Edward IV: champion of the Wars of the Roses
The first Yorkist king of England was given short shrift by Shakespeare. Yet AJ Pollard, author of a new book on Edward, argues that he was a remarkable military leader who decisively won the bloody, dynastic conflict
Shakespeare did not have much time for Edward IV. None of his history plays are dedicated to England’s first Yorkist king. Instead, the writer split that monarch’s reign between two plays: Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III – and Edward almost disappears between the two. A shallow, fickle man, he is overshadowed first by the heroic Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’, then by his own villainous younger brother. In Richard III, the second part of his reign (1471–83) is reduced to five scenes, in which the king is a bit player in all but two. Rendered sick and pliable, Edward is largely irrelevant to the course of events as he is manipulated by the Machiavellian Richard.