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Letters

Get in touch – share your opinions on history and our magazine

DEATH OF A KING

Julian Humphrys’ article on The Wars of the Roses (The Big Story, August 2015) did an excellent job of presenting a complex situation clearly but with enough detail to make it come alive.

However, one or two points might be amplified. Edward IV is described as “unexpectedly dying at the early age of 41”. The average age of death was much lower in the 15th century than it is now, even when violence was not the cause. An attack of plague or an abscessed tooth could bring a kingdom to disaster. Hence the need for an unchallenged heir in waiting – preferably of adult years.

Edward IV had led his armies from the front in the dozen battles that had placed him securely on the throne. He then relaxed physically. He ate, drank and was merry. According to some sources, he would intentionally make himself sick and then start eating again. From his mid-30s, his health started to deteriorate and soon foreign ambassadors commented on his “gross corpulence”.

In December 1482, Edward suffered a terrible shock when Louis XI of France cancelled the betrothal of his son, Dauphin Charles, to Edward’s eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and the annual payment to stop Edward invading France again. This was called a pension but was really protection money.

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The October 2015 issue of History Revealed