Explain why Edward IV’s death opened up such a bitter family feud in the weeks from 9th April to 26th June 1483 (12 marks) Edward IV, king of England, died suddenly and prematurely at Windsor castle – perhaps from a stroke, or peritonitis or even a chill caught while on a fishing trip – in April 1483 aged only 40 years. He had enjoyed a relatively successful reign, by the standards of the day, restoring peace after the disordered period of Lancastrian rule and providing his subjects with some much needed stability.
Edward IV had been a strong king after 1471, able to control the rival noble factions, but his death opened up a destructive, disastrous Yorkist family feud. The throne should have passed smoothly to his son; Edward V. This however didn’t happen due to his brother, Richard duke of Gloucester wanting the power; Edward changed his will on his death bed so his wishes weren’t clear; his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. On his death a bitter family feud was started.Edward IV youngest brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester was powerful by himself due to Edward giving him lands in the north; this gave him power, men and was far away from court and London. Richard’s wife Anne Neville’s family owned large amounts of land and power in the north this passed on to Richard, making him stronger and wealthier. Richard could raise an army from his lands this threatened the Woodville family because Richard had the support of the north.
Richard Essay Example
He had no opponents with the north and made his own law.Richard also had the support of many nobles loyal to Edward because he had shown his loyalty through the war of the roses; Richard also showed his dedication to England by capturing Edinburgh from the scots. Richard also developed religious patronage, founding collegiate chapels at middle ham and Bernard castle. In 1475, Edward IV made his first will before he left England to fight the war against France. He arranged for his wife, Queen Elizabeth, to be one of eight counsellors chosen from the bishops and nobles, to rule for the king in a regency counsel.In his final days he amended the will. The details of these late changes are not known because the will has not survived.
It isn’t clear whether Edward left the role of protector to his brother Richard, duke of Gloucester, and removed Queen Elizabeth’s name from the will. This amended will created tensions between the Woodville’s and Richard because if he had removed Elizabeth’s name from the will then Richard would be hated by the whole family for taking Elizabeth’s power and they would feel weak and threatened.However, Richard would have been threatened if Elizabeth was on the regency counsel then she would have power to choose who else would be on it, this would increase the Woodville’s power. Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 without consulting either of his closest advisers, Warwick and Hastings. The marriage created problems because the Woodville family were seen as social climbers. They were resented by members of the established nobility.The family was unpleasant, arrogant, scheming, grasping and vengeful.
In 1483, the Woodville fraction knew they were unpopular with many powerful enemies, especially Gloucester and Hastings. They resented Gloucester’s huge power base in the north and Hastings’ close friendship with the king. They also knew their particular strength, their close relationship with Prince Edward, and they would use the asset to prevent Gloucester from assuming the role of protector.Edward was arranged to marry bona of savoy, this led Richard to become embarrassed by the disrespect that Edward demonstrated by marrying a commoner rather than a political marriage to a daughter of French noble which would have joined the two countries together. Elizabeth Woodville’s family was common and had no social standing, after marrying Elizabeth; Edward had to give her family titles and wealth. There were many Woodville’s, therefore this left no land or wealth to be given to nobles, this annoyed them and resent the Woodville family.The power held by the Woodville family threatened Richard and other nobles.
On Edward IV’s death, a bitter family rivalry was opened, before Edwards’s death Richard and other powerful nobles had resented the Woodville family because Edward had raised them to nobles, by giving them lands and wealth. This alienated the established nobles, and made them feel threatened by the large Woodville family. The Woodville family was spread throughout England this threatened the nobles, however Richard, duke of Gloucester, had a strong power hold in the north and this threatened the Woodville family.The wishes of Edward in his will were never clear, this created factional rivalry between the Woodville’s and Gloucester as they had both been named in a will to support Edward V’s reign. The death of Edward left a power vacuum with a minor who could not rule alone therefore someone needed to take power, both Richard; duke of Gloucester and the Woodville family wanted the power. A power struggle, therefore revolved round two competing factions, Woodville and Gloucester, each of whom feared that the other threatened political exclusion and ruin.