(Reign, April 9-June 22, 1483)
Edward V: life dates, c. 12-13 years, November 2, 1470—c. September-October 1483; reign, less than 3 months, April 9—June 22, 1483.
Edward of Westminster, the oldest son of Edward IV was only twelve years old when his father Edward IV died on April 9, 1483. On that event, Prince Edward became King Edward V. He was not married during his short reign of less than three months. However, the prince was pre-contracted to marry Anne of Brittany when he was ten and she four years old in 1480. Since Edward V had no queen consort, this chapter summarizes his biography. Edward V’s place in history is notorious in that he was the older of two sons of Edward IV who were imprisoned in the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard of Gloucester. They were never seen again outside its walls after July 1483. What happened to the two, who have always been referred to as the Princes in the Tower, is the most contentious mystery in English history. Major focus in this narrative is on five issues:
Known Historical facts relating to the Princes in the Tower.
Speculations on the fate of the Two Princes in the Tower of London
Anti-Woodville motivation of Richard III in usurping the crown.
The basis for questioning legitimacy of Edward IV’s children.
The question of legitimacy of Edward IV.
Edward V’s place in history rests only on his being the oldest of the two Princes in the Tower. Otherwise, he is merely a pawn whereby Richard of Gloucester became King Richard III.
Known Historical Facts Relating to the
Princes in the Tower
Edward V was born in sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, on November 2, 1470, while his father, Edward IV, was exiled in Burgundy. His mother, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, had taken sanctuary in the Abbey as refuge for herself and her children’s safekeeping during the half-year while Lancastrian forces were again briefly in control of government during the so-called, readeption of Henry VI. After Edward IV returned from France, and he defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewksbury on May 4, 1471, prince Edward was created Prince of Wales in June 1471.
Twelve years later, the prince was at Ludlow Castle in Wales, with members of his mother’s Woodville family, when news came of King Edward IV’s death on April 9, 1483. Anthony Woodville, Lord Rivers (brother of the queen) and a small company of Woodville retainers set out for London with the prince, who was now King Edward V, in anticipation of his coronation on May 4.
Richard of York Duke of Gloucester, the new king’s uncle, was at York in northern England when he learned his brother Edward IV had died. At that time, Richard of Gloucester also learned that Edward’s will designated him to be, Regent and Protector of the Prince. That authority was to be effective for six years, until his nephew King Edward V was expected to rule in his own right at the age of eighteen. Richard of Gloucester immediately hastened south to take...