Edward IV Haiku

Crown seized, Pops avenged.

Time for new goal – sleep with all

Ladies in England.

Yes, we’re still talking about the English monarchy and we’re already back to the War of the Roses. I regret nothing.

557 years ago today, Edward, Earl of March, was crowned king at the age of 19. What makes this a particularly noteworthy is that he won that crown through battle (Towton, to be specific.) What else could he do? His father, the Duke of York, had been killed, along with his brother Edmund, in his unsuccessful bid to seize the crown from Henry VI. (Well, from Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou, actually.) Might as well go for broke.

Now, if you’re a handsome young king, what would you do? If you said, “Bring back the royal tradition, sadly neglected under Henry VI, of sleeping with every willing woman,” congratulations, you are Edward IV. Lots of mistresses, lots of bastards – although Henry I still holds the record, at 24 bastards.

This trait caused problems for Edward IV and his legacy in two instances. The first was in his secretly marrying comely Lancastrian widow, Elizabeth Woodville, in secret while Ed’s cousin Warwick was trying to negotiate a marriage for him. He might have been trying to cut Warwick down to size, as the ‘Kingmaker’ thought he could order him around. But this soured the relationship so badly that Warwick eventually rebelled and Edward IV temporarily lost his crown and had to go into exile.

The second instance happened after his early death, as brother Richard found a priest that said that he pulled the same ‘secret marriage’ trick with one (already dead) Eleanor Butler, so give HIM the crown now, please.

It’s a shame, because by most accounts, he was a pretty danged capable king, especially in contrast with the inept Henry VI. He spent a lot, but he also earned a lot, and was a good soldier and administrator. Yeah, he trusted Richard, but during his lifetime, his little bro served him faithfully. Everything would have been better if he hadn’t partied his way into an early grave.

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