The battle of Wakefield in 1460, proved the downfall of the over confidant Duke. Leaving the safety of the castle walls, his hopelessly outnumbered force were attacked, and Richard of York was killed. Edmund of Rutland, his second son was captured and executed. Richard of York's decapitated head was placed upon Micklegate Bar at York, adorned with a paper crown; this to mock his ambitions.
(I took the above photograph of Micklegate Bar in 1992.)
This was followed by the battle of Mortimers Cross, the victory going to the House of York, led by Edward of March, the oldest son. However, the second battle at St. Albans, saw Warwick fleeing and Lancaster supposedly in control of the throne.
But as the Lancastrians faltered in retaking London, Edward and Warwick reunited and the deciding battle took place at Towton, Yorkshire. Here, the casualties were greater than ever before and it was an overwhelming victory to the House of York. Henry VI, Margaret and their son fled to Scotland. Edward was proclaimed King Edward IV, and entered London on June 26th, 1461.
England, Wales and the Sottish border still experienced four more years of fighting. During this time, Edward had made peace treaties with both France and Burgundy, who both promised not to support Lancaster. Upon which, France would not support Scotland. Both countries were obviously impressed with Edward's leadership and with what they could gain in return. Isolated as she now was, Scotland also opened negotiations with Edward of England. Eventually in July 1465,Henry VI was taken by English forces and confined to the Tower of London.
However, another drama had taken place prior to this, a startling revelation was revealed in September, 1464. Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Sir Richard Woodville and Jaquetta of Luxembourg, Dowager Duchess of Bedford. Six months earlier, Richard Woodville had been elevated from minor gentry to Lord Rivers after his marriage and his firm allegiance to Lancaster. Elizabeth was the widow of Sir John Grey, Lord Ferrers of Groby, descended from Norman nobility. He died at the Battle of St. Albans in the Lancastrian cause. They had two children, Thomas and Richard.
There was a very romantic story that lead to their marriage. Supposedly in 1461, Elizabeth waylaid Edward, when he was out hunting in Stony Stratford, not far from her parent's household at Grafton Regis. She lived here after her husband's death, in a struggling household which held no future for any of the family, with her two sons along with (?) five brothers and (?) seven sisters. When finally meeting Edward, she pleaded for her children's inheritance that had been lost to them after the death of their father.
I believe this painting of Elizabeth does conjure up a picture of a very beautiful woman who was 5 years older than her King (supposedly a great gap then), and who in refusing to become his mistress, became his wife. Edward fell in love, or was so devastated in his inability to seduce Elizabeth, that he secretly married her instead.
Edward was considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe and there were many candidates to become his wife. Bona of Savoy, sister to the Queen of France was the match favoured by Warwick and he went ahead, in 1463, to negotiate as both Edward and Louis, the King of France, were eager. However in September, 1464, Edward confessed to his Council that he had wed Elizabeth 5 months ago. And to keep his new family happy, he arranged marriages and positions for them all. Warwick was livid over this secret marriage.