Reign of King Edward IV (2321 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • David C. Dougherty (Loyola University Maryland)


Of the many late-Plantagenet kings portrayed as weak or even despicable by William Shakespeare, none have as good a case for libel as Edward IV (1442-1483; regnal 1461-70, 1471-83): it has long been believed by many historians and literary scholars that Shakespeare contributed, if late in the game, to an orchestrated campaign to justify the Tudor coup of 1485. Even a hundred years after the fact, the Tudor establishment encouraged stories about the weakness and depravity of the late-Plantagenet monarchs in order to justify the invasion by Henry VII (1457-1509, regnal 1485-1509) and his establishment of the Tudor line. Whether Shakespeare was a deliberate propagandist, or whether he simply based his great historical dramas o…

Dougherty, David C.. "Reign of King Edward IV". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 January 2005
[, accessed 26 October 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Reigns and Monarchy in the British Isles