‘It Was the Weaknesses of Edward Iv’s Reign Rather Than the Personal Ambitions of Richard Iii That Led to the Usurpation of the Crown in 1483.’ How Far Do You Agree with This Statement Explaining the Events of 1483? Essay
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There are many events that occurred in 1483 as a result of the weaknesses of Edward IV that led to the usurpation of the crown, such as the overmighty nobility, strong division between the Yorkists, the premature death of the King and the opposition of the Woodvilles. However there were also the personal ambitions of his brother Richard III, who had a strong powerbase in the North, needed to protect himself from the Woodville’s revenge, arranged the arrest and deaths of nobles in his way of the throne and imprisoned his own nephews.
One of the biggest weaknesses in Edward’s reign was his nobility, who were hugely overmighty despite the fact that he had distributed less patronage in his second reign than he did in his first. Gloucester and the Woodvilles benefited in particular from his extensive patronage. In July of 1471 Gloucester was granted all of Warwick’s northern lands and to help him conduct the war against the Scots in 1480-82 he was also made Lieutenant General in the north. This patronage gave Richard the power to be able to raise an army in his own right and he could act almost as a king in his area, which was a dangerous move as Richard was then able to march down from the north and claim the throne for his own after his brother’s death. The Woodville family also became overmighty and they increased as Richard spent less time at court. They were in control of Edward’s two sons at Ludlow Castle, enabling them to create a power base in Wales as they could exploit the patronage and resources vested in the King’s children. These overmighty nobles especially demonstrate how one of Edward’s weaknesses could lead to usurpation.
There were also deep divisions within the Yorkist nobility, made worse as the power of the Woodvilles increased, which led to conflict, particularly between the two aforementioned nobles. The Herbert family was forced to give the
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