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With Edward IV now the legal King of England and Henry VI arrested and sitting in the Tower of London one may think that the Wars of the Roses was over, but such was not the case. In history Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, friend and ally of King Edward IV, was known as the kingmaker. He was truly the most powerful man in England.

In the last post on this subject I mentioned that Warwick wanted Edward to marry a foreign princess in an effort to secure a powerfully ally to support Edward’s claim to the throne. The king did not abide by Warkwick’s wishes and instead married Elizabeth Woodville. This created great tensions between the two powerful men. The king also refused a match between his brother, George, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel Neville, The Earl of Warwick’s daughter. Warwick’s brother, George Neville, archbishop of York, was dismissed as Chancellor of England and this was the final blow that pushed the Earl of Warwick to the Lancastrian side. When a plot to confront the king with Warwick’s troops was uncovered by Edward IV, Warwick fled to France.

While in France King Louis XI reconciled Queen Margaret, who had been living in France since her husband was deposed, with Warwick and the two began plotting to restore Henry VI to the throne. George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV, also supported Warwick in replacing his brother with Henry VI. An agreement was reached that Margaret’s son, Edward, The Prince of Wales, would now marry Anne Neville, the Earl of Warwick’s daughter.

A diversion was created in the north of England which drew the king North while the forces of Warwick and Clarence arrived in the south of England. Lead by Montagu Neville, the Earl of Warwick’s other brother, who brought his forces down from the north and with the forces of Warwick and Clarence coming from the south, Edward IV was surrounded. On October 2, 1470 King Edward IV fled to the Netherlands and Henry VI was restored to the throne. Parliament legalized this restoration by placing an Attainder on Edward IV’s lands and titles and created George, Duke of Clarence, Duke of York.

With years spent in captivity Henry VI was in no shape to rule so Warwick and the new Duke of York were the true powers behind the throne. However, in a rapid turn of events international politics came into play which placed the exiled Edward IV in a position to regain his throne. Another part of the tension between Warwick and Edward IV surrounded the conflicts between France and Burgundy. Warwick wanted to place his support with France while Edward IV supported Burgundy. When war between Burgundy and France began early in 1471 Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy placed troops at Edward IV’s disposal to help him regain the throne.

The forces of Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick met at the Battle of Barnet on April 14, 1471. The Duke of Clarence & York defected back to his brother’s side. The forces of Edward IV were triumphant and as the Earl of Warwick was escaping the battlefield he was dismounted from his horse and killed. His brother Montagu was also killed in the battle. It took one more battle, the Battle of Tewkesbury, on May 4, 1471 to restore Edward IV to the throne. At the Battle of Tewkesbury the Lancastrian forces were led by Queen Margaret and Edward, Prince of Wales. The Lancastrian forces were defeated and the Prince of Wales was killed in the battle (the only Prince of Wales to have died in battle).

Edward IV was restored to the throne. Henry VI was returned to the Tower of London and on the morning prior to the re-crowning of Edward IV, Henry VI was found dead. There has been a great deal of speculation of how Henry died. It was said he died as a result of the news of the death of his son, Edward, Prince of Wales at the Battle of Tewkesbury. It has also been believed that Edward IV ordered the death of Henry VI and that his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) actually committed the murder himself.

So what does this say about the legality of the throne? The times of the Wars of the Roses were a time of civil unrest and a wrestling for power. Technically, the restoration of Henry VI was by right of conquest, although this conquest was not conducted by him, it was merely conducted in his name. At this point Henry VI was just a puppet whose strings were pulled by others.

With Edward IV restored to the throne the legal line by male prefered primogeniture was also restored. The House of Lancaster was decimated and defeated although factions from other genealogical lines would one day rise up once more. But from his restoration until his death Edward IV was soundly on the throne.