HOW SUCCESSFUL WAS EDWARD IV IN RESTORING ROYAL AUTHORITY IN THE PERIOD TO 1470?

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HOW SUCCESSFUL WAS EDWARD IV IN RESTORING ROYAL AUTHORITY IN THE PERIOD TO 1470?

When Edward IV came to the throne, aged only eighteen, in 1461, he faced many problems concerning the amount of royal authority he possessed. This was due to a number of factors, most of which were the result of issues with tumultuous nobility, which in turn were rooted in the ineffective leadership of Henry VI. A stronger character than his predecessor Henry, Edward attempted to manage these problems throughout his first reign.

The issue of over mighty subjects was the biggest hurdle for Edward to overcome and he enjoyed both successes and failures in handling his dominant nobles, most notably the Earl of Warwick. Edward frequently rebelled against Warwick’s attempts to control him. An early example of this was Edwards’s secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, revealed in September 1464, in favour of Warwick’s proposed match to Bona of Savoy, Louis XI sister. This foreign marriage would have further increased Warwick’s influence in France, as he already held significant authority in the region due to his title, ‘the Captain of Calais’. Additionally, Edward chose to unite with Charles the Bold of Burgundy by marrying him to his sister Margaret. Furthermore, Warwick’s brother, George Neville, was removed from his position as Chancellor.  However these successes were outweighed by failures; all of the king’s actions led Warwick to feel alienated and threatened, which is likely to have led to his rebellion. Another important point to consider is that Edwards’s policy of conciliation failed as both Montague and Clarence changed sides. Overall, the king’s attempts to deal with his over mighty subjects were weak and ineffectual.

Lancastrian resistance was also threat to Edward’s authority. As the new king was a usurper, he was not considered the rightful king by his Lancastrian opponents or to some other nobles. For instance, it took him three years, (in some cases longer), to stamp out Lancastrian rebellions; Harlech castle in Wales was not taken until 1468 and the Percy castles in Northumberland, Alnwick, Bambrugh

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