Rise to Power
His First Reign
Return from Exile
His Second Reign
Edward IV (1442-1483) was the first and only truly successful king of the Yorkist dynasty. He seized the throne when only eighteen and was a capable battlefield commander who gained a reputation as a lover of luxury whose reign was blighted by the revolt of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. By the time of his early death in 1483 Edward looked to have firmly established his family on the throne, but his brother Richard's usurpation revived the Lancastrian cause and only two years later, at Bosworth Field, the Yorkist dynasty came to an end.
Edward was born at Rouen on 28 April 1442. His father, Richard, duke of York, was then serving as lieutenant of France for Henry VI, a role in which he appears to have performed well as a diplomat. Edward was born into a powerful family. Richard of York was one of the wealthiest members of the aristocracy, and was senior in precedence (after the death of Henry's royal uncles). York could trace his ancestry back to Edward III in two lines. His title came from Edmund, first Duke of York, Edward III's fourth son and York's paternal grandfather. He also had a claim to the throne through his mother Anne, who was the great-granddaughter of Lionel, duke of Clarence, Edward III's second son. Lionel's claim had passed to his daughter Philippa, who married Edmund Mortimer, earl of March and came to York after the death of the last male Mortimer heir in 1425. In 1442 York could justifiably see himself as heir presumptive to the then childless Henry VI.
Edward's mother was Cecily Neville, a daughter of Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland and his second wife. This gave him a close connection to Neville's powerful son, Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury and grandson, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick (the future kingmaker).
Much of Edward's early childhood was spent at Ludlow, in the Welsh Marches, where the Mortimer estates had been centred. He had been given the Mortimer title of earl of March by 1454, and that was the title he held during the early phase of the Wars of the Roses. March was too young to be seriously involved at the first battle of St. Albans (22 May 1455), having only just turned fourteen, but he was present at the battle.
March starts to come to the fore after the start of the second phase of the Wars of the Roses in 1459. His father raised an army at Ludlow, and was joined by Salisbury and Warwick. March, who was now seventeen, was with the army and would have been expected to fight. Instead the campaign ended in ignominy. For once the Lancastrians were well prepared, and by 12 March the two armies were facing each other at Ludford Bridge, south of Ludlow. On the night of 12-13 March the troops Warwick had brought from Calais switched sides, leaving the Yorkists impossibly outnumbered. The Yorkist leaders decided to flee, and made for the coast. York and his second son Edmund, earl of Rutland, made for Ireland, but the second party, led by Warwick and including Salisbury and March reached Warwick's base at Calais.
Warwick's party reached Calais on 2 November 1459, and March was there until June 1460. Warwick was away for a spell in the spring of 1460 when he went to visit York in Ireland, but the two men must have spent several months in each others company. A Lancastrian army, under Henry Beaufort, third Duke of Somerset, had established itself in the outlying castle of Guines, so they may also have fought together,
Sadly we don't know what York and Warwick discussed in Ireland. If they were planning a coordinated return to England then either Warwick moved too soon or York too slowly (the more likely option). If they discussed York's intention to claim the throne then their talks didn't pay off. For most of 1460 it would be Warwick and his party who made the running, while York was either absent or mishandling events.
In June 1460 Warwick and his party landed at Sandwich at the start of a stunningly successful invasion. They advanced on London and were allowed into the city. Salisbury was left behind to besiege the Tower of London, and Warwick and March then headed north to find Henry VI. On 10 July 1460 at Northampton Warwick won his most significant battlefield victory, admittedly with the help of treachery on the Lancastrian side. Henry VI was captured and several of his key supporters killed. This is the first battle at which the young March can definitely said to have fought and probably to have commanded a contingent of his own troops. Sources differ as to his exact role, with some having him fight alongside Warwick and others giving him command of one of the three battles the army was organised into.
After the battle both Edward and Warwick kneeled before Henry, acknowledging him as their king and all three then returned to London, with Henry effectively Warwick's prisoner. Warwick now began a short period of power, the first, but not the last time that he would rule the country. On this occasion everyone was waiting for the Duke of York, but he didn’t return to England until the start of September. Warwick visited him at Shrewsbury then returned to London, while York made a rather more leisurely journey, not arriving until October.
Up until now everybody had claimed to be loyal to Henry and to have his best interests at heart. York would now change that. When he reached London Parliament was in session. On 15 October he entered the Parliament chamber and put his hand on the King's chair as if he was going to sit down. He then waited for the acclaim of the assembled peers, but instead was greeted by silence before the archbishop of Canterbury asked if he wanted to meet the king. His attempt to seize the throne having been rebuffed, York stormed out.
Warwick and March were said to have been furious with York after this bungled effort, officially because of his attempt to seize the throne, but more probably because it had been mishandled and had failed. Over the next few days York formally placed his case in front of Parliament, but his claim was rejected largely on the grounds that everyone had taken repeated oaths of loyalty to Henry VI and his dynasty and it was firmly established in statute. In the end a compromise was agreed - Henry would remain on the throne, but his son Prince Edward was excluded from the succession. Instead York and his heirs would succeed Henry. Edward thus found himself second in line to the throne and given that Henry was ten years younger than York, possibly the next monarch.
The Act of Accord may have given York part of what he wanted, but it also acted as a rally cry for the Lancastrians. The dispossessed Prince was a better figurehead than a king who hadn’t attempted to defend his own throne in October and had only been saved by the peers. Revolts broke out around the country, with particular threats in the south-west, Wales and the north. The Yorkists decided to split their forces to deal with this revolt. York and Salisbury went north to deal with the biggest revolt, Warwick stayed in London to watch the south and guard Henry VI, and March was sent to the Marches to raise troops.
For once York had moved too quickly. Henry Beaufort, duke of Somerset, the leader of the rebels in the south-west, moved north at the same time and joined with the Yorkshire rebels. York reached his castle of Sandal, but was short of supplies and isolated in a hostile area. On 30 December 1460 he charged out of his castle to attack a Lancastrian force, and in the resulting battle of Wakefield was killed. Salisbury was captured and was killed on the following day. The Yorkist cause suffered a second blow six weeks later. The Lancastrians advanced south towards London, and on 17 February 1461 defeated Warwick's army at the second battle of St. Albans. Warwick escaped, but Henry VI was lost and was soon reunited with his family.
Rise to Power
His father's death at Wakefield meant that Edward, earl of March, became leader of the Yorkist cause, aged only 18. He also became Duke of York, but as he became king soon afterwards he is rarely known by that title.
Edward had spent the Christmas of 1460 at Shrewsbury. He faced a serious military threat of his own. Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke and James Butler, earl of Wiltshire and Ormond had landed at Pembroke, bringing with them French, Breton and Irish troops. They also found support in Wales, including Pembroke's father Jasper Tudor. Edward has also raised a significant army, which included a number of men who would become important supporters of his regime.
News of his father's death reached Edward early in January 1461 and his first reaction was to begin to move towards London, but soon after this news reached him of Pembroke and Wiltshire's landing. Edward was forced to turn back and face this threat, leaving Warwick to deal with the Lancastrians heading south after Wakefield.
Edward took up a position at Mortimer's Cross, an important crossroads on the River Lugg. The Lancastrians realised that they had to defeat the young Yorkist before they could safely move into England, and so moved to attack him. The most famous incident of the battle of Mortimer's Cross (2 or 3 February 1461) occurred before the fighting began. Three suns appeared in the sky, probably caused by ice crystals refracting the sun (a parhelia). Edward used this to claim that the holy trinity was on his side, and his men then went to victory.
This was Edward's first battlefield command and a successful start, although both Lancastrian leaders escaped and continued to pose a threat. At first Edward remained in the borders, but on 17 February Warwick suffered his defeat at St. Albans. When this news reached Edward he left the borders and headed rapidly towards London. He met Warwick in the Cotswolds and their combined armies rushed towards London.
Since the victory of 17 February the Lancastrians had been just outside the capital, but they were struggling to gain peaceful entry to the city. Warwick's propaganda had emphasised the brutal nature of the Lancastrians' northern army and the city authorities now wanted guarantees of good behaviour. On 19 February Queen Margaret pulled back to Dunstable in an attempt to win the city over, but the atmosphere within was tense.
On 26 February Edward and Warwick were welcomed into London. Queen Margaret ordered her army to withdraw into the Midlands, and by the time the two armies met in battle the Lancastrians had reached Yorkshire.
In London the Yorkists had to decide what to do now they had lost control of Henry VI. They decided to claim that Henry had breached the terms of the Act of Accord and could thus be deposed. Edward, as York's heir, would thus become King Edward IV. This time the usurpation was carefully managed. Edward had been welcomed enthusiastically by the Londoners, so it can’t have taken much management on 1 March to get a crowd listening to a sermon being preached by George Neville, bishop of Exeter to demand that he take the throne. On 2 March Edward's title was proclaimed across the city. On 3 March a carefully chosen 'great council' agreed to accept Edward as king and on 4 March he took the coronation oath and wore the robe of state. England now had two kings, Edward in London and Henry in the north, both with powerful supporters and sizable armies. The way was now set for the first battle of the Wars of the Roses in which both sides were able to bring their main armies to the battlefield.
On 6 March Warwick and the duke of Norfolk were dispatched from London to raise troops. Edward spent a few more days in London raising funds, before heading north himself on 13 March. Both sides raised vast armies by the standards of the Wars of the Roses, although claims that half a million men or more were involved in the battle are exaggerated (and given the population of England at the time verging on the impossible). The general consensus is that both sides had around 50,000 men, but given the lack of any proper documentation that figure is close to a guess.
By 27 March Edward, with most of his army, was close to Pontefract, south of the River Aire. The Lancastrian royal family was in York, while their army, under Henry Beaufort, duke of Somerset, was probably just south of the River Wharf and close to Towton. The first fighting took place at Ferrybridge (27-28 March 1461), where the Lancastrians attempted to stop the Yorkists from crossing the Aire but failed. By the morning of 29 March both armies were between the Aire and the Wharf, and the scene was set for the Battle of Towton, the largest battle of the entire Wars of the Roses. It is also often claimed as the largest battle ever fought on English soil, but with such uncertainty about the numbers actually involved that isn't an easy claim to support.
The battle was fought in heavy snow. It was said to have started with an archery duel in which the Yorkists tricked the Lancastrians to open fire while they were out of range, taking advantage of a strong southerly wind which extended the range of their own arrows while shortening the range for the Lancastrians, firing into the wind. The Lancastrians then attacked, and the Yorkist left was pushed back. The battle line probably rotated 45 degrees anti-clockwise and the battle became a fierce melee in which the six foot high and physically imposing Edward is said to have played a major role.
The battle was decided by the arrival of Yorkist reinforcements - the duke of Norfolk's contingent had been following about a day behind the main army. It now arrived on the scene, advancing up the main road which was to the east of the battlefield. This meant that they could attack the Lancastrian left, which began to give way. The surviving Lancastrian leaders abandoned the fight and their army gave way and attempted to flee. The turn in the line of battle meant that large numbers ended up running into the valley of Cock Beck, to the west of the battlefield, where many of them were killed in a field still known as Bloody Meadow. Edward had won one of the most significant battles to be fought in English soil when aged only eighteen (his nineteenth birthday came just under a month later). At an age when most Medieval aristocrats were still considered to be underage Edward had won the throne (although Henry VI was declared to be of legal age when only sixteen)
His First Reign
Although the battle of Towton ended any serious chance of a Lancastrian revival Edward still faced Lancastrian resistance in the north and in Wales. Bamburgh, Alnwick and Dunstanburgh castles were held against him the north, Pembroke, Harlech, Carreg Cennen and Denbigh in Wales. In addition Queen Margaret handed Berwick over to the Scots in return for refuge and military support and promised them Carlisle.
In the aftermath of Towton Edward rested then headed north. He was at Newcastle on 1 May, but by now the Lancastrian royals had reached Scotland. Edward was needed in the south, where there was a coronation to arrange and a government to take over - he had after all only been in London for a few days before leaving to fight the battle. Warwick and his brother Montagu were left to deal with the resistance in the north.
Edward was crowned on 28 June 1461, and then began to prepare to lead a campaign in Wales. Sir William Herbert and Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers, were given commissions of array to raise troops in the marches on 8 July and on 12 July the artillery was mobilized. One reason for Edward's determination to lead this campaign in person was probably the threat of French intervention. In May a French force invaded Jersey and the Lancastrians were sending an embassy to Charles VII to seek aid. On 22 July the situation in France swung in Edward's favour when Charles died and was succeeded by his son Louis XI. In the long run Louis would indeed support the Lancastrians, but at this key moment he was more concerned with undoing his father's policies. The Lancastrian ambassadors were arrested and by August it was clear that there was no immediate threat from France. Edward relaxed. He eventually reached Bristol on 4 September, and got to Hereford on 17 September. He was at Ludlow from 18-26 September and then returned to London to prepare for the upcoming Parliament.
Lord Herbert was left to deal with the Welsh Lancastrians, led by Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke, and Henry Holland, duke of Exeter. Herbert performed well. Pembroke Castle surrendered on 30 September, Pembroke and Exeter were defeated at Twt Hill (16 October 1461) and Carreg Cennon surrendered in May 1462. This only left Harlech, but that castle would have been very costly to capture while the Lancastrians controlled part of Ireland and could get supplies to the garrison by sea. The siege of Harlech dragged on into 1468 and gave the Lancastrians one final foothold on Welsh and English soil.
In the north Edward was greatly aided by the death of James II during the siege of Roxburgh Castle in 1460. His heir, James III, was only nine in 1461 and Scotland was thus at the start of a long minority government. James II's widow Queen Mary was regent, but her authority was constantly threatened by Bishop Kennedy. At first Queen Mary was opposed to supporting the Lancastrians, while Bishop Kennedy saw them as a tool to use against England. Queen Mary was won over when Queen Margaret offered Berwick and Carlisle, and on 25 April 1461 Berwick was handed over to the Scots. Edward was preparing to come north to save Carlisle, but the Scottish attack was repulsed without his assistance.
The war in the north would drag on into 1464. Edward planned to come north on several occasions, but was never actually involved in the fighting. In April 1462 Queen Margaret sailed for France in an attempt to get support from Louis. This weakened Bishop Kennedy's position and Queen Mary agreed to a truce to last from June to the end of August. Warwick used this period to capture Alnwick and Bamburgh.
Meanwhile Queen Margaret had been successful in France. In June Louis agreed to provide funds for an expedition, to be led by the able soldier Pierre de Brézé, in return for possession of Calais. Calais was firmly in Yorkist hands, and when Louis found he couldn't easily lay siege to it he withdrew most of his support. Queen Margaret was given Brézé and 800 men. She reached Scotland where she picked up her husband, before in early October the force landed in Northumberland, taking Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh.
Once again Edward planned to come north. Warwick was send ahead, and was on the move by 30 October. Edward set off on 4 November, at the head of one of the largest armies he ever commanded. Faced with this threat Queen Margaret and Henry VI withdrew into Scotland, although only after a dangerous sea voyage. Edward was at Durham by 16 November, but he then fell ill. Warwick was given the task of taking the three castles. Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh surrendered in late December. The garrison of Alnwick was rescued by a Scottish army in early January 1463 and the castle was then surrendered.
Edward now made one of his most daring attempts to win over a former Lancastrian. Henry Beaufort, duke of Somerset, had surrendered with Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh. He now swore an oath of loyalty to Edward and then fought against his former allies at Alnwick. Edward made a determined effort to win Somerset over during 1463. The two men spent long periods together in 1463, and the king even organised a tournament in Somerset's honour. These efforts might have succeeded, but Somerset wasn't popular in the country. At Nottingham a mob attempted to lynch him and he had to be saved by the king. Somerset was then sent to his estates at Chirk for his own safety. Once away from the court he began to ponder his situation.
In the meantime the situation in the north remained precarious. Edward returned south early in the year, followed by Warwick in March. Almost immediately the three Northumbrian castles were retaken by the Lancastrians, in two cases when former Lancastrians betrayed their oaths to Edward. The Scots then laid siege to Norham, but Warwick and Montagu quickly lifted the siege.
Edward now prepared to go north for a third time. Parliament granted him £37,000 to raise an army to use against the Scots. In early September Edward reached York, but that was as far as he went. There were rumblings of discontent at this, and the subsidy was later reduced. Elsewhere Edward's diplomacy was working. On 8 October a year long truce was agreed with the French. This forced the Scots to negotiate. Edward met with the Scottish ambassadors at York in early December 1463 and a truce was agreed. This would last until 31 October, and more talks would take place early in 1464.
With Scotland closed to him Henry VI was forced to take refuge in Northumberland. He was aided by Somerset's defection, which took place late in 1463. Within a few weeks Somerset had created a small Lancastrian enclave in the north of Northumberland.
Once again Edward prepared to lead a large army north, but once again it wouldn't be needed. Somerset's brief period of success would be ended by Montagu. He was sent north to fetch the Scottish ambassadors and escort them to York for the peace talks. Somerset attempted to intercept him on the way north, but suffered a defeat at Hedgeley Moor (25 April 1464). Montagu carried out the rest of his mission while Somerset regrouped. By now Somerset must have known that Edward was on his way, and he decided to raid into the Tyne Valley in an attempt to win a morale boosting victory. He took Henry VI with him, but kept the king a short distance from his army. This saved Henry, at least for the moment. Montagu responded to the challenge by launching a rapid attack on Somerset's men. Somerset was overwhelmed at Hexham (15 May 1464), and was executed. Henry himself had been on the other side of the Tyne when the battle was fought and escaped to the north-west of England, where he was able to hide for another year.
After the battle of Hexham Edward rewarded Montagu by making him earl of Northumberland. At time this seemed like an excellent way to reward a key supporter and to gain support in the north, but it would soon turn out to have been a mistake. The north-east, from Holderness up into Northumberland, was Percy country. Henry Percy, third earl of Northumberland, had been killed at Towton and his son, another Henry Percy, had been imprisoned ever since. Montagu was unable to gain the loyalty of former Percy supporters, and the area became a hotbed of resistance to Edward. In 1469 he decided that the only way to control the north-east was to restore Percy, and this meant Montagu had to give up the title.
This was still in the future. For the moment all was going Edward's way. Alnwick and Dunstanburgh surrendered quickly. Bamburgh needed a siege, but surrendered in July 1464. In his entire kingdom only Harlech now held out against Edward and he was free to begin what most people must have hoped would be a peaceful reign.
Edward had learnt one lesson from Henry VI's reign. One key weakness of Henry's regime had been that power was concentrated in far too few hands. In contrast Edward soon had a large number of powerful supporters. Warwick was the most important of them. His surviving brothers were also powerful - George Neville was Archbishop of York and John Montagu was to become earl of Northumberland (if not for very long). Away from the Nevilles Edward's supporters included Sir William Hastings, his chamberlain; Sir William Herbert, who became a key supporter in Wales and was created earl of Pembroke; Humphrey Stafford, later earl of Devon; John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester; Henry Bourchier, earl of Essex and Thomas Bourchier, archbishop of Canterbury.
Edward's reign was not to be undisturbed. The problem was his relationship with the earl of Warwick. In the first few years of his reign Edward, who was still only in his early 20s, was very close to Warwick, but in the second half of the 1460s the two men began to drift apart. There were several reasons for this split - they disagreed over foreign policy, with Edward favouring an alliance with Burgundy and war with France and Warwick favouring an alliance with France. Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville caused another rift. However the most important factor appears to have been Warwick's expectation that he would be the power behind the throne. When he found that he had to share Edward's patronage with other members of the nobility and that Edward was determined to rule in his own right, Warwick became discontented and began to plot against the king. Eventually this tension erupted as an open revolt.
Edward's marriage was a clear cause of tension. In 1464 Warwick was trying to arrange a marriage between Edward and a French princess, but on 1 May 1464 Edward slipped away from the court and secretly married Elizabeth Woodville in what was almost certainly a love match.
Elizabeth Woodville was a most unsuitable wife for a king. Her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, was a member of the upper echelons of the European aristocracy, tracing her family back to Charlemagne. She had been married to John, duke of Bedford, Henry V's able brother, but after his death she married Sir Richard Woodville, a member of a minor gentry family. Their marriage in 1436 caused something of a scandal and he required a royal pardon, but in 1448 he was made Lord Rivers. They had fourteen or fifteen children, amongst them Elizabeth. She was born in around 1437, and so was five years older than Edward. She was also a widow, having previously been married to Sir John Grey. She also came from a Lancastrian family. Her father and oldest brother had fought for Henry VI at Towton, while Sir John Grey had been killed at the second battle of St. Albans.
English kings were meant to marry young European princesses, ideally one that would bring some diplomatic advantage and only after some consultation with their council. Edward was clearly aware that his marriage would be unpopular, and he kept it secret until late in the year. It only became public because Warwick was actively promoting the French marriage and Edward had to admit that he was no longer single.
Queen Elizabeth was part of a large family. As well as her father, who became Earl Rivers, she had five brothers and seven sisters, most of whom were unmarried in 1464 and two sons from her first marriage. Edward had to provide for all of his new relatives, and in most cases this was done through marriage. Some of these marriages were rather scandalous, especially the marriage between the young John Woodville and the sixty-five year old Katherine Neville, dowager duchess of Norfolk. Others were sure to anger the Nevilles - Katherine Woodville was married to Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham and the Queen's son Thomas Grey to the daughter of Henry Holland, duke of Exeter. Warwick, who had two daughters, struggled to find suitable husbands for them, while Holland's daughter had been promised to Montagu's son.
In the long run the Woodvilles did rather badly out of the Royal marriage. They were never popular, and suffered badly in the events of 1469-70 and 1483. When Warwick gained power over Edward in 1469 both Earl Rivers and his son John Woodville were killed. When Richard III took power in 1483 Anthony, earl Rivers, was one of his victims. In the short term their unpopularity helped undermine Edward, and played a part in alienating Warwick.
Edward and Warwick also disagreed over foreign policy. Warwick favoured an alliance with Louis XI of France, and with it an end to a long period of war with France. Edward himself came to favour an alliance with Burgundy and Brittany and a renewal of the war with France, and he did go to war with France twice (briefly in both cases). Edward didn’t handle this disagreement over policy well.
Burgundy and Brittany had already fought one war with France during his reign, when the 'League of the Public Weal' took Louis on at Montlhéry (16 July 1465). Louis lost control of the Somme towns after this battle, something that would later come back to help Edward - when he was in exile in Flanders it would be Louis's desire to regain these towns that helped convince Charles, duke of Burgundy, to help the exiled king.
The key to Edward's foreign policy was his relationship with Charles, Count of Charolais and then Duke of Burgundy after his father's death in 1467. Charles hated Louis XI, and this helped Edward, but he was also related to the Lancastrians, and a number of Lancastrian leaders spent their time in exile at his court.
In September 1465 Charles's wife died. He suggested the possibility that he could marry Edward's sister Margaret, creating a valuable family tie. At this point Duke Philip of Burgundy was engaged in a trade dispute with Edward, and thus blocked the marriage.
In the sprung of 1466 Warwick was sent to negotiate with both France and Burgundy, reflecting his influential position at court. By the autumn this had changed. Warwick still dealt with France, but Earl Rivers was now placed in charge of the negotiations with Burgundy and in October 1466 Edward and Charles agreed a secret treaty of friendship.
In May 1467 Warwick was sent on an embassy to France, where he was received magnificently by Louis. Warwick seems to have got carried away and promised to deliver a treaty with England. Unfortunately at the same time Edward was in negotiations with Burgundy, using a chivalric festivity as cover for some of the talks.
Edward now made the first really serious mistake in his relationship with Warwick. When the earl returned from France at the end of June he was accompanied by a powerful French delegation, but Edward treated the ambassadors very badly, ignoring them most of the time and greeting them with insulting poor gifts (leather pouches and hunting horns, contrasting with the silver and gold cups Louis had given to Edward's ambassadors). This was a very public way of telling Warwick that his foreign policy efforts had failed.
On 15 June 1467 Duke Philip had died, and Charles became Duke of Burgundy. In September the treaty of friendship between Edward and Charles was made public and the marriage between Charles and Margaret was announced. Warwick is said to have been furious, and he retired to his northern estates. This was an ominous reminder of the way Edward's father had reacted to snubs in the early 1450s, and rumours began to spread in France that Warwick was starting to plot with the Lancastrians. This was almost certainly not true at this early stage, and early in 1468 Warwick and Edward were publically reconciled, but once again the foreign policy disagreement disrupted things.
On 17 May 1468 Edward's chancellor, Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells announced that Edward intended to go to war with France. Parliament granted a subsidy of £18,000 and Edward prepared for his campaign. This planned war ended in farce. Louis XI had moved first and attacked Brittany. Duke Francis of Brittany came to terms and abandoned his allies. Charles of Burgundy was also unwilling to fight, and on 14 October he and Louis agreed the treaty of Péronne.
By this point Edward's plans were already quite far advanced. The plan was for one army, under Sir Walter Blount, to go to Brittany, while a second army, under Lord Scales, was go to the south of France. By mid-October the English fleet, again under Lord Scales, was already at sea. Jersey was re-taken but by the end of November the fleet was back in port, having achieved little else. The French war was seen as a massive waste of money, and reduced Edward's popularity. The decision to go to war also angered Warwick, who now appeared to be more popular than the king.
By the end of 1468 Warwick had decided to move against Edward. He found an unexpected ally in George, duke of Clarence, the king's oldest brother. Warwick's objectives in his first revolt are unclear. He married his daughter Isabel to Clarence, tying his family to a potential alternative king, but also claimed to be loyal to Edward but just opposed to his unworthy advisors. Warwick's first attempt to take control of the king achieved temporary success, and Warwick summoned a Parliament at which his long term plans might have been revealed, but by then his plot had unravelled.
Warwick would launch three attacks on Edward in 1469-70, each using the same basic pattern. Revolts in the north would pull Edward out of position. Warwick would raise an army in the south and the King would be trapped between the two. Warwick would then spring the trap and capture the king. This basic plan worked twice, during Warwick's first revolt in 1469 and during his pro-Lancastrian invasion late in 1470 but failed during his second revolt of early 1470.
In 1469 Warwick either triggered or took advantage of two revolts in the north, those of Robin of Holderness and Robin of Redesdale. Both revolts were initially put down by Warwick's brother John Neville, then earl of Northumberland. When the news reached Edward he decided to visit the key shrines of East Anglia, setting off in June.
In the same month Robin of Redesdale emerged again. This time the revolt was led by one of Warwick's retainers, probably a member of the Conyers family, and his army included many members of the Neville affinity, giving it a core of experienced fighting men. News of the fresh revolt reached Edward at Norwich by 18 June. He ordered the royal wardrobe to send equipment for 1,000 men and on 20 June mobilised his artillery. This time Edward was planning to deal with the rebels in person. He now had to wait for his army to assemble. In the interval he went to the shrine at Walsingham, then spent a week with the Queen at Fotheringhay. By 5 July he was at Stamford, from where he wrote to Coventry asking the city to send him 100 archers.
Events now began to move very quickly. On 10 July Edward received reports that Robin of Redesdale's army was several times bigger than his own and contained experienced troops. Edward decided to move south to join the troops being raised for him by William Herbert, earl of Pembroke and Humphrey Stafford, earl of Devon.
On 11 July Clarence married Isabel Neville at Calais. On 12 July Warwick and Clarence issued a manifest that was very similar to Redesdale's, and ordered their supporters to meet them at Canterbury on 16 July. On 20 July Warwick moved from Canterbury to London. Edward was now at Nottingham, where he paused. This was almost certainly a mistake. Redesdale bypassed Nottingham and headed towards London. At the same time Warwick sent an advanced party north towards the rebels. On 26 July Redesdale's rebels attacked Pembroke at Edgcote, near Banbury. Pembroke and Devon had become separated and Pembroke fought alone. He repulsed the first rebel attack, but Warwick's men then arrived and convinced the rebels to attack again. This time the rebels were victorious. Pembroke and his brother Sir Richard Herbert was captured, and executed on the following day. Devon withdrew, but was captured and killed in Somerset a few days after the battle.
The news of this crushing setback didn't reach Edward at Nottingham. On 29 July he left the city to head south towards his army, and on the same day he was captured by Warwick's brother George Neville, Archbishop of Canterbury. Edward was now at Warwick's mercy. At first he was imprisoned at Warwick, but by mid-August he was being held at Middleham. Warwick summoned a parliament, which was to have met at York, and this may have been where he planned to depose the king, but ironically Edward was saved by a Lancastrian revolt.
Sir Humphrey Neville of Brancepeth had been a near constant thorn in the Yorkists' side since Towton and had been at large in the borderlands between Durham and Northumberland for several years (the wild North Pennines). Now he began another revolt, and gained some support. In contrast Warwick struggled to raise troops without the king, and in mid-September he was forced to free the king. Edward was still in Warwick's power, but this quickly changed. With Edward at liberty an army was soon raised, and Sir Humphrey was captured. He was taken to York and executed in front of the king on 29 September. While this was going on Edward was able summon his supporters to York, and Warwick was unable to prevent Edward from resuming his full authority.
Edward had frequently demonstrated that he was almost too willing to try and reconcile his enemies. Most of his efforts in the early 1460s had failed, and his surprising attempt to patch up the relationship with Warwick and Clarence was no more successful. Over the winter of 1469-70 both men were involved in a long series of council meetings in which Edward attempted to restore some order to his government. Warwick did lose some Welsh posts he had taken from Pembroke, and perhaps more significantly Edward decided he needed to restore the Percies. Henry Percy, heir to Henry Percy, second earl of Northumberland, had been in prison for several years, but he was now released and Edward began to restore his lands and titles. This meant that Warwick's brother John Neville would lose some of his northern estates and the earldom of Northumberland. Edward attempted to reward him with Devon's lands in the south-west and by promoting him to Marquess Montagu, putting him above all of the earls in status, but these efforts didn't work. Neither did his attempt to patch over the cracks with Warwick and the earl was soon planning a second revolt.
Warwick's second revolt was a failure. This time he hoped to work with Lincolnshire rebels under Sir Robert Welles. Welles' father Lord Welles had been involved in a dispute with one of Edward's men, and had been summoned to court to answer for his actions. Edward also decided to summon an army and restore order in Lincolnshire in person. At this stage Edward still trusted Warwick and Clarence. As the king moved north news reached him of Welles' revolt. He ordered Warwick and Clarence to raise troops and then summoned Lord Welles to join him. Lord Welles confessed and was ordered to write a letter to his son ordering him to surrender or his father would be executed. This had the desired affect. In March 1470 three armies were on the move - Edward, moving north towards Lincolnshire; Warwick and Clarence moving parallel to him some way to the west and Sir Robert, moving south-west with the intention of joining Warwick. If the two rebel armies had met then Edward might have been in trouble, but when Sir Robert received the letter from his father he ordered his army to turn back to try and rescue him. Just before the resulting battle Edward had Lord Welles executed in front of his army. The rebels attacked but suffered a defeat so crushing it became known as Losecote Field (12 March 1470).
Proof of Warwick and Clarence's involvement was said to have been found on the battlefield. Their two armies continued to move north in parallel, with messengers passing between them. This time Edward was less forgiving. Warwick asked for a safe conduct and a free pardon, but his request was refused. Eventually he turned west and escaped across the Peak District, before fleeing south and taking to the sea. Edward had pursued them south, but the rebels had too big a head start and were gone by the time he reached the south-west.
After being repulsed at Calais, Warwick and Clarence ended up in exile in France, where they came to terms with Queen Margaret. Warwick's daughter Anne would marry Prince Edward, and Warwick would invade England and restore Henry VI. Only after King Edward had been defeated would Queen Margaret and her son return to England.
Edward's main concern now was to prevent Warwick from making a successful return to England. Warwick himself had formed a surprising alliance with Margaret of Anjou (Angers Agreement of July 1470) and had publically promised to invade and restore Henry VI. Edward was aware of the danger and took a series of measures to prevent it. Calais and Ireland, both previous bases for Yorkist invasions, were made secure. The English fleet, under Earl Rivers and Sir John Howard, with help from Burgundy, tried to blockade Warwick's fleet in its French ports.
Warwick's plans were put into action in early August when his brother-in-law Lord FitzHugh began yet another revolt in the north. Edward decided to move north to deal with it. By 16 August he was at Ripon, and FitzHugh fled into Scotland. Edward then decided to stay in the north for a few weeks, possibly to make sure that Montagu and Percy were still loyal. This meant that he was out of place when Warwick was finally able to get past bad weather and the blockading fleet, landing in Devon in mid-September.
Edward must still have been confident of success. He is said not to have respected Warwick's abilities as a battlefield commander - his record when in command was mixed, with a victory at Northampton aided by treachery and a defeat at the second battle of St. Albans. Edward had a strong army with him in the north and Montagu nearby with another 6,000 men. It was at this point that Montagu decided to change sides and support his brother. On the evening of 2 October Edward was at Doncaster, preparing to eat. His army must have been scattered in quarters in the surrounding villages, for Edward appears to have been isolated from his troops. As the Royal party prepared to eat news of Montagu's treason reached them. Edward realised that his only chance of survival was to flee. His party reached the Lincolnshire coast, crossed the Wash and then found a ship at King's Lynn.
Even then the danger wasn't over. Edward was involved in a trade dispute with the Hanseatic League, and as his ship waited for the tide off the island of Texel he was in real danger of being captured by a Hanseatic fleet. He was rescued by the locals, and took refuge with Louis of Gruthyse, the Burgundian governor of Holland. Edward spent the next two months in Gruthyse's house in The Hague, waiting for an audience with Charles of Burgundy.
Return from Exile
Edward now found himself in a similar position to Warwick only a few months earlier, but it took him longer to find an ally willing to help him try and regain his throne. His only real hope of a return was to gain the support of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, his brother-in-law. Burgundy had provided part of the fleet Edward had used to try and block Warwick's invasion, but his real aim was to block any possible alliance between France and England. Charles attempted to open diplomatic relations with Warwick's new government, but he was quickly rebuffed. Warwick made it clear that he intended to stick to his pro-French stance and in December Louis XI repudiated the treaty of Peronne, effectively declaring war on Burgundy.
Charles now decided to support his brother in law. On 31 December he granted Edward £20,000 to help with the invasion, and also gave him a base and allowed him to recruit troops. The two men met on 2 January 1471, and Edward was able to argue his case. The French helped yet again, taking possession of St. Quentin on the Somme on 6 January.
Edward was eventually able to assemble a fleet of thirty-six ships, including a contingent from the Hanseatic League, won over by promises of a trade deal. He had at most 2,000 men, and so must have been counting on gaining reinforcements once he had landed in England.
On 2 March 1471 Edward embarked on the Antony. Bad weather then prevented his fleet from sailing, but in order to demonstrate his determination he refused to allow his men to disembark. The fleet finally set sail on 11 March and made for the east coast.
The campaign that began in March 1471 when Edward landed on the Yorkshire coast and ended at Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471 was probably Edward's best, and it was also a truly decisive campaign. By the end of it Warwick, Henry VI and his son Prince Edward were all dead and the rest of Edward's reign would be almost uncontested.
This result didn't seem at all likely when Edward's small fleet made landfall at Ravenscar on 14 March. An initial attempt to land in East Anglia had been abandoned when it became clear that Warwick's supporters were in charge in the area, and so Edward's fleet continued north. They were scattered by bad weather, and Edward's ship was alone when it landed at the lost port of Ravenscar (somewhere on Spurn Point, a very movable area at the south-eastern corner of the Yorkshire coast). On his first night back in England Edward was only accompanied by 500 men, but on the following day the rest of his army trailed in, having landed elsewhere along the coast.
Edward now found himself in hostile territory. A member of the Holderness gentry, Martin de la See, had raised a sizable army had could have blocked Edward in the triangular patch of land at the mouth of the Humber. Edward managed to bluff his way past this first danger, party by claiming that he was only returning to reclaim his Duchy of York and party by claiming he had the support of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. Holderness had always been a Percy stronghold so this may have had some impact. It didn't impress the authorities in Hull, then a well defended walled city, and Edward was refused access. His next target was York, but he got discouraging advance as he headed towards the city. At first the authorities in York only allowed Edward and a handful of men to enter the city. This might have been a trap, but York was able to win the city authorities over, again claiming that he only wanted his duchy back. His army was allowed to spend one night in the city then had to move on.
Remarkably this story about the duchy of York seems to have been believed, even though it was the same trick that Henry Bolingbroke had used early in his invasion of 1399. He had also landed at Ravenspur, and had eventually overthrown Richard II and established the Lancastrian dynasty as Henry IV. When Edward formally announced that he was actually aiming at the throne, York was one of the places to revolt against him.
Edward was now faced with the second crisis of his campaign. So far very few men had joined him. From York he moved south-west to Sandal. This brought him close to Montagu, who had a reasonably strong army nearby at Pontefract. It isn’t at all clear why Montagu didn't act at this point, when Edward was very vulnerable. The Arrivall, a contemporary account of Edward's return, was clearly unsure and made a number of suggestions. The attitude of Henry Percy, the restored earl of Northumberland, was probably key. He remained neutral during Edward's invasion, possibly because he knew he couldn't convince his Lancastrian supporters to fight for a Yorkist king. Montagu may have struggled to get his men to attack Edward without Percy's support. Whatever the reason was, the chance soon passed as Edward continued to move south.
From Sandal he moved south-east to Doncaster, where he was joined by 160 men under William Dudley. He then moved south to Nottingham, where 600 men under Sir William Parr and Sir James Harrington arrived. Edward still had less than 3,000 men and he now faced three Lancastrian armies. The earls of Oxford and Exeter and Lord Beaumont were to his east at Newark with one force. Montagu was now moving south with his army. Warwick himself was due south at Leicester.
Edward dealt with this threat with bold action. He marched out of Nottingham towards Newark to offer battle, but Oxford, Exeter and Beaumont were unwilling to fight and retreated south in some disorder. Edward returned to Nottingham then advanced south towards Leicester. Warwick retreated south-west to Coventry, where he took up quarters inside the walled city. Warwick was probably playing for time - if all of his armies could unite, including a fourth force being brought up by Clarence, then Edward would be massively outnumbered.
This delay would cost Warwick dear. Edward finally received significant reinforcements at Leicester when Sir William Norris and Sir William Stanley arrived with 3,000 men, doubling the size of his army. He must also already have been in contact with his brother Clarence, who was in a difficult position in a restored Lancastrian England.
On 29 March Edward marched to Coventry, and challenged Warwick to come out and fight but Warwick refused. Edward them marched around Coventry and moved to Warwick, where he took up quarters in the earl's own castle.
On 3 April Clarence made his appearance on the scene. He had reached Banbury, south-east of Warwick town, and was now advancing towards Edward. Edward led his army out of Warwick, and then in the gap between the two armies the Royal brothers were publically reconciled. Edward had gained another 4,000 men and now had around 10,000 men in his army. Warwick's army was also gaining in strength - he had been joined by Oxford, Exeter and Beaumont, but he still refused to fight.
Edward decided to gamble and on 5 April he raised camp and headed east, at the start of a race to London. He was at Daventry on 7 April. He continued east to Northampton, then turned south-east onto the London road. Warwick, who was slowed by his artillery, had little chance of catching Edward but if London could be held then the gamble might fail. Unluckily for Warwick at this point Queen Margaret was finally ready to move. News reached London that she was about to embark and on 8 April the key Lancastrian leaders in the city, Edmund Beaufort, fourth duke of Somerset and John Courtenay, the Lancastrian earl of Devon, left to go and join the queen.
This left Warwick's brother George Neville, archbishop of York, in charge of London. He attempted to rally the Lancastrian supports in the city and even dragged Henry VI along on a procession through the city, but by 10 April it was clear that there was little chance of defending the city. The common council had already decided not to fight. Henry VI had been an unimpressive figure, and late on 10 April the archbishop opened negotiations with Edward. That night the Tower fell into Yorkist hands, and on 11 April Edward made a triumphal return to London.
His priorities after entering the city offer an interesting insight into his mind. First he went to St. Paul's to offer thanks for his return. Next he went to the bishop's palace to take control of Henry VI, who appears to have welcomed his return, apparently saying that 'I know in your hands my life will not be in danger'. Henry was returned to the Tower, where he was kept alive for the moment. Next Edward went to Westminster Abbey where his wife was in sanctuary, and where during his exile she had given birth to their first son, Prince Edward.
Henry VI was being kept alive for purely political reasons. As the events in London had just demonstrated he made a very poor figurehead for the Lancastrian cause. His young son Prince Edward was an untested figure, and with a martyred father to avenge might have posed a bigger threat to Edward.
For the moment Edward had enough enemies to deal with. Warwick's united army was closing in on London, while Queen Margaret was expected to land at any moment. Edward reacted quickly. He found extra supporters, guns and equipment in London and then on 13 April marched out of London. That night Edward and Warwick camped on opposite sides of the road just outside Barnet. Edward attacked early on 14 April in thick fog. His left wing was defeated, but in the centre and on the right he was victorious. Warwick's line may have broken after his victorious troops from the left returned in the fog and weren't recognised, but the result was a clear victory for Edward. Warwick and his brother Montagu were both killed in the battle, and the Neville part of the coalition against Edward was dispersed.
On the very same day Queen Margaret and Prince Edward finally landed in the south-west. They met Somerset and Devon and decided to stay and fight. They were able to raise a powerful army in the south-west and then decided to try and move north to join up with their Welsh allies. This meant that they would have to cross the River Severn, ideally at Gloucester.
Edward had moved slowly west from London until it became clear which way the Lancastrians were moving. He then sped up and by 29 April was at Cirencester. His boldness and willingness to seek battle was now used against him. Twice the Lancastrians tricked him into changing direction to move towards a possible battle, first at Malmesbury and then at Chipping Sodbury. The Lancastrians used their chance to reach Bristol then to advance up the Severn towards Gloucester. Their plan began to unravel on 3 May when Sir Richard Beauchamp refused to let them into the city. This meant that they would have to advance further upstream and try and cross the river at fords south-west of Tewkesbury. The two armies spent 3 May racing north-east in parallel. Edward's men moved faster, and when the fords turned out to be unusable the Lancastrians realised that they would have to stand and fight. The resulting battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471) effectively ended the second phase of the Wars of the Roses. Somerset attempted to outflank the Yorkists, who were probably fighting in column, and was able to launch an attack on Edward's own battle, but he wasn't properly supported by the rest of the Lancastrian army. Somerset's attack was eventually driven off and Edward was able to focus on Prince Edward's part of the enemy army. The Lancastrian line was swept away and Prince Edward was killed in the fighting. The best hope of the House of Lancaster was gone. Queen Margaret was captured a few days later.
Edward still faced two threats - a northern revolt and an attack on London by Thomas Neville, the Bastard of Fauconberg. Edward decided to deal with the northern revolt first, but by the time he reached the Midlands it had already collapsed. He was able to send troops towards London, but Fauconberg's attack on the city had already been repulsed. By the time Edward returned to his capital, Fauconberg had retreated to the Kent coast and soon came to terms.
Edward returned to London on 21 May. That evening Henry VI died in the Tower, officially from 'pure displeasure and melancholy' after receiving the news of Tewkesbury, but there is little doubt that Edward had his one remaining rival killed. With Prince Edward gone there was no reason to keep the old king alive. Queen Margaret was no longer a threat with her son and husband gone, and after some time in captivity she was released and allowed to return to France. There were still some Lancastrians in exile, and the Lancastrian claim to the throne passed to Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, whose mother had been a Beaufort, and thus descended from John of Gaunt, but he spent most of the rest of Edward's reign in exile in Brittany. The last outbreak of the Wars of the Roses during Edward's reign was a short siege of St. Michael's Mount (30 September 1473-February 1474) triggered after John de Vere, earl of Oxford, seized that castle.
His Second Reign
After Tewkesbury Edward ruled for another twelve years, without having to fight another battle in person. This isn't to say that the rest of his reign was entirely peaceful. The conflict with the Scots continued, and he attempted to renew the war with France, but the threat of civil conflict appeared to be over.
Edward did lead an army in person in 1475 during his short-lived invasion of France. This campaign had been planned in some detail. Edward had arranged alliances with Charles, duke of Burgundy, the duke of Brittany and the lord of St. Pol. Edward collected a large army, which included sizable contingents provided by his brothers Clarence and Gloucester, and his was probably the largest English army to invade France during the Middle Ages.
After all of that preparation the campaign achieved very little. The Duke of Burgundy became distracted by the siege of Neuss which dragged on over the winter of 1474-75 and eventually turned up without his army. The Count of St. Pol refused to give Edward access to St. Quentin as promised, and Edward found himself fighting alone and without active allies. In these circumstances he decided to enter into negotiations with Louis XI, and on 29 August 1475 the two monarchs agreed the Treaty of Picquigny. The terms included a seven year long truce, an annual pension or tribute of 50,000 crowns to be paid to Edward and a marriage between the Dauphin and Edward's daughter Elizabeth. Edward was happy with this outcome, but some of his supporters are said to have grumbled about the peaceful end of the campaign.
Edward showed a more ruthless side to his character in his dealing with Clarence. He had been forgiven for his revolt in 1469-70, but despite having married Warwick's older daughter (who died in 1476) he wasn't allowed to take over the Neville estates, which instead went to his brother Richard of Gloucester. Clarence played a major part in the French expedition, but soon afterwards a rift developed. Clarence wanted to marry Mary, the daughter of Charles of Burgundy, but Edward refused to permit this. Clarence withdrew from court and refused to eat with his brother, apparently because he was afraid he would be poisoned. Clarence's downfall was triggered by his summary execution of Ankarette Twynho, a servant he blamed for the death of his first wife. She was executed in April 1477 and in June Clarence was arrested and sent to the Tower. In January 1478 he was charged with treason, and on 18 February he was executed in private inside the Tower of London. He had been accused of declaring that Edward was illegitimate and thus had no right to the throne but his real crime was probably that he threatened to destabilise Edward's reign.
Edward's last military conflict was a war with Scotland in 1482-83. The Scots had held Berwick since 1461, and there was constant tension on the border. In 1480 the Scots burnt Bamburgh and later in the year Gloucester raided into Scotland in retaliation. In November 1480 Edward decided to go north to help his brother. A fleet was fitted out, but Edward had some trouble raising the money for an army. Edward then found a usable Scottish ally, James III's exiled brother Alexander, duke of Albany. Edward agreed to help Albany attempt to overthrown James. In return Albany promised to return Berwick, hand over Liddesdal, Eskdale, Ewesdale and Annandale, do homage and fealty to Edward and marry Edward's daughter Cecily.
Over the winter of 1481-82 Gloucester had been besieging Berwick, but in the spring of 1482 he launched an invasion of Scotland. Edinburgh was captured on 1 August 1482. The Scottish army was at Haddington, but when Gloucester approached they offered no resistance and instead were willing to open negotiations. Gloucester quickly abandoned Albany, who wasn't especially popular in Scotland. He demanded the return of money that had been sent to Scotland when James III had been Cecily's proposed husband, and also secured the return of Berwick. On 24 August 1482 the Scots marched out of Berwick and an English garrison replaced them. One of Edward's last acts was to reward Gloucester for his efforts by making him and his heirs the permanent wardens of the West Marches, with Carlisle and all crown properties in Cumberland. Gloucester's family would thus become a balance to the Percys, who dominated in the north-east.
Edward's reign came to an unexpected end. In March 1483 he was taken ill, and on 9 April 1483 he died, just before his forty-first birthday. His love for luxury and unhealthy lifestyle was said to have been a cause of his early death, although other sources have him catching a fever while fishing.
Edward had been a successful king, especially during his second reign. He had an impressive reputation as a battlefield commander, with a tendency towards bold gestures. He had spread power more widely than Henry VI or Richard III, and if he had survived for another five years would probably have seen his dynasty firmly established on the throne. He did have something of a reputation as a lover of pleasure and for becoming increasingly lazy, but this appears to have been unfair.
After Edward's death the Yorkist settlement unravelled with astonishing speed. His brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester, who had been his loyal lieutenant in the north, quickly seized control of the new young king, Edward V, taking him at Stony Stafford on 30 April. Edward's coronation was postponed to 22 June. On 13 June Lord Hastings, one of Richard's early allies, was killed at a council meeting and on 16 June the king's brother was forced out of sanctuary. The two Princes were taken to the Tower of London, where they slowly disappeared from view.
On 22 June, instead of Edward V's coronation, London saw a sermon preached against Edward IV and his heir, claiming that the new king was illegitimate. On 25 June Earl Rivers, Richard Grey and Sir Thomas Vaughan were executed. On 26 June Buckingham asked Richard to take the throne, and unsurprisingly he accepted the offer. On 6 July Richard of Gloucester was crowned as Richard III. His short reign would be troubled. The speed of change becomes clear when your realise that 1483 was the first year since 1066 to see three kings on the English throne, and also saw the entire Yorkist dynasty on the throne. Rumours soon spread that the Princes were dead and had been murdered by their uncle, and he was unable to produce them to disprove it. He soon faced a revolt that included a mix of Lancastrians, Yorkist supporters of Edward IV and most surprisingly the duke of Buckingham. Richard's biggest achievement was to turn the almost unknown Henry Tudor into a compromise candidate for the throne, uniting his Lancastrian claim with the support of an increasing number of exiled Yorkists. Only two years into his reign Richard would be defeated and killed at Bosworth, ending the dynasty that Edward had founded as such a young age only twenty years earlier.