Family tree for King Edward IV showing:
King Edward IV was born to Richard of York and Cecily Neville on 28th April 1442 at Rouen, France. His father was heir to the throne, being the grandson of Edmund of Langley, fourth son of King Edward III. Edward was given the title Earl of March.
Edward spent the first three years of his life in Rouen where his father was governor. After the family returned to England it is likely they lived in the north of England where Richard of York was a prominent landowner.
Before Richard was a year old his father had come into conflict with the crown.
Wars of the Roses
In August 1453 Lancastrian King Henry VI suffered a mental breakdown and was unable to rule. Edmund Beaufort Duke of Somerset took control of the country. This angered Richard Duke of York who, as next in line to the throne, felt that he should have been asked to assume control. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick backed Edward’s father. By March 1454 York had sufficient support to take control.
By December 1454, Henry VI’s health had improved sufficiently for him to regain control. He immediately restored Somerset as his chief advisor. Richard’s father and the Earl of Warwick began raising troops against the King.
The Wars of the Roses, named after the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, began on 22nd May 1455 with the Battle of St Albans. The Yorkists won the battle and the King was captured. Edward’s father took control of the country again. A year later Henry VI was freed and Richard Duke of York was dismissed.
In 1459, Richard Duke of York was defeated at Ludlow. He managed to escape to Ireland and sent Edward to the continent for safety. The family were attained and their lands and titles confiscated.
The following year, Edward’s father and the Earl of Warwick, raised a force and invaded. On 30th December 1460 Edward’s father and brother Edmund were killed at the Battle of Wakefield.
King of England
On his father’s death, Edward assumed the title Duke of York and took control of the Yorkist army. On 4th March 1461, Edward entered London and took the throne as King Edward IV. Henry VI, who was still mentally unstable, was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick was Edward’s chief advisor. After negotiating a peace with Scotland he began negotiating a peace with France to be sealed with the marriage of Edward to the French King’s sister.
However, Edward had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. Edward gave his in-laws prominent positions and began taking advice from his father-in-law. By 1469, Warwick, frustrated by his lack of power over Edward, turned his attention to Edward’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence who he possibly intended to make King in Edward’s stead.
After capturing Edward IV, Warwick attempted to rule in Edward’s name but he was not supported by the nobility. Warwick agreed to release Edward if he would accept Warwick as his chief adviser. Edward agreed but soon ignored Warwick’s advice.
Warwick and George Duke of Clarence launched a rebellion against Edward but were defeated and fled to France. There they allied with Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI.
In 1470, with Warwick’s support, Henry VI was returned to the throne and Edward fled to Burgundy. There he raised a force and the following year he invaded England to re-take the throne. Warwick was killed in battle and King Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London on the same day that Edward made his triumphant entry to London.
Edward’s reign was marked by rivalry between Burgundy, France and England both politically and economically.
In 1475 he negotiated peace with Scotland and a seven-year peace with France.
Relationships, Marriage and Family
King Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two sons, on 1st May 1484. The couple had eleven children:
Elizabeth of York (1466 – 1503)
Mary (1467 – 1482
Cecily (1469 – 1507)
King Edward V (1470 – 1483)
Richard of Shrewsbury (1473 – 1483)
Anne (1475 – 1511)
George (1477 – 1479)
Katherine (1479 – 1527)
Bridget (1480 – 1517)
Edward IV had a number of mistresses including: Eleanor Talbot, Elizabeth Lucy and Jane Shore.
Edward recognised the following illegitimate children:
Elizabeth Plantagenet (born 1464)
Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle (born around 1465 – 1542)
Grace Plantagenet (dates not known)
Illness and Death
King Edward IV became ill in the Spring of 1483 and it soon became clear he was dying. His son and heir, Prince Edward was just 12 years old so he nominated his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester to act as regent.
Edward died at the Palace of Westminster on 9th April 1483. He was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Published Mar 16 2022 @ 2:58 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). King Edward IV Family Tree 1442 – 1483. Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-edward-iv-1442-1483. Last accessed May 26th, 2022