Edward IV of England
Overview
 
Edward IV was King of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

, but he overcame the Lancastrian
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 challenge to this throne at Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

 in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king he was 4th Duke of York
Duke of York
The Duke of York is a title of nobility in the British peerage. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of the British monarch. The title has been created a remarkable eleven times, eight as "Duke of York" and three as the double-barreled "Duke of York and...

, 7th Earl of March
Earl of March
The title The Earl of March has been created several times in the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of England. The title derived from the "marches" or boundaries between England and either Wales or Scotland , and was held by several great feudal families which owned lands in those border...

, 5th Earl of Cambridge
Earl of Cambridge
The title of Earl of Cambridge was created several times in the Peerage of England, and since 1362 the title has been closely associated with the Royal Family ....

 and 9th Earl of Ulster
Earl of Ulster
The title of Earl of Ulster has been created several times in the Peerage of Ireland and Peerage of the United Kingdom. Currently, the title is a subsidiary title of the Duke of Gloucester, and is used as a courtesy title by the Duke's son, Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster...

.
Timeline

1461    Wars of the Roses in England: Lancastrian King Henry VI is deposed by his Yorkist cousin, who then becomes King Edward IV.

1461    Edward IV is crowned King of England.

1469    Wars of the Roses: the Battle of Edgecote Moor pitting the forces of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick against those of Edward IV of England takes place.

1471    In England, the Yorkists under Edward IV defeat the Lancastrians under the Earl of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet; the Earl is killed and Edward IV resumes the throne.

1471    Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeats a Lancastrian Army and kills Edward, Prince of Wales.

1478    George, Duke of Clarence, convicted of treason against his older brother Edward IV of England, is executed in private at the Tower of London.

1486    King Henry VII of England marries Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV.

1499    Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is hanged for reportedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London. He had invaded England in 1497, claiming to be the lost son of King Edward IV of England.

Encyclopedia
Edward IV was King of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

, but he overcame the Lancastrian
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 challenge to this throne at Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

 in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king he was 4th Duke of York
Duke of York
The Duke of York is a title of nobility in the British peerage. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of the British monarch. The title has been created a remarkable eleven times, eight as "Duke of York" and three as the double-barreled "Duke of York and...

, 7th Earl of March
Earl of March
The title The Earl of March has been created several times in the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of England. The title derived from the "marches" or boundaries between England and either Wales or Scotland , and was held by several great feudal families which owned lands in those border...

, 5th Earl of Cambridge
Earl of Cambridge
The title of Earl of Cambridge was created several times in the Peerage of England, and since 1362 the title has been closely associated with the Royal Family ....

 and 9th Earl of Ulster
Earl of Ulster
The title of Earl of Ulster has been created several times in the Peerage of Ireland and Peerage of the United Kingdom. Currently, the title is a subsidiary title of the Duke of Gloucester, and is used as a courtesy title by the Duke's son, Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster...

. He was also the 65th Knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Order of the Golden Fleece
The Order of the Golden Fleece is an order of chivalry founded in Bruges by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1430, to celebrate his marriage to the Portuguese princess Infanta Isabella of Portugal, daughter of King John I of Portugal. It evolved as one of the most prestigious orders in Europe...

.

Accession to the throne

Edward of York was born at Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the second child of Richard, 3rd Duke of York (who had a strong genealogical claim to the throne of England), and Cecily Neville
Cecily Neville
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York was the wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and the mother of two Kings of England: Edward IV and Richard III....

. He was the eldest of the four sons who survived to adulthood. His younger brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland was the fifth child and second surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville...

, died along with his father fighting for the Yorkist cause. The Duke of York's assertion of his claim to the crown in 1460 was the key escalation of the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

. When his father was killed at the Battle of Wakefield
Battle of Wakefield
The Battle of Wakefield took place at Sandal Magna near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire in Northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses...

, Edward inherited his claim.

With the support of his cousin Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
Richard Neville KG, jure uxoris 16th Earl of Warwick and suo jure 6th Earl of Salisbury and 8th and 5th Baron Montacute , known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander...

 ("The Kingmaker"), Edward defeated the Lancastrians
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 in a succession of battles. And while the Lancastrian Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

 and Queen Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou was the wife of King Henry VI of England. As such, she was Queen consort of England from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471; and Queen consort of France from 1445 to 1453...

 were campaigning in the north of England, Warwick gained control of the capital and had Edward declared king in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1461. Edward strengthened his claim with a decisive victory at the Battle of Towton
Battle of Towton
In 1461, England was in the sixth year of the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster over the English throne. The Lancastrians backed the reigning King of England, Henry VI, an indecisive man who suffered bouts of madness...

 in the same year, in the course of which the Lancastrian army was virtually wiped out. Even at the age of nineteen, he had remarkable military acumen and a notable physique. His height is estimated at , making him the tallest among all English, Scottish & British monarchs to date.

Overthrow

Warwick, believing that he could continue to rule through Edward, pressed him to enter into a marital alliance with a major European power. Edward then alienated Warwick by secretly marrying Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

, the widow of a Lancastrian sympathiser.

Elizabeth's mother was Jacquetta of Luxembourg
Jacquetta of Luxembourg
Jacquetta of Luxembourg was the elder daughter of Peter I, Count of St Pol, Conversano and Brienne and his wife Margaret de Baux...

, widow of Henry VI's uncle, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, but her father, Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
Richard Woodville , 1st Earl Rivers, KG was an English nobleman, best remembered as the father of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV....

, was a new-minted baron. Elizabeth's marriage to Edward IV made the unmarried among her twelve siblings desirable matrimonial catches.

Although they posed no immediate threat to Warwick's own power, Warwick resented the influence this group had over the King and, with the aid of Edward's disaffected younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, Warwick led an army against Edward.

The main part of the king's army (without Edward) was defeated at the Battle of Edgecote Moor
Battle of Edgecote Moor
The Battle of Edgecote Moor took place 6 miles northeast of Banbury , England on 26 July 1469 during the Wars of the Roses. The site of the battle was actually Danes Moor in Northamptonshire, at a crossing of a tributary of the River Cherwell. The battle pitted the forces of Richard Neville, 16th...

 in 1469, and Edward was subsequently captured at Olney. Warwick then attempted to rule in Edward's name, but the nobility, many of whom owed their preferments to the king, were restive, and with the emergence of a counter-rebellion, Warwick was forced to release Edward. At this point Edward did not seek to destroy either Warwick or Clarence but instead sought reconciliation among them.

In 1470, Warwick and Clarence rebelled again. This time they were defeated and forced to flee to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. There, they made an alliance with Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou was the wife of King Henry VI of England. As such, she was Queen consort of England from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471; and Queen consort of France from 1445 to 1453...

, and Warwick agreed to restore Henry VI in return for French support in an invasion, which took place in late 1470. This time, Edward was forced to flee when he learned the Warwick's brother, John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu
John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu
John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu KG was a Yorkist leader in the Wars of the Roses, best-known for eliminating Lancastrian resistance in the north of England during the early part of the reign of Edward IV of England....

, had also switched to the Lancastrian side, making Edward's military position untenable.

Restoration

Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470 in an event known as the Readeption of Henry VI, and Edward took refuge in Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

, accompanied by his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Richard, Duke of Gloucester may refer to:*Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester *Richard III of England , Duke of Gloucester prior to his accession to the throne...

. The rulers of Burgundy were his brother-in-law Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and his sister Margaret of York
Margaret of York
Margaret of York – also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy – was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the Duchy after his death. She was a daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of...

. Despite the fact that Charles was initially unwilling to help Edward, the French declared war on Burgundy. This prompted Charles to give his aid to Edward, and from Burgundy he raised an army to win back his kingdom.

When Edward returned to England with a relatively small force, he avoided capture. The city of York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

 only opened its gates to him after he promised that he had just come to reclaim his dukedom - just as Henry Bolingbroke
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

 had done seventy years earlier. As he marched southwards he began to gather support, and Clarence (who had realised that his fortunes would be better off as brother to a king than under Henry VI) reunited with him. Edward entered London unopposed, where he took Henry VI prisoner. Edward and his brothers then defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet
Battle of Barnet
The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict of 15th-century England. The military action, along with the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne for Edward IV...

, and with Warwick dead he eliminated the remaining Lancastrian resistance at the Battle of Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

 in 1471. The Lancastrian heir, Edward of Westminster
Edward of Westminster
Edward of Westminster , also known as Edward of Lancaster, was the only son of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou...

, Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

, was killed on the battlefield. A few days later, on the night that Edward re-entered London, Henry VI died. One contemporary chronicle claimed that his death was due to "melancholy," but it is widely suspected that Edward ordered Henry's murder in order to completely remove the Lancastrian opposition.

Edward's two younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III of England
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

), were married to Isabella Neville and Anne Neville
Anne Neville
Lady Anne Neville was Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and Queen of England as the consort of King Richard III. She held the latter title for less than two years, from 26 June 1483 until her death in March 1485...

. They were both daughters of Warwick by Anne Beauchamp
Anne Neville, 16th Countess of Warwick
Anne de Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick was the daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, and his second wife Isabel le Despenser. Isabel was a daughter of Thomas le Despenser Anne de Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick (13 July 1426 – 20 September 1492) was the daughter of...

 and rival heirs to the considerable inheritance of their still-living mother, leading to a dispute between the brothers. In 1478, Clarence was eventually found guilty of plotting against Edward, imprisoned in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 and privately executed on 18 February 1478.

Later reign and death

Edward did not face any further rebellions after his restoration, as the Lancastrian line had virtually been extinguished, and the only rival left was Henry Tudor
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, who was living in exile.

In 1475, Edward declared war on France and came to terms with the Treaty of Picquigny
Treaty of Picquigny
The Treaty of Picquigny was a peace treaty negotiated on 29 August 1475 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. Louis XI of France paid Edward IV of England to return to England and not take up arms to pursue his claim to the French throne. Edward was provided with an immediate...

, which provided him with an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns and a yearly pension of 50,000 crowns. He also backed an attempt by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany
Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany
Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany was the second son of King James II of Scotland, and his Queen consort Mary of Gueldres, daughter of Arnold, Duke of Gelderland.-Biography:...

, brother of King James III of Scotland
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

, to take the Scottish throne in 1482. Gloucester led an invasion of Scotland that resulted in the capture of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 and the king of Scotland himself, but Albany reneged on his agreement with Edward. Gloucester decided to withdraw from his position of strength in Edinburgh. However, Gloucester did recover Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

.

Edward's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but lingered on long enough to add some codicils to his will, the most important being his naming of his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483 and is buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son, Edward V of England
Edward V of England
Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

.

It is not known what actually caused Edward's death. Pneumonia and typhoid have both been conjectured, as well as poison. Some attributed his death to an unhealthy lifestyle, as he had become stout and inactive in the years before his death.

Overview

An extremely capable and daring military commander, Edward destroyed the House of Lancaster in a series of spectacular military victories; he was never defeated on the field of battle. Despite his occasional (if serious) political setbacks — usually at the hands of his great Machiavellian rival, Louis XI of France
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 — Edward was a popular and very able king. While he lacked foresight and was at times cursed by bad judgement, he possessed an uncanny understanding of his most useful subjects, and the vast majority of those who served him remained unwaveringly loyal until his death.

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
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

's government had been marked by a general breakdown in law and order, as well as a sizable increase in both piracy and banditry. Interestingly, Edward was also a shrewd and successful businessman and merchant, heavily investing in several corporations within the City of London. 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
Exchequer
The Exchequer is a government department of the United Kingdom responsible for the management and collection of taxation and other government revenues. The historical Exchequer developed judicial roles...

. Edward made his household gain more control over finances and even investigated old records to see payments had been made. Documents of the exchequer show him sending letters that threaten officials if they did not pay money. His properties allowed him to bring in large amounts of money in order to restore royal finances.

Ultimately, despite his military and administrative genius, Edward's dynasty survived him by little more than two years, but Edward was one of the few male members of his dynasty to die of natural causes. Both Edward's father
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Richard Plantagenêt, 3rd Duke of York, 6th Earl of March, 4th Earl of Cambridge, and 7th Earl of Ulster, conventionally called Richard of York was a leading English magnate, great-grandson of King Edward III...

 and brother
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland was the fifth child and second surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville...

 were killed at the Battle of Wakefield
Battle of Wakefield
The Battle of Wakefield took place at Sandal Magna near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire in Northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses...

, while his grandfather
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge was the younger son of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and Isabella of Castile....

 and another brother
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Warwick, KG was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the...

 were executed for treason. Edward's two sons
Princes in the Tower
The Princes in the Tower is a term which refers to Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York. The two brothers were the only sons of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville alive at the time of their father's death...

 were imprisoned and disappeared (presumed killed) within a year of Edward's death. The king's youngest brother, Richard
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

, was famously killed in battle against Henry Tudor
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 at Bosworth Field
Battle of Bosworth Field
The Battle of Bosworth Field was the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians...

.

Ancestry



Issue

Edward IV had ten legitimate children by Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

, seven of whom survived him. They were declared illegitimate by Parliament in 1483, clearing the way for Richard III to become King.
  • Elizabeth of York
    Elizabeth of York
    Elizabeth of York was Queen consort of England as spouse of King Henry VII from 1486 until 1503, and mother of King Henry VIII of England....

    , queen consort
    Queen consort
    A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

     to Henry VII of England
    Henry VII of England
    Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

     (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503).
  • Mary of York
    Mary of York
    Mary of York was the second daughter of Edward IV of England and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville.-Family:...

     (11 August 1467 – 23 May 1482).
  • Cecily of York
    Cecily of York
    Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles was an English Princess and the third, but eventual second surviving, daughter of Edward IV, King of England and his queen consort, née Lady Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers.-Birth and Family:Cecily was born in Westminster Palace...

     (20 March 1469 – 24 August 1507); married first John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles
    John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles
    John Welles, 1st Viscount Welles, KG was an English Lancastrian Nobleman who was made a Knight of the Garter.John was born about 1450 to Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles and Margaret Beauchamp...

     and second Thomas Kyme or Keme.
  • Edward
    Edward V of England
    Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

     (4 November 1470 – 1483?); briefly succeeded his father, as King Edward V of England.
  • Margaret of York
    Margaret of York (1472)
    Margaret of York was a namesake niece of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy. She was the fifth child and fourth daughter of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville....

     (10 April 1472 – 11 December 1472).
  • Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York
    Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York
    Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, 1st Duke of Norfolk, 1st Earl of Norfolk, Earl Marshal was the sixth child and second son of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville. He was born in Shrewsbury....

     (17 August 1473 – 1483?).
  • Anne of York, Countess of Surrey (2 November 1475 – 23 November 1511); married Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
    Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
    Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal was a prominent Tudor politician. He was uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two of the wives of King Henry VIII, and played a major role in the machinations behind these marriages...

    .
  • George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford
    George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford
    George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Bedford was the eighth child and third son of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville....

     (March 1477 – March 1479).
  • Catherine of York
    Catherine of York
    Catherine or Katherine of York was the ninth child and sixth daughter of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville. From birth to death, she was daughter to Edward IV, sister to Edward V, niece to Richard III, sister-in-law to Henry VII and aunt to Henry VIII.-Early life:She was born in Eltham...

     (14 August 1479 – 15 November 1527); married William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
    William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
    William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon was the son of Sir Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and Elizabeth Courtenay....

    .
  • Bridget of York
    Bridget of York
    Bridget of York was the tenth child and seventh daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.-Family and life:She was a younger sister of Elizabeth of York, Mary of York, Cecily of York, Edward V, Margaret of York, Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, Anne of York, Countess of Surrey and...

     (10 November 1480 – 1517); became a nun.


Edward had numerous mistresses. The best known was Elizabeth Shore, called Jane Shore
Jane Shore
Elizabeth "Jane" Shore was one of the many mistresses of King Edward IV of England, the first of the three whom he described respectively as "the merriest, the wiliest, and the holiest harlots" in his realm...

.

He reportedly had several illegitimate children:
  • By Elizabeth Lucy or Elizabeth Waite.
    • Elizabeth Plantagenet (born circa 1464), married Sir Thomas Lumley in 1477.
    • Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle
      Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle
      Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG was an illegitimate son of King Edward IV of England, and an important figure at the court of Henry VIII...

       (1460s/1470s – 3 March 1542).
  • By unknown mother. Recent speculations suggests them as children by Lucy or Waite.
    • Grace Plantagenet. She is known to have been present at the funeral of her stepmother Elizabeth Woodville in 1492.
    • Mary Plantagenet, married Henry Harman of Ellam, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Harman and widower of certain Agnes.
    • A daughter said to have been the first wife of John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley
      John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley
      John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley, 3rd Baron Tuchet was an English peer.John Tuchet was the son of James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley . He married Ann Echingham, daughter of Sir Thomas Echingham with whom he had seven children...

      .


Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of King Henry VII of England. By claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower, Warbeck was a significant threat to the newly established Tudor Dynasty,...

, an impostor
Impostor
An impostor or imposter is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often to try to gain financial or social advantages through social engineering, but just as often for purposes of espionage or law enforcement....

 claimant to the English throne, who claimed to be Edward's son Richard of Shrewsbury, reportedly resembled Edward. There is unconfirmed speculation that Warbeck could have been another of Edward's illegitimate sons.

Successors

Edward IV's eldest son was invested with the title of Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

 at the age of seven months. At the age of three, he was sent by his father to Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Castle is a large, partly ruined, non-inhabited castle which dominates the town of Ludlow in Shropshire, England. It stands on a high point overlooking the River Teme...

 as nominal head of the Council of Wales and the Marches, a body that had originally been set up to help the future Edward V of England
Edward V of England
Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

 in his duties as Prince of Wales. The prince was accompanied to Ludlow by his mother and by his uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers was an English nobleman, courtier, and writer.He was the eldest son of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Like his father, he was originally a Lancastrian, fighting on that side at the Battle of Towton, but later became a Yorkist...

, who carried out many of the administrative duties associated with the presidency of the Council. The king visited his son occasionally at Ludlow, though, as far as is known, he never ventured into Wales itself. It is clear that he intended this experience of government to prepare his son for the throne.

Although his son was quickly barred from the throne and replaced by Richard of Gloucester
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

, Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was Queen consort of England as spouse of King Henry VII from 1486 until 1503, and mother of King Henry VIII of England....

 later became the Queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 of Henry VII of England
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

. The grounds for Titulus Regius
Titulus Regius
Titulus Regius is a statute of the Parliament of England, issued in 1484, by which the title of King of England was given to Richard III of England....

, passed to justify the accession of Richard of Gloucester, were that Edward had been contracted to marry another woman prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Lady Eleanor Butler
Lady Eleanor Talbot
Lady Eleanor Talbot was a daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. Her alleged pre-contract of marriage with King Edward IV of England was of great significance to the final fate of the Plantagenet dynasty and outcome of the Wars of the Roses.-Marriage:In 1449, 13-year-old Eleanor married...

 (a young widow, daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury and 1st Earl of Waterford KG , known as "Old Talbot" was an important English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, as well as the only Lancastrian Constable of France.-Origins:He was descended from Richard Talbot, a tenant in 1086 of Walter Giffard...

) and Edward were alleged to have been precontracted; both parties were dead by this time, but a clergyman (named only by Philippe de Commines
Philippe de Commines
Philippe de Commines was a writer and diplomat in the courts of Burgundy and France. He has been called "the first truly modern writer" and "the first critical and philosophical historian since classical times"...

 as Robert Stillington
Robert Stillington
Robert Stillington was Bishop of Bath and Wells and a courtier under Edward IV of England. He twice served as Edward#s Lord Chancellor and in 1483, he was instrumental in the accession of Richard III, leading to reprisals under Henry VII.-Life:Stillington was Archdeacon of Wells when he was made...

, Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Bath and Wells
The Bishop of Bath and Wells heads the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Province of Canterbury in England.The present diocese covers the vast majority of the county of Somerset and a small area of Dorset. The Episcopal seat is located in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in...

), claimed to have carried out the ceremony. The declaration was repealed shortly after Henry VII assumed the throne, because it illegimitized Elizabeth of York, who was to be his queen.

The final fate of Edward IV's legitimate sons, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, is unknown. Speculation on the subject has given rise to the "Princes in the Tower
Princes in the Tower
The Princes in the Tower is a term which refers to Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York. The two brothers were the only sons of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville alive at the time of their father's death...

" mystery.

Was Edward illegitimate?

Evidence of Edward's illegitimacy remains subjective and disputed among modern historians. For centuries it was generally accepted that the issue began as a propaganda exercise by his younger opponents. In his time, it was noted that Edward IV showed little resemblance to his father, especially in terms of his exceptional height when compared to the other members of the House of York, who were not well known for their height (though Edward's younger brother George
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Warwick, KG was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the...

 was also tall and fair, and said to bear a marked resemblance to him). Questions about his paternity were raised during Edward's own reign, for example by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, in 1469, and repeated by George shortly before his execution in 1478, but with no evidence; in propaganda wars, such as these, many statements were used that perhaps had no basis in truth.

Dominic Mancini
Dominic Mancini
Dominic Mancini was an Italian who visited England in 1482, left in 1483 and left behind an account of the events he witnessed. He called it: De Occupatione Regni Anglie per Riccardum Tercium ....

 claimed that Cecily Neville
Cecily Neville
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York was the wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and the mother of two Kings of England: Edward IV and Richard III....

, mother of both Edward IV and Richard III, was herself the basis for the story: when she found out about Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

 in 1464, Cecily Neville flew into a rage. Mancini reported that the Duchess, in her anger, offered to declare him a bastard. However, this is not supported in contemporary sources, but is most likely reflective of contemporary opinion.

Prior to his succession, on 22 June 1483, Richard III
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

 declared that Edward V was illegitimate, and three days later the matter was addressed by parliament. In Titulus Regius
Titulus Regius
Titulus Regius is a statute of the Parliament of England, issued in 1484, by which the title of King of England was given to Richard III of England....

(the text of which is believed to come word-for-word from the petition presented by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG played a major role in Richard III of England's rise and fall. He is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower...

, to the assembly which met on June 25, 1483, to decide on the future of the monarchy), Richard III is described as "the undoubted son and heir" of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Richard Plantagenêt, 3rd Duke of York, 6th Earl of March, 4th Earl of Cambridge, and 7th Earl of Ulster, conventionally called Richard of York was a leading English magnate, great-grandson of King Edward III...

, and "born in this land" — an oblique reference to his brother's birth at Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 and baptism in circumstances which could have been considered questionable. There is no confirmation for the view - as fictionalised in William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Richard III
Richard III (play)
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

(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.

However in a 2004 television documentary, it was noted that, from 14 July to 21 August 1441 Edward's father was indeed away on campaign at Pontoise, several days' march from Rouen (where Cecily of York was based). This was taken to suggest that the Duke of York could not have been available in order to father Edward, as he was born on 28 April 1442 indicating a conception date close to 22 July 1441. Furthermore, the christening celebration of Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland was the fifth child and second surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville...

, the second son of Richard and Cecily, was a lavish and expensive affair, while the christening of the couple's firstborn son Edward was a low key and private affair in a small chapel in Rouen. This could be interpreted as indicating that the couple had more to celebrate together at the birth of Edmund. For more details about this theory, see the TV programme Britain's Real Monarch
Britain's Real Monarch
Britain's Real Monarch was a historical documentary presented by Tony Robinson first shown on Channel 4 on 3 January 2004. It has also been broadcast in America and Australia...

.

Counter-arguments to this theory are that the Duke could have returned to Rouen from Pontoise, as there was a road in English hands or Edward could have been premature. Baptisms were often performed quickly then for fear of the child dying, and Cecily had already had children who died young. It has also been pointed out that Edward IV could claim the crown from Henry VI by right of conquest
Claims to a crown
There are five ways in which a person lays claim to a crown, ordered here by their strengths. This ordering is based on possession.#Right of Conquest: If one overthrows the monarch, taking the crown and kingdom by force, and holds them, then one is monarch...

, whether he was a legitimate child or not, and that he was the eldest male heir in the senior line, since Richard, Duke of York, never contested his paternity. Under English common law a child born to a married woman is presumed to be her husband's, although the husband may contest the presumption.

In fiction

Edward IV features as a character in:
  • The plays Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3, and Richard III
    Richard III (play)
    Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

    , by William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

    . In the 1955 film Richard III
    Richard III (1955 film)
    Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors,...

    , Richard directly hastens Edward's death, by informing the already ailing king that one of his brothers, George, Duke of Clarence is dead (Edward had revoked the order for Clarence's exceution, but Richard has had Clarence secretly murdered).
  • The plays King Edward IV, Part 1
    Edward IV (play)
    Edward IV, Parts 1 and 2 is a two-part Elizabethan history play, often attributed to Thomas Heywood, perhaps with collaborators.The two parts were entered into the Stationers' Register together on August 28, 1599, and were published together later that year in a quarto issued by the bookseller John...

    and King Edward IV, Part 2, by Thomas Heywood
    Thomas Heywood
    Thomas Heywood was a prominent English playwright, actor, and author whose peak period of activity falls between late Elizabethan and early Jacobean theatre.-Early years:...

    , a contemporary of Shakespeare's.
  • The Innocent, The Exiled and The Beloved (released as The Uncrowned Queen) by Australian novelist, Posie Graeme-Evans
    Posie Graeme-Evans
    Posie Graeme-Evans spent her childhood travelling between Europe, Asia and Australia. Having worked extensively in the Australian film and television industries as an editor, director, writer and producer/executive producer, Posie is now a full-time novelist .-Early life:Graeme-Evans is the...

  • The Raven and the Rose, by Virginia Henley
    Virginia Henley
    Virginia Henley, née Virginia Syddall , is a British successful writer of historical-romance novels. She is well-known for her Medieval, Renaissance and other period piece romance novels.- Biography :...

     (a fictional illegitimate child of Edward IV is the main character)
  • The Sunne in Splendour
    The Sunne in Splendour
    The Sunne in Splendour is historical novel written by Sharon Kay Penman. Penman became interested in the subject while a student and wrote a manuscript that was stolen from her car. She rewrote the manuscript which was published in 1982.- Background :...

    , by Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman
    Sharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...

     (a historical fiction novel about the life of Richard III)
  • We Speak No Treason, by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (a historical fiction novel about Richard III as Duke of Gloucester)
  • The Founding, Volume 1 of The Morland Dynasty
    The Morland Dynasty
    The Morland Dynasty is a series of historical novels by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, based around the Morland family of York, England and their national and international relatives and associates.There are currently thirty-two books in the series...

    , a series of historical novels by author Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
    Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
    Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is a prolific and successful British novelist, best known for her Morland Dynasty series.Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd's Bush, London and educated at Burlington School. Her first successful novel was The Waiting Game , and she became a full-time writer in...

    .
  • Sovereign, by C. J. Sansom (Fictional account set in 1541 England. Edward IV is actually the son of a Kentish archer.)
  • The Reluctant Queen, by Jean Plaidy (a historical fiction novel from the point of view of Anne Neville
    Anne Neville
    Lady Anne Neville was Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and Queen of England as the consort of King Richard III. She held the latter title for less than two years, from 26 June 1483 until her death in March 1485...

    , wife of Richard III)
  • The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory
    Philippa Gregory
    Philippa Gregory is an English novelist.-Early life and academic career:Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya. When she was two years old, her family moved to England. She was a "rebel" at school, but managed to attend the University of Sussex...

     (a historical fiction novel from the point of view of Edward's wife, Elizabeth Woodville
    Elizabeth Woodville
    Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

    )
  • Knight Errant by Rodrigo Garcia Y Robertson (Edward, Earl of March, falls in love with a woman who is a time-traveler from 21st century America)
  • The Kings Grace by Anne Easter Smith
    Anne Easter Smith
    Anne Easter Smith is an English-American historical novelist. She is the aunt of England rugby No. 8, Nick Easter.Her novels are set during the Wars of the Roses, the period during which two branches of the House of Plantagenet, the Houses of York and Lancaster, were in contention for the throne...

     (Fictional portrayal of Edward's illegitimate daughter Grace)
  • House of Echoes by Barbara Erskine
    Barbara Erskine
    Barbara Erskine is an English novelist.-Biography:Erskine owns homes in Hereford and Colchester, England. Erskine's first novel was published in 1986...

     (Ghost story about a mansion that is haunted by the spirit of Edward IV among others)

External links

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