SE39 Week 10 – Uncrowned Kings Part I

Two Kings named Edward were never actually crowned. Hmm? What’s the deal? Today we’ll do the first one.

Edward V

The backstory here is so lengthy and convoluted that I was sorely tempted to take you on a rambling, pages long guided tour of the Wars of the Roses, but I have resisted those urges. For now. Here’s what you need to know. The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic struggles for control of the English crown between 1455 and 1487. They were called that because the two warring factions, the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, adopted red and white roses as their symbols.

York rules, Lancaster sucks!
York rules, Lancaster sucks!
Lancasters rule, death to Crips
Lancasters rule, death to Crips

Think of it like Game of Thrones, only real. Reading a summary will make your head explode, because there are so many different battles, and changes of fortune, and seriously every major combatant from the beginning of the war gets killed either in battle or via treachery, such that the end of the whole thing is as much a last man standing sort of affair as it is anything else. My personal favourite part is when after the Yorkists win the battle of Northampton they find king Henry VI just sitting in his tent, abandoned by his own army. Oh yeah, Henry VI – the guy they spent years fighting over until someone decided just to kill him – was insane, probably schizophrenic, and spent over a year in a semi-catatonic state. Monarchy is the best form of government ever.

Simple King Henry VI
Simple King Henry VI

Anyways, near the end of it all Edward IV took the throne, and his advisors arranged for him to marry the daughter of the King of France. A sound political move. But! Edward IV ruined everything when he was beset by lust (or love, if you prefer) and married this hot little number, Elizabeth Woodville, who was – gasp – a commoner.


Hmm… sound familiar? Anyways, later on Edward IV died, leaving his twelve year old son Edward V as his heir. However, he left his evil brother Richard in charge as his son’s protector.

Don't worry, I'll take good care of my nephews
Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of my nephews

Richard promptly had the young king’s advisors arrested and killed, and locked up his nephews (Edward and his brother Richard) in the Tower of London, er, for their protection. They are known to us as the Princes in the the Tower.


Arrangements were made for the coronation of the boy king in June of 1483 but then, woops, parliament declared that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid because of a pre-existing marriage agreement, and that aw shucks, his children were therefore illegitimate, and therefore Richard just had to ascend to the throne as Richard III. Totally a coincidence, though. Therefore Edward V was indeed king, but was never crowned.

The young non-king and his brother were seen increasingly rarely until one day they just … disappeared. Various historians argue that oh no, they were just sick or whatever, but come on! They were obviously murdered. I suppose this is a rare example of a villain successfully getting away with something in spite of those meddling kids.

Curses! I knew I should have locked you all in a tower and then murdered you!
Curses! I knew I should have locked you all in a tower and then murdered you!

But Richard III didn’t have to wait long for his comeuppance. Yet another rebellion soon started brewing, and eventually Richard met with Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. In spite of substantially outnumbering their foes, Richard’s forces were defeated, and Richard himself was brutally killed. This ended the Wars of the Roses with Tudor taking the throne as Henry VII and starting the dynasty with which we’re all familiar.

Richard was buried at the site, and his remains were discovered last year under what was then a parking lot. Tudor adopted his own rose symbol, the Tudor rose:


It is a symbol still worn today by anti-gang social workers in several American inner-cities.

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