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King Edward IV

Edward IV (1422-1483) Earl of Marsh, Duke of York, then twice King of England during the War of the Roses.

On 28th April 1442, King Edward IV was born at Rouen, France. He was the eldest surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville. Both parents were direct descendants of King Edward III, giving Edward a claim to the throne of England later on.

king edward iv (1422-1483)
King Edward IV (1422-1483)

Edwards siblings were Richard (Duke of Gloucester), Edmund (Duke of Rutland), George (1st Duke of Clarence), and Margaret (Duchess of Burgundy).

Edward, Earl of Marsh

Edward Plantagenet spent his younger years brought up at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire. He had the title of the Earl of Marsh, until his father’s death.

1449, Edward took up the position of Chief Governor of Ireland, he had been appointed since 1447.

August 1453, Henry VI had a breakdown, due to Edwards lineage he took over the government. Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and his son Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick became his chief supporters.

October 1459, defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, he fled to Calais in France along with Earl of Salisbury, and Earl of Warwick. Edwards father Richard, Duke of York and Earl of Rutland made their way to Ireland.

10th July 1460, at the Battle of Northampton Richard had been in command of one in three divisions of the Yorkist army. The battle became a victory for the House of York.

Edward, 4th Duke of York

30th December 1460, Edwards father Richard, Duke of York killed fighting the Lancastarians at the Battle of Wakefield. Edward inherited the title 4th Duke of York as the eldest surviving son.

2nd February 1461, Edward won a decisive victory at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. It had been a major battle against Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke and his father Sir Owen Tudor.

Edward IV declared King

4th March 1461, Edward, Duke of York declared King of England, by the Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick after the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton. He had become the first Yorkist King, but not the first of the Yorkist Plantagenet to try. A Welsh knight Sir David Ap Matthew had saved Edward’s life during the battle. For his bravery, he became the Standard Bearer of England.

1464, Edward marries Elizabeth Woodville, this offends the Earl of Warwick and they fall out. He became increasingly relying on Elizabeth’s family, who had competed with the Neville’s for lands and positions. Edward had also blocked a proposed married between is younger brother George, and Earl of Warwicks eldest daughter Isabel.

edward iv's marriage to elizabeth woodville, from the illuminated manuscript anciennes chroniques d'angleterre
Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, from the illuminated manuscript Anciennes Chroniques d’Angleterre, by Jean de Wavrin

26th July 1469, the Earl of Warwick defeats Edward at the Battle of Edgcoat, he becomes held captive at Middleham Castle.

September 1469, Edward resumed the throne when it became clear that the Earl of Warwick and Duke of Clarence had no further support.

9th September 1470, the Yorkists had become unpopular, the Earl of Warwick lands in England and gathers an army of Lancastarians. John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu defected to the Lancastarians leaving Edward with no other choice than to take exile in Flanders.

3rd October 1470, Henry VI restored back on the throne with the help of the Earl of Warwick.

13th March 1471, Edward returns to England with an army. Prevented from landing in Norfolk, he sailed northwards and landed at Ravenspurn near to Hull. The Duke of Clarence secretly reconciled with Edward.

Edward IV became King for second time

11th April 1471, he became Edward IV King of England for the second time.

14th April 1471, joined at the Battle of Barnet by his brothers Duke of Gloucester and Duke of Clarence. Edward gave the order to capture the Earl of Warwick, but he had already been killed trying to flee the battlefield.

4th May 1471 Margaret of Anjou defeated at the Battle of Tewkesbury. The Lancastrian heir, Prince Edward, is killed. Soon after, Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London.

1475, Edward allied with Burgundy and then declared war of France. Bloodshed had become avoided with the signing of the Treaty of Picquigny. He received payment of 75,000 crowns and an annual sum of 50,000 crowns.

18th Feburary 1478, Edward had previously fallen out with his brother George, Duke of Clarence. Found murdered in the Tower of London, supposedly in a butt of malmsey wine.

22nd July 1482, Edward had backed the Duke of Gloucester’s Scottish campaign to take Edinburgh Castle. It ended up in September becoming an expensive failure, with just the capture of Berwick Castle.

9th April 1483, Edward IV died aged 40 after becoming ill. Before his death, he had named his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Protector.

He was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His 12 year old son Edward V never crowned, he became one of the two Princes in the Tower to be murdered. Edward’s brother crowned King Richard III on 6th July 1483.

Edward IV had been the most successful King during the period of the War of the Roses. With a height of six-foot five-inches, he became the tallest monarch in British History, a record that still stands today.



By , last updated: 14th December 2020