Edward IV of England Biography

Edward IV was the first Yorkist King of England. This biography of Edward IV provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: April 28, 1442

Nationality: British

Famous: Emperors & Kings British Men

Died At Age: 40

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Rouen

Famous as: First Yorkist King of England


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Woodville

father: Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York

mother: Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

siblings: 1st Duke of Clarence, Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter, Duchess of Suffolk, Elizabeth of York, George Plantagenet, Margaret of York, Richard III of England

children: Anne of York, Bridget of York, Catherine of York, Cecily of York, Duke of York, Edward V of England, Elizabeth of York, Margaret of York, Mary of York, Perkin Warbeck, Richard of Shrewsbury

Died on: April 9, 1483

place of death: Westminster

City: Rouen, France

Founder/Co-Founder: Council of Wales and the Marches

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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 known as the ‘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 rest of the Lancastrians to begin his second reign, a period of relative peace and security. After ruling for a decade, his health declined and he fell prey to several ailments, resulting in his untimely death at the age of 40.

Childhood & Early Life
Accession & Reign
  • In March 1461, Edward was declared the King of England. Over the years, he strengthened his claim to the throne by nearly smearing out the Lancastrian army.
  • In 1464, 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.
  • Upon ascending the throne, his cousin Richard Neville, The Earl of Warwick, who helped him win the battle against Lancastrians, wanted to rule England through him. Richard, therefore, pushed him to enter into a marital alliance with a major European power by marrying King Louis XI’s daughters.
  • Edward IV defied him by marrying Elizabeth Woodville, an episode which instigated resentment in Richard and turned his intentions towards treachery. 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 Edward's name but 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 Louis XI, King of France, to start a rebellion against Edward IV. In an accord between the three, Warwick agreed to restore Henry VI to the throne in return for French support for a military invasion of England. This time, Edward’s army was defeated and he was forced to flee.
  • In 1470, Henry VI was briefly 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 only after he assured them that he had returned to reclaim his territory.
  • Edward IV began to gather support as he marched southwards and soon 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.
  • Upon returning to the English throne in 1471, Edward did not face any further insurgence, as the Lancastrian line was almost 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 kingdom attained prosperity under his rule.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In May 1464, Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian soldier. The couple had ten children together, seven of whom survived him.
  • In early 1480s, he fell ill and his health deteriorated overtime. He died on April 9, 1483, and was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
  • After his death, the marriage was declared illegal by Parliament in 1483. As a result, all his children were deemed illegitimate, thus clearing the way for Richard III to ascend throne.
  • Edward also had numerous illegitimate children with several of his mistresses, most prominent of them being Elizabeth Shore.

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Edward IV of England

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