Edward IV

Note: Excerpts from Holinshed’s Chronicles – England, Scotland and Ireland; with a new introduction by Vernon Snow, Vol. 6 relating to the reign of Edward IV — prepared for the web by Ellen Mertz, Janet Trimbath, P. K. Maynard, and Laura Blanchard. This is a work in progress, and may contain typographical errors or missing sections. Students are encouraged to seek out an actual copy of the volume rather than relying on this edition, which is presented only as a guide to the material. –Webmaster



Anno Domini 1471

Ultima postremae locus est Teuxburia pugnae

In the winning of the campe, such as stood to it were slain out of hand. Prince Edward was taken as he fled towards the towne, by Sir Robert Crofts, and kept close. In the field and chase were slaine, the lord John of Summerset, called marquesse Dorset, Thomas Courtneie earle of Deuonshire, sir John Delues, sir Edward Hampden, sir Robert Whittingham, and sir John Leukener, with three thousand others. After the field was ended, proclamation was made, that whatsoeuer could bring forth Prince Edward aliue or dead, should have an annuitie of a hundred pounds during his life, and the princes life to be saved, if he were brought forth alive. Sir Richard Crofts, nothing mistrusting the kngs promise, brought forth his prisoner prince Edward being a faire and well proportioned yoong gentleman; whom when king Edward had well aduised, he demanded of him, how he durst so presumptuoslie enter into his realm with banner displaied.

Wherevento the prince boldle answered, saieng, “To recouer my fathers kingdome & heritage, from his father and grandfather to him and from him after him to me lineallie descended.” At which words king Edward said nothing, but with his hand thrust him from him, or ( as some saie) stroke hime with his gantlet; whome incontinentlie, George duke of Clarence, Richard duke of Glocester, Thomas Greie, marquesse Dorcet, and William lord Hastings that stood by, suddenlie murthered: for the which cruell act, the more part of the dooers in their latter daies dranke of the like cup, by the righteous iustice and due punishment of God. His bodie was homelie interred with the other simple corpses, in the church of the monasterie of blacke monks in Teukesburie.

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King Edward, hauing assembled an armie of thirty thousand men (as some write) and accompanied in maner with all the great lords of England, came to London the one and twentieth of Maie, being tuesdaie, where he was honourablie receiued by the maior, aldermen, and other worshipfull citizens: where euen vpon their first meeting with him he dubbed diuerse of them knights; as the maier, the recorder, & other aldermen, and worshipfull commoners of the citie, which had manfullie and valiantlie acquit themselues against the bastard Fauconbridge & his wicked companie of rebels. Moreouer, here is to be remembered, that poore king Henrie the sixt, a little before despriued (as ye have heard) of his realme and imperiall crowne, was now in the Tower spoiled of his life, by Richard duke of Glocester (as the constant fame ran) who (to the intent that his brother king Edward might reigne in more suertie) murthered the said king Henrie witha dagger.

Howbeit, some writers of that time, fauoring altogither the house of Yorke, haue recorded, that after he vnderstood what losses had canced vnto his friends, and how not onlie his sonne, but also all other his cheefe partakers were dead and dispatched, he tooke it so to hart, that of pure displeasure, indignation, and melancholie, he died the three and twentieth of Maie. The dead corps on the Ascension euen was conueied with billes and glaucs pompouslie (if you call that a funerall pompe) from the Tower to the church of saint Paule, and there laid on a beire or coffen bare faced, the same in the presence of the beholders did bleed; where it rested the

space of one whole daie. Frome thense he was carried to the Blackfriars, and bled there like-


This was the last fought field or pight battell tried betweene the potentats of this land in king Edward the fourths daies (which chanced on the fourth of Maie, being saturdaie, in the eleauenth yeare of his reigne, and in the year of Lord, 1471) as Anglorum praelia affirmeth,


wise: and on the next daie after, it was conueied in a boat, without priest or clerke, torch or taper, singing or saieng, vnto the monasterie of Chertseie, distant from London fifteene miles, and there was it first buried: but after, it was remooued to Windesor, and there in a new vawt, newlie intoombed. He reigned eight and thirtie years, six moneths and od daies, and after his readeption of the crowne six moneths. He liued two and fiftie yeares, hauving by wife one onelie sonne, called Edward, prince of Wales.

He was of seemlie stature, of bodie slender, to which proportion all other members were answerable; his face beautifull, wherein continuallie was resient the bountie of mind with the which he was inwardlie indued. Of his owne naturall inclination he abhorred all the vices as well of the bodie as of the soule. His patience was such that of all the injuries to him doone (which were innumerable) he neuer asked vengence, thinking that for such aduersitie as chanced to him, his sinnes should be forgotten and forgiuen. What losses soeuer happened vnto him, he neuer esteemed, nor made anie account therof; but if anie thing were doone, that might sound as an offense towards God, he sore lamented, and with great repentance sorowed for it.

So then verie vnlike it is, that he died of anie wrath, indignation, and displeasure bicause his businesse about the keeping of the crowne on his head tooke no better successe: except peraduenture ye will saie, that it greeued him, for that such slaughters and mischeeues as had chanced within this land, came to passe onelie through his follie and default in gouernment: or (that more is) for his fathers, his grandfathers, and his owne vniust vsurping and deteining of the crowne. But howsoeuer it was, for these before remembred, and other the like properties of reputed holinesse, which was said to rest in him, it pleased God to worke miracles for him in his life time as men haue listed to report.

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When he had accomplished his message and instructions, the king of England and his councell highlie commended his audacitie, his toong, and his sobernesse, giuing to him in reward a faire gilt cup, with a hundred angels: deliuering him a safe conduct according to his request and demand, with the which he with speed departed, hauing with him and English herald to bring a like safe conduct from the French king.

After that the safe conducts were deliuered on both parts, the ambassadours met at a village beside Amiens. On the king of Englands side, the lord Howard; sir thomas Saintleger; doctor Morton after bishop of Elie, & chancellor of England, were cheefe. For the french king, the bastard of Burbon admerall of France; the lord Saint Pierre; & the bishop of Eureux called Herberge, were appointed as principall. The Englishmen demanded the whole realme of France, or at least Normandie and whole Aquitaine. The allegations were proued by the Englishmen, and politikelie dedfended by the Frenchmen, so that with arguments, without conclusion, the day passed, and the commissioners departed, and made relation to their masters.

The French king and his councell would not consent, that the Englishmen should have one foot of land within France; but rather determined to put hime selfe & the whole realme in hazard and aduenture.

At the next meeting the commissioners agreed vpon certeine articles, which were of both the princes accepted and allowed. It was first accorded, that the French king should paie to the king of England without delaie seauentie & fiue thousan crownes of the sunne; and yearelie fiftie thousand crownes to be paid at London during king Edwards life. And further it was agreed, that Charles the Dolphin should marrie the ladie Elizabeth, eldest daughter to king Edward, and they two to haue for the maintenance of their estates the whole duchie of Guien, or else fiftie thousand crownes yearelie to be paid within the Tower of London by the space of nine yeares; and at the end of that terme, the Dolphin and his wife to haue the whole duchie of Guien, and of the charge the French king to be cleerlie acquit. And it was also concluded, that the two princes shoyuld come to an interview, and there take a corporall oth for the performance of this peace, either in sight of other.

On the king of Englands part were comprised as alies (if they would thereto assent) the dukes of Burgognie and Britaine. It was also couenanted, that after the whole summe aforesaid of seuentie and fiue thousand crownes were paid to king Edward, he should leaue in

hostage the lord Howard, and sir Iohn Cheinie, maister of his horsse, vntill he with all his armie was passed the seas. This agreement was verie acceptable to the French king; for he saw himselfe and his realme thereby deliuered of great perill that was at hand: for not onlie he should haue beene assailed ( if this peace had not taken place) both by the power of England and Burgognie, but also by the duke of Britaine, and diuerse of his owne people, as the constable and others. The king of England also vnderstanding his owne state, for want of monie, to mainteine the warres, if they should long continue (though otherwise he desired to haue attempted some high enterprise against the Frenchmen) was the more easilie induced to agree by those of his councell, that loued peace better than warre, and thier wiues soft beds better than hard armor and a stone lodging.

But the duke of Glocester & others, whose swords thirsted for Fench bloud, cried out on this peace; saieng that all their trauell, paines, & expenses were to their shame lost and cast awaie, and nothing gained but a continuall mocke [and dailie derision of the French king and all his minion. This imagination tooke effect without delaie. For a gentleman of the French kings chamber, after the peace was concluded, did demand of an Englisman, how manie battels king Edward had vanquisht? He answered, nine: wherein he himselfe personallie had beene. “A great honoure”said the Frenchman. “But I praie you (quoth he smiling) how manie hath he lost?” The Englishman perceiuing what he meant, said: “one, which you bu policie, and by no strength, haue caused him to loose.”

“Well” said the Frenchman, “you maie ponder in a paire of balance, the gaine of nine gotten battels, and the rebuke of this one in this manner lost: for I tell you, that we haue a saieng; the force of England hath and dooth surmount the force of France; but the ingenious wits of the Frenchmen excell the dull braines of Englishmen. For in all battels you haue been the gainers, but in leagues and treaties our wits haue made you loosers: so that you maie content your selues with the losse in treaties, for the spoile that you gat in warres and battels.”

This communication was reported to the French king, who priuilie sent for the Englishman to supper, and not onlie made him goode cheer, but also gaue him a thousand crownes, to praise the peace and helpe to mainteine the same. Yet neuerthelesse, he being not a little mooued with these brags, declared all the communication to the duke of Glocester; who sware, that he would neuer haue set foot out of England, if he had not thought to haue made the Frenchmen once to assaie the strenght & puissance of the Englishmen: but what so euer he thought, all things were transferred vnto an other end than he could imagine.]

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About this season, through great mishap, the sparke of privie malice was newlie kindled betwixt the king and his brother the duke of Clarence, insomuch that where one of the dukes seruants was suddenlie accused ( I cannot saie whether of truth, or vntrulie suspected by the dukes enimies) of poisoning, sorcerie or inchantment, and thereof condemned, and put to execution for the same; the duke which might not suffer the wrongfull condemnation of this man

(as he in his conscience iudged) nor yet forbeare but to murmur and reproue the dooing thereof, mooued the king with his dailie exclamation to take such displeasure with him, that finallie the duke was cast into the Tower, and therewith adiuged for a traitor, and priuilie drowned in a butt of malmesie, the eleuenth of March, in the beginning of the seuenteeth year of the kings reigne.

Some haue reported, that the cause of this noble mans death rose of a foolish prophesie,

which was, that after K. Edward one should reigne, whose first letter of his name should be a G. Wherewith the king and queene were sore troubled and began to concieue a greeuous grudge against this duke, and could not be in quiet till they had brought him to his end. And as the diuell is woont to incumber the minds of men which delite in such diuelish fantasies,

they said afterward, that the prophesie lost not his effect, when after king Edward, Glocester vsurped his kingdome. Other alledged, that the cause of his death was for that the duke, being destitute of a wife, by the meanes of his sister the ladie Margaret, duchesse of Burgognie,

procured to haue the ladie Marie, daughter and heire to her late husband Charles.

Which marriage king Edward (enuieng the prosperitie of his brother) both gaine said and disturbed, and thereby old malice reuiued betwixt them: which the queene and hir bloud (euer mistrusting, and priuilie barking at the kings linage) ceased not to increase. But sure it is, that although king Edward were consenting to his death; yet he much did both lament his infortunate chance, & repent his sudden execution: insomuch that when anie person sued to him for the pardon of malefactors condemned to death, he would accustomablie saie & openly speake: “O infortunate brother, for whose life not one would make sute.” Openlie and apparentlie meaning by such words that by the meanes of some of the nobilitie he was deceiued and brought to confusion.

This duke left behind him two yoong infants begot of the boddie of his wife, the daughter of Richard late earle of Warwike: which children by desinie as it were, or by their owne merits, following the steps of their ancestors, succeeded them in the like misfortune and semblable euill chance. For Edward his heire, whome king Edward had created earle of Warwike was three and twentie yeares after, in the time of Henrie the seuenth, atteinted of treason, and on Tower hill lost his head. Margaret his sole daughter maried to sir Richard Pole knight, and by Henrie the eight restored to the name, title, & posessions of the earldome of Salisburie, was a length for treason sommitted against the said Henrie the eight atteinted in open parlement; and sixty two yeares after hir father had suffered death in the Tower, she on the greene within the same place was beheaded. In whose person died the verie surname of Plantagenet, which from Geffrie Plantagenet so long in the bloud roiall of this realme had flourished and continued.


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