The War of the Roses was a series of battles fought from 1455 to 1487 between rival families, the Lancaster and the Yorks, for the English throne. In the end the Lancastrians would win.
What started the war
England was still in turmoil following the Hundred Years’ War and the king, Henry VI, was thought to be weak. This led Richard of York to come forward and press his claim to the throne in 1455.
When Richard died in 1460, the claim passed to his son, Edward. He would defeat Lancaster forces in a series of battles and claim the throne in March 1461 as Edward IV.
An exchange of victories
In 1469, the Earl of Warwick decided to support the return of the Lancasters and the two forces fought again. Edward IV was defeated and fled to Flanders in 1470. Henry VI was again crowned king but deposed again after his army was defeated in the Battle of Tewkesbury in May 4, 1471.
Edward IV returned to London on May 21, 1471 and was crowned king again. He would rule until his death in 1483.
His son, Edward V, rules for only 78 days before being deposed by his uncle who was crowned Richard III.
Trouble begins again
Many people rebelled against the ascension of Richard, but the resistance would perform badly until the arrival and leadership of Henry Tudor, son of Henry VI’s half-brother.
Richard’s forces were defeated in the Battle of Bosworth and he was killed. Henry Tudor would later marry Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV, and unite the two claims, ruling as Henry VII.
The end of the war
After Henry VII’s coronation, the Earl of Lincoln, came forward with someone he claimed was Richard of York, the younger brother of Edward V. In the Battle of Stoke Field in June 16, 1487, the earl’s forces are defeated, bringing the end of the War of the Roses.
Interesting facts about the War of the Roses
- The term “Wars of the Roses” became common only in the 19th century after the publication of “Anne of Geierstein” by Sir Walter Scott in 1829.
- Historians also call this conflict the War of the Roses because the House of York’s badge was a white rose while the Lancastrians badge was a red rose.
- Henry VII started using the red rose as a badge of the Tudors only after the Battle of Bosworth.
- Many of the nobles changed sides throughout the war, they chose the side they thought was likely to win.
- In 2015, researchers located where Richard III was buried after he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth. His remains were exhumed and later reburied with religious rites he didn’t receive during his first burial.
- Edward IV’s chroniclers say Henry VI “died of melancholy” after hearing of his defeat in Tewkesbury. However, other sources say Edward IV definitely had him murdered before his coronation.
- Henry VI was allegedly prone to fits of insanity, one of the reasons the Yorks pressed their claim to the throne.
- After assuming the throne, Henry VII would prohibit nobles from raising armies, to keep them from rebelling against him and fighting each other.
Were the two houses related?
Both were actually different branches of the English royal House of Plantagenet.
What was the significance of the War of the Roses?
The War of the Roses would lead to the rise of the Tudor dynasty, which would strengthen the English monarchy for many generations.
What was the biggest battle in the war?
One of the battles in the war, the Battle of Towton, is also the biggest battle ever fought on English soil. An estimated 28,000 men were killed.
Why did people rebel against Richard III?
People were suspicious about how he assumed the crown. Some suspect he was involved in the declaration of the children of Edward IV as illegitimate.
Where are Tudors now?
The last Tudor ruler, Queen Elizabeth I, died in March 24, 1603 and the Tudor line died with her.
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