The Private Life of Edward IV
- John Ashdown-Hill
15th October 2017
From the moment it became public news, the validity of Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Widville, the beautiful widow of a Lancastrian knight, was repeatedly called into question. This alarmed Elizabeth Widville and led her into political killings. She was terrified that she would lose her crown and that her children by the king would never succeed to the throne. But after Edward’s death a bishop publicly announced that he had previously married the king to Lady Eleanor Talbot. As a result, Edward’s children by Elizabeth, including his eldest son and heir to the throne, Edward, were then declared illegitimate, making Edward’s brother Richard the legitimate heir to the throne. Later, claims were put forward that Edward had numerous mistresses and left behind many illegitimate children.
Dr John Ashdown-Hill, a central figure in the Looking for Richard Project and a renowned Richard III historian with a special talent for getting behind the mythology of history, now turns his attention to Richard’s eldest brother, Edward IV. He unravels the complex web of stories around Edward’s private life, discussing the truth behind Edward’s reputation. Did Edward have numerous mistresses? Did he produce many bastards? Who was his legal wife? And what caused the early death of Eleanor Talbot?