1471, Great Britain, Edward IV. Silver Penny Coin. B left of Bust! Damaged VG-F!
Mint Place: York? Mint Period: 1741-1483 References: SCBC 2125 var. Condition: Deformed, straightened, scratchesd, otheerwise VG-F! Diameter: 15mm Weight: 0.61gm Material: Silver
Obverse: Crowned bust facing. Letter (B) to left, key to right.
Reverse: Long cross. Rosette? in center, trefoil in each quarter.
Edward was an extremely capable and daring military commander. He crushed the House of Lancaster in a series of spectacular military victories. He was a popular and very able king, despite his occasional (if serious) political setbacks—usually at the hands of his great Machiavellian rival Louis XI of France. He did lack foresight and was at times cursed by bad judgement, but he possessed an uncanny understanding of his most useful subjects, and many who served him remained loyal until his death.
Domestically, Edward's reign saw the restoration of law and order in England; indeed, his royal motto was modus et ordo, or "method and order". The latter days of Henry VI's government had been marked by a general breakdown in law and order, as well as a sizeable increase in both piracy and banditry. Edward was also a shrewd and successful businessman and merchant, heavily investing in several corporations within the City of London. He also made the Duchy of Lancaster property of the crown, which it still is today. During the reign of Henry, there had been corruption in the exchequer. Edward made his household gain more control over finances and even investigated old records to see that payments had been made. Documents of the exchequer show him sending letters threatening officials if they did not pay money. His properties earned large amounts of money for the crown.
Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483) was the King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king, he was Duke of York, Earl of March, Earl of Cambridge and Earl of Ulster.
Edward of York was born at Rouen in France, the second son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York (who had a strong genealogical claim to the throne of England), and Cecily Neville. He was the eldest of the four sons who survived to adulthood. He bore the title Earl of March before his father's death and his accession to the throne.
Edward's father Richard, Duke of York, had been heir to King Henry VI (reigned 1422-1461) until the birth of Henry's son Edward in 1453. Richard carried on a factional struggle with the king's Beaufort relatives. He established a dominant position after his victory at the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, in which his chief rival Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was killed. However, Henry's Queen, Margaret of Anjou, rebuilt a powerful faction to oppose the Yorkists over the following years. In 1459 Margaret moved against the Duke of York and his principal supporters—his brother-in-law Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and Salisbury's son Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who rose in revolt.
The Yorkist leaders fled from England after the collapse of their army in the confrontation at Ludford Bridge. The Duke of York took refuge in Ireland, while Edward went with the Nevilles to Calais where Warwick was governor. In 1460 Edward landed in Kent with Salisbury, Warwick and Salisbury's brother William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, raised an army, and occupied London. Edward, Warwick and Fauconberg left Salisbury besieging the Tower of London and advanced against the king, who was with an army in the Midlands, and defeated and captured him in the Battle of Northampton. York returned to England and was declared the king's heir by parliament (in the Act of Accord), but Queen Margaret raised a fresh army against him, and he was killed at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460, along with his second surviving son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the Earl of Salisbury.
This left Edward, now Duke of York, at the head of the Yorkist faction. He defeated a Lancastrian army at Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire on 2–3 February 1461. He then united his forces with those of Warwick, whom Margaret's army had defeated at the Second Battle of St Albans (17 February 1461), during which Henry VI had been rescued by his supporters. Edward's father had restricted his ambitions to becoming Henry's heir, but Edward now took the more radical step of proclaiming himself king in March 1461. He then advanced against the Lancastrians, having his life saved on the battlefield by the Welsh Knight Sir David Ap Mathew. He defeated the Lancastrian army in the exceptionally bloody Battle of Towton in Yorkshire on 29 March 1461. Edward had effectively broken the military strength of the Lancastrians, and he returned to London for his coronation. King Edward IV named Sir David Ap Mathew Standard Bearer of England and allowed him to use "Towton" on the Mathew family crest.
Lancastrian resistance continued in the north, but posed no serious threat to the new regime and was finally extinguished by Warwick's brother John Neville in the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Henry VI had escaped into the Pennines, where he spent a year in hiding, but was finally caught and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Queen Margaret fled abroad with the young Prince Edward and many of their leading supporters. Edward IV had deposed Henry VI, but there was little point in killing the ex-king as long as Henry's son remained alive, since this would merely have transferred the Lancastrian claim from a captive king to one who was at liberty.
Even at the age of nineteen, Edward exhibited remarkable military acumen. He also had a notable physique and was described as handsome and affable. His height is estimated at 6 feet 4.5 inches (1.943 m), making him the tallest among all English, Scottish, and British monarchs to date.
Most of England's leading families had remained loyal to Henry VI or remained uncommitted in the recent conflict. The new regime, therefore, relied heavily on the support of the Nevilles, who held vast estates and had been so instrumental in bringing Edward to the throne. However, the king increasingly became estranged from their leader the Earl of Warwick, due primarily to his marriage. Warwick, acting on Edward's behalf, made preliminary arrangements with King Louis XI of France for Edward to marry either Louis' daughter Anne or his sister-in-law Bona of Savoy. He was humiliated and enraged to discover that, while he was negotiating, Edward had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of John Grey of Groby, on 1 May 1464.
Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville has been criticised as an impulsive action that did not add anything to the security of England or the York dynasty. A horrified Privy Council told him with unusual frankness, when he announced the marriage to them, "that he must know that she was no wife for a prince such as himself, for she was not the daughter of a duke or earl... but a simple knight." Christine Carpenter argues against the idea that it had any political motivation, and that Edward's creation of a strong Yorkist nobility meant that he did not need the relatively "lightweight connections" of the Woodvilles, whereas Wilkinson described the marriage as both a "love match, and also a cold and calculated political move". J. R. Lander suggested in 1980 that the King was merely "infatuated," echoing P. M. Kendall's view that he was acting out of lust.
Elizabeth's mother was Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of Henry VI's uncle John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, but her father was Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, a newly created baron. When Elizabeth's marriage to Edward IV became known in October 1464, Elizabeth's twelve unmarried siblings became very desirable matrimonial catches. Catherine Woodville married Henry Stafford, grandson and heir to the Duke of Buckingham; Anne Woodville became the wife of William, Viscount Bourchier, eldest son and heir of the Earl of Essex; Eleanor Woodville married Anthony Grey, son and heir of the Earl of Kent.
The abrupt rise of the Woodville family created animosity among the nobility of England, above all in the case of Warwick. The offence caused by the circumstances of the marriage itself was magnified as the Woodvilles opposed policies favoured by Warwick and successfully exploited their influence with the king to defeat him. Over time, Warwick became progressively more alienated from King Edward, and his intentions turned toward treason. In the autumn of 1467, Warwick withdrew from the court to his Yorkshire estates. He covertly instigated a rebellion against the king with the aid of Edward's disaffected younger brother George, Duke of Clarence.
The main part of the king's army (without Edward) was defeated at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on 26 July 1469, and Edward was subsequently captured at Olney. Warwick then attempted to rule in Edward's name, but the nobility, many of whom owed their preferments to the king, were restive. A local rebellion arose in the north, and it became increasingly clear that Warwick was unable to rule through the King. He was forced to release Edward on 10 September 1469.
At this point, Edward did not seek to destroy either Warwick or Clarence but sought reconciliation instead. Nevertheless, a private feud broke out in Lincolnshire between Sir Thomas Burgh of Gainsborough and Lord Welles. A few months later in March 1470, Warwick and Clarence chose this opportunity to rebel against Edward IV again. The Lincolnshire Rebellion against King Edward IV was defeated, and Warwick was forced to flee to France on 1 May 1470. There he made an alliance with the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou.
Louis XI had just come to the throne of France with the death of his father King Charles VII on 25 July 1461. He had been looking for a way to trouble Edward IV by reinvigorating the Lancastrian claim to the throne of England. Warwick made an accord with Louis XI and Queen Margaret in which he agreed to restore Henry VI in return for French support for a military invasion of England. Warwick's invasion fleet set sail from France for England on 9 September 1470. This time, Edward IV was forced to flee to Flanders when he learned that Warwick's brother John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu, had also switched to the Lancastrian side, making Edward's military position untenable.
Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470 in an event known as the Readeption of Henry VI, and Edward took refuge in Flanders, part of Burgundy, accompanied by his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III of England). The Duke of Burgundy had been Edward's brother-in-law since the marriage of Edward's sister Margaret of York to Charles, Duke of Burgundy, on 3 July 1468. The French declared war on Burgundy, despite the fact that Charles was initially unwilling to help Edward. This prompted Charles to give his aid to Edward, and from Burgundy he raised an army to win back his kingdom.
Edward returned to England with a relatively small force and avoided capture. The city of York opened its gates to him only after he promised that he had just come to reclaim his dukedom, as Henry Bolingbroke had done seventy years earlier. The first to join him were Sir James Harrington and William Parr, who brought 600 men-at-arms to Edward at Doncaster. As he marched southwards he began to gather support, including Clarence (who had realised that his fortunes would be better off as brother to a king than under Henry VI). Edward entered London unopposed, where he took Henry VI prisoner. Edward and his brothers then defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet in which Warwick died. With Warwick dead, Edward eliminated the remaining Lancastrian resistance at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. A Lancastrian heir, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, was killed on the battlefield. Henry VI died a few days later, on the night that Edward re-entered London. One contemporary chronicle claimed that Henry's death was due to "melancholy," but it is widely suspected that Edward ordered Henry's murder to remove the Lancastrian opposition completely.
Edward's younger brothers George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III of England), were married to Isabel Neville and Anne Neville. Both were daughters of Warwick by Anne Beauchamp and rival heirs to the considerable inheritance of their still-living mother, leading to a dispute between the brothers. In 1478 George was eventually found guilty of plotting against Edward, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and privately executed on 18 February 1478. According to a long-standing tradition, he was "drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine".
Edward did not face any further rebellions after his restoration, as the Lancastrian line had virtually been extinguished.
In 1475, Edward declared war on France, landing at Calais in June. However, his ally Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, failed to provide any significant military assistance, which led Edward to undertake negotiations with the French. He came to terms with the Treaty of Picquigny, which provided him with an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns and a yearly pension of 50,000 crowns, thus allowing him to "recoup his finances." He also backed an attempt by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, brother of King James III of Scotland, to take the Scottish throne in 1482. Gloucester led an invasion of Scotland that resulted in the capture of Edinburgh and the king of Scots himself, but Albany reneged on his agreement with Edward. Gloucester decided to withdraw from his position of strength in Edinburgh. He however took Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Edward's health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter 1483, but survived long enough to add some codicils to his will, the most important being to name his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483 and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son Edward V of England (who was never crowned) and then by his brother Richard.
It is not known what actually caused Edward's death. Pneumonia and typhoid have both been conjectured, as well as poison. Some attributed his death to an unhealthy lifestyle, as he had become stout and inactive in the years before his death.
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