The first action Edward IV took to secure his power base after becoming King was to crush the Lancastrian forces
that were acting under Queen Margaret at the Battle of Towton. Although now safe from this army,
Edward had three main problems in 1461 -
- Many great families in the north, such as the House of Percy, were still loyal to the Lancastrian cause. They
would defend this cause from their mighty castles.
- King Henry VI and Prince Edward were alive in the north. Although the King was
insane and the Prince but a boy, these two were powerful figureheads for the Lancastrian cause.
- The simple fact was that Edward was on the throne as a rebel, and this was a powerful motivation to other nobles
who thought they could take the throne in a similar fashion.
Edward made the Duke of Warwick
and Lord John Montague
responsible for military affairs, a role in which they
where successful on two counts -
- The castles in the north which where royal to the Lancastrians where taken within a few months of the start of
- With these two dealing with domestic affairs, Edward could focus on foreign policy. He took control of the
machine of government well, preventing Louis XI from attempting to destablise the country in this difficult
Edward was mostly lenient to the Lancastrian faction, because otherwise he would be ruling with the support of
only a very small faction
. For example, he restored Henry Beaufort, Duke of
and Sir Ralph Percy to their castles with his forgiveness. This policy was not to prove successful, because
Percy gave shelter to Queen Margaret
later that year, an act of defiance against Edward. Despite this,
Edward forgave him again. Percy would eventually die in battle in 1464 after staging an unsuccessful rebellion
In 1462, Queen Margaret invaded from the north with a small army of French from Normandy. She
had promised the French King the return of Calais should the rebellion be successful. However, she received
little support on her way down to London because of the involvement of the French in the rebellion.
Edward sent a large army under the control of Warwick to meet her, and Margaret fled to France. To stop this happening
again, Edward signs a treaty with Louis in 1463, a clause of which is that he will stop funding the Lancastrian cause,
and stop Margaret from ever leaving France. To further close the net on the Lancastrians, Edward signed a treaty with
Scotland in the same year. As a result of this, Henry VI had to leave Scotland for Banborough (one of the pro-
Lancastrian castles). From here, he ruled a small northern Empire of rebels.
In 1464, Somerset joined with Henry VI and raised an army in the north and west. This army was defeated in
the Battle of Hexham. Although Henry VI escaped, the other Lancastrian leaders were killed in battle or executed
afterwards. This indicates a slight change of attitude on the part of the King - he is no longer being quite so lenient.
By now, the Lancastrian cause is shattered, and Henry VI is literally on the run from house to house in the Lake
District with his chamberlain. He was eventually captured and taken to the Tower of London, lashed to a horse and
wearing an undignified straw hat. He was pelted with rubbish on the way.
By now, Edward was relatively secure in power. He was popular among the people, and his enemies were defeated.
However, disaster was about to spring forth from a most unexpected quarter...
Prev | Next