Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The death of King Edward IV

530 years ago, on April 9th 1483, King Edward IV died. Barely 41 his death was sudden and unexpected. The cause of his death has been attributed to, amongst other things, pneumonia, thyphoid and appendictis. It was to prove a disaster for his immediate family and for the House of York - three months later his son had been dethroned and replaced by the deceased King's brother as King Richard III. Little more than two years later he was defeated and killed at Bosworth, and it was the marriage of Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of King Edward IV, to King Henry VII which ensured that descendents of both branches of the plantagents would occupy the throne.
As King Edward he had been a man determined, indeed ruthless, in fighting to hold on to, or regain, the crown he had to seized in 1461, and was an effective soldier up to his victory at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Therafter he tended towards enjoying the pleasures of success, notably those of the flesh, putting on weight and increasingly engaged with his wife's family the Woodvilles, a family who were far from popular, and noticeably rapacious even by fifteenth century standards. I have posted about them in Woodvilles and Boleyns and in  Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth Woodville.

In these years the King appears to have become rather more like his grandson King Henry VIII at a similar age both in physique and temperament.

File:Edward IV Plantagenet.jpg

 King Edward IV
A portrait of circa 1520 from an original of 1470-75

Image: Wikipedia
In recent years there has been some discussion as to his legitimacy as can be seen in this online biography and in, for example, these blog posts, Was King Edward IV illegitimate?, Edward IV: A Question of Legitimacy, Was Edward IV illigitimate? and Was King Edward IV Illegitimate? (1442) What should be remembered is that it is not King Edward's legitimacy or otherwise which might affect the present line of succession - that derives from King Henry VII, and the Beaufort claim, legitimated, not from Elizabeth of York.


King Edward IV

Canterbury Cathedral glass of circa 1482


Canterbury Cathedral's Stained Glass

King Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville

Canterbury Cathedral
Image: Sacred Destinations

Caxton and Rivers presenting book to King Edward IV

Antony Earl Rivers and William Caxton presenting a book to King Edward IV,
Queen Elizabeth and Edward Prince of Wales, later King Edward V.
The figures between the King and Earl Rivers may be the Duke of Buckingham and Cardinal Bourchier of Canterbury.

Image: Luminarium.org

King Edward IV was buried in St George's Chapel Windsor - what is left of his tomb can still be seen there.

The tomb of King Edward IV in St George's Chapel Windsor

Image: St George's Windsor/Unofficial Royalty

He had initiated the rebuilding of the chapel a few years earlier, and it remains as his legacy, although not completed until 1528 by his grandson. Within the chapel he concentrated on its relic collection - not only those of St George, but also those of John Schorne and the ancient Welsh treasure of the Cross Neith:

King Edward IV and Bishop Richard Beauchamp of Salisbury (d.1481)
kneel before the Cross Neith (Groes Gnedd)
Boss in the south choir aisle St George's Chapel Windsor

Image: St George's Windsor


Anonymous said...

were is edward IV wife with him in the tomb? Can you go see it?

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

I think Queen Elizabeth was buried with King Edward IV in the tomb at St George's in Windsor. The tomb today is not as it was designed and may have suffered damage during the Civil War period - when King Henry VIII's tomb appears to have been reduced to the marble sarcophagus (which now holds Nelson in St Pauls)
The gates survive of King Edward's chantry, and amarble slab over his bone s- this is an eighteenth century arrangement, and it was when that work was done that his bones were examined.

Anonymous said...

so are they together in the tomb? why were his bones examined, and what was the result of that exmaination.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this information is accurate I'm think Edward 4th is entombed at Westminster?

Anonymous said...

Actually I'm sorry St GEORGE'S Cathedral to be exact Windsor he died in Westminster Castle

Anonymous said...

It's not true the present monarch derives legitimacy from "the Beaufort claim - not from Elizabeth of York." If Richard of York's claim that he descended from the Earl of March is true, then Elizabeth had precedence over any descendent of John of Gaunt, not to mention that the Beauforts were barred from the succession by an act of Parliament.

StoneLord said...

The other male figure in the painting is more likely to be Richard of Gloucester than Buckingham, since he was definitely there at Caxton's workshop. No mention that Buckingham was.