Edward IV - 1461-1470, 1471-1483
Edward took the crown from Henry VI at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross but lost it again when he was deposed by the powerful Earl of Warwick, 'the Kingmaker'. Warwick had disagreed with Edward's choice of wife, Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner.
Warwick and Margaret, the wife of the mentally unstable Henry VI, now drove Edward out of England. He returned and defeated his enemies, killing Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. He defeated Margaret later, at the Battle ofTewkesbury 1471, the same year that her husband was murdered in the Tower of London.
Having established a firm grasp on his kingdom, Edward devoted himself to its administration. He personally addressed the House of Commons and instituted a court at which peasants could complain about the demands of greedy landlords. He encouraged his merchants and the progress of the wool trade, which was one of England's most lucrative sources of income. He also came to an agreement with the Hanseatic League, which controlled trade at a number of north German ports, allowing them to trade in England.
As a result of his government, England prospered and new industries evolved, including that of printing. This was a result of William Caxton setting up his printing press with moveable type, which made it possible to reproduce documents more quickly than by hand copying. This made learning more accessible to all literate people.
Though there was progress under Edward he tended to move cautiously, avoiding moves which would arouse his enemies and surrounding himself with trusted members of his household.
Though not renowned for his interest in the arts and architecture, he completed the building of St George's Chapel, Windsor, which became his mausoleum.
Key Events during the Reign of Edward IV
1461 - Edward defeats the Lancastrian army at Mortimer's Cross and is proclaimed King by his cousin Warwick.
1464 - Edward marries Elizabeth Woodville, offending Warwick and other lords.
1469 - Warwick breaks with Edward and joins Henry Vis wife Margaret to usurp Edward.
1470 - Edward is briefly driven out of England to exile in Flanders when Henry VI is restored to the throne.
1471 - Edward returns to England and defeats and kills Warwick at the Battle of Barnet (14 April). Battle of Tewkesbury (4 May). Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London (21 May).
1475 - Edward makes an alliance with the Duke of Burgundy against Louis XL
1478 - Edward falls out with his brother George, who is then murdered in the Tower.
1480 - William Caxton prints The Chronicles of England.
1483 - Edward dies suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 40. Edward V and his brother are held in the Tower.