Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483)

 Born  28 Apr 1442   Born At  Rouen, France
 Died  9 Apr 1483   Buried At  St. George's Chapel, Windsor
 Father  Richard (Duke of York)   Mother  Neville, Cecily (Duchess of York)
Preceded by  Henry (VI, King of England 1422-1461, 1470-1471) Succeeded by  Edward (V, King of England 1483)
 Royal House   York

Titles Include

King of England from 1461


dward was born on April 28th in Rouen in Normandy. His father was Richard Duke of York, the great-grandson of Edward III. In 1447 Richard's chance of becoming the next king of England increased when the uncle of Henry VI, the Duke of Gloucester died without any heirs. At this time King Henry VI was the last surviving male heir in the direct line of Lancaster and if he also died without a male heir, Richard would be the next in line in the line of male heirs. There was a nearer male heir, Henry Holland, but he was a descendant from Elizabeth a daughter of John of Gaunt. Another claimant to the throne was Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, who was the grandson of John of Gaunt and his mistress Catherine Swynford, but Parliament passed a law to prevent a Beaufort becoming king. It is possible that Richard's (Edward IV's father) claim to the throne was better than the current king (Henry VI) if the royal line could pass via a female. This is because Richard's mother (Anne) was the great-granddaughter of Lionel, the second son of Edward III, where as Henry VI was descended from John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. (It is best to look at a family tree at this point from Edward III to see what's going on.) Richard was acting as Henry VI's lieutenant-general in France at the time.

An overview of the soldier king's reign by Dorothy Davies.

Edward Plantagenet was born on the 22nd April 1442, the oldest surviving child of Dame Cecily and Richard duke of York. Two earlier children had been born to the couple, a son, Henry, who had died, and a daughter Anne, who survived. He grew up in Ludlow, at the fortified castle owned by his father. It was from Ludlow that the duke of York, Edward, by then Earl of March, his brother Edmund, by then Earl of Rutland, together with Lord Salisbury and the Earl of Warwick, fled from the approaching Lancastrian army, which had been bolstered by a defection of one of the Duke of York's most trusted advisors, along with a good many men. The only 'defence' at that time was to leave, which they did. Dame Cecily and her two sons, George and Richard, were left to face the 'enemy' and be captured. The duke of York went to Ireland, Edward, Lord Salisbury and the Earl of Warwick went to Calais.

When the duke of York returned to England, he came in style and determination, to claim the throne of England for himself, citing his blood line as his credentials. Unfortunately his claim failed and he was instead made Lord Protector until such time as the mentally unstable king, Henry VI, should die. The Lancastrian army was still causing problems and in December 1460 the duke of York, with his second son Edmund and Lord Salisbury, set out for Yorkshire. Edward was given his first command, in the Welsh Marches. The battle of Wakefield, which was fought just after Christmas, claimed the lives of both the duke and Edmund, earl of Rutland. Edward was left with the terrifying memory of the heads of his father and brother being put on spikes, his father's head crowned with paper crown to signify his attempt at claiming the throne.

From that moment on, a warrior king was in the making. This started with the battle of Mortimers Cross, when the freak atmospheric condition gave the Yorkist soldiers a perihelion, a vision of triple suns, a sign Edward took for his standard in later battles. Victory went to the Yorkists. By this time Edward was a giant of a man at well over 6 ft, with tremendous fighting abilities and more than that, a determination that no matter what, his father's death would be avenged and the House of York would regain its premier position as England's leading family. On 4th March 1461 he was pronounced King of England at St Paul's Cathedral, having successfully marched into the capital just a few days earlier.

But his fighting was not yet done, there was a major battle ahead, one which was fought at Towton. It gained the reputation of being England's bloodiest battle, with many arguments over how many died going on to this day. What did matter was the decisive Yorkist victory and for a time there was relative peace in the country. In 1464 Edward met and married the impoverished widowed daughter, Elizabeth, the eldest child of Sir Richard Woodville and Jacquetta of Luxemburg, Dowager Duchess of Bedford. This marriage, which was carried out in secret, did two things. It enraged the Earl of Warwick who had plans for a continental marriage and a dynasty that would unite two countries and it elevated a family whose unpopularity was to cause problems for many years to come. Clashes with the Earl of Warwick and the defection of his brother George, by then the duke of Clarence, resulted first in Edward being captured and held prisoner by the Earl of Warwick, and eventually causing Edward to flee the country, taking his brother Richard of Gloucester, Lord Hastings, Earl Rivers and several others with him.

For a time Henry VI was restored to the throne and Edward began a period of exile. It did not last long. With the help of aristocrats in Europe, money was found to fit out ships and when the weather conditions permitted, they again set sail for England. Some ships were lost, but Edward landed safely in Yorkshire, his brother and Earl Rivers also landed safely a few miles down the coast. They met up and began a march which would eventually take them all the way to London. There were devious doings along the way to gain entrance to York and other great cities but Edward was ever the scheming diplomat and he soon found his way around the problem. He gathered many men to his cause and quite simply marched on the capital and claimed the throne again. Rebellion continued and another battle ensued, this one at Barnet, where the Earl of Warwick was killed. This seemed to end the troubles in England for a time.

Edward was, despite his taxation laws and a few other problems, a popular king. His wife Elizabeth presented him with many children, including two sons, Edward Prince of Wales and Richard duke of York, the Princes whose disappearance was later to haunt a future king's reign and reputation. The one episode which marred the remainder of his reign was his decision to have his brother George, duke of Clarence, imprisoned and finally executed on the grounds of treason. Edward IV died in April 1483 when he was just 41 years old. He had become ill during the winter and succumbed to what was generally said to be a tertian fever, although a poisoning rumour did do the rounds. He made his brother Richard of Gloucester Protector during Edward V's minority. At the time no one knew of Edward's alleged pre-contract of marriage which invalidated the new young King's claim to the throne by making him illegitimate. And so the stage was set for another twist in English history, one that has divided and baffled historians to the present day.

Family Tree Details
Father: Richard (Duke of York) (b.1411 - d.1460)
Mother: Neville, Cecily (Duchess of York) (b.1415 - d.1495)
Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483) (b.1442 - d.1483)
+Woodville, Elizabeth (b.1437 - d.1492) =Elizabeth (of York) ( - d.1503) | +Henry (VII, King of England 1485-1509) (b.1457 - d.1509) | =Arthur (Prince of Wales) (b.1486 - d.1502) | | +Catherine (of Aragon) (b.1485 - d.1536) | =Margaret (Tudor, Daughter of Henry VII) (b.1489 - d.1541) | | +James (IV King of Scotland 1488-1513) (b.1473 - d.1513) | | | =James (V, King of Scotland 1513-1542) (b.1512 - d.1542) | | | +Mary (of Guise) ( - d.1560) | | | | =Mary (Stuart, Queen of Scotland) (b.1542 - d.1587) | | | +Erskine, Margaret (Lady) | | | =Stewart, James (1st Earl of Moray) (b.1531 - m.1570) | | +Douglas, Archibald (Earl of Angus) ( - d.1557) | | =Douglas, Margaret ( - d.1578) | | +Stewart, Matthew (Earl of Lennox) ( - d.1571) | | =Henry (Lord Darnley) (b.1546 - d.1567) | | =Stewart, Charles (Earl of Lennox) ( - d.1576) | =Henry (VIII, King of England 1509-1547) (b.1491 - d.1547) | | +Catherine (of Aragon) (b.1485 - d.1536) | | | =Mary (I, Queen of England 1553-1558, Bloody Mary, Mary Tudor) (b.1516 - d.1558) | | | +Philip (II, King of Spain 1556-1598) (b.1527 - d.1598) | | +Boleyn, Anne ( - ex.1536) | | | =Elizabeth (I, Queen of England 1558-1603) (b.1533 - d.1603) | | +Seymour, Jane ( - d.1537) | | | =Edward (VI, King of England 1547-1553) (b.1537 - d.1553) | | +Anne (of Cleves) (b.1515 - d.1557) | | +Howard, Catherine ( - ex.1542) | | +Parr, Catherine | =Mary (Tudor, Queen of France) (b.1495 - d.1533) | +Louis (XII, King of France) ( - d.1515) | +Brandon, Charles (Duke of Suffolk) (b.1485 - d.1545) | =Frances (Lady) | | +Grey, Henry (Duke of Suffolk) ( - ex.1554) | | =Grey, Jane (Lady) (b.1537 - ex.1554) | | =Grey, Catherine (Lady) | =Clifford, Eleanor (Lady) ( - d.1547) =Edward (V, King of England 1483) (b.1470 - m.1483) =Richard (Duke of York, Prince in the Tower) ( - m.1483) =Cecily (Daughter of Edward IV) (b.1469 - d.1507)

View Graphical Family Tree


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Partial Personal Timeline

1442 Apr 28  Future Edward IV is born
 Edward was born on April 28th in Rouen in Normandy. His father was Richard, Duke of York, the great-grandson of Edward III. Richard was acting as Henry VI's lieutenant-general in France. 
1453 Nov  11yrsSomerset sent to the Tower
 Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset was unpopular and only kept his position of power with the support of the King. While Henry VI was ill Somerset was sent to the Tower of London.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1455 May 21  13yrsThe Yorkists are summoned
 A council was called and the Edward and Warwick were summoned to attend. Concerned that the reason they have been called to attend was that they would be punished, the Yorkists decided to demand a meeting of their own with the King at St. Albans.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1459 Oct 12  17yrsBattle of Ludford Bridge
 The Earl of Warwick with a force from Calais reached Ludlow and the combined army of the Yorkists attacked the King's army at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow. The men from Calais refused to fight their king and a weak Yorkist army was defeated. Richard Duke of York and his younger son escaped and fled to Ireland while Salisbury, Warwick and Edward of March (later Edward IV) fled to Calais.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1460 Jun  18yrsYorkists take control of Kent
 Yorkists from Calais landed on the south coast of England and quickly seized Sandwich. They prepared for the arrival of the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of March.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Jun 26  Earls of March and Warwick land in England
 Once the Yorkist army had secured Sandwich the Earls of March and Warwick arrived from Calais. They had a force of around 2,000 and the support of the Kentish men.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Jul 2  Yorkists enter London
 The Yorkists marched first to Canterbury where the officers in charge of protecting the town against them joined forces with the rebels. They then moved on and arrived at London on July 2nd. There they were welcomed by the Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury.[1]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Jul 5  The Earls of Warwick and March leave London
 Accompanied by a large army of Yorkist supporters, the Earl of Warwick and Edward, the Earl of March left London and marched towards Northampton where the King was staying.[2]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Jul 10  Battle of Northampton
 The Lancastrians's Court was in Coventry at the time of the Yorkist rebels entering London. When news reached them, the Lancastrians moved south to Northampton to meet the rebels. The Yorkists led by the Earl of Warwick wanted to talk but the Lancastrians led by the Duke of Buckingham wanted to fight. Although the Lancastrians had less men than the Yorkists, they did have control of a stronger position. The Yorkists managed to defeat the Lancastrians due to a section of the Lancastrian army led by Lord Grey of Ruthin moving away allowing the Yorkists through. Orders were given that the King and ordinary men should be spared, while the knights and lords should be killed. When the fighting was over the casualties were light, but the Lancastrian leaders, Buckingham, Shrewsbury and Egremont were dead and the King was captured.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
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