MEDIEVAL KINGS

Medieval Kings

We will start our Medieval Kings from William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings and proceed to King Richard III, whose defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, most historians acknowledge as bringing to a close the Medieval Period in England.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

(c.1028/9 – 1087 : King of England 1066 – 1087)

: WILLIAM THE CONQUERORAt the death of the childless Edward the Confessor in 1066, his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson was immediately proclaimed ruler of England and on being crowned, became King Harold.

The coronation however, was hotly disputed by William Duke of Normandy, who insisted that Edward the Confessor, who was a distant blood relative, had also promised the succession to him.

William invaded and rather fortunately for him, defeated the Anglo Saxons under King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Fortune did indeed favour William, Duke of Normandy,for the Anglo Saxons under King Harold had just annihilated King Harald Hardrada’s Norwegian Viking army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York. See The Norman Invasion and Battle of Hastings

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING WILLIAM II

(C,1056 – 1100 : King of England 1087 – 1100)

KING WILLIAM IICommonly known as William Rufus, he ruled England from 1087 until his death in 1100, when he was killed by an arrow whilst hunting in the New Forest. There has been much speculation down the centuries as to whether he was the victim of an accident or murder.

William Rufus, was very unpopular with both his subjects and the church. To pay for his military campaigns in Normandy against his brothers, Robert Curthose and Henry Beauclerc, he imposed extremely heavy taxation on the people of England.

Neither would he shirk from taking money from the monasteries when he needed any. When his barons complained that they could not afford to pay the taxes he levied on them, his response was to tell them to go and rob the shrines of the saints.

During the violent storm that hit London in 1090/1091, flattening six hundred houses in the city and completely blowing off the roof St. Mary-le-Bow Church, a tremendous deluge swept away London Bridge.

Repair works and the rebuilding of London Bridge were undertaken by William Rufus by means of heavy taxation and forced labour.

REIGN OF KING WILLIAM II

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY I

(c.1068/9 – 1135 : King of England 1100 – 1135)

 KING HENRY IAn arrow was fired by Walter Tirel at a stag which missed the target and hit King William in the chest killing him almost instantly. Tirel, it appears jumped on his horse, made off at great speed and escaping to France, never returned to England again.

Prince HenryPrince Henry, left his brothers’ body on the floor where it had fallen and rode straight for Winchester at full speed to secure the treasury.

When finished at Winchester, he raced off to London, again at full speed, to be crowned King of England, by Bishop Maurice at Westminster Abbey, within three days of the death of William Rufus, on 5th August 1100.

There has always been a suspicion that, when Henry heard his brother, Robert Curthose was returning alive from the crusade, he decided to take action and arranged the murder of William Rufus, by Walter Tirel.

REIGN OF KING HENRY I

EMPRESS MATILDA

She only effectively ruled for a few months in 1141 and was never crowned and therefore is normally excluded from the list of English monarchs.

Her rivalry with Stephen for the throne led to years of civil war in England, called The Anarchy.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING STEPHEN

( c.1096 – 1154 : King of England 1135-1154)

Stephen, King of EnglandBorn about 1096 in Blois France and known as Stephen of Blois, he was the grandson of William the Conqueror through William’s daughter, Adela.

He was raised at the English court of his uncle King Henry I. Before Henry’s death he made the barons swear allegiance to his daughter, Matilda. Stephen was the first baron to do so.

However, on Henry’s death, Stephen broke the oath he had made, saying Henry had changed his mind on his deathbed, naming Stephen as his heir.The resultant war with Matilda and Stephen’s turbulent nineteen year reign was commonly called The Anarchy and Nineteen Winters.

From the Anglo Saxon Chronicles, we have:”And so it lasted for nineteen years while Stephen was King, till the land was all undone and darkened with such deeds, and men said openly that Christ and his angels slept”.

In 1136, the London Bridge that had been destroyed during the reign of King William Rufus, by the great tornado of 1090/91, was once again destroyed, this time by fire.

Although some rebuilding was carried out during the remainder of Stephen’s reign, the main works, this time in stone, did not commence until 1176, during the reign of King Henry II.

The new bridge took thirty three years to build, not being finished until 1209, during the reign of King John. It was John who first licensed the building of houses on the bridge.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY II

(1133 – 1189 : King of England 1154 – 1189)

The first of the Medieval Kings, to come from the House of Plantagenet.

Henry II was the grandson of King Henry I through his mother the Empress Matilda. His father was Geoffrey of Plantagenet.

He succeeded King Stephen in 1154 to found the dynasty of The House of Plantagenet, which would continue until the defeat of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor in 1485. He was the first King of England to use the title King of England instead of King of the English.

He was a very strong King and could hold his own with anyone. The first King of England to add Ireland to his domains.

His implication in the murder of Thomas a Becket certainly tainted Henry’s reign. He was full of remorse for the rest of his life over the death of his former friend.

Having suffered family fueds between himself and his sons for years, he was finally hounded to his death by his son Richard, and died at Chinon. Weak and ill, he had been deserted by everyone except for an illegitimate son.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING RICHARD I : THE LIONHEART

(1157 – 1199 : King of England 1189 – 1199.)

The second of the Medieval Kings, to come from the House of Plantagenet.

Although Richard Coeur-de-Lion or Lion Heart is feted as being one of England’s greatest and bravest kings, he had little or no interest in England, spending just a few months there in total.

He used England as a bank and nothing more. On his accession to the throne, Richard raised and imposed further taxes on the English people, spent most of his father Henry II’s treasury and started to sell off the offices of state, all of which was to raise money for his crusade.

He was given the epithet Lion Heart, because of his reputation as a great warrior and military leader.

He was undoubtedly brave, as testified to by his great adversary, Saladin, the Saracen leader, against whom he fought several victorious battles.

Most of his life was spent fighting, for aside from his crusade, which lasted three years, the rest of his time was spent in incessant wars over land in France, mainly against his father, Henry II.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING JOHN (NICKNAMED LACKLAND AND SOFTSWORD)

(1167 – 1216 : KING OF ENGLAND 1199 – 1216)

The third of the Medieval Kings, to come from the House of Plantagenet.

John was the youngest of five sons of King Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine. He was also their second surviving son to ascend the throne of England, succeeding his elder brother Richard the Lionheart, who had died without issue.

He therefore ensured the continuing line of Plantagenet or Angevin Kings of England.

He acquired two epithets in his lifetime : Due to being his father’s youngest son, he did not inherit any land out of his families holdings, hence the epithet Lackland and with his supposed lack of any stomach for fighting, he was given the other epithet of Softsword

He is best known for having unwillingly acquiesced to the barons demands, by sealing Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215 and then breaking it. He denounced it as illegal and unjust as it had been sealed under duress.

It thus provoked the First Baron’s War and in 1216, and at the invitation of the Barons, a French invasion of England under Prince Louis of France, which resulted in London being occupied and Louis proclaimed, but not crowned King of England at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Whilst retreating from this French invasion, he took a direct route across the marshy area of the Wash, which is located on the east coast of England, at the meeting point of Norfolk and Lincolnshire and famouly lost the Crown Jewels.

He succumbed to dysentry, whilst moving from place to place and died at Newark Castle in October 1216.

It was during John’s reign that the first houses made their appearance on London Bridge, which was completed during his reign in 1209.

They had been licensed to be built by King John as a means of obtaining revenue for the upkeep and maintenance of the bridge. It was not too long afterwards that shops also made their appearance on the bridge.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY III

(1207 – 1272 : KING OF ENGLAND 1216 – 1272)

The fourth of the Medieval Kings to come from the House of Plantagenet.

Henry III was nine years of age when he succeeded his father, King John, to the English throne, to become the fourth Medieval King to come from the House of Plantagenet.

He inherited a country which had undergone drastic changes during his father’s reign and took the crown under the regency of the immensely popular and wise, William Marshal, known as The Greatest Knight who ever Lived and The Flower of Chivalry.

The first child to become King of England since Ethelred the Unready, the country prospered during his reign, despite the fact that a great deal of it was marked by great strife with the barons who were led by Simon de Montford in the dispute over Magna Carta and Royal Rights.

It was the time of Simon de Montford, the leader of those barons who wished to reassert Magna Carta and go even further, by forcing the King to surrender more power to a baronial council.

King Henry was forced to agree to the Provisions of Oxford, which effectively put an end to the Absolute Anglo-Norman monarchy.

The period after Henry’s defeat at the Battle of Lewes in 1264, was the nearest England came to the abolition of the monarchy until the Commonwealth of 1649-1660.

King Henry’s reign saw an extensive building programme ( from 1245 until his death in 1272 and at an expense of well in excess of ¬£40,000, an enormous sum in those days) in the expansion of Westminster Abbey as a shrine St. Edward the Confessor, The Tower of London and the complete rebuilding of York Castle, which commenced in 1245 and took about 20-25 years to complete.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING EDWARD I (LONGSHANKS : THE HAMMER OF THE SCOTS)

(1239 – 1307 : KING OF ENGLAND 1272 – 1307)

Fifth of the Medieval Kings to come from the House of Plantagenet.

King Edward I is mainly remembered for two things, firstly his subjugation of Wales to English rule in 1282 – 83, followed by the construction of a series of castles and towns in the Welsh countryside, which he then proceeded to populate with Englishmen.

Wales was then brought within the English legal and administrative system.

In 1301 Edward’s son was proclaimed the Prince of Wales, a tradition which persists to this day, whereby the eldest living son of the King or Queen Regnant of England, has the title conferred upon him.

William Camden though, wrote in 1607 in his book Britannia, that King Edward II, failed to invest his eldest son with that title. However, it is accepted that 1301 is the year that it started.

Secondly, after being asked to settle a succession dispute in Scotland, he nominated John Balliol as King, who swore allegiance to Edward.

Edward claimed feudal suzerainty, whereby he would have some degree of control, over the dependant state. A feudal overlord.

He proceeded to conquer Scotland, captured William Wallace who was executed in 1305 and was on his way to fight Robert the Bruce in 1307 when he died.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING EDWARD II

(1284 – 1327 : KING OF ENGLAND 1307 – 1327)

The first English prince to be invested as the Prince of Wales, his reign, noted for it’s incompetence, political aquabbling and military defeats, was a complete disaster for England.

He was the sixth of the Medieval Kings belonging to the House of Plantagenet, a line that had begun when King Henry II had acceeded to the throne in 1154.

Although he fathered at least five children he was widely rumoured to be either homosexual or bisexual. He was incapable of denying anything to his male favourites, Paul Gaveston and later Hugh Despenser, which was the cause of a great deal of political unrest and eventual deposition and murder.

His army suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn, which as well as freeing Scotland from English control, allowed Scottish forces complete freedom to raid throughout the north of England at will.

King Edward’s wife Isabella, who had been sent on a diplomatic mission to France, met Roger Mortimer and became his mistress. They invaded England, meeting with virtually no resistance.

King Edward II, was captured, imprisoned in Berkeley Castle, where he was deposed in favour of his and Isabella’s son and murdered there, reputedly by means of a plumbers iron, which had been heated intensely hot and introduced through a tube into his anus.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING EDWARD III

(1312 – 1377 : KING OF ENGLAND 1327 – 1377)

Edward III became King in 1327, after his father, King Edward II had been brutally murdered in Berkeley Casle. The dead King had been held captive there after being deposed by his wife Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer.

The young prince Edward was crowned King at the age of fourteen, the seventh Medieval King to come from the House of Plantagenet.

His mother Isabella and Roger Mortimer ruled in his name until 1330, when having bided his time, he exacted his revenge on them by leading a successful coup against the pair. He had Roger Mortimer executed and sent his mother into exile.

Edward had already married Philippa of Hainault by then, with whom he would go on to have thirteen children, the eldest of them being Edward of Woodstock, popularly known as Edward The Black Prince.

King Edward III’s personal reign had now begun and after his father’s reign, which was the most disastrous reign of the Medieval Kings, his own reign was destined to become one of the most successful reigns of all the Medieval Kings.

He defeated, but didn’t subjugate the Kingdom of Scotland and then went on to declare himself in 1338, to be the rightful heir to the throne of France, starting a war which came to be known as The Hundred Years War.

During his reign, one of the deadliest pandemics throughout the whole of human history, Bubonic Plague, known as The Black Death, peaked between 1348 and 1350 to ravage and lay waste the City of London and the whole of Europe.

It took the following one hundred and fifty years for Europe to recover.

It was King Edward III who founded the chivalric Order of the Garter somewhere between the years of 1344 to 1351, (it is normally accepted as being 1348), the pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom.

King Edward III died of a stroke in 1377, although some sources maintain it was gonorrhea, leaving his young grandson Richard, the ten year old son of the Black Prince to succeed him as King.

MEDIEVAL KINGS

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING RICHARD II

(1367 – 1400 : KING OF ENGLAND 1377 – 1399)

In 1377, Prince Richard, the son of Edward the Black Prince, was ten years of age when he succeeded his grandfather, King Edward III, to the English throne. He was the eighth of the Medieval Kings from the House of Plantagenet.

During the early years of his rule, the government was formed of a series of councils, which was preferred to a regency under the control of Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt. Nevertheless despite that, Gaunt was still in a position of power, wielding great influence.

The first major challenge to face the young King was the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, which he handled amazingly well and played a major part in quelling the rebellion.

However, as soon as the rebellion was over he went back on his word and soon began the descent into tyranny.

As he began to take more control of the government himself over the next few years, he came to rely more and more on a small number of his very unpopular favourites at court, causing a great amount of discontent in the political community.

So much anger and resentment had been stirred, that in 1387 the control of government was taken over by a group of noblemen called the Lords Appellant. He could wait for revenge though, and wait he did.

Over the next three years, he worked in harmony with his former opponents, John of Gaunt and the Lords Appellant, gradually regaining control. In 1397 he struck, taking his revenge on the Appellants, executing many of them and exiling others. He was swift and sure.

Quite appropriately, the next two years of his reign have been described by historians as Richard’s tyranny.

John of Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, with a small number of men, invaded England in 1399 while Richard was away in Ireland. Meeting with little resistance, he deposed Richard and had himself crowned as King Henry IV.

Richard died a prisoner the following year. It is widely believed he was murdered.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY IV

(1366 – 1413 : KING OF ENGLAND 1399 – 1413)

King Henry IV was the ninth of the Medieval Kings of England to come from the House of Plantagenet.

He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, (hence the name Henry Bolingbroke) and was destined to become the first of three Medieval Kings produced by the House of Lancaster.

Being the son of John of Gaunt, who was himself the third son of King Edward III, Henry enjoyed a certain amount of power, while his father, John of Gaunt was head of the councils which formed the government before King Richard II came of age.

Henry joined the Lords Appellants in 1386 and together they made a successful “appeal of treason” and taking over the government, they outlawed Richard’s favourite, but very unpopular associates.

There was harmony between Richard and the Lords Appellant over the following three years, during which time Richard gradually regained control.

However, in 1398 Richard banished Henry, when a remark he had made about Richard, was interpreted by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, as being treasonous.

When John of Gaunt died in 1399, Richard seized the Lancastrian estates, which by right belonged to Henry. This action prompted Henry to invade England and depose Richard while he was away campaigning in Ireland.

Henry IV spent much of his reign defending himself against various plots and assassination attempts. His later years were marked by serious health problems, to which he succumbed in 1413.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY V

(1387 – 1422 : KING OF ENGLAND 1413 – 1422)

King Henry V, the tenth of the Medieval Kings to come from the House of Plantagenet, was one of the great medieval English warrior kings.

He is probably best remembered for his stunning and decisive victory against overwhelming odds, at the Battle of Agincourt, during the Hundred Years War.

It was here, where despite the warnings of his council, that he led his exhausted, outnumbered and undernourished men to that stunning and decisive victory, against a French army which had intercepted his route. The French army suffered very severe losses.

His military successes against the French, which brought him very close to his dream of completely conquering France, were very badly tarnished by his harsh treatment of the French prisoners captured at Agincourt, wherby he ordered them to be put to death.

His siege of Rouen raised an even darker shadow on his reputation. When the town was starving and unable to support its women and children, the townspeople forced them out through the gates, in the belief that Henry would allow them to pass through his army unmolested.

Henry refused to allow this to happen, with the women and children being left abandoned, to die of starvation in the ditches which surrounded the town. After Rouen fell in 1419, the English proceeded to Paris, where they camped ouside the walls.

John the Fearless, the Duke of Burgundy, was assassinated by the companions of the Dauphin as they met for what John considered to be a political meeting. His successor Philip the Good formed an alliance with King Henry V.

CATHERINE OF VALOIS

The Treaty of Troyes, recognised King Henry V as the heir and regent of France and in June 1420, Henry married the French King’s daughter, Catherine of Valois and after another couple of victories he returned to England.

It was a short respite however, for in June 1421, Henry sailed back to France to resume his military campaign. After laying siege to and capturing both Dreux and Meaux, Henry died suddenly on 31st August 1422, apparently from dysentry.

His wife Catherine took Henry’s body back to London and he was buried in Westminster Abbey on 7th November 1422. They had only one child, Henry, who became Henry VI of England.

Catherine however, went on to secretly marry Owen Tudor, and through the marriage of Margaret Beaufort,to their son Edmund, she would become the grandmother of Henry Tudor,Henry Tudor, who would defeat King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Thus would end the line of Medieval Kings and along with them, would come the end of the House of Plantagenet. In its place another dynasty would arise, the House of Tudor.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING HENRY VI

(1421 – 1471 : KING OF ENGLAND 1422 – 1461 AND AGAIN 1470 – 1471)

King Henry VI was the eleventh of the Medieval Kings from the House of Plantagenet and the last Lancastrian to wear the crown. During his life he was subjected to regular bouts of insanity.

He was born at Windsor Castle on 6th December 1421, and at the death of his father, the warrior King Henry V, he was barely nine months old. England was therefore ruled by regents until 1437, when Henry was considered old enough to take control and it was then he was crowned king.

Due to his father’s successful campaigns in France, he was also crowned King of France in 1431 – 1453, which caused fresh power struggles in the ongoing Hundred Years War with France.

He is described in contemporary accounts as being a very pious and peaceful man. He certainly did not have any of the military attributes of his father King Henry V, and was totally unsuited for the military hardships that were to come.

By the year 1453, most of the territory so hard won in France by his father, King Henry V had been lost, leaving only Calais remaining in English hands.

The king on hearing of the loss of Bordeaux in August 1453, suffered one of his mental breakdowns, which lasted until Christmas Day 1454. However, during this time, the rebellious nobles who had grown in power began to show their support for the House of York.

Henry was deposed and imprisoned in March 1461 by Edward of York, who was declared king.

Henry’s regular bouts of insanity, allowed his Queen consort, the belligerent Margaret of Anjou to take control of the kingdom.

THE WARS OF THE ROSES

It was she who provided the spark which brought to a head, a dispute which had been simmering between two rival factions within the House of Plantagenet since about 1400.

The dispute was over the rightful line of succession between members of the House of Lancaster on one side and members of the House of York on the other.

Having called a Great Council in May 1455, she completely snubbed the Yorkist faction by excluding them from it, thus beginning a civil conflict which lasted for over thirty years, known as the Wars of the Roses.

It comprised of a series of conflicts which tore the country to shreds, decimated the old nobility, and caused the deaths of many thousands of men, including her only son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales.

The rebellious nobles, who had grown in power, began to show their support for the House of York. Henry was deposed and imprisoned in March 1461 by Edward of York, who was declared King Edward IV.

Henry was released from prison after the Second Battle of St. Albans and went into hiding, leaving Edward still on the throne, but was recaptured in 1465 and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The Earl of Warwick and King Edward’s brother George, Duke of Clarence, who were Edward’s two main supporters, fell out with Edward and restored Henry to the throne in October 1470.

However, Henry’s return to the throne did not last six months, for after the overwhelming victory of the Yorkist forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury in May 1471, Edward once more became king.

King Henry VI, was Imprisoned in the Tower of London, where on the night of 21/22 May 1471 he died, supposedly of melancholy, when he heard of the defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury and of his son’s death as a result.

It is widely suspected, however, that Edward IV, who was re-crowned the morning following Henry’s death, had in fact ordered his murder.

Henry had been the last of the Medieval Kings to come from a legitimate line of the House of Lancaster.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING EDWARD IV

(1442 – 1483: KING OF ENGLAND 1461 – 1470 AND AGAIN 1471 – 1483)

Although King Edward IV was the twelfth of the Medieval Kings to come from the House of Plantagenet, he was the first Medieval King to come from the House of York.

He was the eldest son of the Duke of York, Richard Plantagenet in a line descended from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the third son, but second to survive infancy, of King Edward III.

On the field of battle during the Wars of the Roses, he more than proved himself, as being both a brave and extremely capable military commander. He was never defeated on the battlefield.

The House of Lancaster, one of the two factions from within the House of Plantagenet, which vied for the English throne, was completely destroyed by the other faction, the House of York, under his leadership.

He had gained his victories with the help of his brother George, Duke of Clarence and his cousin, the powerful Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was known as the Kingmaker.

The Earl of Warwick who had enjoyed a great deal of power by controlling the new king, and had virtually ruled the country, wanted King Edward to enter into an alliance with one of the major European powers through marriage.

He was angered when Edward secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian sympathiser and resented the influence her family now had over the king.

Turning to King Edward’s now disaffected young brother George, the Duke of Clarence, the pair formed an alliance in 1469 and marched against Edward.

The King’s army, without Edward’s presence and leadership, was defeated at the Battle of Edgecote Moor, the King being later apprehended at Olney.

When Warwick attempted to continue to rule in the name of King Edward, the nobility threatened a counter rebellion, forcing Warwick to release the King, who rather than seek revenge on his brother George and Warwick, sought reconciliation with them instead.

However, they rebelled again, but were defeated and forced to flee the country. They landed in France, where they joined forces with Margaret of Anjou, the wife of King Henry VI.

In exchange for French support of an invasion, the Earl of Warwick agreed to restore King Henry VI to the throne and in the following year 1470, the invasion took place.

John Neville, the brother of the Earl of Warwick, had also switched sides to join the Lancastrian forces and now it was Edward who was forced to flee. Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne.

Edward, after failing initially to get help from his brother-in-law Charles, the Duke of Burgundy, and his sister Margaret of York, finally received the aid he required and was able to raise an army.

With a small force Edward and his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the future King Richard III) landed at Ravenspur, close to Hull.

As they moved south, they began to gather more support and the Duke of Clarence, now realising that he would be better off as the brother of a King, rather than being under King Henry VI, reconciled himself to Edward.

Edward entered London without any opposition and took Henry VI prisoner. He then went on to defeat Warwick at the Battle of Barnet and with Warwick now dead, he decisively defeated the remaining Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

The Duke of Clarence, found guilty of plotting against Edward was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was murdered in February 1478. According to Shakespeare he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.

Edward’s health began to fail and in 1483 he fell fatally ill. However, he was able to name his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to act as Protector after his death.

He died on 9th April 1483, but it is not known what actually caused his death. His reign saw the restoration of law and order, which had broken down in the later years of King Henry VI’s reign.

  • MEDIEVAL KINGS : KING EDWARD V

(1470 -1483 : KING OF ENGLAND 1483 FOR 2 MONTHS)

King Edward V was the thirteenth of the Medieval Kings to come from the House of Plantagenet.

On the death of his father on 9th April 1483, the new boy King, was on his way to London to be crowned. At twelve years of age he was travelling with his governor, Anthony Woodville, his half brother Sir Richard Grey and a small retinue.

On 30th April at Stony Stratford, a small market town in Buckinghamshire, the royal party was intercepted by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the uncle and Protector of the boy king Edward V. Gloucester was accompanied by Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.

Although the young King protested, he was powerless to do anything. His escorts, Anthony Woodville, Richard Grey and his retinue were dispatched to the north.

They were subsequently executed on 25th June 1483, at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire, despite promises of their safety by Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Young Edward was then escorted to London, where he was placed in the Tower of London, supposedly for his own safety as it was then still a royal residence.

The marriage of the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville to his late father, King Edward IV was declared invalid, as evidence was produced that Edward IV had already been contracted to marry Lady Eleanor Butler, prior to marrying Elizabeth. She was stripped of her inheritance and her children declared illegitimate.

Elizabeth, along with her five daughters sought sanctuary at Westminster, whilst her youngest son Prince Richard, was taken from her and placed along with his brother in the Tower of London.

As soon as an assembly of lords and commoners on 25th June 1483, had endorsed Richard’s claims that Elizabeth’s children were illegitimate and therefore ineligible for the throne, Richard, Duke of Gloucester officially began his reign as King Richard III.

Gradually, less and less was seen of the two princes within the Tower Walls,

and before the end of summer 1483, nothing more was ever seen of them again.

It has always been a mystery as to what happened to them, but it is the general concensus that they were murdered.

The three main suspects are King Richard III; Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham; and the victor at Bosworth Field himself, King Henry VII. All of them had every reason to want to see the back of the two princes, for each one of them had so much to lose.

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