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England's True Monarch?

Updated on July 11, 2013

True Monarch?

In a programme on sky TV, the historian Tony Robinson traced the True Monarch of England back and found that our existing Queen, the Royal Family and their forbears are not really entitled to be the ruling monarchs of our country at all. In his research Robinson traced our Queen's lineage back to King Edward 4th. His argument was that Edward was illegitimate, having been born at Rouen while his father, Richard Duke of York was miles away fighting a battle with the French. The true lineage, if Edward was illegitimate, would have started with George, Duke of Clarence, Edward's brother, and the line would come down to a man who left our country in 1960 when he emigrated to Australia. Robinson states that the real monarch should be Michael Abney Hastings residing in Jerilderi, New South Wales. When Robinson interviewed Lord Hastings in Australia, he was quite happy to stay where he was and live the simple life.

King Edward 4th

King Edward 4th, 28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483 was crowned on 4th March 1461. He reigned until 3rd October 1470, when he was deposed, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death from pneumonia in 1483.

Edward of York was born at Rouen in France, the second son of Richard Duke of York and Cecily Neville. He was the eldest of four surviving sons. The Duke of York's claim to the crown in 1460 was the start of the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses. Edward inherited his claim to the throne when his father was killed at the battle of Wakefield.

Henry 6th and his Queen, Margaret of Anjou, led the Lancastrian claim to the throne. Edward and his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, later called 'The Kingmaker' defeated the Lancastrians in a succession of battles culminating in the battle of Towton which practically wiped out the Lancastrian armies.

Warwick, a very ambitious man, believing that he could rule through Edward, pressed him to marry into a European power but Edward had his own ideas, and he alienated Warwick by secretly marrying Elizabeth Woodville daughter of the wealthy Duchess of Bedford.

Warwick looked upon Edward's new family as a threat to his power and he resented the influence this group had over the King. Warwick then plotted with Edward's disaffected younger brother George Duke of Clarence, forming an army to overthrow Edward. While Edward was at Olney, a market town in Buckinghamshire, Warwick's forces defeated his army at the Battle of Edgecote Moor. They then raced to Olney and captured Edward. Warwick now thought he could rule the country but the nobles loyal to Edward set up a counter-rebellion. Warwick had to set Edward free, and rather than banish them, Edward forgave them and they were reconciled. Warwick and Clarence's ambitions, however, were so strong that they decided to try again in 1470, to gain the throne, but this time they were defeated and forced to flee to France. They made an alliance with Margaret of Anjou in France, and Warwick agreed to restore Henry VI to the throne in return for French support. They invaded in late 1470, and this time Edward was forced to flee, seeking refuge in Burgundy. His younger brother Richard Duke of Gloucester went with him.

Henry 6th was briefly restored to the throne in 1470. The rulers of Burgundy at that time were his brother-in-law Charles Duke of Burgundy and Edward's sister Margaret of York. The French then declared war on Burgundy and Charles and Edward raised an army to win back his kingdom.

Kingdom in turmoil

When he returned to England with a relatively small force, he began to gather support, and Clarence, seeing the way that the land lay, decided to join up with him rather than be subservient to Henry 6th. Edward entered London unopposed, where he took Henry VI prisoner. Edward and his brothers then defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet where Warwick was killed. The remaining Lancastrian resistance was wiped out at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. A few days later, on the night that Edward re-entered London, Henry 6th died, and rumour had it that he was killed to eliminate further opposition.

Edward's two younger brothers, George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard 3rd, were married to Isabella and Ann Neville, both daughters of Warwick. Clarence and Gloucester were at loggerheads for much of the time, and Clarence again plotted against Edward. He was tried, found guilty and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was later executed by drowning in a barrel of wine. Edward did not face any further rebellions after his restoration, as the Lancastrian line had virtually been extinguished, and the only rival left was Henry Tudor, son of Margaret Beaufort, who was in exile in France.

Edward's health began to fail and he became fatally ill at Easter 1483, but he did add some codicils to his will, the most important being his naming of his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483, leaving his twelve-year-old son, Edward 5th, to be crowned king. Edward 5th and his younger brother Richard were kept in the Tower of London and there met their untimely deaths, the legend of which has been recorded as the mystery of 'The Princes in the Tower.'

Whether Edward 4th was illegitimate is still debated, but in those days it seemed that whoever was able to seize the throne became the monarch. Richard 3rd became king after the deaths of the Princes in the Tower and later, Henry 7th became king by defeating Richard at the battle of Bosworth, even though Henry had no clear right to the throne.

Is this Proof?


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    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 5 years ago from South Wales

      Fascinating stuff, history, eh Trish? Thanks for commenting.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 5 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      I watched that documentary, too, and it looked very possible that Edward was not the true king by inheritance.

      But, as you say, wars could make kings, so it wasn't always blood and heritage that counted.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 8 years ago from South Wales

      You're right, jayjay. it was avery inexact science in those days.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 8 years ago from Bristol England

      I saw that programm and you have to ask yourself how do we know for certain where people were, or even the precise date of births, so far back. Any way as you said Henry vii claim to the throne was very weak.