King Edward V - A Short Biography


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Edward V of England

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Edward's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter , but survived long enough to add some codicils to his will, the most important being to name his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Protector after his death. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son Edward V of England who was never crowned and then by his brother Richard.

It is not known what actually caused Edward's death. Pneumonia and typhoid have both been conjectured, as well as poison. Some attributed his death to an unhealthy lifestyle, as he had become stout and inactive in the years before his death. Edward was an extremely capable and daring military commander. He crushed the House of Lancaster in a series of spectacular military victories. He was a popular and very able king, despite his occasional if serious political setbacks—usually at the hands of his great Machiavellian rival Louis XI of France.

He did lack foresight and was at times cursed by bad judgement, but he possessed an uncanny understanding of his most useful subjects, and many who served him remained loyal until his death. Domestically, Edward's reign saw the restoration of law and order in England; indeed, his royal motto was modus et ordo , or "method and order".


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The latter days of Henry VI 's government had been marked by a general breakdown in law and order, as well as a sizeable increase in both piracy and banditry. Edward was also a shrewd and successful businessman and merchant, heavily investing in several corporations within the City of London. During the reign of Henry, there had been corruption in the exchequer. Edward made his household gain more control over finances and even investigated old records to see that payments had been made. Documents of the exchequer show him sending letters threatening officials if they did not pay money.

His properties earned large amounts of money for the crown. His collecting habits show that he was not only a good soldier and administrator, but had an eye for fashionable style and an interest in scholarship, particularly history. He acquired fine clothes, jewels, and furnishings, as well as a collection of beautifully illuminated historical and literary manuscripts, many of which were made specially for him by craftsmen in Bruges.

It is not known where or how Edward's library was stored, but it is recorded that he transferred volumes from the Great Wardrobe to Eltham Palace and that he had a yeoman "to kepe the king's bookes". Ultimately, Edward's dynasty survived him by little more than two years, despite his military and administrative genius. Edward was one of the few male members of his dynasty to die of natural causes.

Both his father and brother were killed at the Battle of Wakefield , while his grandfather and another brother were executed for treason.


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His two sons were imprisoned and disappeared presumed killed within a year of Edward's death. This was the end of the reign of the House of York and of the Plantagenet family , which ruled for the longest period of any dynasty in English history. Henry Tudor, soon after taking the throne as Henry VII, married Edward's eldest daughter Elizabeth of York , who was at that point the family heiress, thus forestalling any claims by Yorkist sympathizers that Edward's heirs had a better right to the throne.

Through her, the Plantagenet family and the House of York continue in the line of English and British sovereigns.

Edward IV had ten children by Elizabeth Woodville , seven of whom survived him. Edward had numerous mistresses. Edward IV's eldest son was invested with the title of Prince of Wales at the age of seven months. At the age of three, he was sent by his father to Ludlow Castle as nominal head of the Council of Wales and the Marches , a body that had originally been set up to help the future Edward V of England in his duties as Prince of Wales.

The prince was accompanied to Ludlow by his mother and by his uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers , who carried out many of the administrative duties associated with the presidency of the Council. The king visited his son occasionally at Ludlow. The grounds for Titulus Regius , passed to justify the accession of Richard of Gloucester, were that Edward had been contracted to marry another woman prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Lady Eleanor Butler a young widow, daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury and Edward were alleged to have been precontracted; both parties were dead by this time, but a clergyman named only by Philippe de Commines as Robert Stillington , Bishop of Bath and Wells , claimed to have carried out the ceremony.

Speculation on the subject has given rise to the " Princes in the Tower " mystery.

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Questions about Edward's paternity were raised during his own reign for example by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick , [b] in , and repeated by George shortly before his execution in , [c] and again by Richard of Gloucester's supporters in the brief reign of Edward V. Edward was not the only one to be accused of illegitimacy in the 15th century: Thus, for centuries historians viewed the story as no more than propaganda designed to discredit Edward and his heirs.

In recent years, the question has been given real consideration; however, there is limited evidence that Richard of York was not the biological father of Edward IV, and that which might exist is subjective and open to interpretation. The claims were based on Edward's appearance and the circumstances surrounding his overseas birth. During his own lifetime, it was noted that Edward showed little resemblance to his father. Unlike his father, he was well over six feet tall, an exceptional height for the age; but notably, his younger brother George was also tall and fair and said to bear a marked resemblance to Edward , whilst their sister Margaret stood five feet eleven inches, remarkable for a medieval woman observers of her wedding to Charles the Bold of Burgundy remarked that the bride towered over the groom — she had to lean down to receive his kiss.

Dominic Mancini claimed that when Edward's mother, Cecily Neville , found out about Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in , she flew into a rage and threatened to declare him a bastard. However, this episode is not reported by contemporary sources, which instead condemn the pair for making an unequal and inappropriate marriage in dubious circumstances. Prior to his succession, on 22 June , Richard III declared that Edward V was illegitimate, and three days later the matter was addressed by parliament. In Titulus Regius the text of which is believed to come word-for-word from the petition presented by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham , to the assembly which met on 25 June , to decide on the future of the monarchy , Richard III is described as "the undoubted son and heir" of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York , and "born in this land" — an oblique reference to his brother's birth at Rouen and baptism in circumstances that could have been considered questionable.

There is no confirmation for the view — as fictionalised in William Shakespeare 's Richard III Act 3, Scene 5 — that Richard made any claims about his brother's legitimacy, as his claim was based on the supposed illegitimacy of Edward IV's children. According to Polydore Vergil, Duchess Cecily, "being falsely accused of adultery, complained afterwards in sundry places to right many noble men, whereof some yet live, of that great injury which her son Richard had done her.

Edward was born on 28 April No contemporary evidence refers to him as being born prematurely. Accordingly, counting back nine months from birth would date his conception to late July A Channel 4 television documentary in examined records in the archives of Rouen Cathedral that indicated that from 14 July to 21 August Richard, Duke of York, was away on campaign at Pontoise , several days' march from Rouen where Cecily of York was based , and that prayers were being offered at the cathedral for his safety.

The programme also drew attention to the fact that the christening celebration of Edmund, Earl of Rutland , the second son of Richard and Cecily, was a lavish affair at the cathedral, whereas the christening of Edward, the firstborn, was low key, and in a side chapel. The programme concluded that Edward was not "Britain's Real Monarch".

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However, there is no strong reason to suggest Edward could not be premature: Richard, Duke of York, would have had every right, even a duty, to challenge the child's paternity if it was in doubt; refusing to do so, and allowing a child he knew was not his to remain his heir and an heir to the English throne was tantamount to treason. On the other hand, Richard, whose father had been executed by the Lancastrians and whose own status under their regime was never beyond question, owed his security in large part to Cicely's powerful family, as the House of York would owe for decades to come; thus it would have been rash, if not to say dangerous, to cast suspicion on his wife's fidelity and then or later on his eldest son's legitimacy.

If the low-key nature of the ceremony was meant publicly to indicate the child's illegitimacy, Richard would furthermore have been exposing himself as a cuckold at a point when his interest was in presenting himself as a strong leader. In the event he acknowledged Edward and raised him as his heir, and nothing in their interactions suggests Edward was other than well-loved and cherished. He also had a direct albeit legally barred blood-claim to the throne through his mother Cecily, who was a great-granddaughter of Edward III through John of Gaunt and his illegitimate daughter Cecily's mother Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland.

Although this claim is via an illegitimate line, it is the same as the claim of Henry Tudor , who dislodged the House of York from the throne in It is also disputed that the line was in fact illegitimate, as John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster married his mistress Katherine Swynford, who was the mother of the Beauforts, after the death of his second wife Costanza of Castile. The Beauforts were thus 'legitimised' and acknowledged as such by Richard II, though with the proviso as noted above that they would barred from succession to the crown.

Edward was said to be an extremely good-looking man. Philippe de Commynes, who saw him on several occasions, thought the King handsomer than any prince he knew — "I don't remember ever having seen a man more handsome than he was when monsieur de Warwick made him flee England. When Parliament met at Westminster on 12 November , the Speaker, Sir James Strangways — who had fought by the side of Edward's father, the Duke of York, at the Battle of Wakefield and survived — referred to "the beauty of person that it hath pleased Almighty God to send you" and "the wisdom that, by his grace, accompanies it".

He also praised Edward's "noble and worthy merits, princely and knightly courage, and the blessed and noble disposition and dedication of your said highness to the common weal and government of your said realm.. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the Elizabethan history play, see Edward IV play.

Edward IV of England

Ancestors of Edward IV of England Edward III of England 8. Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York Philippa of Hainault 4. Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge Peter of Castile 9. Isabella of Castile Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster 5.

Anne de Mortimer Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent Edward IV of England Ralph Neville, 2nd Baron Neville de Raby John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy of Alnwick John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster Sir Payne de Roet Alternative successions of the English crown. Cultural depictions of Edward IV of England. Lionel had been the eldest son of Edward III to leave a surviving line of descent; by modern standards, his line had an indisputably superior claim over that of his younger brother John of Gaunt.

By medieval standards, this was by no means so certain; nonetheless, it allowed Richard and then Edward a good title to the throne. University of California Press. Retrieved 25 December The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, C. Constitutional History of England in the Fifteenth Century Great Britain to , A Modern History. University of Michigan Press. Louis XI, the Universal Spider.

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