Edward IV: The Theatre of Monarchy: Hannes Kleineke Examines the Career of the First Yorkist King

By Kleineke, Hannes | History Review, March 2009 | Go to article overview

Edward IV: The Theatre of Monarchy: Hannes Kleineke Examines the Career of the First Yorkist King


Kleineke, Hannes, History Review


Between the giant figures of Henry V, the conqueror of France, and Henry VIII, the nemesis of the catholic church in England, King Edward IV (1461-83) is often lost sight of. In a dramatic reign of 23 years he reestablished the authority of the English Crown both at home and abroad and laid the foundations on which the heavily centralised state of the Tudor kings and queens was built. Yet, at his premature death at the age of barely 41, his foreign policy lay in ruins, his treasury was empty, and within months his dynasty's seemingly secure grip on the once-more-disputed throne of England began to slip. Historians continue to be divided in their assessment of Edward's achievement. While some point to his undeniable political and constitutional achievements, others focus on the flaws in the King's character to explain the apparent failure of his policies.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

When Edward IV came to the throne the English monarchy was in crisis. The 39 years of the reign of his immediate predecessor, King Henry VI, had seen disaster on the foreign stage, where the territories conquered by Henry V were lost to the French, as well as at home in England, with a general breakdown of law and order. For English commerce, a general economic downturn was exacerbated by the impact of the loss of the King's French possessions and their markets. A vigorous monarch might have successfully addressed the resultant political crisis, but during the 1450s Henry VI, never the most effective of rulers, was twice completely incapacitated for lengthy periods by a debilitating illness. The final decade of his reign consequently saw not only the nobility but also sections of the commons increasingly discontented with his rule. Contemporary political discourse, which accepted that kings ruled by the grace of God, required any opposition to an anointed monarch to be focused on the king's ministers and advisers, and it is a mark of the extent to which Henry VI's personal authority (and by implication the authority of his office) had declined that blame for the disasters of his reign was being attached to him personally, to the degree of seeing him removed from the throne. In 1460 Edward's father, Richard, duke of York, failed in a bid to supplant Henry VI and was killed in battle, but just a few months later 18-year-old Edward was acclaimed as King in London.

The first decade of Edward IV's reign saw him preoccupied with defeating residual opposition from those who remained loyal to the deposed King, and left him with only limited room to develop his own policies. Yet from 1471, when Edward was secure on his throne after overcoming an unholy alliance of the remaining Henrician loyalists with some of his own disaffected former allies, which had temporarily restored Henry VI to the throne, he had the necessary freedom to make his own mark.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Domestic Government

An important concern was the enforcement of law and order in the English regions. The question of how to convert the abstract authority which the Crown conveyed to its officers into something akin to the very real power commanded by local landowners and nobles in their shires was one which confronted successive kings throughout the middle ages. The traditional answer to this question had been attempts to harness the local leadership to the Crown's cause by appointing its members and their retainers to office. The problem which this approach in turn generated was that it took a vigorous king to keep the magnates and gentry in check when they for their part offended, and even an active monarch could not be everywhere at once. It had been one of the consequences of Henry VI's incapacity that aristocratic feuding had become endemic. Edward IV did not in the first place abandon this traditional approach to local government. He did, however, set about impressing his personal authority throughout his realm: he went on frequent judicial progresses through the regions, personally assumed the judgment seat of the principal court of King's bench at Westminster, and asserted the authority of his Crown as vested in his justices in the shires by sending out with them royal servants wearing his livery and badges. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Edward IV: The Theatre of Monarchy: Hannes Kleineke Examines the Career of the First Yorkist King
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.