King Edward IV 1st Reign 1461-1470 – 2nd Reign 1471-1483

King Edward IV was the first Yorkist King of England who ruled in two phases. His first tenure as a King was spoiled by the violence due to the Wars of Roses.

War of the Roses Battle Barnet

War of the Roses Battle Barnet

Whereas the second phase of his rule was peaceful as he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne in the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

King Edward IV Medieval Kings

King Edward IV

Before becoming King, Edward IV was the 4th Duke of York, 5th Earl of Cambridge, 7th Earl of March, and 9th Earl of Ulster.

He was the 65th Knight from his order of chivalry i.e. The Order of the Golden Fleece. He was an able soldier and was never defeated on the battlefield.

Medieval Kings Edward IV & Lady Elizabeth Grey

Medieval king Edward IV’s marriage to the widowed Elizabeth Woodville (lady Elizabeth Grey) took place secretly.

King Edward IV Timeline

King Edward IV ruled England in two phases. His first rule was from 4th March 1461 to 3rd October 1470. His coronation took place on 28th June 1461. He came to power by defeating the Lancastrian King Henry VI during the Wars of the Roses.

Wars of the roses emblems

This image shows the emblems from the wars of the Roses

His initial rule came to an end in October 1470 when Henry IV regained the throne of England with the help of Warwick, who had withdrawn his support from Edward IV.

The King Edward IV Timeline of his second rule started in April 1471 when he entered London unopposed and defeated Warwick at the battle of Barnet. He then remained King until his death, i.e. April 1483.

Wars of the Roses painting

Medieval King Edward IV’s wife was Elizabeth Woodville. They secretly married on 1st May 1464.

King Edward IV Wife

King Edward IV’s wife was Elizabeth Woodville. They secretly married on 1st May 1464. She was the widow of a Lancastrian soldier.

It was believed that Elizabeth was the most beautiful woman on British Island and had the most beautiful eyes. She was the daughter of Jacquetta of Luxembourg who was the widow of Henry VI’s uncle, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford.

Medieval KIng Edward IV wife Elizabeth Woodville

Her father was Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, who was a newly created baron. The marriage of King Edward IV with Elizabeth Woodville was greatly criticized as it was considered an impulsive action rather than a political move as imperatively it had no benefit for the security of England or the York dynasty.

Coat of Arms of Elizabeth Woodville

Coat of Arms of Elizabeth Woodville

King Edward IV of England

King Edward IV of England was a very daring and competent military commander. He was never defeated on the battlefield and had a series of splendid victories against the House of Lancaster whom he crushed.

He was very popular among his subjects and the majority of them remained loyal to him until his death.

In the initial part of his rule overall law and order situation in England was satisfactory as his royal motto was “method and order” whereas, in the latter part of his rule, there was a breakdown in law and order as incidents of banditry and piracy increased.

King Edward IV of England was also a very clever businessman and had invested in several corporations in London. Edward had also ordered to building of several expensive status symbols to show his legitimate power and wealth as the King of England.

King Edward Children

Kind Edward IV had ten children with his wife Elizabeth Woodville. Out of these only seven survived.

In 1483 these children were declared illegitimate after their parent’s marriage was rendered illegal in a sermon preached by Ralph Shaa (Shaw).

It was more of a political move in order to clear the way for Richard III to become King.

Henry VII later repealed that act, Titulus Regius, thereby legitimizing all these children.

The names of King Edward IV’s children were

  1. Elizabeth of York; queen consort to Henry VII of England
  2. Mary of York
  3. Cecily of York
  4. Edward V of England briefly ruled England as King Edward V of England
  5. Margaret of York
  6. Richard of Shrewsbury; first Duke of York
  7. Anne of York; married Thomas Howard who later went on to become the third Duke of Norfolk
  8. George Plantagenet; first Duke of Bedford
  9. Catherine of York; married William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
  10. Bridget of York who went on to become a Nun

King Edward IV also had many mistresses; the most prominent among those was Jane Shore. King Edward also had several illegitimate children from these mistresses.

King Edward IV Death

King Edward IV died on 9th April 1483 and was buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. King Edward IV’s health fell gradually as he simultaneously suffered from many diseases.

At Easter in 1483 he fell fatally ill, but his illness lingered on long enough and he was conscious enough to add a couple of codicils to his will, the most important of which was nominated by his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as protector after his death.

The real cause of King Edward IV’s death is still unknown. It is believed that he died of pneumonia and typhoid with poison.

There is another group that believed the cause of King Edward IV death was his poor and unhealthy lifestyle as he had become inactive years before his death.

Who Succeeded King Edward IV

King Edward IV was succeeded by his 12-year-old son Edward V of England, but he was never crowned and ruled only for eighty-six days.

He was declared the illegitimate child of Edward IV as his parents’ marriage was declared illegal. He was later succeeded by his uncle and protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

It is believed that it was Richard who delayed the coronation of the young prince as he wanted himself to be the King of England and it was him who had the statute of parliament issued in 1484 by which the title of King of England was given to him and King Edward V was declared as illegitimate.

Edward V disappeared in 1483 when he was sent to the Tower of London, but was never found and it was believed that Richard III had him murdered.

King Edward IV Summary

King Edward IV was the first Yorkist King of England. He ruled England twice; his first half saw a lot of violence due to the Battles of roses, whereas the overall situation in the second half of his rule was peaceful. He was an able warrior and was never defeated on a battlefield.

His decision to marry Elizabeth Woodville is not considered a good political move and had ten children from her. He also had several mistresses and illegitimate children. His son Edward V succeeded him.