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Wars of the Roses

series of dynastic wars

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1487) were a series of civil wars, fought over the throne of England, between supporters of the House of Lancaster (the Lancastrians) and supporters of the House of York (the Yorkists). Both houses (families) were branches of the House of Plantagenet, and were related through King Edward III.

Wars of the Roses
Plucking the Red and White Roses, by Henry Payne.jpg
Framed print after 1908 painting by Henry Payne of a scene from Shakespeare's play Henry VI, Part 1, where supporters of the rival factions pick either red or white roses
Date22 May 1455 – 22 August 1485 (30 years, 3 months)
Location
Result Initial Yorkist victory
Eventual Lancastrian victory
Belligerents

Red Rose Badge of Lancaster.svg House of Lancaster
Tudor Rose.svg House of Tudor

Supported by:
Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg Kingdom of Scotland
France moderne.svg Kingdom of France

White Rose Badge of York.svg House of York

Supported by:
Blason fr Bourgogne.svg Duchy of Burgundy
Commanders and leaders

Royal Arms of England (1470-1471).svg Henry VI Surrendered Executed
Arms of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond.svg Henry VII
Arms of Margaret of Anjou.svg Margaret of Anjou Surrendered #
Arms of the Prince of Wales (Modern).svg Prince of Wales 
Beaufort Arms (France modern).svg Duke of Somerset Executed
Arms of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter.svg Duke of Exeter #
SIr Andrew Trollope's coat of arms.svg Andrew Trollope 
Modern arms of Percy.svg E. of Northumberland 
Coat of arms of Sir John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford.png Earl of Oxford
Arms of Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford.svg Jasper Tudor
Arms of Owen Tudor.svg Owen Tudor Executed
Stafford Coat of Arms.jpg Duke of Buckingham 
De Ros arms.svg Baron de Ros Executed
Talbot arms.svg Earl of Shrewsbury 
COA Tuchet.svg Lord Audley 
Arms of Clifford.svg Baron Clifford 
Neville arms.svg Baron Neville 
Coat of Arms of Sir James Butler, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, KG.png Earl of Wiltshire Executed
Courtenay of Devon.svg Earl of Devon 
Neville Warwick Arms.svg Earl of Warwick 
Neville arms.svg Marquess of Montagu 
Neville arms.svg Thomas Neville Executed


Coat of Arms of Sir John Conyers, KG.png Robin of Redesdale

WilloughbyArms.png Baron Willoughby Executed

Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Edward IV #
Arms of Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence.svg Richard III 
Arms of Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York.svg Duke of York 
Neville Warwick Arms.svg Earl of Warwick[4]
Neville arms.svg Lord Montagu[4]
Neville arms.svg Earl of Salisbury Executed
Neville arms.svg Earl of Kent #
Neville arms.svg Thomas Neville[4]
Arms of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk.svg Duke of Norfolk #
Arms of Edmund, Earl of Rutland.svg Earl of Rutland 
Arms of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence.svg Duke of Clarence Executed
Coat of Arms of Sir William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, KG.png Lord Hastings Executed
Howard arms (John, duke of Norfolk).svg Baron Howard 

John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln.svg Earl of Lincoln 
Coat of Arms of Sir Francis Lovell, 1st Viscount Lovell, KG.png Viscount Lovell

The wars began for several reasons. Historians have different ideas over which was the most important. It was due to England's defeat in the Hundred Years' War in France, money problems afterwards and problems with the feudal system of government. King Henry VI was also seen as a poor ruler by some of his people, due to his lack of interest in politics and his mental illness. His French queen, Margaret of Anjou often made key decisions instead.

Richard, Duke of York tried to take the throne from Henry. After York was killed in 1960 at the Battle of Wakefield, his son Edward then tried to take the throne. Edward overthrew Henry in 1961 and became King Edward IV. He defeated the Lancastrians in several battles, the largest being the Battle of Towton. Fighting broke out again in 1469 when Edward's most powerful supporter, the Earl of Warwick, switched sides to support Henry. Edward fled the country in 1470 and Henry VI became the king again. This did not last long, as his armies were defeated at the Battle of Tewksbury in 1471. Edward IV took the throne again and Henry VI died soon afterwards (historians think he was murdered), leaving the Lancastrians without a leader.

Edward IV ruled until his sudden death in 1483. His son ruled as King Edward V for 78 days before being pushed out by his uncle. He took the throne as King Richard III. The young Edward then disappeared, and people thought he was murdered on the orders of Richard III (many historians agree). This caused many Yorkists to turn against Richard III. Rebellions broke out. Henry VI's relative Henry Tudor became the leader of the rebellions, creating a new Lancastrian army. In the Battle of Bosworth Field, Richard III was killed and his army was defeated. Henry took the throne as King Henry VII, the first king of the House of Tudor. He saw himself as uniting the two houses to make peace. To show this, he married Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York.

The name of the Wars of the Roses comes from the white rose symbol for the House of York and the red rose symbol for the House of Lancaster. However, the red rose symbol was not used until after Henry VII became king, and most soldiers fought under the symbol of their local nobleman. The name was not used until the 19th century. In earlier years they were known as the "Civil Wars". The houses were named after the cities of Lancaster and York, but these cities played little role in the war. The two houses owned land all over England and Wales.

WarEdit

With the help of "The Kingmaker" Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, King Henry VI was overthrown by Edward of York, the Duke of York’s son, and Henry VI’s cousin. Thus began the "Cousin’s War", or the "War of the Roses".

Edward and Warwick made a good team until Edward (who was crowned Edward IV) married a commoner, named Elizabeth Woodville. This made Warwick very angry, and Warwick eventually became King Edward's enemy, by helping the Henry retain the throne. Edward's brother George changed sides too because he was married to Warwick's daughter, Isabel. Warwick, who was called the Kingmaker because he had put Edward on the throne, proved his loyalties to the wife of Henry by betrothing Anne Neville, his other daughter, to Henry's son Edward of Lancaster. This was good for Anne because Henry's son was heir to the throne so she could become Queen. Warwick also fought Edward and won so put Henry VI on the throne, although he only stayed on the throne for a short time.

Anne went to France to get married but when she got there she learnt that her father, Warwick, had been killed in battle by King Edward and that the House of Lancaster had been severely weakened. Also, George had returned to the House of York so Anne was on a different side to her sister. The House of Lancaster was then run by Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI, and also the Queen of France. She tried to invade Britain with her army but she was intercepted by King Edward, and her son, Edward of Lancaster was killed. Margaret was arrested and imprisoned and Anne managed to prove her loyalties to the House of York. Later on she married Edward's brother Richard.

When Edward IV died in 1483, his son Edward V took over, but was murdered in the Tower of London along with his brother Richard. Edward IV's brother Richard then became King, as the other brother, George, was also dead. Richard was King for 2 years with his new wife, Anne Neville, before being killed by Henry VII, a distant relative of Henry VI and heir to the Lancastrian throne.

 

ReferencesEdit

  1. John A. Wagner and Susan Walters Schmid, eds. Encyclopedia of Tudor England (3 vol. 2011).
  2. J. A. Guy, Tudor England (1990) a leading comprehensive survey
  3. Wallace McCaffrey, "Recent Writings on Tutor History," in Richard Schlatter, ed., Recent Views on British History: Essays on Historical Writing since 1966 (Rutgers UP, 1984), pp 1–34
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Later defected to the Lancastrians.

Other websitesEdit