Edward IV of England
|King of England; Lord of Ireland|
|Reign||4 March 1461 – 31 October 1470
9 years, 241 days
|Coronation||28 June 1461|
|Reign||11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483
11 years, 363 days
|Elizabeth of York
Mary of York
Cecily of York
Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York
Anne of York, Countess of Surrey
Catherine of York
Bridget of York
|House||House of York|
|Father||Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York|
|Born||28 April 1442
|Died||9 April 1483
38 years, 346 days
|Burial||St George's Chapel, Windsor|
Edward was the eldest of the four sons of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. The Duke of York was a very powerful man, and had a claim to the throne of England. He became more popular than the existing king, Henry VI of England, who was thought to be weak. When the duke tried to take the throne from Henry VI, the Wars of the Roses broke out. By the time Edward was eighteen, he and his brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, who was seventeen, were old enough to take part in the fighting, and Edward turned out to be a very good soldier. He was helped by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, a clever nobleman who fought for the Duke of York. At the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, Edward's father, and his brother Edmund, were both killed. As his father's heir, he now claimed the throne. In March 1461, he entered London with his army and was crowned king, although he was only nineteen. King Henry VI was put into prison.
For a while, Edward ruled the country well, with help from the Earl of Warwick. Then Edward met a woman called Elizabeth Woodville, whom he wanted to marry. The Earl of Warwick did not know about their romance, and he wanted King Edward to marry a foreign princess in order to make an alliance with another country, which would have made his position stronger. Elizabeth and Edward got married secretly in about 1464, and they had ten children in the nineteen years of their marriage.
When the Earl of Warwick learned of Edward's marriage, he was angry. He grew even more angry as time went on, because Elizabeth's family became powerful and the king no longer respected Warwick as he had done in the beginning. In 1459 he rebelled against the king, with help from another of Edward's younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence; George was married to the Earl of Warwick's elder daughter, Isabel. The rebels went to France and made an alliance with Queen Margaret, who was the wife of King Henry VI. The Earl of Warwick managed to defeat King Edward in battle in 1471, and freed King Henry VI from prison. Henry was now king again, and Edward had to escape to Burgundy, while his wife and children went into hiding.
The Duke of Burgundy was married to Edward's sister Margaret, so he was willing to help raise more troops. When Edward returned to England, he defeated the Earl of Warwick in battle and killed him. Shortly afterwards, Queen Margaret and her son arrived in England. They were also defeated in battle by King Edward, and his throne was safe. To make sure of this, Edward arranged for King Henry VI to be killed.
While Edward was away in Burgundy, his wife Elizabeth had given birth to a son, Edward, who was given the title of Prince of Wales. He would be the next king. Edward ruled with help from his two brothers. George, who had once rebelled against him, was now loyal, and the youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, had always been loyal. There were still quarrels between them and the powerful Woodville family. George and Richard also quarrelled with each other, and in the end King Edward had to put George in prison, where he died.
Edward IV died very suddenly at the age of forty. His son became King Edward V of England, but his reign did not last long. Edward's brother, Richard, thought that it would not be a good idea for a boy to be king, and he took the throne himself. No one really knows what happened to Edward's two sons, the Princes in the Tower.