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England’s First Renaissance King

The Renaissance as the Age of Kings

Edward McHall Burners and Phillip Lee Ralph, World Civilizations

“The decentralized feudal regime gave way to consolidated government…The rule of Dukes and Counts was succeeded by that of Monarchs whose power sprang from their wealth as bankers or merchants. ‘The 15th and 16th centuries were the Ages of Kings.’

“Growth of commerce and rise of national monarchies made the decentralized feudal regime obsolete… rising middle class…recognition of the status of the individual.”

Edward IV: The Merchant King

Cora Scofield, The Life and Reign of King Edward the Fourth

Edward as merchant, exported tin, lead, cloth, and wool. He liked to use foreign ships for trade.

“The Croyland Chronicler lays much stress on the importance and large returns of the King’s ventures in trade in his later years.”

He presided over a Glorious Court

Charles Ross quotes the Croyland Chronicler

“For collecting vessels of silver and gold, tapestries and decorations of the most precious nature…and for building castles, colleges, and other distinguished places… not one of his predecessors was able to equal his remarkable achievements…You might have seen, in those days, the royal court presenting no other appearance than such as fully befits a most mighty kingdom.”

Elizabeth Jenkins, The Princes in the Tower

“The King’s clothes were famous for their richness and their mode. The Croyland Chronicler speaks of his appearance in his court at the Christmas before his death ‘clad in a great variety of most costly garments, of quite a different cut from those which had hitherto been seen in our Kingdom.’ The Wardrobe Accounts mention lengths of stuff…Of long gowns, the Kng had one of blue cloth of gold lined with green satin, one of gold furred with ermine. To…Prince Edward…was issued five yards of white cloth of gold tissue for a gown. The Queen and the Princess Elizabeth were given fifteen yards of green tissue cloth of gold…

Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville had Beautiful Children

Elizabeth Jenkins, The Princes in the Tower

“As the Croyland Chronicler evoked the vision of Edward IV and his…children, at court, it was another instance of the Prince of Wales being in London with his parents. The Croyland Continuator speaks of ‘those most sweet and beautiful children, the issue of his marriage with Queen Elizabeth: Edward Prince of Wales and Richard Duke of York who had not yet attained puberty’ and ‘their five daughters, most beautiful maidens.’ Golden haired in their garments of glittering tissue, a fairy-like band about their parents:”

“Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be, ere one can say – ‘It lightens.’”

Edward in Charge

Charles Ross, Edward IV

“Edward had a firm grip on the realm. Some contemporaries such as the Croyland Chronicler felt that there were signs of despotism after (1478). (Mentioned by Polydore Vergil too.)”

Edward IV’s Modern Reputation

Winston Churchill

History of the English Speaking Peoples: Birth of Britain

“He made his administration live thriftily…first king since Henry II to leave (at his death) not debts but a fortune. He labored to contain national pride…but let the nation grow strong again. He who above all others was thought to be the spear-point became a pad; but at that time, a good pad. It may well be, as has been written, that ‘his indolence and gaiety were mere veils beneath which Edward shrouded profound political ability. (J. R. Green).”

Robert Ergang

Europe from the Renaissance to Waterloo


“The foundation of strong personal monarchy of the modern type had been laid by Edward IV, but his brother…aroused opposition which culminated in the rebellion of Henry Tudor, who was able to carry out Edward’s policies with greater success.”

G. A. Holmes

The Later Middle Ages

“(Edward was) a Monarch who possessed ‘the ruthlessness of a Renaissance despot and the strong-willed ability of a statesman.”

Elizabeth Jenkins

from The Princes in the Tower,

“The King devoted his great practical intelligence to building up the wealth and therefore the power of the Crown…(It is) said that Edward was the first monarch to apply to the organization of the Crown lands the methods by which competent landowners administered their private estates….The greatest landowner in the realm…traded wool, cloth, pewter…tin, and imported…wax, wine, writing paper. Relations with the City of London were excellent. The city aldermen (such as Fabyan of the Great Chronicle) were mercers, grocers, drapers, goldsmiths, haberdashers, etc…Expansion of the royal navy…magnificent builder.

Paul Murray Kendall

from Richard III

“(Edward) built up the treasure which fortified his strength and assured his independence. His diplomacy had been alert and usually shrewd; In the community of European nations, he had restored England to a place in the first rank. He did not lose his hold on the hearts (of his people). He was familiar with them as no King had ever been before. He admired and made full use of the learned accomplishments of men of common rank. He had established the foundations of the proud national state governed by a strong monarch which would come after.”

“The strong, affable genie who had held them (his subjects) safe in his great hand ‘freed the Crown from the dominion of the Lords and invigorated the power of the monarchy…by solving brilliantly…great problems of government…Council of Welsh Marches…brother Richard as lord of the North…solution for the dilemma of France aided him in solving…the dilemma of finances…shrewd management of his (financial) resources…merchant on a grand scale…customs regulations enforced…fines promptly collected…exporting wool and woolen cloth at a profit.”

J. R. Lander

Edward IV: The Modern Legend, and a Revision; History, xli (1956)

“A king of iron will and great fixity of purpose.”

A.R. Myers

England in the Late Middle Ages

“An astute and able ruler.”

L. G. Pine

Princes of Wales

“(Edward) had ruled England wisely, and despite his warlike upbringing, had devoted himself to peaceful pursuits. He had encouraged commerce and declined war with France, while wisely keeping the money voted by Parliament for the purpose, and at the same time accepting a large sum from Louis XI to leave French soil….for none knew better than Edward IV the duplicity and cruelty of his brother Richard of Gloucester.”

John Raymond

Critic of Charles Ross’ biography Edward IV

“In shorthand, he could be described as the King who took the country out of the Middle Ages…Edward was the first conscious egotist in English history…Blackguarded by Commynes, Louis XI’s marvelous apologist, Edward’s ‘variable temper and sharp oversight’ worked an extraordinary change in the country.”

Charles Ross

The Wars of the Roses

“Edward himself was to rule England for 12 more years (after 1471) in absolute dynastic security, until he died, powerful, wealthy, and respected, at the early age of 40.”

“(Edward) had the capacity to rescue England from the horrors of civil strife and replace them with order, wealth, and prosperity.”

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