Royal Armouries

Edward IV in the Line of Kings

Images

monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

Figure of King Edward IV in the Horse Armoury, by Robert William Buss, about 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Edward IV in the Horse Armoury, by Robert William Buss, about 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Henry VI in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome line drawing of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    The Horse Armoury, by an unknown artist, early 19th century © Royal Armouries 2013

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of a line of mounted armoured figures

    ‘Interior of the Horse Armoury’, anon engraving, The Penny Magazine, 1836 © Royal Armouries 2013

  • colour portrait of a man sitting at a desk holding a book

    Portrait of William Hutton by an unknown artist, about 1780 © Birmingham Museums Trust

  • watercolour detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse with a crown above

    Figure of Edward V, with a crown suspended above his head, in the Line of Kings from the 'Horse Armoury' by Rowlandson and Pugin. 1809 (I.345b)

Tilt Armour

Object Providence Italian, 1570
Object Number II.188 TBC

Edward IV in the Line of Kings

Description

The reigns of Edward IV and Henry VI were intertwined in a battle for power. Twice Edward IV was crowned king and he thought he had finally managed to secure the crown for the House of York in the Wars of the Roses when he died in 1483.

The 1753 Tower of London guidebook summarised his reign as such: ‘His reign is stained with blood and lust; and tho he was fortunate in most of his battles; yet his victories were all at the expense of his own subjects’. And to symbolise his military victories he was displayed ‘distinguished by a suit of bright armour studded, and by holding in his right hand a drawn sword’. Furthermore the irony of the heads of two warring factions peacefully standing side by side was not lost on William Hutton. In his account in A Journey from Birmingham to London, published in 1785, he states: ‘Here Henry the Sixth, and Edward IV, mortal enemies in their day, sit quietly together’.

We know an armoured figure on horseback representing Edward IV was on display by 1661, thanks to the visitor account of William Schellinks. From the Tower Guidebooks we also know that Edward IV’s figure survived the re-display co-ordinated by the Samuel Meyrick in 1826-7. Between 1815 and 1827 his display was changed from holding a sword to holding a lance, and in 1827 his armour was described as a tournament armour. His horse described as being ‘in a housing, powdered with the king’s badges, the white rose and sun’. This change was due to a new armour being bought in 1825 which was subsequently used to represent Edward IV.

It is this armour that is seen in the picture of Edward IV published in The Penny Magazine in 1840. The use of this armour is interesting as it is an Italian armour from 1570, so not correct for the period. In addition, the use of a tournament armour was a move away from displaying Edward IV as a warrior king, in favour of portraying him as a sporting king. It is unclear why this decision was made, but it is certain that decisive action was taken to rebrand Edward IV, as demonstrated by the 1842 guidebook entry that described him as a ‘gay and gallant monarch’, far removed from the ‘reign is stained with blood and lust’ of the 1753 guidebook.

Edward IV is not represented in the present Line of Kings display in the White Tower.

Tilt Armour

Object Providence Italian, 1570
Object Number II.188 TBC

Related Objects

Samuel Meyrick and the Rearrangement of the Horse Armoury, about 1824-1827 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry VI in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Hutton’s account of the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Schellinks at the Tower in 1661 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Edward V in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

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Line of Kings