REIGNED: making an admirable start on reforming royal administration, on improving the machinery of royal finance Strong emphasis was placed on restoring law and order.
The Houses of Lancaster and York had fought the Wars of the Roses, and despite the civil war that continued intermittently until 1471 when all Lancastrian resistance was crushed and Henry VI was taken prisoner, Edward fostered the commerce of his realm. During his reign, printing and silk manufacturing were introduced in England.
Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner, and his efforts to create a new nobility more amenable to his interests, angered the older nobles and alienated Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who had been a power behind his throne. Warwick made an alliance with the Lancastrians and, in 1470, drove Edward from the throne and into exile in Holland. Henry VI again became king of England. Supplied with funds by his brother-in-law, Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, Edward returned to England in 1471, raised a large army, and won decisive victories over his enemies at Barnet and Tewkesbury. Thereafter the crown was securely in his possession. The later years of his reign were, for the most part, uneventful. The most notable incident of this period was a short war with France in 1475, which was terminated by an arrangement whereby King Louis XI agreed to pay Edward an annual subsidy. Edward was succeeded by his son Edward V.
OCCUPATION: including the renovation of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, intended to be the mausoleum of the House of York. It was a hugely ambitious redevelopment of St George's funded with French money received under the terms of the Treaty of Picquigny.
The centrepiece of this redevelopment was a chapel of cathedral-like proportions set out immediately to the west of its predecessor. Integral to the new building was the king's own funeral monument and chantry. The construction of this sumptuous chapel, one of the masterpieces of late medieval European architecture, was supervised by Richard Beauchamp, bishop of Salisbury, and directed by the master mason Henry Janyns.
This new building completely obscured the original public façade of Edward III's college and necessitated a complete reordering of the lower bailey, including the construction of the Horseshoe Cloister for the community of the vicars.
When Edward IV died his new collegiate church and funerary monument were far from complete. The choir was roofed but not vaulted and the walls of the nave were still under construction. Despite the king's death, work to the chapel does appear to have continued for a short while but the Yorkist defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 soon brought operations at St George's to a complete standstill.
Just before this event, however, the body of Henry VI, the Lancastrian king murdered by Edward IV was brought to the chapel. Almost immediately miracles were reputedly worked by the murdered king and a pilgrimage cult focused on Windsor began to develop and with far-reaching results.
BIOGRAPHICAL: He was popular with the people, especially the Londoners and the ladies. Inclined to be lazy and easy going, he could act with alacrity when the occasion demanded it.
York 1461-1470, 1471-1483