Death of Edward IV
In April 1483 the crown was passed to his eldest son, Edward, who was only 12 years old. Edward V was a minor and therefore, could not rule alone. His father had made arrangements for a minority on 2 occassions:
1) in 1475, Edward IV made his first written will before he left england to fight the war against France. He arranged for his wife, Queen Elizabeth to be one of 8 counsellors chosen from bishops and nobles, to rule for the king in a regency counsel.
2) In his final days, he ammended the will. Its far from clear whether Edward left the role of protector to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester and removed Queen Elizabeths name from the will. If he did ammend his will to appoint Richard to rule, it was an obvious decision. Gloucester was the kings only brother
The power struggle revolved around 2 factions, the Woodvilles and the Gloucester's. The factions could threaten the security of the realm if any king was weak.
On Edward IV's death the strategic advantages lay with the woodvilles primarily because prince edward was with Earl Rivers (queens brother). Rivers had recently been granted the rights to move the prince guarded by armed retinue and to raise troops in the welsh marches.
The Queen centrally placed in london. Her son was the Marquis of Dorset who was constable of teh tower of london with control over the treasury.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester was less well placed by being at Middleham castle in Yorkshire, although he had active support of 2 of the greatest magnates the duke of buckingham and lord hastings. Lord hastings was an established enemy of the woodvilles.
The counsel's involvement
The counsel met after the kings death. The queen attended. Records reveal that an atmosphere of extraordinary suspicion and fear had already developed. An italian cleric Mancini, reported that on section of the counsel wanted Gloucester to be protector but the other section wanted a regency counsel which included gloucester.
The counsel hotly disputed the size of the king's escort to london. Gloucester's allies feared a large escort would strengthen any woodville plan for a regency counsel. This appeared to be confirmed when the counsel heard the woodville's hoped for an early coronation on 4th May, this would represent the end of Edward V's protectorship and therefore undermine Gloucester's position as protector.