Edward IV – no pussycat!
I find it – interesting, shall we say – that some people are so keen to hate Richard III that they tend to play down the fact that his brother, Edward IV, was at least as ruthless, if not more so. This does no service to Edward, who in some narratives seems to be a virtual cipher in the hands of Evil Richard. Edward was no man’s puppet, as a certain Earl of Warwick discovered to his cost.
Some examples of Edward IV’s ruthlessness:
Dragging the Lancastrian leaders out of the sanctuary of Tewkesbury Abbey and having them beheaded. (Oh, sorry, that was Richard, wasn’t it? Edward wanted to let them off with a warning.)
Murdering the anointed king, Henry VI, who was a harmless simpleton. (Oh, sorry, that was Richard again wasn’t it? Silly me. Edward was planning to send Henry to a comfortable retirement home in Bognor Regis.)
Pinching various families lands for the benefit of his own family. (Oh, there I go again! It was Richard who wanted the Countess of Warwick’s land split between Clarence and himself, and I’m sure that, for nefarious reasons of his own, he was behind the grabbing of the Holland (Exeter) and Mowbray inheritances as well, even though these benefited the Woodvilles.) By the way, the last King of England before Edward to do significant land grabs was Richard II, and he gets torn to bits about it by historians.
Throwing the Duke of Exeter overboard. (Though it was probably either an accident or done by Richard.)
Murdering his own brother, Clarence. (Oh sorry, it was either a lawful execution and/or Richard did it anyway.)
Do you see a theme here? Whenever Edward does something ‘bad’, there’s always someone who pops up and puts at least some of the blame on Richard. One is tempted to misquote Charles II. ‘My words are my own, but my deeds are Richard’s.’
Anyway, here is one ruthless deed that no one has pinned on Richard yet. According to Speed, a citizen of Chepe was hanged for treason in Edward’s reign for saying he would make his son heir to the Crown. (He meant the Crown public house, but Edward wasn’t laughing.) Of course, this is an obvious lie. The execution must surely date from 1483-1485 as that sweet fellow Edward would never have done such a thing.