This post is quick review of basic facts. Born in 1442, Rouen, Normandy, France, he had a complicated reign. It began in 1461 when he deposed Henry VI. It lasted until 1470 when his enemies, the Lancastrians, chased him out of England. Then he regrouped and began his second reign in 1471. He died in 1483 from pneumonia, at only 40 years young.
The so-called Wars (actually just Battles) of the Roses continued during his reign. Yorkists later came to be symbolized by the White Rose, and Lancasterians by the Red Rose.
It was around this time that the name Plantagenet was used as their last name.
Let’s get the big overview.
The Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses: The Turbulent Years of the Last Plantagenets, Seven Kings from Richard II in 1377 to Richard III in 1485:
Dan Jones, Wars of the Roses:
BASIC FAMILY FACTS
Edward was born at Rouen, Normandy, France 28 Apr 1442. He succeeded his father as 4th duke of York on 30 Dec 1460. He was proclaimed king of England by his supporters 4 Mar 1461 and crowned at Westminster 29 June 1461.
He privately married Elizabeth Woodville (Wydeville), widow of John Grey, at the manor house of the bride’s father at Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire on 1 May 1464. However, the exact date of their marriage was not (and is not) really known, for they kept it such a secret. The standard date, recorded just then, is from a later historian. Why so secret? Probably because he did not intend to keep the vows, but married her just to bed her.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, Constable of England, Lord High Treasurer, by Jacquette (descendant of King John), daughter of Pierre de Luxembourg and Brienne (descendant of Henry III). Elizabeth was born about 1437. Her family were minor gentry who brought neither enormous dowry nor any diplomatic advantages.
Edward was deposed by Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, and fled to the Netherlands 3 Oct 1470. Edward returned to England on 14 Mar 1471 and defeated Warwick and the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet 14 Apr 1471, where Warwick was slain and at the Battle of Tewkesbury 4 May 1471.
Edward died of a fever at Westminster 9 Apr 1483 and was buried at St. George’s chapel, Windsor, Berkshire. Elizabeth died 8 June 1492. She was buried also in St. George’s chapel with the king.
His tomb was opened at Windsor in 1789, and the corpse measured 6’3½” tall. A giant among men of the fifteenth century.
Henry and Elizabeth had these children:
1. Elizabeth was born at Westminster Palace on 11 Feb 1466. She married Henry Tudor (Henry VII, father of Henry VIII), at Westminster on 18 Jan 1486. She died at the Tower of London on 11 Feb 1503 and was buried in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey. He died at Richmond Palace, Surry, on 21 Apr 1509 and was buried in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey.
Henry VII has his own post at this website.
2. Mary was born at Windsor, Berkshire Aug 1467. She died at Greenwich, Kent, 23 May 1482 and was buried in St. George’s chapel, Windsor.
3. Cecily (Lady Cecily) was born 20 Mar 1469 (age 4 in 1474). She married (1) probably in early 1485 Ralph Scrope (later Lord Scrope of Masham or Upsall), by Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Greystoke, 5th lord Greystoke. The marriage was dissolved in 1486.
She married (2) John Welles, Viscount Welles, Constable of Bolingbroke and Rockingham Castles (descendant of Edward 1 and Henry II). They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. He fought in the rebellion of John Stafford, duke of Buckingham, in 1483. He escaped to Brittany, and he was attainted by parliament (lost his land and titles and rights). But John Welles returned with Henry (VII). He was knighted near Milford Haven 7 Aug 1485. After Henry defeated Richard III, the attainder was reversed. He died at Pasmer’s Place in St. Sithes Lane 9 Feb 1499 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
She married (3) Thomas Kyme (descendant of Henry II). He was born about 1464 (aged 40 in 1504). They had no issue.
Richardson does not record her date of death.
4. Edward, later considered Edward V, was born at Westminster 4 Nov 1470, while his father was in exile. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester 26 June 1471 and duke of Cornwall 17 July 1471. He succeeded his father as king of England 9 Apr 1483, but was deposed by his uncle, Richard, duke of Gloucester (soon to be Richard III). He was taken to the Tower of London and he and his brother Richard were called “Princes of the Tower.” He was alive in 1483, but died at an uncertain date of unknown causes, though it is likely he was killed by his uncle Richard (Richard III).
5. Margaret was born at Windsor, Berkshire 19 Apr 1472 and died 11 Dec 1472 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
6. Richard was born at Shrewsbury, Shropshire 17 Aug 1473. He was created duke of of York 28 May 1474. He married at St. Stephen’s chapel, Westminster, 15 Jan 1478 Anne Mowbray, daughter and heiress of John Mowbray, 4th duke of Norfolk (and many titles of earl). She was born 10 Dec 1472 at Framlingham, Suffolk. They had no issue. In contemplation of the upcoming marriage he was earl of Nottingham 12 June 1476, earl of Warrenne and duke of Norfolk 7 Feb 1477. Anne, duchess of York and Norfolk, died shortly before 10 Nov 1481 and was buried in the church of the Minoress of St. Care, London. When his father died in 1483, his mother took him and his five sisters into sanctuary of Westminster. After a demand from the Privy Council, his mother gave him up and on 16 June 1483 he was taken with his brother Edward to the Tower of London. He was alive in 1483, but died at an unknown date and of unknown causes, though it is likely that his uncle Richard, duke of Gloucester (Richard III), killed him.
7. Anne (Lady Anne) was born at Westminster 2 Nov 1475 and was baptized in Westminster Abbey. She married Thomas Howard at Greenwich, Kent, 4 Feb 1495. He was the 3rd duke of Norfolk, earl of Surry, Earl Marshal of England, Lord High Steward of England (etc.). He was the son and heir of Thomas Howard (descendant of Edward I) by his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress Frederick Tilney. They had one son, Thomas. Anne died 23 Nov 1511. Her remains were initially buried at Thetford, Norfolk, but were later removed by her husband to Framlingham, Suffolk. He remarried. He died at Kenninghall Hall, Norfolk, 25 Aug 1554 and was buried at Framlingham. Suffolk.
8. George was born at Windsor, Berkshire, Mar 1477 and died in fancy at Windsor Castle Mar 1479 and was buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
9. Catherine (Lady Catherine) was born at Eltham, Kent about 14 Aug 1479. She married in or before Oct 1495 William Courtenay, earl of Devon, son and heir of Edward Courtenay (descendant of Edward I). He was born about 1475. They had two sons, Henry and Edward, and one daughter Margaret. He attended the coronation of his sister Elizabeth (see no. 1, above). He had been attainted, but this was reversed by his brother-in-law Henry VII. He died at Greenwich, Kent, 9 June 1511 and was buried at Black Friars, London. She took a vow of perpetual chastity in 1511. She died at Tiverton, Devon, 15 Nov 1527.
10. Bridget (Lady Bridget) was born at Eltham, Kent, on 10 Nov 1480 and was baptized there 11 Nov 1480. Richard III, her uncle, took her under his protection and left sanctuary at Westminster. She became a nun at Dartford Priory, Kent. She probably died in 1513, after which she was buried in Dartford Priory.
Illegitimate children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wayte, widow of ___ Lucy and daughter of Thomas Wayte, Esq., of Hampshire:
1. Elizabeth married before 1472 Thomas Lumley, knight of the shire for Northumberland, 1495, son and heir apparent of George Lumley, lord Lumley of Lumley, Durham. He was born about 1462. They had four sons, Richard (lord Lumley), John, George, and Roger, Esq., and three daughters Anne (wife of Roger Ogle, 4th lord Olgle), Sibyl (wife of William Hiltyon, 9th lord Hylton) and Elizabeth (wife of Robert Ogle 4th lord Ogle). Thomas Sr. died before 13 Nov 1507.
2.. Arthur held multiple justice of the peace and sheriff titles and was even warden of the Cinque Ports and vice-admiral of the navy. He was born probably in 1470. He married (1) Elizabeth Grey, baroness of Lisle, widow of Edmund Darnley and daughter and heiress of Edward Grey (descendant of Edward I) by his first wife Elizabeth (descendant of Edward I). She was born about 1482-85 (aged 20 to 23 in 1505. They had three daughters, Frances, (wife of John Basssett and Thomas Monke), Elizabeth (wife of Francis Johnson), and Bridget (wife of William Carden). He attended the funeral of Henry VII. He married (2) Honor Greville, widow of John Basset, daughter of Thomas Greville, by his wife Isabelle, daughter of Otes Gilbert. They had no issue.
Alleged child of Edward IV by his mistress Catherine Clavenger, daughter of Sir Robert Clavenger, yeoman of the king’s chamber:
Alleged children by an unknown mistress or mistresses:
1. Grace was said to be present on the funeral barge of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV.
2. Isabel Mylbery married John Audley (or Tuchet), youngest son of John Audley (or Tuchet). They had no issue.
3. Mary married after 1485 as his second wife Henry Hardman, of Ellam in Crayford, Kent, clerk of the crown in the court of the king’s bench, sone of Thomas and Elizabeth Hardman. Henry left a will dated 31 Mar 1501 (proved 11 May 1502), naming his deceased wife, Agnes, his living wife Mary, and eleven children: George, William, Thomas, Roger, John, Henry, Robert, Elizabeth, Alice, Beatrice, and Anne. The maternity of the children is uncertain, but at least two of the youngest sons were by Mary.
However, his best courtesan was Jane Shore.
This post does not cover the details of battles of the Roses. Other websites do that.
His life was intertwined with that of Henry VI. See his post for information from a slightly different angle: Henry VI.
- Supposedly he was handsome, so his nickname was the Rose of Rouen. As noted, he was 6’3½” when his tomb was opened. He was a giant among men of his century.
- He was a philanderer on a large scale, as the number of illegitimate children proves. One chronicler who knew Edward IV wrote that he was “a gross man so addicted to conviviality, vanity, drunkenness, extravagance, and passion in his own day he was thought to have indulged too intemperately his own passions and desire for luxury” (qtd. in Hicks 27).
- Edward’s father was the duke of York and the third great-grandson of Edward III by his second son, Lionel, the duke of Clarence. Henry VI, the current king, descended from John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, Edward’s third son.
- Edward, York’s son, was created earl of March in 1454.
- York was denied a place on the king’s Council while the king allowed inept councilors. Would York have revolted if he were allowed his place?
- After a civil war of five years (see post on Henry VI), York captured the king at the battle of Southampton on 10 July 1460 and claimed the succession for himself, rather than Henry’s son, Prince Edward.
- However, this plan was undone when York was defeated at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 Dec 1460. He was executed. His head was displayed on the walls of the city of York, wearing a paper crown.
- However, his ally, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, the “kingmaker,” took up the Yorkist cause and placed Edward (York’s son) under his protection (future Edward IV)..
- At 18 years old, Edward was a capable military commander. At the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross on about 3 Feb 1461, he defeated the Lancastrians, led by Jasper Tudor and Queen Margaret (Henry VI’s wife). Beheaded: Owen Tudor, former husband of King Henry’s late mother.
- However, the earl and Edward were defeated at the second Battle of St. Albans in the Cotswold, on 17 Feb 1461.
- Edward did not panic, however. Warwick and Edward, to protect themselves after this defeat, simply rode into London on 28 Feb. He claimed the throne as his father’s son by right of the Accord of 1460, which stated that after Henry VI died, York could possess the throne. He was warmly welcomed.
- On 4 Mar he was invested with the Confessor’s regalia (Edward the Confessor was a “saintly” king who ruled from 1042-1066). But this Edward was not yet crowned.
- In March he rode north to seek and destroy Margaret’s army and routed it on 29 Mar 1461, at the Battle of Towton. A blizzard blew to the advantage of the Yorkists. Snowy ground of six miles long and three miles wide was covered in blood. About 16,000 died.
- Edward returned to London and was greeted enthusiastically. This was a new king: young, handsome, high spirited and commanding.
- He was crowned king on 29 June 1461 at Westminster Abbey. Parliament met in Nov and gladly confirmed his right to rule.
- Henry and other Lancastrians were attainted as usurpers and stripped of their titles and property.
- Edward’s brothers were made princes: George, duke of Clarence, and Richard, duke of Gloucester.
- Then Edward did something strange that almost cost him his kingship. He married widow Elizabeth Wydeville (Woodville), Lady Grey, daughter of Richard Woodville, lord Rivers, a minor Lancastrian peer. She had resisted his advances, even when he pulled a knife on her. “If you’re too humble to be my queen, you’re too good to be my harlot,” he supposedly said, or she said she was too good to be his harlot.
- He married her on 1 May 1464 at Grafton near Stony Stratford. Attendees: the priest, the bride’s mother, two gentlewomen, and a young man to help the priest sing.
- Why so secret? He probably never intended to keep the vows, but married her just to bed her.
- Edward did not reveal his marriage until Sep., and then only when parliament put huge pressure on him to find a wife.
- Parliament and his family, like brothers Richard and George and their mother, were astounded when he revealed he was already married. She did not bring any diplomatic advantages or an enormous dowry.
- All this happened while the earl of Warwick was in France negotiating a marriage arrangement with a French princess.
- Elizabeth was crowned queen in May 1465. Warwick did not attend. Insulted.
- Edward also repudiated Warwick’s pro-French policy and instead opted to have his sister Margaret marry Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, the French king’s archenemy.
- Warwick defected. After a series of rebellions, one led by a mysterious Robin Redesdale in Yorkshire and elsewhere, Warwick went to Angers, France, in July 1470, and begged Queen Margaret’s forgiveness for fighting against the Lancastrians. He acknowledged Henry VI as king. Edward (the king’s son) was betrothed to Warwick’s daughter, Lady Anne Neville.
- George, duke of Clarence, King Edward’s brother, was there in cahoots.
- Louis XI was eager to upset England and did not want a start up of the Hundred Years War, so he funded an invasion of England. The invasion force landed at Devon on 13 Sep. 1470.
- Edward was too far off to organize a counter-offensive, for he went up to Richmondshire, to suppress a supposed rebellion, which evaporated when he got there. A decoy.
- Edward and his brother Richard escaped to the Netherlands, along with other Yorkists. They were penniless, so in one case Edward paid his way with an ermine collar.
- On 31 Oct 1470 Henry VI was restored to the throne, and Edward was deposed.
- Warwick was in a tough situation. He was forced to restore the Lancastrian lands, which upset the current occupants.
- In any case Henry’s reign was weak, and Edward landed at York ostensibly to claim his duchy of York. But at Nottingham he proclaimed himself king again.
- Warwick waited for Clarence to join him to fight Edward, but Clarence rejoined his brother.
- Lancastrians and Yorkists confronted each other at Barnet, 11 miles north of the City. Edward defeats the Lancastrians on 14 Apr 1471, Warwick was killed. Clarence was forgiven. This was the Second Battle of Barnet.
- On 4 May 1471 Edward defeats Prince Edward and his mother Queen Margaret at Tewkesbury. Prince Edward was killed. Lancastrians were severely weakened.
- Now Edward can be said to truly begin his second reign.
- And now what need was there of Henry VI? His son was dead. He was killed, likely on Edward’s orders, on 21 or 22 May 1471.
- Edward’s son Edward was created Prince of Wales and duke of Chester on 17 July 1471. The king’s two brothers George and Richard confirmed the investiture.
- Prince Edward was created earl of March and earl of Pembroke on 8 July 1479.
- A renewal of the Hundred Years War? He invaded France and landed at Calais in midsummer 1475.
- However, the French king bought him off with 75,000 crowns (a currency) as down payment and 50,000 crowns annually. The French heir apparent (the Dauphin) was betrothed to Edward’s daughter Elizabeth. Louis also bought Margaret of Anjou, former Queen of England, for 50,000 crowns, intending to get her to bequeath her rights to Lorraine and Naples.
- Edward and his army returned home. Charles, duke of Burgundy, was said to be so angry that he ate his garter (perhaps a reference to the English Order of the Garter?).
- George, duke of Clarence, became difficult to handle when Edward denied his right to marry the heiress to Burgundy. Clarence hanged one of his late duchess’s ladies for supposedly poisoning her beer. He claimed the king was trying to kill him by witchcraft. Edward hanged two men for witchcraft, and while he was absent from the council, Clarence barged into the council insisting they were innocent.
- Edward was angry, arrested Clarence, and had him attainted for treason, saying Clarence practiced necromancy and spread rumors that Edward was a bastard. Clarence died two months later at the Tower, drowned in a butt of wine.
- Edward may have believed a prophecy that said he would be replaced by a man with an initial G. The duke of Clarence’s name was George.
- After Easter 1483, Edward became ill. He may have caught a cold during an angling party on the Thames. If so, it developed into pneumonia.
- The king died on 9 Apr 1483 in the Palace of Westminster.
- His body was exposed for ten hours, naked from the waist, so it might be seen by lords, both temporal (secular) and spiritual (church) and by the mayor and aldermen. Exposing it like this proved there was no foul play.
- As for the prophecy about a man named with the letter G who would replace him, Edward had relied on his brother Richard, the duke of Gloucester—the letter G—to help Edward’s son Prince Edward to transition smoothly to take the throne.
- And Gloucester was about to eliminate Edward IV’s son, Prince Edward in spring and summer 1483, probably his death in Aug.
- So in a roundabout way a man named G did replace Edward IV by deposing this son Edward V, the Prince in the Tower.
The years denote their reigns.
Henry IV (1399-1413)
Henry V (1413-1422)
Henry VI (1429-1461, 1470-1471)
Edward IV (1461-1470, 1471-1483)
Edward V (1483)
Richard III (1483-1485)
Eleanor of Aquitaine (duchess of Aquitaine, queen, and Henry II’s wife)
Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry III and mother of Edward I)
Eleanor of Castile (married Edward I)
Matilda, Empress (Henry II’s mother). The post has links to her Norman ancestors!
Christine Carpenter, The Wars of the Roses: Politics and Constitution in England c. 1437-1509, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks (Cambridge UP 1997).
Ian Crofton, The Kings and Queens of England (New York: Metro Books, 2006).
The Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses: The Turbulent Years of the Last Plantagenets, Seven Kings from Richard II in 1377 to Richard III in 1485, gen. ed. Elizabeth Hallam (CLB 1997).
Anne Curry, Henry V: Playboy Prince to Warrior King, Penguin Monarchs (Allen Lane Penguin, 2015).
The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, gen. ed. Norman Cantor (Viking 1999).
John Gillingham, The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in Fifteenth-Century England (Louisiana State U 1981).
Michael Hicks, The War of the Roses, 1455-1485, Essential Histories: (Osprey 2013).
—, Edward V: The Prince of the Tower (Tempus 2003).
Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin 2014).
Charles Philips, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain (New York: Metro Books, 2009).
A. J. Pollard, The Wars of the Roses, 2nd ed. British History in Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan 2001).
The Plantagenet Encyclopedia: An Alphabetical Guide to 400 Years of English History, gen. ed. Elizabeth Hallam, (Crescent Books, 1996).
Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols. (Salt Lake: Published Privately, 2013).
Charles Ross, Richard III, Yale English Monarchs, new ed. (Yale UP, 1999).
—, Edward IV, new ed. Yale English Monarchs (Yale UP, 1997).
James Ross, Henry VI: A Good, Simple, and Innocent Man, Penguin Monarchs (Allen Lane Penguin 2016).
Desmond Seward, The Demon’s Brood: A History of the Plantagenet Dynasty (Pegasus, 2014).
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