]

On 17 February, a Yorkist army under Warwick was defeated at the Second Battle of St Albans, allowing the Lancastrians to regain custody of Henry VI. Warwick escaped and met Edward in London; financed by the mercantile community, Edward was hastily crowned king, then led his army north. The Battle of Towton took place on 29 March, in a driving snowstorm; reputedly the bloodiest battle ever on English soil, it ended in a Yorkist victory. Estimates of the dead range from 9,000 to 20,000 and while chroniclers of the time often exaggerated, this is considered a realistic figure. In 1996, a mass grave containing 46 skeletons was uncovered; an analysis of their injuries shows the brutality of the contest.[9]

Queen Margaret fled abroad with her son, Edward of Westminster, and other leading supporters, while Edward returned to London for a more formal coronation.[10] He also rewarded his supporters; Sir David Ap Mathew, who saved his life at Towton, was appointed Standard Bearer of England and allowed to use "Towton" on the Mathew family crest.[citation needed]

Lancastrian resistance led to a series of rebellions in the north, but was finally extinguished by Warwick's brother John Neville in the 1464 Battle of Hexham.[11] Henry VI escaped into the Pennines; [12] after a year spent in hiding, he was finally caught and imprisoned in the Tower of London.[11] There was little point in killing him while his son remained alive, since this would merely have transferred the Lancastrian claim from a captive king to one who was at liberty.

1461 to 1470

Rose Noble coin of Edward IV, minted in 1464

With most of the nobility either loyal to Henry VI or neutral, the new regime relied heavily on the Nevilles, whose support had been crucial to gaining Edward the throne. However, divisions soon developed, largely due to the perception Edward was controlled by Warwick, who did little to deny it. The need to establish order and put down Lancastrian conspiracies initially concealed their growing estrangement but it burst into the open in 1464.[13]

Although Edward preferred Burgundy as an ally, he allowed Warwick to negotiate a treaty with Louis XI of France; it included a suggested marriage between Edward, and Louis's daughter Anne, or sister-in-law Bona of Savoy.[14] 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 Towton.[15] If nothing else, it was a clear demonstration he was not in control of Edward, despite suggestions to the contrary.[16]

Edward's motives have been widely discussed by contemporaries and historians alike. Elizabeth's mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, came from the upper nobility, but her father, Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, was a middle ranking provincial knight. His Privy Council told Edward with unusual frankness, "she was no wife for a prince such as himself, for she was not the daughter of a duke or earl."[17] The marriage was both unwise and unusual, although not unknown; Henry VI's mother, Catherine of Valois, married her chamberlain, Owen Tudor, while Edward's direct descendant, Henry VIII, created a new church to marry Anne Boleyn. By all accounts, Elizabeth possessed considerable charm of person and intellect, while Edward was used to getting what he wanted.[18]

Historians generally accept it 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.[19] 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.[20]

Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, from the illuminated manuscript Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre, by Jean de Wavrin. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

Unusually for the period, 12 of the Earl's 14 children survived into adulthood, creating a large pool of competitors for offices and estates, as well as in the matrimony market. Elizabeth's sisters made a series of advantageous unions, including that of Catherine Woodville to Henry Stafford, later Duke of Buckingham, Anne Woodville to William, heir to the Earl of Essex, and Eleanor Woodville with Anthony Grey, heir to the Earl of Kent.[21]

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 current heir, George, 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.[22]

In early July, Clarence traveled 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. They returned to London, where they assembled an army to remove these 'evil councillors' and establish good government.[23]

With Edward still in the north, the Royal Army was defeated by a Neville force at Edgecote Moor on 26 July 1469. After the battle, Edward was held in Middleham Castle; on 12 August, Earl Rivers and his 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.[24]

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.[25]

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.[26] Seeing an opportunity, Louis 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.[27] With French support, Warwick landed in England on 9 September 1470 and announced his intention to restore Henry.[28] 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 was forced into exile.[29]


Edward IV (left) watching the beheading of Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset at Tewkesbury, 1471. Ghent University Library, Belgium.

Edward took refuge in Flanders, part of the Duchy of Burgundy, accompanied only by a few hundred men, including his younger brother Richard, Anthony Woodville and William Hastings.[30] The Duchy was ruled by Edward's brother-in-law, Charles the Bold, who married his sister Margaret in 1468; he provided minimal help, something Edward never forgot.[31]

The Yorkist position was stronger than it appeared, since Henry's restored regime faced the same issue that had dominated his reign. His mental and physical frailty meant an internal struggle for control, while the coalition that put him back on the throne consisted of bitter enemies. The senior Lancastrian Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, hated Warwick, who executed his father in 1455 and his elder brother in 1461; as a result, Warwick and Clarence quickly found themselves isolated by the new regime.[32]

Backed by wealthy Flemish merchants, Edward returned to England with a relatively small force and landed near Hull, in Yorkshire. He received limited support, while the key city of York opened its gates only when he claimed only to seek the restoration of his dukedom, like Henry IV seventy years earlier. The first significant contingent to join were 600 men led by William Parr and Sir James Harrington.[33] 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.[34]

Edward entered London unopposed and took Henry prisoner; Warwick was defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April, with a second Lancastrian army destroyed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May. 16 year old Edward of Westminster 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.[35]

Although the Lancastrian cause seemed at an end, disputes continued between Clarence and his brother Richard. The two were married to Isabel Neville and Anne Neville respectively, Warwick's daughters by Anne Beauchamp and heirs to their mother's considerable inheritance.[36] Many of their estates had been granted by Edward, who could also remove them; this happened on various occasions in the past but was not the case with property acquired through marriage.[37]

Later reign and death

Coat of arms of Edward IV, from one of the British Library's royal manuscripts

The last significant Lancastrian rebellion ended in March 1474 with the surrender of the Earl of Oxford, whose life was spared. Clarence was widely suspected of involvement, one of the factors that eventually led to his imprisonment and private execution in the Tower of London on 18 February 1478. According to a long-standing tradition, he was "drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine", which appears to have been a joke by Edward, referring to Clarence's favourite drink.[38]

In 1475, Edward declared war on France; all three powers, England, France and Burgundy, habitually negotiated with the other two at the same time. With Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, focused on besieging Neuss, Louis opened negotiations with Edward before he left England and soon after he landed at Calais, the two signed the Treaty of Picquigny.[39] Edward received an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns, plus a yearly pension of 50,000 crowns, thus allowing him to "recoup his finances."[40]

In 1482, he backed an attempt by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, brother of James III of Scotland, to take the Scottish throne. Gloucester invaded Scotland and captured 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, although Richard took Berwick Castle.[41]

Edward's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but survived long enough to add some codicils to his will, the most important being to name his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483 and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son Edward V of England (who was never crowned) and then by his brother Richard.

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 our knowledge of his physical habits.[42]



In his youth, Edward was an extremely capable and daring military commander, and a popular and able king but this changed as he grew older. 19th century historians like William Stubbs largely dismissed him, while the most comprehensive modern biography was written by Charles Ross in 1974. Although he finds Edward personally attractive, Ross argued his reign was ultimately a failure; over-reliance on a small number of powerful supporters allowed them to tear the country apart after his death, while his diplomatic plans eventually came to nothing. In his conclusion, Ross states 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.’[43]

Domestically, Edward's reign saw the restoration of law and order in England; indeed, his royal motto was modus et ordo, or "method and order". The latter days of Henry VI's government had been marked by a general breakdown in law and order, as well as a sizeable increase in both piracy and banditry. Edward was also a shrewd and successful businessman and merchant, heavily investing in several corporations within the City of London.[44][45] He also made the Duchy of Lancaster property of the crown, which it still is today. During the reign of Henry, there had been corruption in the exchequer. Edward made his household gain more control over finances and even investigated old records to see that payments had been made. Documents of the exchequer show him sending letters threatening officials if they did not pay money. His properties earned large amounts of money for the crown.

The court

Presentation miniature of Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, one of the first printed books in the English language, translated by Anthony Woodville and printed by William Caxton. The miniature depicts Woodville presenting the book to Edward IV, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth Woodville, his son Edward, Prince of Wales, and his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Lambeth Palace Library.

Edward's court was described by a visitor from Europe as "the most splendid ... in all Christendom".[46] 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.[47] [48]

These included books for both entertainment and instruction, whose contents reveal his interests. They focus on the lives of great rulers, including Julius Caesar),[49] historical chronicles,[50] and instructional and religious works.[51]

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".[52] [53] More than forty of his books survive intact from the 15th century, which suggests they were carefully stored together.[54] Today they form the foundation of the Royal Collection of manuscripts at the British Library.


Edward was one of the few male members of his dynasty to die of natural causes and the Yorkist dynasty survived him by little more than two years. His father and brother Edmund died at the Battle of Wakefield, his grandfather and brother Clarence were executed for treason, while his two sons were murdered within a year of his death. When Richard died at Bosworth, it ended the reign of the Plantagenets, the longest-ruling dynasty in English history.

Henry VII married Edward's eldest daughter Elizabeth of York, uniting the two houses; over the next few decades, Henry and his son Henry VIII ruthlessly exterminated any remaining Yorkist heirs. Through her, the Plantagenet family and the House of York continue in the line of English and British sovereigns.[dubious ]

Marriage and children

Edward IV had ten children by Elizabeth Woodville, seven of whom survived him. They were declared illegitimate by Parliament in 1484 in an act known as Titulus Regius (King's Title), clearing the way for Richard III to become King.[55] This act was later repealed by Henry VII, thus (re-)legitimising Edward and Elizabeth's children.

Edward had numerous mistresses. These included, Elizabeth Shore, also called Jane Shore,[56] Lady Eleanor Talbot and Elizabeth Lucy Wayte.

Edward IV reportedly had several illegitimate children:

  • By Elizabeth Lucy Wayte (or Elizabeth Waite), daughter of Thomas Wayte of Southampton:[57]
    • 1. Elizabeth Plantagenet (born circa 1464), married before 1478 Thomas Lumley,[58]</ref>[59][60] son of George Lumley, Baron Lumley.[61][62]
    • 2. Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle (1460s/1470s – 3 March 1542). Arthur married Elizabeth Grey and Honor Grenville. With Grey, he had three daughters, Frances Plantagenet, Elizabeth Plantagenet and Bridget Plantagenet.
  • By unknown mothers:
    • 1. Grace Plantagenet. She is known to have been present at the funeral of Elizabeth Woodville in 1492.[63][64]
    • 2. Mary Plantagenet, married Henry Harman of Ellam, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Harman and widower of a certain Agnes.[65]
    • 3. Isabel Mylbery (born circa 1470) married John Tuchet, son of John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley.[66]



His eldest son Edward was dubbed Prince of Wales when he was seven months old and at the age of three, given his own household. He was based in Ludlow Castle, as nominal head of the Council of Wales and the Marches; his uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, supervised his upbringing and carried out the duties associated with Presidency of the Council.[68]

When their father died, Edward and his younger brother Richard were barred from the succession by their uncle Richard. The Titulus Regius argued Edward had previously contracted to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot, rendering his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville void. Both parties were dead, but a clergyman, named by Philippe de Commines as Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, claimed to have carried out the ceremony. This was later reversed by Henry VII, while Stillington died in prison in 1491.[69]

The historical consensus is Edward and Richard were killed at some point, probably between July to September 1483; debate on who gave the orders, and why, continues.[70] By mid-August, Elizabeth Woodville was certain of their death; 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 of York.{sfn|Penn|2019|pp=504-505}} In December 1483, Henry swore an oath to do so, which he carried out after his coronation in October 1485.[71]


Edward IV c.1520, posthumous portrait from original c. 1470–75; it shows signs of the corpulence that affected him in later life

Both Warwick [b] and Edward's brother Clarence [c] made accusations about Edward's paternity, in pursuit of their own political aims. Dominic Mancini claimed when Edward's mother, Cecily Neville, discovered his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, she flew into a rage and threatened to declare him a bastard. However, this episode is not reported by contemporary sources.[72]

This was an accusation frequently levelled against public figures by their enemies and Edward was not the only one accused of illegitimacy. Others included Charles VII of France, Edward of Westminster and Joanna "La Beltraneja" of Castile; of the three, only Joanna was probably illegitimate.[citation needed]

Historians have traditionally viewed this as propaganda designed to discredit Edward and his heirs, although there is limited evidence Richard of York was not Edward's biological father.[73] During his own lifetime, it was noted Edward showed little resemblance to his father, being well over six feet tall, an exceptional height for the age. However, he bore a marked resemblance to Clarence, whilst their sister Margaret stood five feet eleven inches, remarkable for a medieval woman. At her wedding to Charles of Burgundy, observers noted she towered over the groom and had to bend down to receive his kiss.[74][page needed]

Prior to his succession, on 22 June 1483, Richard III declared Edward V was illegitimate,[d] and three days later the matter was addressed by Parliament. In Titulus Regius [e] Richard is described as "the undoubted son and heir" of Richard, Duke of York]], and "born in this land", a reference to Edward's birth at Rouen and baptism in circumstances that could have been considered questionable.

William Shakespeare's claim in Richard III (Act 3, Scene 5) – that Richard made any claims about his brother's legitimacy, as his claim was based on the supposed illegitimacy of Edward IV's children. According to Polydore Vergil, Duchess Cecily, "being falsely accused of adultery, complained afterwards in sundry places to right many noble men, whereof some yet live, of that great injury which her son Richard had done her." If she had indeed complained – as would befit a high-ranking lady of renowned piety, as she had been regarded – these petitions may have had some effect: the allegations were dropped and never again pursued.[citation needed]

Edward was born on 28 April 1442. No contemporary evidence refers to him as being born prematurely. Accordingly, counting back nine months from birth would date his conception to late July 1441. A Channel 4 television documentary in 2004 examined records in the archives of Rouen Cathedral that indicated that from 14 July to 21 August 1441 Richard, Duke of York, was away on campaign at Pontoise, several days' march from Rouen (where Cecily of York was based), and that prayers were being offered at the cathedral for his safety. The programme also drew attention to the fact that the christening celebration of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, the second son of Richard and Cecily, was a lavish affair at the cathedral, whereas the christening of Edward, the firstborn, was low key, and in a side chapel. The programme concluded that Edward was not "Britain's Real Monarch".

However, there is no strong reason to suggest Edward could not be premature: it would not necessarily be mentioned in contemporary sources, while Edward's grandson, Arthur, Prince of Wales, was born at least one month premature and survived. High infant mortality meant baptisms were often performed quickly, and if Edward was indeed premature, there would be good cause for this. His father would have had every right, even a duty, to challenge the child's paternity if it was in doubt; refusing to do so, and allowing a child he knew was not his to remain his heir and an heir to the English throne was tantamount to treason. On the other hand, Richard, whose father had been executed by the Lancastrians and whose own status under their regime was never beyond question, owed his security in large part to Cicely's powerful family, as the House of York would owe for decades to come; thus it would have been rash, if not to say dangerous, to cast suspicion on his wife's fidelity and then or later on his eldest son's legitimacy. If the low-key nature of the ceremony was meant publicly to indicate the child's illegitimacy, Richard would furthermore have been exposing himself as a cuckold at a point when his interest was in presenting himself as a strong leader. In the event he acknowledged Edward and raised him as his heir, and nothing in their interactions suggests Edward was other than well-loved and cherished.[citation needed]

Even if Edward IV was illegitimate, he could in any case claim the crown from Henry VI by right of conquest. He also had a direct (albeit legally barred) blood-claim to the throne through his mother Cecily, who was a great-granddaughter of Edward III through John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his illegitimate daughter (Cecily's mother) Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Although this claim is via an illegitimate line, it is the same as the claim of Henry Tudor, who dislodged the House of York from the throne in 1485. It is also disputed that the line was in fact illegitimate, as John of Gaunt married his mistress Katherine Swynford, who was the mother of the Beauforts, after the death of his second wife Costanza of Castile. The Beauforts were thus 'legitimised' and acknowledged as such by Richard II, though with the proviso as noted above that they would barred from succession to the crown.

Appearance and character

Edward was said to be an extremely good-looking man. Philippe de Commynes, who saw him on several occasions, thought the King handsomer than any prince he knew – "I don't remember ever having seen a man more handsome than he was when monsieur de Warwick made him flee England."[75] Commynes also described him as "a man so vigorous and handsome that he might have been made for the pleasures of the flesh".[76] Edward's impressive physique and height (approximately 6 feet 4 inches (193 centimeters); in his armour he was 6 feet 7 inches (201 centimeters)) were set off by splendid clothes, whereas Henry VI was well known for wearing dull, drab garments.[77]

When Parliament met at Westminster on 12 November 1461, the Speaker, Sir James Strangways – who had fought by the side of Edward's father, the Duke of York, at the Battle of Wakefield and survived – referred to "the beauty of person that it hath pleased Almighty God to send you" and "the wisdom that, by his grace, accompanies it". He also praised Edward's "noble and worthy merits, princely and knightly courage, and the blessed and noble disposition and dedication of your said highness to the common weal and government of your said realm.."[78][79]

In fiction


  1. ^ a b
    • For DOB and DOD: Gairdner, James (1889). "Edward IV" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 17. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 70, 79.
    • Lundy, Darryl (8 December 2011). "Edward IV Plantagenet, King of England". ThePeerage.com. p. 10164 § 101635. cites:
      • for "4 March 1461": Hankinson, C.F.J., ed. (1949). DeBretts Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 147th year. London: Odhams Press. p. 20.
      • for "3 October 1470", "11 April 1471": Weir, Alison (1999). Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: The Bodley Head. p. 137.
  2. ^ "Edward IV". Archontology.org. 14 March 2010. Set sail on 2 October 1470 from England and took refuge in Burgundy; deposed as King of England on 3 October 1470
  3. ^ Ross 1974, pp. 3–7.
  4. ^ Ross (1974), p. 7.
  5. ^ a b Ross 1974, p. 30.
  6. ^ Ross (1974), p. 32.
  7. ^ Guinness Book of Records
  8. ^ Penn 2019, p. 4.
  9. ^ Gravett 2003, pp. 85-89.
  10. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 54-55.
  11. ^ a b Ross 1974, p. 61.
  12. ^ "Muncaster – Monument to Henry VI". Visit Cumbria. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  13. ^ Penn 2019, p. 60.
  14. ^ Ross 1974, p. 91.
  15. ^ Ross 1974, pp. 85–86.
  16. ^ Penn 2019, p. 114.
  17. ^ Ross 1974, p. 85.
  18. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 112-113.
  19. ^ Wilkinson 1964, p. 146.
  20. ^ Carpenter 1997, p. 170.
  21. ^ Ross 1974, p. 93.
  22. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 203-205.
  23. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 210-211.
  24. ^ Gillingham 1982, p. 160.
  25. ^ Ross 1974, pp. 135–136.
  26. ^ Kendall 1970, p. 228.
  27. ^ Ashley 1961, p. 170.
  28. ^ Kendall 1970, p. 236.
  29. ^ Ross 1974, pp. 152–153.
  30. ^ Penn 2019, p. 243.
  31. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 256-258.
  32. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 260-261.
  33. ^ Horrox 1989, p. 41.
  34. ^ Penn 2019, p. 263.
  35. ^ Wolfe 1981, p. 347.
  36. ^ Ross 1981, pp. 26-27.
  37. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 306-307.
  38. ^ Penn 2019, p. 406.
  39. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 364-365.
  40. ^ Hicks 2011, p. 18.
  41. ^ Penn 2019, pp. 434-435.
  42. ^ Ross 1992, pp. 414-415.
  43. ^ Ross 1974, p. 451.
  44. ^ Ross 1974, p. 351.
  45. ^ Mount 2014, p. 189.
  46. ^ Ross (1974), pp. 270–277.
  47. ^ Backhouse 1987, pp. 26, 28, 39.
  48. ^ McKendrick 2011, pp. 42–65.
  49. ^ "La Grande histoire César". Digitised Manuscripts. British Library. 1479.
  50. ^ "Jean de Wavrin, Recueil des croniques d'Engleterre, vol. 1". Digitised Manuscripts. British Library. 1471.
  51. ^ "Guyart des Moulins, La Bible historiale". Digitised Manuscripts. British Library. 1470.
  52. ^ Thurley 1993, p. 141.
  53. ^ Harris 1830, p. 125.
  54. ^ Doyle 2011, p. 69.
  55. ^ Carson 2009.
  56. ^ Horrox, Rosemary. "Shore [née Lambert], Elizabeth [Jane]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25451.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  57. ^ The Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (London, 1724)
  58. ^ Corbet 2015, p. 316.
  59. ^ Burke, John (1836). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank: But Uninvested with Heritable Honours. vol II. London: Henry Colburn. p. 290.
  60. ^ Mackenzie, Eneas (1825). "Morpeth Ward". An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland... (Second ed.). Mackenzie and Dent. p. 136.
  61. ^ Lundy, Dyrral (14 November 2014). "Roger Lumley1". ThePeerage.com. p. 30873 § 308729. cites: Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 3 (107th ed.). Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage. p. 3943.
  62. ^ Collins, A. (1756). Peerage of England: Containing a Genealogical and Historical ..., Volume 3. A. Collins. p. 111. Retrieved 13 July 2018. ...Elizabeth Plantagenet, daughter to Edward IV by the Lady Elizabeth Lucy...
  63. ^ Ross (1974), p. 316, : footnote 2 (citing BM Arundel MS. 26, ff. 29v-30v).
  64. ^ Given-Wilson, Chris; Curteis, Alice (1984). The Royal Bastards of Medieval England. Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 158, 161–174. ISBN 978-0-7102-0025-9.
  65. ^ Misc. Gen. et Her. 4th ser. 2 (1908): 227–228 (Harman pedigree) (no identification of wives). H.S.P. 74 (1923): 61–62 (1574 Vis. Kent)
  66. ^ "Dau. PLANTAGENET". Tudotplace.com.ar. Retrieved 21 August 2011.[unreliable source]
  67. ^ Watson 1896, p. 181.
  68. ^ Parry 1851, p. 11.
  69. ^ Crawford 2008, p. 130.
  70. ^ Penn 2019, p. 497.
  71. ^ Williams 1973, p. 25.
  72. ^ Crawford 2008, p. 64.
  73. ^ Crawford 2008, pp. 173–178.
  74. ^ Seward 2014, p. ?.
  75. ^ Kleiman, Irit Ruth (2013). Philippe de Commynes: Memory, Betrayal, Text. University of Toronto Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-4426-6324-4.
  76. ^ Seward, Desmond (1997). Wars of the Roses. Constable. ISBN 978-0-09-477300-4.
  77. ^ Seward (1997), p. 97.
  78. ^ Seward (1997), p. 101.
  79. ^ Lewis, Katherine (2013). "Epilogue: Henry IV, Richard III, and the return of Henry V". Kingship and Masculinity in Late Medieval England. Routledge. p. 253. ISBN 978-1-134-45453-2.


  1. ^ York was a direct descendant of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III. The House of Lancaster descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III, and, as such, had a superior claim over the House of York. However, Richard Plantagenet's mother was Anne de Mortimer, the most senior descendant of Edward III's second surviving son Lionel of Antwerp. Lionel had been the eldest son of Edward III to leave a surviving line of descent; by modern standards, his line had an indisputably superior claim over that of his younger brother John of Gaunt. By medieval standards, this was by no means so certain; nonetheless, it allowed Richard and then Edward a good title to the throne.
  2. ^ Details on this webpage, accessed 2 April 2014.
  3. ^ Details on this webpage, accessed 2 April 2014.
  4. ^ Details set out on this webpage, accessed 2 April 2014.
  5. ^ The text is believed be a transcription of the petition presented by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, to the assembly which met on 25 June 1483


  • Ashley, Mike (2002). British Kings & Queens. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1104-3.
  • Backhouse, Janet (1987). "Founders of the Royal Library: Edward IV and Henry VII as Collectors of Illuminated Manuscripts". In Williams, David (ed.). England in the Fifteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton Symposium. Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0-85115-475-6.
  • Carpenter, Christine (1997). The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, C.1437–1509. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31874-7.
  • Carson, Annette (2009). Richard III: The Maligned King. History Press Limited. ISBN 978-0-7524-5208-1.
  • Cokayne, G.E. (2000). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant. Alan Sutton.
  • Corbet, Anthony, Dr (2015). Edward IV, England’s Forgotten Warrior King: His Life, His People, and His Legacy. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4917-4635-6.
  • Crawford, Anne (2008). The Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty. A&C Black. ISBN 978-1-84725-197-8.
  • Doyle, Kathleen (2011). McKendrick, Scot; Lowden, John; Doyle, Kathleen (eds.). The Old Royal Library. Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-5816-3.
  • Gillingham, John (1982). The Wars of the Roses (1990 ed.). Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0297820161.
  • Gravett, Christopher (2003). Towton 1461: England's Bloodiest Battle. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-513-6.
  • Harris, Nicholas (1830). Privy Purse expenses of Elizabeth of York: Wardrobe Accounts of Edward IV. London: William Pickering.
  • Hicks, Michael (2011). Richard III. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-7326-0.
  • Horrox, Rosemary (1989). Richard III: A Study of Service. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-40726-7.
  • Kendall, Paul Murray (1970). Louis XI, the Universal Spider. W. W. Norton.
  • McKendrick, Scot (2011). McKendrick, Scot; Lowden, John; Doyle, Kathleen (eds.). A European Heritage, Books of Continental Origin. Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-5816-3.
  • Mount, Toni (2014). Everyday Life in Medieval London: From the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-4456-1564-6.
  • Parry, Edward (1851). Royal visits and progresses to Wales, and the border counties.
  • Penn, Thomas (2019). The Brothers York. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-1846146909.
  • Ross, Charles (1974). Edward IV. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520027817.
  • Ross, Charles (1981). Richard III. Eyre Methuen. ISBN 978-0413295309.
  • Thurley, Simon (1993). The Royal Palaces of Tudor England: A Social and Architectural History. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-3000-5420-0.
  • Seward, Desmond (2014). Richard III: England's Black Legend. Pegasus Books. ISBN 978-1-60598-603-6.
  • Wolfe, Bertram (1981). Henry VI (The English Monarchs Series). Methuen Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0413320803.
  • Wilkinson, Bertie (1964). Constitutional History of England in the Fifteenth Century (1399–1485): With Illustrative Documents. Longmans.
  • Williams, Neville (1973). The Life and Times of Henry VII. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-76517-2.

External links

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

Succeeded by
Henry VI
King of England
Lord of Ireland

Succeeded by
Edward V
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Richard Plantagenet
Duke of York
Earl of Cambridge
Earl of March

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