Edward IV

Edward IV

Edward, the son of Richard, duke of York and Cicely Neville, was born in Rouen, France, in 1442. Richard, Duke of York was killed during the Wars of the Roses, so when Henry VI and his forces were defeated in 1461, Edward was crowned king. With the support of his cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Edward defeated the Lancastrians at Towton.

Edward had difficulty keeping the support of his nobles. They were particularly upset by his decision to marry Elizabeth Woodville without first seeking their advice. The nobles objected to Elizabeth because she did not have royal blood and was the widow of a Lancastrian knight.

In 1470 the Earl of Warwick forced Edward into exile and put Henry VI back on the throne. The following year Edward returned and in April, Edward defeated and killed the Earl of Warwick at Barnet. He destroyed the remaining Lancastrian forces at Tewkesbury in May, 1471.

Once back in power, Edward IV had Henry executed at the Tower of London. Now firmly in control, Edward began to introduce a series of reforms. Law and order were restored and corrupt local officials were punished. Edward was determined to cut government expenditure and he gained the support of Parliament when he did not ask for any new taxes for several years.

Edward was also a patron of the arts and gave considerable support and encouragement to the first English book publisher, William Caxton. Edward died in 1483. His son, Edward, was only a child and it was therefore decided that Richard, Edward IV's brother, should became Protector of England, until Edward was old enough to become king.

Elizabeth Woodville did not trust Richard and called for a Regency Council to run the country. Richard reacted by persuading Parliament that Edward IV had not been legally married to Elizabeth Woodville, and therefore Prince Edward was not the true heir to the throne. As Edward IV's only surviving brother, Richard claimed the throne for himself.

Richard had Edward and his younger brother, Richard, taken into custody. Soon rumours began to circulate that Richard had arranged for his two nephews to be murdered.