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
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
On 1 May 1446 Edward secretly married Elizabeth
Woodville. Edward's counsellors didn't find out for 5 months, and they were
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
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
- 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.