Published on June 9th, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
The Fall Of The Plantagenet’s
Our next royal history article focuses on the three Yorkist kings who ascended to the throne in the latter half of the 15th century. Our last article mentioned the start of War of the Roses due to King Henry VI being imprisoned and the Yorkist forces placing their own king on the throne.
King Edward IV
The death of Richard, Duke of York, at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 resulted in his son Edward gaining the claim to the throne. The capture of King Henry VI in 1461 saw Edward becoming King Edward IV, the first Yorkist king of England.
Edward gained the throne with the help of the ‘Kingmaker’, the Earl of Warwick, but saw his ally angered when he secretly married Elizabeth Woodville instead of the marriage Warwick had originally wanted for him. As a result of this slight, Warwick allied himself with Edward’s brother, George in a revolt against the king which saw them eventually fleeing to France and joining forces with Margaret, the wife of the imprisoned Henry VI.
This joining saw the Lancastrian forces placing Henry IV back onto the throne in 1970, though it was only for a short period. Edward rallied his troops along with his brother, Richard, and defeated both Warwick and the Lancastrian forces. This victory for Edward also saw Henry VI executed in the Tower of London, putting an end to any attempts to retake the throne for the moment.
He ruled once again from 1471 until his eventual death in 1483, leaving his twelve year old son to succeed him as king.
King Edward V
The young son of King Edward IV has been made the Prince of Wales in 1471 and spent much of his time in the Welsh Marches along with his mother. At the young age of 12, his father died and left him as the king of England with his uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester appointed as his protector until he came of age.
The controversy of Edward IV marrying Elizabeth Woodville had been present for years and it finally came to a head when Richard claimed that the marriage was invalid and illegitimate. This meant that Edward V was unable to take the crown and saw Richard being crowned Richard III. The young prince’s story has become famous in the centuries since due to the mysterious circumstances regarding their death.
This is because King Richard III placed the prince and his younger brother, Richard, into the Tower of London, leading to the story of the Princes in the Tower. Appearances of the two slowly decreased until eventually they were never seen from again, leading to the common perception that Richard III had them murdered, though other ideas have also been seen.
King Richard III
The infamous King Richard III ruled for only two years from 1483 to his death in 1485. His short rule was fraught with major rebellions. The first occurred in 1483 and saw many of his former allies and supporters turn against him.
One of the major conspirators was his former ally Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who proposed to bring back Henry Tudor who had been living in exile. Henry was the most prominent male member of the Lancastrian claim to the throne remaining, the rest having died years beforehand.
The War of the Roses finally came to a culmination in 1485 when Richard and Henry met in battle at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire. The battle saw Richard was superior numbers but he was met with a lot of defections, resulting in his eventual death. His death saw the end of the Plantagenet dynasty as the sole rulers of the throne, though Henry VII combined the Tudor and Plantagenet lines by marrying Elizabeth of York, Richard’s niece.
Richard III was thrust back into the limelight in 2012 when it was announced that his body had been discovered the University of Leicester Archaeological Services in a car park in Leicester. The eventual positive identification of the fallen king became global news and saw him being reburied in Leicester Cathedral in 2015.