HOME > GALLERY > LANCASTER & YORK > Edward IV - 1st Reign
Edward IV was twice king of England, winning the struggle against the Lancastrians to establish the House of York on the English throne.
Edward was born on 28 April 1442 at Rouen in France, the son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. Edward's father was the leading Yorkist in the dynastic struggle against the Lancastrians known as the Wars of the Roses, which began in 1455. When Richard Plantagenet was killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, Edward inherited his claim. With the support of the powerful Earl of Warwick, known as 'the Kingmaker', Edward defeated the Lancastrians in a series of battles, culminating in the Battle of Towton in 1461. With the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, overthrown, Edward was crowned Edward IV.
Warwick believed he could continue to control the new king. He was keen to negotiate a foreign marriage for Edward, but in 1464 Edward secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner. Warwick was furious at the favours now shown to Elizabeth's relatives and allied himself to Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence, leading a revolt against the king. Warwick and Clarence then fled to France, where they joined Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. Margaret's Lancastrian army invaded England in September 1470. Edward fled to the Netherlands until March 1471, when he and his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, returned to England. Edward defeated and killed Warwick at Barnet before defeating the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury in May. Henry VI was put to death in the Tower of London.
The second part of Edward's reign, from 1471 to 1483, was a period of relative peace and security.