Edward IV, son of Richard, Duke of York and Cicely Neville, was born in 1442. He married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464, the widow of the Lancastrian Sir John Grey, who bore him ten children. He also entertained many mistresses and had at least one illegitimate son. |
Edward came to the throne through the efforts of his father; as Henry VI became increasingly less effective, Richard pressed the claim of the York family but was killed before he could ascend the throne: Edward deposed his cousin Henry after defeating the Lancastrians at Mortimer's Cross in 1461. Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, Earl of Warwick proclaimed Henry king once again in 1470, but less than a year elapsed when Edward reclaimed the crown and had Henry executed in 1471.
The rest of his reign was fairly uneventful. He revived the English claim to the French throne and invaded the weakened France, extorting a non-aggression treaty from Louis XI in 1475 which amounted to a lump payment of 75,000 crowns, and an annuity of 20,000. Edward had his brother, George, Duke of Clarendon, judicially murdered in 1478 on a charge of treason. His marriage to Elizabeth Woodville vexed his councilors, and he allowed many of the great nobles (such as his brother Richard) to build uncharacteristically large power bases in the provinces in return for their support.
Edward died suddenly in 1483, leaving behind two sons aged twelve and nine, five daughters, and a troubled legacy.