1st Reign of Edward IV


Historian Quotes

  • 'He should be aknowledged as one of the greatest English kings. Taking the throne in an almost impossible situation, that remained acute for a decade, he managed to rescue the monarchy from what can be best described as a shambles and left his dynasty securely settled on the throne' (Carpenter) 
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  • Had a policy of reconcilliation with the Lancastrians. Sir Ralph Percy, Viscount Beaufort and Earl of Oxford all pardoned and lands restored. Many Lancastrians not punished after Towton. 
  • Confiscated lands from at least 13 Lancastrian peers and almost 100 well-off gentry. 
  • Revived or created 22 noble titles in an attempt to increase his support base. This was unsuccessful because a title didn't necessarily come with land. 
  • Most prominant benficaries of Edward's patronage were his brothers. Clarence given lands worth £3,660 with a combined yearly salery of £650. Uncle made Earl of Essex
  • Nevilles were handsomely rewarded. Lord Fauconber made Earl of Kent. Lord Montagu made Earl of Northumberland 
  • Elevated the Woodvilles to positions of power. Elizabeth's father= Earl Rivers. Lord Scales+ considerable power
  • Initially Edward was highly supported by Warwick, however a combination of Warwick being patronising to the younger Edward, and Edward undermining the apparent over mightiness of Warwick (e.g., marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and alliance with Burgundy, forbidding Warwick marrying his daughters to noble heirs) relationship ruined.
  • George Duke of Clarence secretly marries Isabelle Neville in 1469.
  • 1469: Robin of Redesdale rebellion by Sir John Conyers (a Warwick supporter) - failed.
  • 1470: After the failure of the Lincolnshire rising, Warwick, Clarence, and Margaret of Anjou unite and conspire against Edward, and when John Neville turns against Edward, he is forced to flee, effectively being usurped and replaced with Henry VI.
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  • When he becomes king, throne is in debt as a result of predecessor. At the start of Edward's reign, the crown's annual expenditure was £50,000 and the royal income barely covered this. 
  • Passed several Acts of Resumption, revoking grants of land and pensions granted by Henry VI.
  •   Gained posession of the estates of Henry VI and the Duchy of Lancaster. This combined with his Yorkist inheritance, brought in an extra £30,000 a year. 
  • Customs brining in £25,000 in 1461.
  • Special Commissioners appointed to investigate the collection of customs duties and stamp out corruption and abuses in 1466.
  • From here on, Edward became heavily involved in the wool trade for his own profit, which helped him to pay off his debts. 
  • The expense of battles in his first reign drained his royal finances. Had to take loans from London merchants worth £40,000
  • Used the Chamber system, meaning revenue could be collected more quickly and mistakes. malpractice could be spotted earlier. 
  • 1467, promises government that he will 'live off his own', without borrowing or burdensome tax unless for ''great and urgent causes'. 
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Foreign Policy

  • Negotiated a truce with James III of Scotland and the new French King Louis XI, who suceeded the throne in 1461. The French traditionally supported the Scots against England and they had both recently helped Lancastrian cause.
  • Edward used foreign policy to weaken the Lancastrians. In 1462 Margaret was in Scotland raising troops and gained support from france. However, part of the new truce with France was that France wouldn't help/ provide funds for Margaret.  
  • His marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 prevented him from making a strategic marriage to a foreign power (Warwick is left humiliated as he had been negotiating the marriage between Edward and a French princess.)
  •  In 1468, Edward marries his sister Margaret to Charles Duke of Burgundy, his support of Burgundy also meant that he had to prepare for war with France, (Warwick left further humiliated as he had been engaged in negotiations with France.)
  • Burgandy was important to English trade. Edward decided to ally with Burgandy rather than the French.
  • In 1470, the French support an invasion of England led by Margaret of Anjou, Warwick and Clarence.
  • Edward failed to get the Hanseatic League to agree to his request for trading concessions.
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Government and Law

  • Edward relied heavily on his own personal control in government, reviving the ancient custom of sitting in person 'on the bench' (i.e. in judgement) to enforce justice. He sacked Lancastrian office-holders and used his financial acumen to introduce tight management of royal revenues to reduce the Crown's debt.
  • Localities: Replaced corrupt sheriffs with men of integrity and corrupt officials with professionally qualified ones. 1464, he accompanid his justices on a tour of the West where he intended to punish 'risers against the peace'. Hoped to be seen personally enforcing his laws. 
  • Elections: Took measures against the rigging of Parliament elections by only allowing those who were qualified to vote. He tried to prevent voters from being intimidated by local lords and their retainers. There measures were only partly successful because Edward did not dare alienate powerful magnates who enjoyed the benefit of corruption and on whom Edward relied on for support. 
  • Ports and at Sea: Took measures to prevent piracy and the seas became safer for trading which pleased local merchants. The King also banned the import of inferior goofs to protect the interests of English industry. Keeping the Londoners on side was vital for maintaining his position as London was the centre of royal power and Edward needed financial assistance of the merchants. 
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Standard Criteria

  • Personally undefeated in battle.
  • He had good health and was physically fit (and the tallest English monarch ever at 6ft 4in).
  •  He maintained a good feudal system, and garnered a positive opinion from the public, a factor that led to civil order after a long period of civil unrest (especially during his 2nd reign).
  • His legitimacy to throne is questionable, he was a usurper, but his father was promised the throne and he had royal blood.
  • Not much was said about him being religious; however he did uphold the Catholic Church, and was “God chosen” to be king
  •  He was the most powerful man in the land and provided an heir and a spare.
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Battles/ Conflict

  • Battle of Edgecote. Edward relied on Pembroke and Devon. Pembroke captured and executed. Royal troops deserted. Edward captured by Warwick. However, soon released as Warwick failed to govern the kingdom. (July 1469)
  • Lord Fitzhugh, brother in law of Warwick led a rebellion in the north. John Lord Montagu turned against the king. Warwick arrived with French money and mercenaries and began recruiting and army in the south. These factors resulted in Edward fleeing to Burgandy with Glouchester, Hastings and Earl Rivers.
  • Battle of Losecote Field. Edward defeated Warwick's allies. Welles executed (March 1470)
  • Disorder through the country enables nobles to persue private fueds (E.g Stanleys and Harringtons)
  • Warwick invades England with the aid of the French and the Lancastrians (Margaret of Anjou)
  • Edward invaded England with the aid of Burgandy, Clarence defected. 
  • Edward took London. Battle of Barnet (Warwick killed)
  • Battle of Tewksbury (Prince Edward, Henry's Son killed)
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