Carpenter on Edward IV

Edward IV being presented with a book by Caxton and Earl Rivers
Public Domain. Click to view source and details.

Historiography: Professor Carpenter on Edward IV

Views about the Wars of the Roses, its personalities, causes and the impact that they have had, have changed greatly over the years. It is important for students to be aware of the different views. They have developed as a result of research and changing views of the nature of the conflict. Professor Christine Carpenter of the University of Cambridge is one of the leading experts on the wars of the roses. Below is a section of her 1997 book that deals with the kingship of Edward IV

Edward did not lose his throne in 1470–71 because he had misgoverned in his first period as king. Inheriting an extremely difficult situation, he had dealt with it with remarkable aplomb, especially for one so young and inexperienced. He had coped expertly with both Lancastrian resistance and the foreign interference which exploited this and secured the northern border. Good management had made his finances perfectly adequate for his needs and the resistance to his rather high-handed use of taxation had only become a serious matter towards the end of the decade because of the participation of other much more dangerous forces. Far from throwing away all the confiscated lands at his disposal on his accession, he had used them astutely to build up a Yorkist nobility, while wisely realising that he had to turn the whole nobility into his men and needed therefore to forgive and restore some of his former enemies or their heirs. The defection of pardoned Lancastrians was simply the price that had to be paid for the only possible policy, as long as there was a rival for them to defect to. Neither Warwick nor the Woodvilles had been allowed to dominate him, and his closest associates in governance had increasingly become his new nobles, Hastings above all. Given the circumstances, he had done well with the problem of restoring order, but that was something that could only be properly tackled once he was in a more secure position with regard to the nobility. There had been the odd error and misjudgement, such as failing to kill Henry VI as soon as he had him in his custody and perhaps being a little casual about the extent of rebellion in 1469 and 1470, but surprisingly few considering his age and lack of experience.

Christine Carpenter The Wars of the Roses 1997 p180-181

Edward IV being presented with a book by Caxton and Earl Rivers
Public Domain. Click to view source and details.


Causes of the Wars of the Roses – Course of the War of the Roses – Events of the War of the Roses

Battles in the Wars of the Roses

First Battle of St. Albans  – Battle of Blore Heath – Battle of Ludford Bridge – Battle of Northampton – Battle of Wakefield – Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – Second Battle of St. Albans Battle of Ferrybridge – Battle of Towton – Battle of Hedgeley Moor – Battle of Hexham – Battle of Edgecote Moor – Battle of Losecote Field – Battle of Barnet – Battle of Tewkesbury – Battle of Bosworth – Battle of Stoke Field

Documents, Maps and Evidence

The Rous Rolls – Paston Letters – Edward IV Roll

People and periods

British History – The Wars of the Roses – The Plantagenets – The Tudors – King Henry IV – King Henry V – King Henry VI – King Edward IV – King Edward V – King Richard III – King Henry VII – Margaret of Anjou

Misconceptions about the Wars of the Roses

Schoolshistory – teaching resources for Key Stage 3, GCSE and A Level history

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