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Now we come to the succession of one of England’s most controversial kings. I already posted a blog entry about his character so this post will be how Richard obtained the throne of England.

In his late 30s Edward IV began suffering health problems and when he was 40 died on Easter Sunday 1483. It is not historically known what killed the king but historians suspect Pneumonia and typhoid. He linged before dying and created his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector to his son, Edward, then 12 years old. On Edward IV’s death his son became King Edward V.

Next in succession after the new king was his Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York. It does not seem certain that women had sucession rights at this time. If they had succession rights then the new king’s surviving sisters, Elizabeth, Ceciley, Anne, Catherine and Bridget were next in line. This takes care of the descendants of Edward IV. Edward V one surviving paternal uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Before Richard in succession stood the two surviving children of his older brother, George, Duke of Clarence. The two surviving children of the Duke of Clarence were Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. There is some question that they had no claim to the throne due to their father being executed for treason.

Therefore, if women had rights to the throne Richard, Duke of Glouster was 10th in line for the English throne upon the death of his brother, Edward IV. If women did not have rights to the throne then Richard was 4th in line to the throne at the death of his brother.

The new King Edward V was at Ludlow in Shropshire when his father died. He and his entourage heaed south to London where they met up with Richard, Duke of Glouster at Stony Stratford.  Richard dined with Edward V’s party which consisted of Earl Rivers and Edward’s half-brother, Richard Gerey. The next morning, before heading out to London Richard had Rivers and Grey, along with the king’s chamberlain, Thomas Vaughan, arrested and sent back north. They were all subsequentlycharged with treason and executed. Edward V protested, but to no avail the remainder of his entourage was dismissed and Richard escorted him to London.

Edward V was placed in the Tower of London awating his coronation which was set for June 22 of that year. Shortly after his arrival the kings arrival in the Tower of London, his brother, Richard, Duke of York, was also placed in the Tower. This was not unusual for the tradition at the time was that an uncrowned king would stay in the Tower as much as possible until his coronation. Shortly after the young Duke of York’s arrival the coronation was postponed.

On June 25, 1483 a council, headed by Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, issued an order proclaiming Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York to be illegitimate on the grounds that Edward IV had supposedly entered into an agreement (a pre-contract) to marry another woman prior to his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville while this first woman was still alive.

The next day on the basis of this ‘illegitimacy’  Edward V was removed from the throne and his uncle  proclaimed king in his place while his younger brother was deprived of his ducal titles which reverted back to the crown. The placing of the Duke of Glouster on the throne as Richard III was later confirmed by an Act of Parliament (Titulus Regius). Richard III named  Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick as his hier despite an earler attainer which took away his rights, as stated earlier, due to his father’s execution for treason.

Richard III was clearly a usurper. Edward IV was in a valid marriage and therefore Edward V was legitimate and the legal and lawful king. After Richard III became king, Edward V and his young brother, Richard Duke of York, were seen infrequently until the end of the summer when they were never heard from again.

Richard III died in battle in 1485 when Henry Tudor trook the throne. The legality of Hnery Tudor taking the throne of England was the primary reason I started this series. In next week’s post I will examione the claims of Henry Tudor. On Thursday I will examine what happened to the two young princes in the Tower.  

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