3 Edward IV, Overthrow of

Edward IV, Overthrow of

   Outmaneuvered by his former ally Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, EDWARD IV was compelled to flee the realm in October 1470. Besides allowing the restoration of HENRY VI, Edward’s overthrow and flight demonstrated the depth of support commanded by the NEVILLE FAMILY and the house of LANCASTER, exposed the unpopularity of the Yorkist government, and ensured the continuation of the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   With the failure of his second coup attempt in April 1470,Warwick fled to FRANCE with his family and his chief ally, Edward IV’s brother, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence. Having failed either to control Edward or to replace him with Clarence, Warwick sought to restore a king whom he could control—Henry VI. In July, the earl, with assistance from LOUIS XI of France, convinced a hostile MARGARET OF ANJOU to accept the ANGERS AGREEMENT, a pact whereby Warwick undertook to overthrow Edward and restore Henry in return for the marriage of his daughter, Anne NEVILLE, to Henry’s son, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER. In early August, after the prince and Anne were solemnly betrothed in Angers Cathedral,Warwick began fulfilling his part of the bargain by directing supporters in northern England to initiate a series of uprisings. Just as he had used the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION to draw Edward away from LONDON in 1469, so Warwick hoped to again use a northern uprising to draw Edward’s attention (and perhaps his person) away from the English Channel (see North of England and the Wars of the Roses).
   Although unaware of Warwick’s Lancastrian alliance, Edward spent the early summer preparing to repel an invasion. He ordered the English NAVY to blockade the French ports where Warwick’s fleet lay at anchor. In the Lancastrian north, Henry PERCY, earl of Northumberland, newly restored to his title by Edward, guarded the coasts along with John NEVILLE, marquis of Montagu, Warwick’s brother. Although compelled to surrender the earldom of Northumberland to Percy, Montagu appeared content with his elevation to a marquisate. However, when Warwick’s uprisings erupted in August, neither Northumberland nor the usually capable Montagu seemed able to handle the situation.With his fleet still holding the Channel, Edward made the risky decision to march north himself to crush the rebellions. By 16 August, Edward was in Yorkshire, where the mysterious rebels dispersed as quickly as they had gathered. The king then made what proved to be a serious blunder; rather than return to London, he remained with his army in the north.
   In early September, a storm swept the Channel and scattered the English fleet, breaking the blockade and allowing Warwick to put to sea. Accompanied by Clarence and such longtime Lancastrians as Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset; Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke; and John de VERE, earl of Oxford, Warwick landed in the West Country in mid-September. Immediately proclaiming for Henry VI, Warwick attracted wide support, and a large force had rallied to him by the time he reached Coventry. Edward started to march south, but halted at Doncaster when he received word that Montagu, who was expected to join the king, had declared for Henry VI and was moving to trap Edward between his force and Warwick’s army. With public opinion running in Warwick’s favor, Edward’s support melted away, leaving him unable to face Montagu and with few options but flight. Edward rode southeast to King’s Lynn, which he reached only after almost drowning in the Wash. Accompanied by his brother Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England); William HASTINGS, Lord Hastings; Anthony WOODVILLE, Earl Rivers; and several other lords and their RETAINERS, a party of some 500 persons, the king procured three ships and set sail for BURGUNDY on 2 October. Having no money, Edward was forced to pay for his passage with a fur-lined gown.
   In England, the Yorkist government collapsed on the flight of the king. Queen Elizabeth WOODVILLE, only weeks away from giving birth to Edward’s first son (see Edward V, King of England), fled into SANCTUARY at Westminster. On 6 October,Warwick entered London, where, after removing Henry VI from the TOWER OF LONDON, he began organizing the Lancastrian READEPTION government and taking steps to prevent the return of the house of YORK. To the surprise of almost everyone, it had taken only three weeks to overthrow Edward IV and restore Henry VI to the throne.
   Further Reading: Gillingham, John, The Wars of the Roses (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981); Goodman, Anthony, The Wars of the Roses (New York: Dorset Press, 1981); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998); Ross, Charles, The Wars of the Roses (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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