Select Page

Edward the Fifth

1470 – 1483

King of England

a traditional perspective on the ‘Web

Exploring Edward V’s Legacy

“Who was Edward V?”  “King Edward V reigned more briefly than any English king since the Conquest.

His reign lasted for only the seventy-seven days from 10 April to 25 June 1483. His coronation was twice postponed, and he was never crowned. Only twelve years old and under-age, he succeeded automatically, but never ruled. Others governed on his behalf, his guardians, councilors, and Lord Protector.

He was then discarded and deposed. He was declared illegitimate and was thus disqualified from kingship…Like Edward VIII, who abdicated, but unlike Lady Jane Grey, queen for nine days, Edward V retained his place in the roll of English monarchs.

His reign barely interrupts the succession to the two Yorkist brothers, his father King Edward IV (1461-1483), and his uncle and supplanter King Richard III (1483-1485). Later in 1483, the year of three kings, he disappeared permanently from sight. Most probably he perished.” (from Michael Hicks’ biography Edward V: The Prince in the Tower (Tempus, 2003))

Unraveling the Mystery

It is a historical tragedy that great accomplishments by great men are sometimes eclipsed by subsequent events and by lesser men.  So it was with Edward IV, who brought order and prosperity to a nation torn by civil war and government incompetence and who shaped the monarchy into the Renaissance model that reached its pinnacle in England with the reign of Elizabeth I.

Edward IV died in 1483.  He left several daughters and two sons — 12-year old Edward V and nine-year old Richard, the Duke of York.  These children were exploited and victimized by their usurping uncle, who took the title Richard III after wading to the throne through the blood of Edward V’s friends and supporters.  The deposed young King and his brother were imprisoned in the Tower of London by their perfidious uncle who, according to legend which has yet to be unproved, had them assassinated shortly after.

Richard III’s reign was filled with political disturbances, rumors, unrest and violence as Edward’s friends and supporters sought to avenge themselves upon Richard and to restore the rightful line of Edward IV through his daughter Elizabeth, who was the heir to the throne after her brothers’ deaths.  Richard III was killed at the battle of Bosworth and Elizabeth married Henry Tudor, the victor of the battle, who then reigned as Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch.