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The Wars of the Roses
(this information was summarised from several pages including these references. If you see a reference not correctly cited, please contact me so that I can put things right! The Wars of the Roses were an intermittent series of dynastic struggles, lasted from 1455 to 1487 and were the last wars to be fought in England over the issue of who should be king. Known during the period as the wars between Lancaster and York, it was not until much later that it was remarked upon that the symbol of the House of York was the white rose and that the coat of arms of the House of Lancaster included a red rose. Shakespeare made much of this in his historical plays about the period and it is from this that we take the modern name for the wars.

The Very Brief Summary
Following the usurpation of the throne in 1399 by a junior line of the Plantagenet family, the third of these Lancastrian kings proved to be both incompetent and mentally unstable. After a few years of gradually escalating warfare, the throne was taken by the Yorkist line of the Plantagenets in 1461. The Lancastrians, with the help of the Kingmaker, took it back in 1470and lost it again in 1471. The popular Yorkist King Edward held the throne until his death in 1483. The king's younger brother, Richard, put the king's sons in the Tower of London and took the crown himself.

At the time of his premature death from dysentery in 1422. Thus Henry became the first king of the Tudor dynasty. In spite of a dissolute youth. he established firm and sober government and. a collateral heir of the Lancastrians. The seed of these bitter struggles was planted in 1399 by the forced abdication and execution of Richard II (a grandson of Edward III) by Henry Bolingbroke. Henry V began his reign in 1413 at the age of 26. Edward III RichardII Henry IV Henry had himself crowned as Henry IV.. thus establishing on the throne the Lancastrian line of the House of Plantagenet. Duke of Lancaster (Richard's cousin and also a grandson of Edward III). moreover. Henry Tudor. fired the patriotism of medieval England with conquests in France.In 1485. invaded from France and won the Battle of Bosworth killing King Richard. The reign of Henry IV was troubled by unrest and occasional rebellion but he did survive long enough to pass the crown to his son. Henry of Monmouth. England held most of western France and had forced the king of France to recognise Henry as his heir. The Facts in more detail. ..

The French forces. duke of Somerset. . who had proved to be political. Duke of York (descended from Edward III and with a slightly better claim to the throne than the Lancastrian line) and by the king's wife. the regency proved itself incompetent in both governing England and in prosecuting the war in France. Government did not improve. commerce and prosperity declined and French pirates raided the coast with impunity. and militant (and with William de la Pole. however. inspired by Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc [for more information click here] Henry VI came of age in 1437 and married a niece of the French king in 1445. they had retaken all of France except for one fortified port city. influence. The two strongest factions were those headed by Richard Plantagenet. aggressive. while political factions and court favourites manoeuvred for power.Henry V HenryVI Henry V's son. was just one year old when his father died and the infant was proclaimed King Henry VI under a regency committee formed of his uncles. and access to the Treasury. controlled the weak Lancastrian king Henry VI. While government faltered. pious and concerned with court morals. Henry of Windsor. Margaret of Anjou ). in 1449. as Henry proved to be weak and ineffectual. gradually pushed the English back until. duke of Suffolk & Edmund Beaufort. As the boy grew.

the kingdom was mostly ungoverned while the two factions gathered adherents and prepared for major warfare. with the king a mere pawn lending legitimacy to whichever side had possession of him. the Duke of York raised a small force and moved south from his lands in the North of England to press his rights. entering a state that moderns would call catatonic schizophrenia. under the influence of his wife Margaret.[picture from here] The Yorkists gained popular support as a result of discontent over the failure of English arms in the Hundred Years War and over the corruption of the court and. the king regained his sanity and. Albans is considered the start of the Wars of the Roses. leaving Queen Margaret at the head of the defeated royal party. He was met by a force of the Queen's supporters at St. In that same year. What had been dirty political infighting was now open warfare. Albans on May 22. Concerned that he was about to be eliminated physically as well as politically. declared himself Lord Protector and administered the kingdom while continuing to limit the power of the queen. in 1450 when a peasant rebellion led by Jack Cade with considerable support from the working and merchant classes in London demanded stable and responsible government. who there after became Henry VI's chief minister and the effective head of government. he resorted to arms. After 15 months. dismissed Richard from all offices and replaced the queen and her party in a position of power. Queen Margaret (now sometimes called Captain Margaret) moved to reduce Richard's lands and wealth and gradually gathered an alliance of the landed lords against him. Suffolk was murdered. In 1453 the birth of a son to Margaret of Anjou displaced York as heir. York was excluded from the royal council. it weakened the Queen's party. Somerset was killed. Riots took place in the streets of . and strengthened the party of the Duke of York. The duke was appointed protector. Although only a small skirmish. For the next four years. Richard. who had mostly been in control. in this unstable political situation. Duke of York. Although the rebellion was put down after several months. Henry VI went mad. Angered by Richard's treatment of her during the king's madness. In 1453. and York again served as protector for a short period (1455-56). this First Battle of St. 1455. and the duke of York forced the king to recognise his claim as heir to the throne. In 1454.

The Earl of Warwick. whose son was thus disinherited. they eventually agreed to make Richard the heir of King Henry. Marching north. York. 1460) and captured King Henry. February 17) but managed to get away with some of his army intact. Albans. fought and lost a holding action (the Second Battle of St. The duke of York hurried to London to assert his claims to the throne. and the city of London. his eldest son. The three month period from late December 1460 through late March 1461was one of almost continual warfare. The citizens of London. and several other important adherents were killed in this battle. Edmund. In the meantime. After the queen fled to Wales. In late summer of 1459. favouring the Yorkists. had been raising an army in the West and the Duke of York brought his forces out to meet it. A compromise was effected by which Henry remained king and York and his heirs were declared successors. Prince Edward. the Duke of York's strongest supporter. Although the startled Parliament did refuse this. and the duke's second son. Richard Neville. The queen then moved eastward while burning and pillaging the countryside that had supported the Yorkists. Edward. Richard Neville. Queen Margaret.London and trade--especially the valuable trade in wool with Holland--came to a virtual standstill because of French fleets ravaging the Channel shipping and plundering English towns on the coast. by laws of strict inheritance. Earl of Warwick In June of the following year. thus disinheriting Henry's son. with hastily-gathered forces. which were. but Richard Neville. earl of Warwick. were forced to flee overseas. army routed the queen's army at Northampton (July 10. became the real leader of the Yorkist party. the Archbishop of Canterbury. whom Warwick had forced to take a place in the battle line. perhaps better than those of the king himself. Richard Plantagenet. Earl of March. including the largest. bloodiest battle fought on English soil up to that time. Earl of Warwick. with her son. and his claims devolved upon his son Edward. Margaret's army rescued King Henry. the Yorkists set up a government and called a parliament. the Yorks. but Edward meanwhile secured a Yorkist victory at . raised an army and defeated (1460) the Yorkists at Wakefield(December 30). finding sudden treachery in their ranks. Queen Margaret finally moved her army North and the Yorkists. refused to contribute soldiers or money to the cause of defending against an invasion. demanded of Parliament that they depose the Lancastrian line and make him King of England. Queen Margaret. Duke of York. brought a small force ashore at Sandwich and were immediately welcomed and joined by most of Kent. In October.

Raising an army quickly. with a combined number of about 35. King Edward married a beautiful English widow. they crossed to England and restored Henry VI to the throne. During the following eight years. He was enthusiastically supported by London and most lords in the South of England because of Queen Margaret's savagery and rumors that she intended to pillage all of England if she could. Although somewhat outnumbered.000 soldiers. instead of driving forward to take the city. was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. fled to France (1470). Supported by Louis XI of France. marched into London unopposed. Edward of York at the age of 19 was proclaimed King Edward IV. In 1464. King Henry. Queen Margaret lost her last minor battles and retired from the fray to relatives in France. 1461. Thousands died in the rout which followed. her helpless husband and their son fled to Scotland. The deposed Henry was captured (1465) and put into the Tower of London. entered the city instead. Warwick and Edward. continued(with Scottish aid) to raise resistance in the north until 1464. formed a stable government. perhaps 10. and assumed the throne as Edward IV.Warwick and the king's brother George. peace and some prosperity returned to the country as King Edward IV consolidated his strength. London was panic-stricken but Queen Margaret. hesitated. Edward IV ElizabethWoodville On March 4. conciliated many Lancastrian supporters. the new King Edward marched north in pursuit of the Lancastrian army. the Duke of York's eldest surviving son and now his heir. Although the Lancastrian cause now seemed hopeless. In the same year. after their defeat at Towton (March. Elizabeth Wydville. The Lancastrians. a quarrel broke out between Warwick and Edward IV after the latter's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464.Mortimer's Cross.000 men died on both sides during the battle and aftermath. The queen. the young King Edward fought brilliantly and fiercely. Earl of March. formed returned to the country as King Edward IV consolidated his strength. and repulsed the French naval forces in the Channel. allied against Edward. elderly and almost mindless. eventually breaking the Lancastrian line. and there became reconciled with Margaret of Anjou. The two armies. and began fathering heirs to his throne. 1461). met near Towton on March 29 and proceeded to hack at each other savagely. duke of Clarence. .

himself.The Wars of the Roses were not over yet. the remaining Lancastrian sympathisers decided to take advantage of the confusion with an uprising on the Scottish border. Warwick decided that his best chance for ruling England was to reinstate the Lancastrian King Henry and rule through him. Crushing his opponents at the Battle of Lose-Coat Field (March 12. to France. King Edward and his loyal youngest brother Richard were almost captured before fleeing to Ghent in the Low Countries. however. Warwick had succeeded in reversing the outcome of the previous wars and the Lancastrian line was again on the throne of England. supported by the die-hard Lancastrians in England. was not without resources and supporters. While Warwick waited for Parliament to assemble. and his brothers had been among the strongest. with the king's brother. Caught entirely by surprise and without a standing army. and most successful of the Yorkist adherents but. Richard Neville. of course. Edward was able to put together a substantial force and make a landing in Yorkshire in mid-March of the following year. perhaps even. now that the fighting was past. Edward pardoned his brother George and the Duke of Warwick for their actions and then moved to clean up the Lancastrian rebellion. the Earl of Warwick. Warwick was forced to capitulate and King Edward was back in command. releasing a confused Henry VI from his secure residence in the Tower of releasing a confused Henry VI from his secure residence in the Tower of London. Edward out-generaled his opponents. 1471. Unsatisfied by this situation. Richard Neville. Warwick made a landing in the West Country in September 1470. rose against the king. Duke of Clarence and. placed him back on the throne with. himself as the chief minister of government. Warwick marched into London and. George. By sudden movements and feints. Warwick tried to raise an army quickly once this became known but was forced to flee. For this feat. most fervent. Warwick attempted to raise an army to lead against the Lancastrians but could get no support from the lords and populace until they were assured that the popular King Edward was safe and his own master. With a sizeable loan from the Duke of Burgundy. Although Warwick and his supporters managed to bring large forces against him. Warwick made an alliance with the King's gullible younger brother. supported by his own powerful and extensive family. Edward then discovered evidence that the rebellion had actually been instigated by Warwick and George. Edward's small army managed to scatter and confuse Warwick's Lancastrians and open the way to London. Almost without a blow being struck. though in exile. Warwick succeeded in capturing the king and called for a parliament with the purpose of deposing King Edward and placing on the throne the king's easily-led younger brother or. Duke of Clarence. Earl of Warwick acquired the nickname 'The Kingmaker. found themselves being pushed out of government and influence by King Edward's preference for the ambitious relatives of his wife. 1470). Supported by Queen Margaret and her French connections. . for the purpose of showing that Edward could not control the kingdom. in the summer of 1469. In France.' King Edward.

Opposition to Richard advanced the fortunes of Henry Tudor. Several chief Lancastrian lords were captured and executed. pushed back their opponents and the battle became a rout. Edward hurried to Westminster to greet his wife and children who had lived in sanctuary for the past several months. Queen Margaret and her son Edward landed in England from France. who had followed Edward through all the upheavals of his reign. were killed. the House of York sat securely on the throne. Completely unequal to the Yorkist king. Duke of Clarence's dissatisfaction with King Edward's preferment of his youngest brother. Soon there after Henry VI died. she quickly began to raise yet another army and met the forces of King Edward at Tewkesbury on May 4. Margaret was imprisoned. Competent. had quickly become the most powerful lord in the kingdom. and ascended the throne as Henry VII. In 1485. Queen Margaret and her forces were quickly defeated. who quickly rose in government office. duke of Gloucester. Taking advantage of this confusion and fighting valiantly to inspire the troops. usurped the throne as Richard III. The two armies met and fought in a dense fog near Barnet on Easter Sunday.Edward returned to England in 1471. After 12 relatively peaceful years. Learning of the disaster. the Lancastrian heir. Warwick and Henry's son. April 14. Richard. After returning King Henry to the Tower. regained London. was slain either during the battle or immediately afterward. brought his troops over to Edward and asked for forgiveness. Edward's disloyal brother George. sensible. Immediately following King Edward's return to London on May 21. The following dozen years of peace saw a strengthening of government and courts. Edward moved back north to meet Warwick. Prince Edward. lands. Edward IV was succeeded (1483) by his young son Edward V. In the confusion of the fog. Duke of Gloucester (still only 21). King Henry himself was executed. now the Lancastrian claimant. an able soldier and general. On the same day and unaware of the Lancastrian defeat. Edward. and recaptured Henry. thus bringing to an end the direct line of the House of Lancaster. seeing the error of his ways now that he seemed to be losing. defeated and killed Richard at Bosworth Field. Queen Margaret herself was captured. and utterly loyal to his . The collateral heirs of Lancaster lived in poverty on the Continent. As King Edward was much-loved and had two fine sons. There were only two sounds of dissension: One was some dissatisfaction with Edward's preferment of his Queen's relatives. His army now considerably strengthened. Warwick the Kingmaker was slain on the field. King Edward and his brother Richard. Duke of Gloucester. earl of Richmond. In the ensuing battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury (1471). Queen Margaret was ransomed by the French king and died in obscurity a few years later. Richard. The Wars of the Roses again seemed to be over. probably slain at the orders of Edward IV. Henry landed from France. and an end to the war with France. King Edward entered London on April 11 to the rejoicing of the citizens. The second was George. separate divisions of each army fought independently and. one Lancastrian force attacked another Lancastrian force. a reorganising of finances. and wealth. but soon the boy's uncle Richard. 1471. at one point.

was quickly proclaimed King Edward V. George felt slighted that he himself was passed over for many of these honours. 1483 after naming his brother Richard as Lord Protector of the kingdom and of Edward's two young sons. Richard was Chamberlain of England. accused Edward's wife. age 12. and meddled in the affairs of the King's government. Edward and Richard. Warden of the West Marches. Richard discovered (or perhaps manufactured) evidence thathis brother's marriage to Elizabeth Wydville had not been legal and thattherefore the two boys were illegitimate and could not inherit the throne. 1483. after a trial in Parliament. Richard Plantagenet. Queen Elizabeth Wydville of witchcraft. grumbled continuously. 1478. unexpectedly on April 9. recipient of many of the estates of dead Lancastrians and steward of the estates of many others. [for some theories on the death of the princes click here] . Duke of Gloucester. and the North Marches (giving him absolute authority over the borders with Scotland and Wales).The two boys. never left the Tower again. King Edward had his brother George arrested and. The eldest boy. and took the kingship himself. King of England on June 26. became Richard III. executed for treason on February 18.brother the King. the Middle Marches. His attitude came to a head in 1477 when he interfered with King Edward's plans for a family marriage alliance in Europe and. placed in a secure royal residence within the Tower of London. Richard III Supported by a Parliament fearful of a contested succession and of new rumours of Lancastrian stirrings in the West Country and on the Continent. However. Exasperated beyond limit and sensitive to his wife's complaints. at the same time. Edward IV died suddenly. Richard had the two boys disinherited.

Henry Tudor advanced to meet Richard's forces. Most of these final adherents to at the Battle of Stoke on June 16. In 1487. one of the few remaining collateral heirs of Lancaster living on the Continent. the sister of the two disinherited boy heirs of York. The two armies met at Bosworth Field on August 22. was dissatisfied with his rewards. Richard fought valiantly and might well have won the battle had not one of the lords suddenly and treacherously defected to the Lancastrian side. however. however. In spite of this short-lived rebellion. It is not totally clear whether the rebellion was in reaction to his usurpation of the throne or because the Duke of Buckingham. 1487. Postcard from the Wallace Collection gift shop. with a dry sense of humour. the disaffected Wydville lords. . 1485. One last spark remained to flare up. formed a secret alliance with Elizabeth Wydville. Richard III was killed in the battle. hoping to have finally brought the wars to an end. to land in the West Country. Henry Tudor quickly moved to London and was acknowledged King Henry VII. Refusing to retreat. Quickly gathering an army.[The Princes in the Tower: Paul Delaroche The Wallace Collection. one Henry Tudor. Henry Tudor landed with a small force on August 7. a stronghold of anti-Richard feelings. London. Richard's hold on the throne seemed secure as he continued to enforce the strong. UK. made Lambert Simnel a servant in his household. claimant to the Earldom of Richmond. thus establishing the Tudor dynasty of Kings and Queens. In January of the following year. 1487. Henry VII crushed the Yorkists at the Battle of Stoke on June 16. and whatever Lancastrian sympathisers might still be found. By mid-1485. which had favoured the Yorkists. becoming both the last Yorkist king and the last king of the line of Plantagenets that had ruled England for331 years. a young man named Lambert Simnel but claiming to be the son of George. Most of these final adherents to the Yorkist cause were executed. sober government of his brother. now the ex-Queen. Henry married Elizabeth Plantagenet. and proclaimed himself `the very heir of Lancaster. Duke of Clarence.1485 at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. heretofore a strong supporter of Richard. managed to gather enough supporters in Ireland.' With support from the French king. Henry. from here] Richard III was forced to put down a rebellion in October of that year.

uk/uni/academic/I-M/is/studwork/medieval/index.org/bookcase/shaksper/rossnote. but he never achieved enough support to be a serious threat. Yorkists.html . M.A decade later.lib. the younger of Edward IV's two sons.rhodes.ac.html http://connexus.nl/paul/medsource. Lander.J. The Yorkist Age (1962. F. and Henry VII (1964).repr.3wis. 1965). S.A.htm Thissite covers location of important heritage sites .worth visiting! these aren't in any order .html MedievalStudies Resources LAW WWWVIRTUAL LIBRARY for MEDIEVAL STUDIES WWW Medieval Resources ORB--Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies Resources for Medieval Studies MedievalStudies Medieval Sourcebook < >What's New In ORB http://orb. Other sites concentrating on the History of the Wars of the Roses http://www. Kaiser.reported as 'file not found' http://www. The Wars of The Roses had finally come to an end.edu/ann.htmlreported as bad link GAIL DEDRICK'S GUIDETO THE MONARCHS OF ENGLAND AND GREAT BRITAIN PASSWORD REQUIRED! (last reported as 'access denied') Bibliography: See E. P. R.net. References Richard III Society Homepage TheLongbow by Robert E.shef. B.uh. Kendall.au/~trollus/r3roses.no response from host WWW Medieval Resources ORB--Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies Medieval Sourcebook WWWVIRTUAL LIBRARY for MEDIEVAL STUDIES MedievalStudies NetSERF UKArchaeology on the Internet Canterbury Archaeological Trust < >Medieval Studies: Main Index . Wars of the Roses Britannia and TheMonarchs of England Directory of Royal Genealogical Data Nationality/Time Frame Index <>Special Collections Resources on the Web http://info. M. Lancastrians. The Fifteenth Century (1961).r3. a young man named Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard.edu/specoweb.please feel free to suggest on! Footwear of the Middle Ages < >Resources for Medieval Studies http://www.html . Chrimes.Jacob. The Wars of the Roses (1965).reported as bad link MedievalWomen .

NetSERF MedievalEurope <>History of archery http://www.luth.scriptorium.Norman and British Living History 9501066AD .org/VanKampen/Home.n-vision.his. Viking.no/~morten-b/a_hist.net Museum of Art Archive Mirror in HTML http://www.Norman and British Living History 9501066AD .us/~davidc/.ludd. Viking.html -reported as bad link Cariadoc'sMiscellany: The Perfect Armor < >Index of /users/fredag/ikoner http://www.Home Page Rialto Archive <>Vikings and Stuff http://www.html -reported as bad link < >The Arador Armour Library http://darkstar.k12.reported as bad link Bodleian Library WWW Server.cat.reported as bad link Arms& Armour Glossary of Terms GroverFurr's Medieval History and Literature Page Manuscriptslist DScriptorium Home Page Bodleian Library WWW Server.stud.com/spoon/vikes/index.swsc.bluesky-prod.reported as down Medieval Reenactment Page PatternDrafting The PSC Medieval SocietyOfficial Medieval Links List Regia Anglorum .edu/fox/art/.Anglo-Saxon.html .com/links.htmlreported as bad link Sheffield Uni Medieval Re-enactment < >Book Of Links http://www.Towards an Image Catalogue Hill Monastic Manuscript Library Resources UniversityArchery Club: Sagittarius Twente <>TheVan Kampen Collection http://www.nyu.se/users/fredag/ikoner/reported as bad link Nationality/Time Frame Index COLLECTION:Medieval and Anglo Saxon Recipes MedievalEuropean Recipes : COLLECTION Cariadoc'sMiscellany Medieval/Renaissance FoodHomepage < >Texas.ar.Towards an Image Catalogue .Home Page Rialto Archive Footwear ofthe Middle Ages Medieval Home Blackwork EmbroideryArchives Milieux: The CostumeSite Medieval Reenactment Page Costuming PatternDrafting Regia Anglorum .Anglo-Saxon.

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