Born In: Rouen, France
Edward IV was the king of England who established the ‘House of York’ and became the first Yorkist King of England. He ruled England from 1461 to 1483, barring a six-month period between October 1470 and April 1471. He was able to restore order in the kingdom but due to personal conflicts with his cousin, the Earl of Warwick, he faced several rebellions during his reign. Edward IV was the eldest surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, who was the leading Yorkist in the dynastic struggle against the Lancastrians, which came to be known as ‘Wars of the Roses.’ Upon his father’s death, Edward IV inherited his claim and defeated the Lancastrians in a series of battles with Warwick’s help, ascending the throne at the age of 19. This win led Warwick to believe that he could continue to control the new king but his intentions were belied when Edward IV defied him and secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a young widow. This made Warwick furious and he started conspiring against Edward IV, joining hands with his allies. After several unsuccessful revolt attempts, Edward IV was deposed for a while, which marked the temporary return of Henry VI to the throne, during which time Edward IV fled and remained in exile. Subsequently, Edward IV returned to England with his army and smothered Warwick along with the rest of the Lancastrians to begin his second reign, a period of relative peace and security. After ruling for a decade, his health declined due to several ailments, resulting in his untimely death at the age of 40.
Also Known As: Edward IV
Died At Age: 40
Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Woodville
father: Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York
mother: Cecily Neville, Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, Duchess of York
siblings: Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, Henry of York, John of York, Margaret of York, Richard III of England, Thomas of York, William of York
children: Anne of York, Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, Bridget of York, Catherine of York, Cecily of York, Edward de Wigmore, Edward V of England, Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Plantagenet, Grace Plantagenet, Margaret of York, Mary of York, Perkin Warbeck, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York
Born Country: England
Died on: April 9, 1483
place of death: Westminster, Middlesex, England
Cause of Death: Illness
Founder/Co-Founder: Council of Wales and the Marches
Edward IV was born on April 28, 1442, in Rouen, Normandy, France, to Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and his wife Cecily Neville. He was the second child and the eldest of four sons who survived to adulthood.
Edward’s father routed the first battle of the conflict against the Lancastrians which came to be known as the ‘Wars of the Roses.’ His claim to the crown in 1460 was the key escalation of this war and after his death, the claim to the throne of England was passed to his son, Edward.
When the Lancastrians were defeated following a succession of battles, the Yorkish forces captured King Henry VI and held him as a prisoner. Although Henry VI was freed from captivity, after several attempts, by the Lancastrian forces, they surrendered their remaining legitimacy of the English throne to the Yorkists.
In March 1461, Edward was declared the King of England. Over the years, he strengthened his claim to the throne by nearly wiping out the Lancastrian army.
The defeat of the Lancastrians and the obliteration of their army in the ‘Battle of Hexham’ marked the end of their conflict with the Yorks in 1464.
When Edward ascended the throne, his cousin Richard Neville, The Earl of Warwick, who helped him win the battle against the Lancastrians, wanted to control England by making Edward his puppet. Therefore, Richard pushed Edward to enter a marital alliance with a major European power by marrying King Louis XI’s daughter.
Edward IV defied Richard by marrying Elizabeth Woodville. Edward IV’s marriage instigated resentment in Richard. Subsequently, with aid from Edward's disaffected younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, Richard led an army against the king. In July 1469, the king's army was defeated at the ‘Battle of Edgecote Moor’ and Edward was captured.
Thereafter, Richard made an unsuccessful attempt to rule in place of Edward. However, due to the nobility of many people who held their allegiance towards the king, Richard was forced to release Edward in September 1469.
Richard then formed an alliance with the former Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou and King of France Louis XI to start a rebellion against Edward IV. In an accord between the three, Richard agreed to restore Henry VI to the throne of England. Subsequently, Edward’s army was defeated and he was forced to flee.
In 1470, Henry VI was restored to the throne and Edward chose to remain in exile in Flanders. Later, with help from the Duke of Burgundy, Edward's brother-in-law, Edward IV raised an army to win back his kingdom.
Upon returning to England with a relatively small force, Edward avoided arrest and the city of York opened its gates to him after he assured them that he had returned to reclaim his territory.
Edward IV began to gather support as he marched southwards. He then entered London unopposed where he imprisoned Henry VI. Edward IV and his army then overpowered Richard at the ‘Battle of Barnet.’ Edward gradually eliminated the remaining Lancastrian resistance at the ‘Battle of Tewkesbury’ in 1471.
The last significant rebellion ended in March 1474 with the surrender of the Earl of Oxford, who survived to command the Lancastrian army at Bosworth in 1485.
Upon returning to the English throne in 1471, Edward did not face any further insurgence as most of the Lancastrians were smothered to death.
Edward IV crushed the House of Lancaster and restored law and order in England. His reign was, by and large, peaceful and the kingdom attained prosperity under his rule.
In May 1464, Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian soldier. The couple had ten children, seven of whom outlived him.
In the early-1480s, he fell ill and his health deteriorated over a period of time. He died on April 9, 1483, and his mortal remains were buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
After his death, his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville was declared illegal by the Parliament in 1483. As a result, all his children were deemed illegitimate, thus clearing the way for Richard III to ascend the throne.
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