House of York
Edward IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483 AD)
Edward IV was the first king of the House of York. His rise to power came about due to widespread disaffection with the Lancastrian Henry VI and the ensuing Wars of the Roses; Edward’s victory at Towton in 1461 followed his coronation. Edward’s royal claim came down through his father, Richard Duke of York, who was a descendant of Edward III.
The first nine-year period of Edward’s reign was characterized by constant conflict with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick a major protagonist. Neville had defeated the Lancastrians for Edward, and was seeking to rule England through the puppet king. Edward was not content to be manipulated by Warwick and his allies and took up arms against them; eventually they were defeated and fled to France whence they tried to restore Henry VI. Edward could not be sure of the support of sufficient troops to prevent Henry’s return so he allowed himself to be exiled to Burgundy. Edward returned with a small force to avoid open conflict, claiming only the restoration of his lands (as Henry Bolingbroke had done more than half a century before). The citizens of London proclaimed him king and in two subsequent military engagements Edward managed to destroy the power of Warwick and to kill the Lancastrian heir, Edward of Westminster. Henry VI died in prison in the Tower of London months later, leaving Edward unopposed as the king of England. Further hostile dealings with France were settled by negotiation rather than military campaigns. After Edward’s seizure of Edinburgh the city was handed back to the Scots as part of a negotiated settlement which brought Berwick into English hands.
Edward IV became increasingly unwell and in his weakened state succumbed to a series of illnesses; he died in 1483, succeeded by his son, Edward.
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Richard III (1483 - 1485 AD)
Richard III came to power as protector and regent for the twelve-year-old King Edward V; Richard declared the boy’s mother’s marriage unlawful and thus invalidated Edwards’s and his brother’s claims to the throne. Parliament upheld Richard’s declaration of their illegitimacy and conferred the crown on him. However, the move was not popularly supported and there was immediate rebellion among nobles and commoners. The first revolt failed, but the second ended at Bosworth Field in August 1485 with Richard’s death at the hands of the Lancastrian forces led by Henry Tudor.
Richard died without a legitimate heir. He was the last member of the House of York to rule England, and the last claiming Plantagenet descent. His successor, Henry VII, strengthened his position by marrying the heiress, Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV.
Hammered Coin Book and Other References: S
= Coins of England and the United Kingdom N
= English Hammered Coinage by J J North SI
= Sterling Imitations of Edwardian Type by M J Mayhew WW
= Wildwinds.com (reference & attribution site)
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