Chronology of the House of York

The Rise and Fall of the House of York: Chronology of Key Events

In 1128, Geoffrey of Anjou married Matilda, daughter and heiress of King Henry I of England, thereby establishing the Angevin (“of Anjou”) royal dynasty in England. This long-enduring dynasty later became known as the House of Plantagenet based on a nickname for Geoffrey, who seems to have used the plant planta genista as an emblem and worn sprigs of it on his hat.

The Plantagenet dynasty would come to a violent end in 1485, after being wracked for decades by an internecine power struggle later dubbed “the Wars of the Roses”: a dispute for the throne among rival descendants of King Edward III. During that time, two warring branches of the Plantagenet family, the House of Lancaster and the House of York, grappled ferociously for power.

The following chronology outlines the entirety of the period of conflict, beginning with usurpation of King Richard II by the House of Lancaster in the late 14th century; the subsequent possession of the throne by the three kings of the House of Lancaster (Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI); the overthrow of the Lancastrians by the House of York, which also produced three kings (Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III); and the final destruction of the Plantagenets in 1485 by the usurping Tudor dynasty.

This chronology focuses in detail on the House of York, particularly Richard III and his immediate family. It is also available as a PDF download.

June 8, 1376 On this date, Edward “the Black Prince,” eldest son of the reigning Edward III, dies, survived by only one of his legitimate children: his son Richard.
June 21, 1377 Edward III dies.
July 16, 1377 His ten-year-old grandson, the Black Prince’s son Richard, is crowned King Richard II. Richard’s reign would prove to be weak and unstable.
1399 Richard II is deposed and imprisoned by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke.
October 13, 1399 Henry Bolingbroke is crowned King Henry IV, 10th king of the House of Plantagenet. Because Henry was the son of the 1st Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt (the third surviving son of Edward III), the dynasty he founded by usurping the throne is known as the House of Lancaster, a “cadet” branch of the House of Plantagenet.  Crucially, according to common law, the childless Richard II should have been succeeded by a descendant of Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, not by Henry Bolingbroke, as Henry was only a descendant of Edward III’s third son. Specifically, the next in line to the throne after Richard II should have been Edmund Mortimer, the 5th Earl of March, a descendant of Lionel of Antwerp. Furthermore, Richard II, having no children, had actually declared Mortimers his heirs, thus adding even greater weight to their claim to the throne.
~ February 14, 1400 The deposed Richard II dies in captivity, presumably murdered on the orders of Henry IV.
September 21, 1411 Richard Plantagenet, later 3rd Duke of York (and future father of Edward IV and Richard III) is born to Anne Mortimer, great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp.  Richard of York would later spearhead the House of York’s efforts to claim the throne from the usurping House of Lancaster. His father, Richard of Conisburgh, was the son of Edward III’s fourth surviving son, Edmund of Langley. Thus Richard of York was in a direct male line of descent from Edward III, in addition to having descended from Edward III’s second son through the female line. This would later be seen to strengthen the House of York’s claim to the throne.
March 20, 1413 Henry IV dies.
April 9, 1413 Henry IV’s son Henry is crowned as King Henry V, the second monarch of the House of Lancaster. His short reign would be made famous by his celebrated military victories in France.
August 5, 1415 Richard of Conisburgh (father of Richard of York) is beheaded for conspiring to depose Henry V and put his own brother-in-law, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March–who at one time had been Richard II’s heir presumptive–on the throne.  The conspiracy was against the wishes of Mortimer, who was loyal to the King, and in fact was the person to reveal the plot. Nevertheless, the possibility that Mortimer’s claim to the throne was stronger than Henry’s continued to haunt the House of Lancaster.
October 25, 1415 (Saint Crispin’s Day) Henry V’s army wins a crushing victory over a superior French army at the Battle of Agincourt. Among the dead at Agincourt was Richard of Conisburgh’s elder brother Edward, the 2nd Duke of York. As Edward was childless, Richard of Conisburgh’s son Richard inherited the title of Duke of York, although only after a delay occasioned by royal concern that the family held a dangerously strong claim to the throne.
October 1417 Wardship of the six-year-old Duke Richard of York is given to Ralph Neville, the 1st Earl of Westmoreland.
May 21, 1420 The Treaty of Troyes is signed, disinheriting the heirs of the mentally ill French King Charles VI; it promises the marriage of Charles’s daughter Catherine of Valois to Henry V, and states that after Charles VI’s death, the throne of France will pass to Henry V and his heirs.
June 2, 1420 Henry V and Catherine of Valois are married.
December 6, 1421 Henry V’s only child, also called Henry, is born.
August 31, 1422 Henry V dies of dysentery while campaigning in France. His nine-month-old son becomes King Henry VI, the youngest monarch in English history. A regency council was soon established to rule in his name until he came of age. Henry V’s brother John of Lancaster was declared senior regent; his brother Humphrey of Lancaster, the 1st Duke of Gloucester, was declared Protector (a more limited role).
October 21, 1422 Charles VI of France dies. Both Henry VI of England and Charles’s disinherited son, Charles VII, are separately declared kings of France.
1424 Ralph Neville declares the betrothal of his nine-year-old daughter Cecily to his ward Richard of York.
January 19, 1425 Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March and maternal uncle to Richard of York, dies childless. Richard thus inherits his title and estates, which, on top of his existing titles and wealth, make him the richest and most powerful nobleman in the realm.
July 17, 1429 Charles VII is crowned as King of France (rival to Henry VI) in Reims Cathedral.
October 1429 (uncertain) Richard of York marries Cecily Neville.
November 6, 1429 Henry VI, the third and final monarch of the House of Lancaster, is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. Richard of York is in attendance.
late 1430 Henry V’s widow Catherine of Valois gives birth to Edmund Tudor, her second child by her Welsh servant, Owen Tudor (Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwr in Welsh), whom she may have married secretly. Edmund would become the 1st Earl of Richmond and father of Henry Tudor (Henry VII).
December 16, 1431 Henry VI is crowned King of France (rival to Charles VII) at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Again, Richard of York is in attendance.
May 12, 1432 Richard of York comes into his inheritance.
September 14, 1435 John of Lancaster, Henry VI’s senior regent, dies. His brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, then tries to claim the regency, but meets strong opposition.
May 1436 Richard of York is appointed Lieutenant of France, a position in which he went on to have some military successes but did not receive adequate funding from the crown, such that he had to pay his troops and meet other large expenses out of his own pocket.
1437 Henry VI declared of age.
July 14 to August 21, 1441 Richard of York is engaged in a military campaign in Pontoise, while Cecily remains based at their home in Rouen. The timing of this excursion is one of several factors that were later used as the basis for questioning whether Richard of York was truly the father of Edward IV.  However, it is not impossible that Richard traveled to Rouen for a visit during the campaign, although the trip is unrecorded and would have taken several days. In addition, even if there was no such visit, Edward could have survived the premature birth that is otherwise implied by his father’s itinerary.
April 28, 1442 Edward, Earl of March (the future Edward IV), is born in Rouen. He is the fourth child and first surviving son of Richard of York and Cecily Neville. His subsequent christening involved a much smaller-scale celebration than was later held for his younger brother, Edmund. This is another factor that has contributed to speculation about his legitimacy; it has been proposed that the Duke would not have given his first son and heir a less lavish ceremony than he later gave his second son, unless he questioned Edward’s legitimacy.
1443 Henry VI diverts men and much-needed funding from Richard of York’s mission in order to support separate, doomed, efforts of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset. Events led to intense and lasting bitterness between the Beauforts and the House of York.
May 17, 1443 Edmund, Earl of Rutland, is born in Rouen. He was the fifth child overall and second surviving son of Richard of York and Cecily Neville.
May 27, 1444 John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, dies, leaving one legitimate child: the one-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort (future mother of Henry VII).
April 23, 1445 Henry VI marries the 15-year-old Margaret of Anjou, daughter of the King of Naples and the Duchess of Lorraine, at Titchfield Abbey. As part of the marriage negotiations, Henry agreed to transfer Maine and Anjou to the French, a move that was initially kept secret because of accurately anticipated English fury over the territorial loss in France.
October 20, 1445 Richard of York returns to England.
May 3, 1446 Margaret of York (future Duchess of Burgundy), seventh child of Richard of York and Cecily Neville, is born in Fotheringhay Castle.
February 20, 1447 Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is arrested on a charge of treason engineered by his enemies the Earl of Suffolk and Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Earl of Somerset (younger brother of Richard of York’s late enemy, John Beaufort). Three days later, he dies in custody, apparently of natural causes.
July 30, 1447 Richard of York is appointed Lieutenant of Ireland.
June 1449 Richard of York and Cecily Neville move to Ireland.
October 21, 1449 George, later Duke of Clarence, the third surviving son and tenth child overall of Richard of York and Cecily Neville, is born at Dublin Castle in Ireland.
June 1450 Political unrest in England culminates in a revolt in Kent and Sussex.
August 1450 Normandy is reclaimed by the French, a loss regarded with horror by the English.
September 7, 1450 Amid an atmosphere of national crisis, Richard of York lands at Beaumaris in Wales. He avoids an attempt by Lancastrian forces, who now rightly see him as an adversary, to stop him from traveling to London.
September 27, 1450 Richard of York arrives in London and has a hostile meeting with Henry VI. At this point he does not assert a claim to the throne. He portrays himself as a loyal reformer, seeking to reform corruption around the King. In the coming months Henry VI would introduce some reforms addressing problems cited by Richard.
September 5, 1451 Lady Isabel Neville, the first of two children that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, will father, is born at Warwick Castle.
1452 Richard of York attempts to be recognized as heir apparent to Henry VI, but is rebuffed following further tense confrontation with the king.
October 2, 1452 The future King Richard III is born. He was the fourth surviving son and twelfth child of Richard of York and Cecily Neville.
August 1453 Henry VI suffers a mental collapse that leaves him unable to communicate or to understand others, and therefore is incapable of ruling.
October 13, 1453 Queen Margaret gives birth to Edward of Westminster (also called Edward of Lancaster), Henry VI’s only child.
March 27, 1454 Richard of York is appointed Protector of the Realm in light of Henry VI’s continuing incapacity.
January 1455 Henry VI recovers from his mental breakdown. He withdraws Richard of York’s appointment as Protector and turns on him aggressively, undoing some of his recent actions.
May 21, 1455 A Great Council was to be held in Leicester on this date, with the apparent purpose of taking action against York and his allies, including Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick (later known as “the Kingmaker”). The Yorkists responded to the news by raising an army and blocking the route to Leicester to prevent the Council’s taking place.
May 22, 1455 The First Battle of St. Albans–the opening battle of the Wars of the Roses–takes place. Henry VI had not been able to assemble an adequate army in response to York’s, and the Yorkists easily win this small-scale confrontation. Among the Lancastrian dead were Richard of York’s longtime foes Somerset and Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland.In addition, York took Henry VI captive with a view to ruling England with Henry acting as a puppet. York again became Protector.
February 1456 Richard of York gives up the office of Protector.
June 11, 1456 Lady Anne Neville, future queen of Richard III, is born. She is the second of the two children the Earl of Warwick will have.
January 28, 1457 Henry Tudor (the future Henry VII), son of Edmund Tudor and Lady Margaret Beaufort, is born.
March 24, 1458 A “Loveday” is held, in which the major personages of the Houses of York and Lancaster walk hand-in-hand through a ceremony at St. Paul’s cathedral to demonstrate their supposed reconciliation.
June 1459 A Great Council was to meet in Coventry. Fearing arrest for treason, York, Warwick, and some of their allies do not appear. Instead, they begin to recruit fresh armies.
September 23, 1459 The first major battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Blore Heath, occurs when Lancastrian forces attempt to block the movement of gathering Yorkist armies. The Yorkists enjoy a strong victory.
October 12, 1459 The Yorkist rebel forces confront Henry VI’s army at the Battle of Ludford Bridge. This time, the rebels are routed; Richard of York flees to Ireland, and his son Edward with Warwick to Calais. Duchess Cecily and her two youngest sons, George and Richard, are taken prisoner at Ludlow Castle.
December 1459 Richard of York and Warwick are attainted.
June 26, 1460 Warwick returns to England and leads Kentish rebels towards London.
July 10, 1460 Warwick’s forces defeat the Lancastrian army at the Battle of Northampton. Henry VI is taken prisoner and again brought back to London as a captive.
September 9, 1460 Richard of York returns to England.
October 7, 1460 In a dramatic scene, Richard of York enters Parliament, approaches the empty royal throne, and places his hand on it–a gesture of claiming the crown. He had hoped to be acknowledged king but instead is met by an awkward silence. Following that failure, Richard attempts to make a formal claim to the crown based on heredity, but again he is not supported.
October 31, 1460 Parliament passes the Act of Accord, which declares that Henry VI will remain king, but that the crown will then pass to Richard of York and his heirs, not to Henry’s son Edward of Westminster. This attempt to resolve the conflict only inflames it.
December 2, 1460 Aware of Lancastrian forces regrouping in the North, York and his second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, travel to Richard’s Sandal Castle in North Yorkshire. They find themselves virtually surrounded by hostile forces.
December 30, 1460 The Yorkists are crushed by the Lancastrian forces in the Battle of Wakefield. Richard of York is killed on the battlefield; his seventeen-year-old son Edmund flees from the field, only to be captured and murdered by the Lancastrian Lord John Clifford. The heads of Richard and Edmund are displayed on pikes over Micklegate Bar in York, with a paper crown on Richard’s head in mockery of his ambitions.
February 2 or 3, 1461 (disputed) In order to stop an army led by Jasper Tudor (a son of Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor) from joining up with other Lancastrian forces, Richard of York’s 18-year-old son Edward, Earl of March–now the leader of the Yorkist cause–confronts Tudor at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. The battle is a decisive Yorkist victory, following which Owen Tudor is captured and beheaded. Famously, shortly before the battle, the atmospheric phenomenon known as a “parhelion” is observed in the sky: refraction of light through ice crystals creates the appearance of three suns in the sky instead of one. Fear that this is a bad omen creates alarm in the Yorkist troops, but Edward interprets the three suns as a sign that the Holy Trinity is giving its blessing to the Yorkist cause. He later adopts the “Sun in Splendour” as his emblem.
February 17, 1461 Lancastrian forces led by Margaret of Anjou meet Yorkist forces led by the Earl of Warwick at the Second Battle of St. Albans. The Lancastrians win the day and also retrieve the mentally feeble Henry VI, who is said to have spent the battle singing under a tree. Among the Lancastrian dead was a minor knight named John Grey, leaving his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two small boys.
March 4, 1461 Edward, Earl of March, is proclaimed King Edward IV. His brother George is now heir to the throne.
March 28, 1461 The Battle of Ferrybridge is fought between a vanguard Yorkist force led by Warwick and a Lancastrian army that ambushed them before the main Yorkist army, led by Edward IV in person, had caught up. The result is indecisive, but Yorkist losses are heavy. Warwick receives an arrow injury in a leg. One of the Lancastrian commanders, Lord John Clifford (the murderer of Edmund of Rutland) is killed when an arrow strikes his throat moments after he removes his neck armor.
March 29, 1461 (Palm Sunday) The massive and bloody Battle of Towton, in Yorkshire, decisively secures Edward IV’s crown. Held over several hours during a blizzard, the brutal confrontation eventually becomes a massacre in which thousands of defeated Lancastrians–their escape blocked by the Cock Beck river–are drowned in the river or mercilessly slaughtered by victorious Yorkists. The Battle of Towton claims many grim superlatives in English history. It is believed to have had the highest death toll of any battle on English soil, although some historians believe that the contemporary estimate of 28,000 dead is greatly exaggerated. It may be that 10% of the adult male population of England fought at Towton, certainly including a large majority of the English peers; 1% of the adult male population may have died there.
June 28, 1461 Coronation of Edward IV. Soon after the coronation, he gives the title of Duke of Clarence to his heir, his 11-year-old brother George.
July 22, 1461 Following the death of Charles VII, the cunning Louis XI, known to history as “the Universal Spider” (l’universelle aragne), becomes King of France.
November 1, 1461 Edward IV gives the title of Duke of Gloucester to his 9-year-old brother Richard, more than four months after George received his title of Duke of Clarence. Edward would continue to show preference to George over Richard through the first few years of his reign, a pattern that would eventually reverse as the difference in temperament between his two surviving brothers became increasingly apparent.
August 12, 1462 As part of an ongoing pattern of generosity in giving estates and titles to his brothers, Edward IV bestows a large grant of lands on Richard of Gloucester, including those attached to the lordship of Richmond, in Yorkshire. George expresses jealous indignation over the gift, and, to soothe things over, Edward soon withdraws the Richmond lands from Richard and awards them to George instead. Richard must have understood Edward’s difficulty, and seems to have accepted the loss with equanimity. This situation is one of the earliest recorded hints of the character of the two younger brothers: George would often be jealous, arrogant, and resentful, while Richard would prove to be uncompromisingly loyal to Edward throughout his reign.
April 25, 1464 The Battle of Hedgeley Moor (Northumberland) is fought when a Lancastrian army attacks a Yorkist army that was moving north to give Scots diplomats safe escort to a meeting in York. The Lancastrians are defeated; the negotiations in York later take place as planned, and the Yorkists succeed in negotiating peace with the Scots.
May 1, 1464 (approximate) Edward IV is married to Elizabeth Woodville, the obscure Lancastrian widow and mother of two, in a secret ceremony at her family’s home; only her mother and a couple of attendants are present. Edward, well-documented as an irrepressible bon vivant in general and an epic-scale womanizer in particular, is assumed to have been motivated by physical attraction in choosing the beautiful widow as his wife. When the wedding finally came to light, it was a source of shock–not just because of the impropriety, but because the match represented a costly lost opportunity to form a diplomatic marriage with a foreign princess. Most particularly, it outraged the Earl of Warwick, who had been actively negotiating a match with a French princess at Edward’s behest. Thus Warwick had been both misled and humiliated by the young king who had previously been a close ally. The impulsive marriage would prove to have profound and terrible consequences, as Elizabeth’s large, ambitious, aggressive, and deeply unpopular Woodville family would gain tremendous wealth and power at the expense of other subjects.
May 15, 1464 Desperate to regain momentum following the Battle of Hedgeley Moor, the Lancastrians started to gather troops in the North of England. With a large Yorkist army still following behind under the command of Edward IV, a vanguard Yorkist force led by a brother of Warwick meets the gathering Lancastrian army at the Battle of Hexham (Northumberland). The battle is another strong Yorkist victory; afterwards, Henry VI, who had not participated in the battle, escapes to the north.
May 26, 1465 Elizabeth Woodville is crowned Queen of England.
late 1465 Richard of Gloucester is placed in the care of the Earl of Warwick, following common practice among aristocratic families. He would remain in Warwick’s household until sometime in 1468 or 1469. Richard is thought to have stayed at Warwick’s castles of Middleham and Sheriff Hutton during this time. He presumably spent some time with Warwick’s younger daughter, Anne Neville, who would later become his wife.
February 11, 1466 Elizabeth of York, future Queen of Henry VII and the first of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s children, is born. Thus George, Duke of Clarence, is no longer heir to the throne, providing him with a fresh cause for resentment.
July 3, 1468 Following protracted negotiations, Edward IV’s sister Margaret of York marries Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, strengthening the relationship of England and Burgundy. The marriage is another frustrating defeat for Warwick, who had encouraged Edward to build ties with France and not with Burgundy, France’s enemy. Warwick is coming to understand that he is an increasingly peripheral figure in England, where it seems he once hoped to rule England through Edward in all but name.
April 1469 In Yorkshire, someone calling himself Robin of Redesdale initiates a rebel movement, later understood to have been instigated by Warwick, now collaborating with George, Duke of Clarence. Edward IV does not initially appreciate the significance or source of the rebellion and does not respond adequately. The record shows that he initially believed that Clarence and Warwick were both on his side, but that in the coming weeks he shows increasing awareness of their treachery.
June 28, 1469 Warwick announces the upcoming marriage of his elder daughter, Isabel Neville, to Clarence, knowing that the match was opposed by Edward IV. News of this dispels any remaining illusions Edward may have. Warwick and his co-conspirators cross to Calais within a few days.
July 11, 1469 Isabel Neville marries George, Duke of Clarence, in Calais.
July 12, 1469 In Calais, the rebels issue an open letter frankly announcing their grievances and requesting armed supporters. Days later they return to England, landing in Kent.
July 18, 1469 Warwick leads an army out of London to join the rebel forces.
July 26, 1469 Warwick’s rebel army defeats the royal forces at the Battle of Edgecote Moor in Northamptonshire.
July 29, 1469 Edward IV, who had been staying at Nottingham, departs for Northampton, still unaware of the recent battle. When word of the defeat catches up with his party, almost all of his men abandon him. He is therefore almost alone when, shortly after, he is captured by one of Warwick’s kinsmen and sent to Warwick Castle as a prisoner. Warwick may have been preparing to have Edward deposed and replaced with Clarence, but he quickly found himself struggling even to maintain order–let alone consolidate power–as his seizure of Edward proved to be both unpopular and destabilizing.
late August, 1469 The captive Edward IV is transferred from Warwick Castle to Middleham Castle in Yorkshire.
September 1469 By unclear means, Edward IV regains his freedom. It seems that Warwick had given up hope of profiting by continued imprisonment of the king, and was not keeping Edward closely guarded. Edward appears to have had some freedom of movement by the middle of this month, and may have summoned some of his strongest supporters, including his brother Richard of Gloucester, to his side. Thus strengthened, he was able to return to London unopposed. Characteristically, Edward attempted to reconcile with Warwick and Clarence. He did not punish either of them, except for relatively minor withdrawal of some responsibilities with which they could no longer be trusted.
October 17, 1469 Richard of Gloucester is named Constable of England for life.
November 1469 Richard of Gloucester receives a number of new offices, including that of the chief justice of North Wales and the earldom of March.
February 7, 1470 Richard of Gloucester is named chief justice and chamberlain of South Wales, offices formerly held by Warwick.
early 1470 A series of civil disturbances are exploited, or more likely instigated, by the unrepentant Warwick and Clarence. As in 1469, unrest that originally appeared to be minor and localized quickly proved to be the first hint of large-scale mobilization of rebels.
March 12, 1470 Edward IV defeats a rebel army at the Battle of Empingham, more commonly called the Battle of Losecote Field. Just as in 1469, in the buildup to the confrontation, Edward did not initially grasp that Warwick and Clarence were in rebellion against him, even believing that Warwick was helping him raise an army to defeat the rebels. However, on the day of battle, the rebels cried “A Clarence!” and “A Warwick!” as they advanced towards the royal army, and when they were quickly routed, they inspired the battle’s nickname by shedding their jackets as they fled–to avoid being caught wearing the liveries of Clarence and Warwick. Following the battle, Edward soon set about pursuing Clarence and Warwick, who by early April succeeded in setting sail from Devon for Calais with a party that included Clarence’s heavily pregnant wife, Isabel, and her sister Anne Neville. However, they were denied entry to Calais and left stranded offshore.
April 16, 1470 Unable to land at Calais, Isabel Neville gives birth in a tossing ship off the coast of France. The baby dies a day later.
April 20, 1470 Warwick, bolstered by the addition of a naval squadron led by an ally, successfully conducts a piratical raid on a convoy of Burgundian ships. Thus strengthened, a few days later the rebel group makes it ashore further south.
June 22, 1470 The Earl of Warwick and his former enemy Queen Margaret meet at Angers in the presence of King Louis XI of France, who helped orchestrate their reconciliation. In addition to planning an invasion of England to topple Edward IV and put Henry VI back in power, they arrange a marriage between Edward of Westminster (son of Margaret and Henry VI) and Warwick’s younger daughter, Anne Neville.
July 25, 1470 Anne Neville is formally betrothed to Edward of Westminster.
September 9, 1470 With Edward IV far away in Yorkshire, Warwick and Clarence land in Devonshire. Upon arrival they announce their intention to restore Henry VI, and call for armed support. Disorder soon breaks out in Kent and London, and one rebel lord sets out with an army in pursuit of Edward. When word of these events finally reaches the utterly unprepared Edward, it is too late for him to do anything but flee England for his life alongside the handful of loyal men who were with him– including his brother Richard.
October 2, 1470 Edward IV, Richard of Gloucester, Edward’s best friend Lord Hastings, and a few associates flee England in two small boats departing from King’s Lynn. They are separated in bad weather; Edward’s boat lands at Marsdiep, and Richard’s at Zeeland. Having left in such haste that he had no cash, Edward must give his fur-lined cloak as payment to the boatman who carried him over; Richard begs a loan of three pounds off the town bailiff of Zeeland to cover costs. The brothers are soon reunited and find refuge in Burgundy, ruled by their sister Margaret of York and her husband.
November 2, 1470 Edward, the first son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, is born in sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. (He would later become Edward V and one of the “Princes in the Tower.”)
November 26, 1470 Edward IV and Richard of Gloucester are attainted by Parliament.
December 1470 Anne Neville and Edward of Westminster are married.
March 12, 1471 With Burgundian support, Edward IV and Richard of Gloucester return to England with a small force of men. They are turned away from their first attempt to land. Edward decides to head north to Yorkshire; his tiny fleet is tossed by storms on the journey.
March 18, 1471 The city of York opens its gates to Edward IV after he insists that he is there to claim his rights only as Duke of York, not King of England. He soon heads south towards London. He still has very few men with him and could easily be overpowered, but his supposed enemies in the vicinity choose not to attack him.
April 2, 1471 An army led by Clarence confronts the growing army led by his brothers Edward and Richard. Having figured out that his Lancastrian alliance is not likely to be profitable, Clarence defects, joining his army to that of his brothers.
April 11, 1471 Edward IV arrives in London and takes Henry VI prisoner again. He goes to Westminster for a crown-wearing ceremony and finally meets his son Edward, born six months earlier.
April 14, 1471 Warwick is killed at the Battle of Barnet, the first of two major Yorkist victories that finally secure Edward IV on the throne without serious opposition. Richard of Gloucester seems to have led the Yorkist vanguard.
May 4, 1471 At the decisive Battle of Tewkesbury, the death of Henry VI’s son (and Anne Neville’s husband), Edward of Westminster, contributes to the Yorkist victory. Richard again commands the vanguard of the royal army. Soon after the battle, Anne Neville is taken prisoner. She is eventually placed in the household of George, Duke of Clarence, whose wife Isabel is her sister. She would soon become the object of an intense quarrel between George (who wished her to remain unmarried so that he might gain power over her inheritance) and his brother Richard (who wished to marry her).
May 18, 1471 Richard of Gloucester is appointed as the Lord High Admiral and Great Chamberlain of England.
May 21/22, 1471 Sometime during the night after Edward IV returns to London, Henry VI dies in the Tower. The official explanation is that he died of melancholy upon hearing the news from Tewkesbury, and the reader is entitled to believe that. In the aftermath of Edward IV’s return to power, a number of prominent Lancastrians flee England. Among them is Henry Tudor, who goes to Brittany. (Henry, who had a weak claim to the English throne, would remain in exile until 1485.)
1471-1472 In the months following the restoration of Edward’s throne, Edward IV made enormous grants of estates and power to Richard of Gloucester, most notably in the north of England. The north had been Warwick’s sphere of influence, and it seems that Edward intended for Richard to replace Warwick as the greatest lord of the north. Edward would repeatedly make additional large grants of land and offices to Richard (particularly in 1475, 1478, 1480, and 1483), demonstrating his ongoing confidence in Richard’s loyalty and administrative skill.
~ July 12, 1472 Richard of Gloucester marries Anne Neville, who had been living in sanctuary in the Church of St. Martin le Grand, where Richard had earlier deposited her after extracting her, with difficulty, from Clarence’s custody.
August 17, 1473 Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville (later one of the “Princes in the Tower”) is born in Shrewsbury.
December 1473 (very uncertain) Edward of Middleham, who would be the only child of Anne Neville and only legitimate child of Richard III, is born at Middleham.
July 25, 1474 The Treaty of London is signed, in which England and Burgundy agree to a joint invasion of France. France had shown support for Warwick’s attempted overthrow of Edward IV, and Edward–who maintained his claim as King of England to the title of King of France–remembered it. As early as 1472 he began weighing options for war.
July 4, 1475 Edward IV crosses to Calais to lead the invasion of France. The English army then waits ten days for the arrival of the Burgundian army led by Duke Charles of Burgundy, only to have Charles show up with almost no troops. Some of the English leaders feel that the invasion should be abandoned at once in the absence of meaningful Burgundian military support, but Edward knows he would face widespread outrage if he simply turned around and went home after mounting such a costly, high-profile campaign. Thus, the English and French armies make a point of wandering near each other in the French countryside for several weeks before Edward quietly makes diplomatic overtures to Louis XI of France.
August 29, 1475 The Treaty of Picquigny is negotiated, in which Edward IV agrees, among other provisions, to cease military hostilities against France in exchange for a large annual pension awarded to him personally. The existence of the pension would play an important role in Edward’s foreign policy in subsequent years, as he was anxious to avoid taking any action that would compromise the pension. Many English are angered by the abandonment of the French invasion; among them is Edward’s brother Gloucester, who, uncharacteristically, expresses strong opposition to Edward.
December 22, 1476 Isabel Neville dies, apparently of natural causes, soon after childbirth. Her husband George, Duke of Clarence, is therefore available to consider new marriage opportunities.
January 5, 1477 Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, dies in battle, and is succeeded by his daughter Mary. His widow Margaret of York becomes dowager duchess of Burgundy. Margaret wastes no time in trying to arrange a marriage between her newly widowed favorite brother, the Duke of Clarence, and her now immensely wealthy and important stepdaughter, Mary of Burgundy. Edward IV, fearing that such a match could be used as a stepping stone to a renewed claim by Clarence to the English throne, blocks it. Clarence, now enraged at Edward, may already have been spreading rumors that Edward was a bastard with no right to the crown.
April 12, 1477 Clarence has his late wife’s former lady-in-waiting, Ankarette Twynyho, seized from her home and held captive.
April 15, 1477 Clarence stages an illegal, rigged trial in which Ankarette Twynyho is “convicted” on bizarre and apparently baseless charges of having administered poison to Isabel Neville on October 10, 1476, that resulted in her death more than two months later. Ankarette is hanged immediately following the “trial.”
late June 1477 Clarence is arrested on charges apparently stemming from the murder of Ankarette Twynyho. He is sent to the Tower of London.
January 19, 1478 A parliament meets at Westminster in order to arraign Clarence for high treason. He is attainted and, a few days later, sentenced to death. In the same session of parliament, Edward IV creates an extraordinary, and historically unique, hereditary palatinate for Richard of Gloucester. It encompasses Cumberland and Westmorland as well as any of southwestern Scotland that Richard can conquer. In so doing, Edward virtually gives away much of his kingdom to his younger brother.
February 18, 1478 28-year-old George, Duke of Clarence, is put to death in the Tower of London. According to tradition, he was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.
1480 Relations between England and Scotland deteriorate dramatically after Scotland begins to violate terms of existing agreements. Among other offenses, the Scots begin conducting raids over the English border. Edward IV spends much of 1480 and 1481 preoccupied with preparations for war.
June 11, 1482 A treaty is signed at Fotheringhay between Edward IV and Alexander, Duke of Albany, the treacherous brother of King James III of Scotland. They agree to invade Scotland to put Albany on the throne; in return, Albany agrees to give certain lands to England and break Scotland’s alliance with France. By this time, Richard of Gloucester has already been leading preliminary raids into Scotland.
July 22, 1482 James III is seized by the English after they are able to advance rapidly into Scotland with little opposition. By the end of July the English army is in Edinburgh. Richard of Gloucester soon withdraws his army back to England after securing relatively minor concessions. It is unclear why the English did not remain in Scotland to capitalize on their easy victory.
December 23, 1483 The Treaty of Arras is concluded between France and Burgundy. It is a devastating blow to Edward IV, as the terms of the new alliance mean both the loss of his valuable French pension, and the end of long-nursed plans to marry his daughter Elizabeth to the French Dauphin. Edward suffered terrible emotional distress at this defeat, and some believed that his resulting depression contributed to his premature death the following spring.
April 9, 1483 Edward IV dies aged 40 following a sudden illness of one week. He is succeeded as king by his 12-year-old son, now Edward V. Realizing that he was dying, Edward IV made a sudden deathbed effort to resolve deep-seated problems that he had allowed to fester for years. He entreated warring court factions to reconcile, and added a codicil to his will naming his brother Richard as Lord Protector of Edward V–presumably in a belated attempt to block seizure of power by the Queen’s family, the Woodvilles. The failure of these efforts quickly became apparent. Indeed, within days, the Woodvilles rapidly take a series of steps to seize royal resources, prepare for possible military action, and block Richard of Gloucester from assuming a significant role in government, in defiance of the terms of Edward IV’s will.
April 14, 1483 News of Edward IV’s death arrives at Ludlow, then residence of Edward V, who departs for London on April 24. Richard of Gloucester, who had been away in the north, is separately heading towards London with a view to intercepting the new king. He had been warned by Edward’s close friend Lord Hastings that the Woodvilles planned to move quickly to control Edward V and thus consolidate their power.
April 29, 1483 The parties of Edward V and Richard of Gloucester–who was accompanied by the suddenly emergent Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham–meet at Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire. Richard has a seemingly convivial dinner with Edward V’s companions, Earl Rivers (the Queen’s brother) and Richard Grey (Edward V’s half-brother).
April 30, 1483 In the morning, Earl Rivers, Richard Grey, and Thomas Vaughan (Edward V’s chamberlain) are arrested and sent north, soon to be put to death.
April 30-May 1, 1483 When news of Gloucester’s seizure of Edward V arrives in London overnight, a panicked Queen Elizabeth Woodville rushes to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. She takes her daughters and her younger son, Richard, with her.
May 4, 1483 Accompanied by his uncle Gloucester and the Duke of Buckingham, Edward V arrives in London and is soon placed in the royal apartments in the Tower of London.
May 10, 1483 A date of June 24, later changed to June 22, is set for Edward V’s coronation. Richard of Gloucester is officially appointed Protector as per his late brother’s will. In the coming days Richard would replace many high officials with men more sympathetic towards him. Among them was Buckingham, who on May 10 received vast grants that made him virtual ruler of Wales.
June 13, 1483 At a Council meeting, Gloucester announces that Lord Hastings has been conspiring against him, and has him summarily executed.
June 16, 1483 Elizabeth Woodville is persuaded to send her 9-year-old son Richard out of sanctuary to attend his brother’s coronation. She receives a promise that he will be returned to her following the ceremony; he is soon with Edward V in the Tower of London. Elizabeth’s daughters, including her eldest, Elizabeth of York, remain in sanctuary with her.
June 22, 1483 Edward V was supposed to be crowned on this date; instead, Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville is declared invalid on the basis of a claim that he was already betrothed to a Lady Eleanor Butler at the time of his marriage. Theologian Ralph Shaa (or Shaw) delivers a public sermon in which Gloucester is declared the rightful king and Edward IV’s children are said to be bastards.
June 24, 1483 Buckingham delivers a speech similar to Shaa’s to the leading men of London.
June 25, 1483 Richard of Gloucester is declared rightful king by an assembly of nobles and commoners.
June 26, 1483 Gloucester begins his reign as King Richard III.
July 6, 1483 Richard III is crowned at Westminster Abbey; Anne Neville is crowned Queen.
late summer 1483 Although Edward V and his brother have been seen in the Tower of London occasionally since Richard III took power, after this time, no further sightings are reported. Thus the children are generally assumed to have been killed around this time, although some have argued that they remained alive for up to a few more months (perhaps until after Richard III’s death), or even that they somehow survived to adulthood in secret. The fate of the two “Princes in the Tower,” along with the identity of their killer or killers, remains one of history’s great unsolved mysteries.
August 24, 1483 Edward of Middleham, the son of Richard III and Queen Anne Neville, becomes Prince of Wales.
late 1483 In the so-called “Buckingham’s Rebellion,” a series of poorly coordinated uprisings against Richard III takes place across portions of England and Wales. Among the leaders is Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, who had previously seemed to be the chief supporter of Richard III’s seizure and possession of the throne. These events were poorly recorded, but it seems that the rebellion was led by loyal supporters of Edward V and (formerly) of Edward IV, with the original goal of restoring Edward V to the throne. However, the goal shifted after rumors spread that Edward V and his brother had already been murdered: following the wishes of the Duke of Buckingham and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, the rebels resolved to put Henry Tudor on the throne with Elizabeth of York as his wife. Buckingham’s motivation for turning on Richard III is unclear, as Richard had been very generous to him.
~ October 15, 1483 A violent storm occurs over western England, causing widespread flooding that traps Buckingham and his gathering rebel army. Buckingham flees for his life accompanied by one servant, who soon betrays him. He is captured and brought to Richard III on November 1.
November 2, 1483 Buckingham is beheaded, having been denied his desperate final request to speak privately with Richard III before being put to death. At around this same time, in coordination with the ongoing rebel efforts within England, Henry Tudor attempts to bring a small invading fleet from Brittany to England, but it too is foiled by bad weather. Henry turns back and goes to France.
December 25, 1483 In Rennes, Henry Tudor publicly vows to marry Elizabeth of York.
January 23, 1484 The first and only Parliament of Richard III’s short reign opens on this date. Parliament issues a statute called the “Titulus Regius,” formally declaring the invalidity of Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the illegitimacy of their children, and the right of Richard III to hold the throne. Later, to defend the legitimacy of his wife Elizabeth of York (Edward IV’s daughter), Henry VII would not only repeal the Titulus Regius, but order the destruction of all copies. (In fact, one copy has nevertheless survived.) Richard III also used this session of Parliament to introduce a number of legal reforms that addressed existing injustices and probably appealed to popular sentiment. Bewildering and often-abused loopholes in property law were eliminated; provisions for protecting rights of accused criminals were passed, including the introduction of a system of bail; new penalties were introduced for certain forms of official abuse of power; “benevolences,” which were an inconsistently applied and very unpopular form of taxation, were banned. Legislation restricting the activities of foreign merchants was also passed, although Richard made a point of modifying the law to say that foreign bookmakers and booksellers would be exempt from the restrictions.
March 1, 1484 Following a public oath-taking by Richard III that he would protect Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters, they all emerge from their ten-month sanctuary in Westminster Abbey.
early April 1484 The ten-year-old Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales and only child of Richard III and Queen Anne, dies at Middleham. His parents are both described by an eyewitness as seeming almost deranged by grief.
March 16, 1485 Queen Anne Neville dies following what seems to have been a long illness. She is soon laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.
August 7, 1485 Having won both French support and an alliance with the Woodvilles, Henry Tudor arrives in Wales with an invading army.
August 22, 1485 Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings, is slain while personally leading a charge against Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was 32 years old. Richard should have had a superior army, but some of his chief “allies”–the Earl of Northumberland and the brothers William and Thomas Stanley–betrayed him by withholding their forces from the field. Following the battle, Richard’s body was desecrated and then bundled into a shabby grave, where it would remain until recovered by archaeologists in 2012.
October 30, 1485 Henry Tudor is crowned King Henry VII and thus founds the Tudor royal dynasty.
January 18, 1486 Henry VII and Elizabeth of York marry.
September 20, 1486 Arthur, the first child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, is born. (He would die at age 15.)
June 16, 1487 Henry VII faces Lambert Simnel, a Yorkist pretender to the throne, at the bloody Battle of Stoke Field. Simnel claimed to be Edward Plantagenet (a son of George, Duke of Clarence), who in fact was then imprisoned in the Tower of London. Henry VII is victorious.
November 25, 1487 Elizabeth of York is crowned as Henry’s Queen.
1490 Perkin Warbeck, a Fleming born around 1474, announces his claim to be Richard, Duke of York– the younger of the two missing Princes in the Tower. He would go on to gain significant support, including that of his supposed aunt, Margaret of York, although it is unclear whether she actually believed he was her nephew. He eventually led an attempted invasion of England and created significant trouble for Henry VII before being captured and put to death.
June 28, 1491 Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s second son, Henry–the future Henry VIII–is born. Notably, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York are the latest common ancestors of all English monarchs who have ruled after them.
June 8, 1492 The former Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, dies.
May 31, 1495 Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, dies, having outlived all but two of her thirteen children. She had lived to see two of her sons rule England, and two of her grandsons vanish.
February 11, 1503 Queen Elizabeth of York dies of complications following childbirth.
November 23, 1503 Margaret of York, dowager Duchess of Burgundy and the last historically prominent member of the House of York, dies at Mechelen.
1674 Workmen digging in the Tower of London discover a box containing the bones of two children, which are later interred in Westminster Abbey.
1933 The bones found in 1674 are temporarily removed from Westminster Abbey for examination, which finds that they were incomplete sets, were mixed with animal bones, and belonged to two children of unknown sex aged 7-11 and 11-13. The remains were returned to Westminster and have not again become available for modern scientific testing.

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