28 April 1442, son of Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, at Rouen, France
28 June 1461 at Westminster Abbey, London
9 April 1483 at Westminster Palace, London
St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Palace
1 May 1464 Elizabeth Woodville Grey at Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire
Richard III (younger brother)
dward’s father, the Duke of York, challenged the Lancastrian king Henry VI for the crown. After the duke was killed in battle, Edward became the head of the family and achieved the throne his father had sought.
A notorious womanizer who may have already precontracted one secret marriage, Edward then secretly married Elizabeth Woodville Grey. She was a beautiful and unsuitable widow and mother, a Lancastrian and a commoner, with a crowd of ambitious siblings. Edward and Elizabeth had ten children. Edward did NOT reform.
Edward’s marriage caused a realigning of allegiances. It alienated the powerful Duke of Warwick, leading to his eventual treachery. Edward’s younger brother George of Clarence, jealous of his brother’s position, married Warwick’s daughter and joined with his father-in-law.
A war for the throne was intermittently conducted between the houses of York and Lancaster, and between factions of the house of York. Edward was captured, imprisoned and released, exiled and returned again. Finally, Warwick was killed, Edward was firmly planted on the throne, and both Henry VI and George executed. [NOTE: Decades later the conflict became known as the “War of the Roses,” with the white rose symbolizing York and the red rose, Lancaster.]
Edward was charming and popular, although not easily stirred to action. A skillful delegator, he built a network of support encompassing all social classes. He managed his own income without additional onerous taxation and was attentive to business enterprises, particularly the lucrative wool and cloth trades.
His reign saw a great leap in prosperity. He was also a patron of William Caxton who, in 1477, produced the first book printed in England.
A man of large appetites, pleasure-loving and high-living, Edward died at age 40 leaving a 12-year-old heir, born of an unpopular marriage and with an uncertain claim to the throne.
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