Edward V (2 November 1470 – c. 1483)

Edward V (1470-1483) was the eldest son of King Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville. He was born during a time of great turmoil when the English Civil Wars or the Wars of the Roses were sweeping England.

The crowned the Prince of Wales led a short and unhappy life and was being held captive by his own paternal uncle and probably murdered along with his younger brother Richard, Duke of York at the tower.

Edward V (1470-1483)
             Edward V (1470-1483)

Early Life

Edward V was born on 2 November 1470 at the sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. At that time his father Edward IV of England was in a temporary exile in Holland and King Henry VI of England of Lancastrian House took over the throne.

However, King Henry’s reign was short-lived. Edward IV returned to England in 1471. He defeated the Lancastrians at Barnet and Tewksbury and reclaimed his throne.

Edward IV reigned for 14 years and wanted his eldest son Edward V to be the future King of England.

On 26 June 1471, the very young Prince Edward V has proclaimed the Prince of Wales and the Earl of Chester. The new Prince of Wales now started living in the Ludlow Castle.

Despite his young age, Edward was given several important responsibilities in a number of offices. Edward V has now become a prominent successor to his father and was soon appointed the Knight of the Garter during his father’s expedition to France.

In his childhood, Edward was deeply influenced by his paternal uncle Anthony Woodville, Earl of Rivers. Under his guidance and during his father’s absence, Edward continued his services and asserted his power into several territories in England. His mother Elizabeth Woodville would often visit him.

However, this allegiance with the Woodville family did not go well with Edward’s paternal uncles  George, Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

A young King Edward V
                      A young King Edward V

Edward IV Death

After the sudden death of King Edward IV in 1483, the 12-year-old young Prince had to be made the king.

Young Edward V being the eldest son and the obvious heir traveled to London with his uncle Anthony Woodville to take over the throne.

Edward was still not of age and the Council decided that he must have a protector of the realm, and Woodville, Earl of Rivers was the obvious choice.

However, Edward’s paternal uncle had made a devious plan already. He wanted to take over the throne and for that, he must take full authority of the young prince.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester acted swiftly and became the “Lord Protector” of Prince Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York.

King Richard III - Duke of Gloucester
                        King Richard III – Duke of Gloucester

How long did Edward V reign?

Edward V was coronated the King of England on 9 April 1483. His uncle the Duke of Gloucester claimed that both Edward V and his younger brother Richard were illegitimate as Edward IV was betrothed to another woman named Eleanor Butler at the time of his marriage to Queen Elizabeth.

Due to the rumors that have circulated, Edward was removed from his position on 25 June 1483.

Edward IV of England (1442-1483)
                         Edward IV of England (1442-1483)

How did Edward V die?  

Gloucester convinced Queen Elizabeth to release her younger son Richard of York so that he can join his older brother Edward at the Tower of London. Little did she knew about Gloucester’s dubious motives.

By this time, Gloucester has already had imprisoned and executed several loyal relatives of the Woodville family. Gloucester had hatched a plan along with his friend the Duke of Buckingham to crown himself as Richard III of England.

The two brothers Prince Edward V and Richard of York are now held captive in their own home in the Tower. Several attempts were made to rescue the young prince, but all have failed.

They led a very solitary life and were called “Princes in the Tower”. The real cause of the death the two princes are still unknown.

The boys were said to have disappeared until in 1674, during some repair work of the Tower, two bodies were found under the staircase.

In 1502, there was a man called James Tyrrell who was imprisoned and claimed to have murdered the boys by suffocating them. However, the validity of his claim is yet to be proved. Some others believe that it was Earl of Richmond who had the boys killed to claim the throne of England.

Whether it was Richard III or someone else, historians have failed to unveil the real cause for the death of the two young princes and their story still remains a mystery.

Princes in the Tower - Edward and Richard
                  Princes in the Tower – Edward and Richard