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How effective was Edward IV's domestic government from 1471?

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Introduction

How effective was Edward IV's domestic government from 1471? Opinion has been divided about the effectiveness of Edward IV and his government during his second reign. Commynes, his contemporary criticised the gluttony and idleness of Edward. On the other hand, JK Green in the 1870s believed he was so effective that he and his government had established a "New Monarchy" of enhanced powers on which the Tudors later built. Christine Carpenter regards Edward IV as the most effective king since Edward I, which infers that his government must have been effective. Yet, J.R. Lander saw him as "a compound of dissipation and ability" and Charles Ross (1980) regarded his achievements as a ruler as "a mixed bag". One also has to remember that whatever the achievements of his government, he was the first King whose designated successor failed to secure the throne since Henry I and two years after his death, his dynasty (for which he fought so hard) was at an end. This suggests a lack of effectiveness. Edward's domestic government can be split into different parts, starting first with how effectively he coped with law and order in his second reign. In comparison with Henry VI's reign and his first reign there were no major rebellions, inferring that he controlled law and order effectively. From 1450 to 61 there were many rebellions, Cade's revolt in 1450 and Yorkist rebellions in 1452, 1455, 1459 and 1460. From 1461 to 70 (his first reign) ...read more.

Middle

The alienated noblemen did not revolt during his reign and this could show that he was a powerful ruler and that they were afraid of him. The tense foundations he had built for his son were most probably unavoidable. Although he may have given his brother too much power, the power to be in a position to claim the throne after his death, he would not have known his own brother would double-cross him and if he had not given him such power the feuds in the north may have continued. Therefore his law and order, due to the many positive factors outweighing the bad, can be seen as being an effective part of his domestic government. When Edward took the Crown for the second time in 1471 it was highly indebted therefore Edward promised in 1467 that he would "live off his own", meaning that he would live off his ordinary revenues and throughout his second reign he did as he promised. Edward ensured he was not in debt and as a result had become "solvent" by the time of his death and he was the first king since 1189 (almost 300 years), to do so. The Tudors, Henry VII and VIII, followed this pattern, which showed his effectiveness because his principles were copied. To increase his ordinary revenues Edward used many effective methods. He took care to preserve and increase the profits of the crown land, the Royal Demesne, from 1471 to 83. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some say that he was only effective because there was no crowned alternative to him, which does have some truth. Although there was nobody really left to rebel against him, they would probably have had trouble seizing the crown, as he was such a strong King and those that could have opposed him, waited until after his death - which shows that he was a strong monarch with an effective second reign and a highly effective domestic government that they agreed with. In conclusion, it can be said that Edward IV's domestic government from 1471 was a strong, magnificent and effective one. The claims to the throne after his death, by his brother Richard were not because his government was weak, as it has been said by some, because it was a great one. Edward may have been able to take methods to avoid Richard III's succession to the throne but, as most would be, he was ignorant to the fact that his brother would turn against him. If he had perhaps kept his brother Clarence alive, to give young Edward V two strong advisors this may have meant he would have survived on the throne, but not executing Clarence may have caused revolts during his reign, people may have believed they could get away with treason - like Clarence had. Therefore the decisions that Edward made were justified and his government was in a multitude of respects the best domestic government that had been seen for over a century. 31/10/03 ...read more.

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