Monday, 1 June 2015

Fascinating Facts: Edward IV

For TV addicts out there, this is the king at the centre of the BBC series The White Queen, based on the book by the same name by Philippa Gregory. The TV series actually covered all three books in the set called The Cousins’ War. You can find an enormous amount of detail on the TV series on Wikipedia here.

Fascinating Facts: Edward IV [1461-1483]

  • Edward's father, Richard, Duke of York, led the Yorkist forces against the Lancastrian forces of Henry VI.
  • He showed early prowess in fighting and strategy and helped his father organise and lead the successful Yorkist invasion from Calais in 1460.
  • When his father and younger brother Edmund were killed at Wakefield in December 1460, Edward became the richest and highest-born nobleman in England, and leader of the Yorkist forces – and he was only eighteen.
  • Before the next battle, three suns were seen in the sky. This was taken as a sign of the Christianity Trinity, that Edward and his men enjoyed divine favour. The battle was won, and Edward used the “sun in splendour” as his personal badge.
  • On 1 March 1461 a ceremony was held in which the people officially rejected Henry as king and Edward dressed in royal robes and presided as monarch. He was crowned in June when the queen took the mad king out of the way to Scotland.
  • He was the complete opposite of Henry: tall, blond, handsome, jovial, high-spirited, and liked to dress in the latest fashion.
  • On 1 May 1446 Edward secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. Edward's counsellors didn't find out for 5 months, and they were furious.
  • Edward's cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, turned from being his political partner to leader of a rebellion to put first Edward's brother George, then the mad King Henry, on the throne.
  • In 1471, after Warwick was killed in battle, along with Henry's son, Edward had Henry killed and at last had no rival for the throne.
  • He was a popular king, who paid his own way, and chose carefully those who served him. But he was described as 'addicted to conviviality' and had a huge appetite for food and sex. He had a string of mistresses, but also managed to have ten children, mostly girls, by his wife.
  • He died unexpectedly at forty, worn down by late nights, drink, and fat. His son was only 12, so his brother Richard was named as Protector, but despite an impassioned plea from his deathbed, the distrust and rivalry among his counsellors and his family members became even worse.

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