24 Facts About Edward IV


Edward IV was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England fought between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions between 1455 and 1487.

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Edward IV grew up amidst a background of economic decline at home, and military defeat abroad, exacerbated by a weak and corrupt central government.

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Edward IV's name appears alongside those of his father, Warwick and Salisbury in widely circulated manifestoes declaring their quarrel was only with Henry's evil counsellors.

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Implications of removing the legally accepted heir to the throne created substantial opposition to the Yorkist administration; in late 1460, Edward IV was given his first independent command and sent to deal with a Lancastrian insurgency in Wales.

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Edward IV's motives have been widely discussed by contemporaries and historians alike.

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In 1467, Edward IV dismissed his Lord Chancellor, Warwick's brother George Neville, Archbishop of York.

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Concerned by this, Edward IV blocked a proposed marriage between Clarence and Warwick's eldest daughter Isabel.

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Outwardly, the situation remained unchanged, but tensions persisted and Edward IV did nothing to reduce the Nevilles' sense of vulnerability.

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In early 1470, Edward IV reinstated Henry Percy as Earl of Northumberland; John was compensated with the title Marquess of Montagu, but this was a significant demotion for a key supporter.

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Edward IV took refuge in Flanders, part of the Duchy of Burgundy, accompanied by a few hundred men, including his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Anthony Woodville and William Hastings.

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Edward IV received an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns, plus a yearly pension of 50,000 crowns, thus allowing him to recoup the costs of his army.

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In 1482, Edward IV backed an attempt to usurp the Scottish throne by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, brother of James III of Scotland.

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Edward IV's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments; his physicians attributed this in part to a habitual use of emetics, which allowed him to gorge himself at meals, then return after vomiting to start again.

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Edward IV fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but survived long enough to add codicils to his will, the most important naming his brother as Protector after his death.

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One effect of this was that Parliament became increasingly reluctant to approve taxes for wars which Edward IV failed to prosecute, then used the funds instead to finance his household expenditures.

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Edward IV invested heavily in business ventures with the City of London, which he used as an additional source of funding.

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Economics was closely linked to foreign policy; Edward IV's reign was dominated by the three-sided diplomatic contest between England, France, and Burgundy, with two of the three seeking to ally against the third.

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Edward IV spent large amounts on expensive status symbols to show off his power and wealth as king of England, while his collecting habits show an eye for style and an interest in scholarship, particularly history.

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Edward IV acquired fine clothes, jewels, and furnishings, as well as a collection of beautifully illuminated historical and literary manuscripts, many made specially for him by craftsmen in Bruges.

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Edward IV began a major upgrade of St George's Chapel, Windsor, where he was buried in 1483; later completed by Henry VII, it was badly damaged during the First English Civil War, and little of the original work remains.

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Edward IV had ten children by Elizabeth Woodville, seven of whom survived him; they were declared illegitimate under the 1484 Titulus Regius, an act repealed by Henry VII, who married Edward IV's eldest daughter, Elizabeth.

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Edward IV had numerous mistresses, including Lady Eleanor Talbot and Elizabeth Lucy, possibly daughter of Thomas Waite, of Southampton.

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Edward IV promised her support in return for Henry's agreement to marry her eldest daughter Elizabeth.

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The Titulus Regius argued that since Edward IV had agreed to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot, his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was void.

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