Edward IV was twice king of England, winning the struggle against the Lancastrians to establish the House of York on the English throne.
Edward was born on 28 April 1442 at Rouen in France, the son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. Edward's father was the leading Yorkist in the dynastic struggle against the Lancastrians known as the Wars of the Roses, which began in 1455. When Richard Plantagenet was killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, Edward inherited his claim. With the support of the powerful Earl of Warwick, known as 'the Kingmaker', Edward defeated the Lancastrians in a series of battles, culminating in the Battle of Towton in 1461. With the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, overthrown, Edward was crowned Edward IV.
Warwick believed he could continue to control the new king. He was keen to negotiate a foreign marriage for Edward, but in 1464 Edward secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner. Warwick was furious at the favours now shown to Elizabeth's relatives and allied himself to Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence, leading a revolt against the king. Warwick and Clarence then fled to France, where they joined Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. Margaret's Lancastrian army invaded England in September 1470. Edward fled to the Netherlands until March 1471, when he and his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, returned to England. Edward defeated and killed Warwick at Barnet before defeating the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury in May. Henry VI was put to death in the Tower of London.
The second part of Edward's reign, from 1471 to 1483, was a period of relative peace and security. He used income from the Crown Estates to pay governmental costs, and was therefore less in need of parliamentary grants than his predecessors - he called parliament only six times. Commercial treaties, external peace and internal order revived trade, benefiting customs duties and other revenues. Councils were set up to govern in the Marches of Wales and in the north.
Edward died on 9 April 1483. His young sons, Edward and Richard, were left in the protection of their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard housed them in the Tower of London where they were probably murdered on his orders. Parliament requested that Richard take the throne and he accepted, being crowned Richard III.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.