Нistory of the famous War of the Roses

Origins of the conflict and the name and symbols of the war. Information about the royal houses of Lancaster and York. History and three important periods in the War of the Roses, its significance, social and political consequences for England and peace.

Рубрика История и исторические личности
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 08.01.2015
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This report touches upon the origins and history of the famous War of the Roses. The Middle Age considers one of the most exciting periods in English history and in my opinion, the most interesting historical events of medieval era is the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century. The Hundred Years' War, in which England lost practically all its lands in France, ended in 1453, but there was no peace in the country. The feudal struggle had broken out and the atmosphere in this country was instable and uncertain leading to the civil war in the fifteenth century.

The War of the Roses was a series of dynastic civil war for the throne of England between supporters of two rival branches of the royal house Plantagenet: the house of Lancaster (whose badge was red rose) and York (whose badge was white house) from 1455-1485.

In the War of the Roses, most of the fighting occurred in England, and thus the loss of the life and property was much greater for England citizens.

Why was it called The War of the Roses? Why did the War of the Roses happen? How it happened? And what was the result? There are many interesting things about this famous war, so let's discover it together.

This report consists of introduction, two chapters and conclusion. The first chapter introduces the origins of the conflict and the name and symbols of the war. It gives us information about the royal houses of Lancaster and York

The second chapter discusses the history and three important periods in the War of the Roses.

Finally, the conclusion sums up the whole report for short.

CHAPTER 1. Origins of the Conflict

When Edward III died in 1377, he left behind him several sons. In order to care for his brood, he had created the first English dukedoms for them, bestowing unprecedented power upon the royal litter. After the old King's death, though, it was not a son but a grandson who succeeded him: Richard II, the youth who, in his fourteenth year fared so admirably during the Peasant's Revolt http://www.wars-of-the-roses.com/content/origins_of_the_conflict.htm. Unfortunately Richard never demonstrated such leadership, wisdom and ability again, and later in his reign managed to alienate both his family and the nobility. Inevitable disaster struck in 1399, when his powerful cousin, Henry of Lancaster mounted a successful coup d'йtat and took the crown. For the next few decades Henry's heirs ruled England in relative peace, until the early 1450's when Richard, Duke of York, a descendant of Edward III started making trouble.

The current king of England, Henry VI was a weak and ill man, little suited to the burdens of kingship. Henry had no children at the time so the Duke York was considered next in line for the throne. Unfortunately York had not the power that befitted his status as Henry's heir; other nobles constantly persuaded Henry to keep him out of politics by giving him overseas duties (in reality exiling him). After some years as Captain of Calais, York had spent thousands of pounds of his own money paying the garrison and providing for their needs (Henry repeatedly failed to send any money). He was then relieved of his post by the Duke of Somerset - the king's favorite - who had already been advanced tens of thousands of pounds for his services to the crown in France. If this injustice failed to anger York, his own appointment of Captain of Ireland and subsequent exile must have, as he watched Somerset surrender the cities and towns that had belonged to England for decades. After the fall of Rouen Somerset returned to England and to the surprise of everybody was welcomed home by King Henry.

In 1452 York returned secretly to England and marched with several thousand retainers and supporters on London, halting at Blackheath where he found the road blocked by the Royal army. York demanded that Somerset be put on trial for his disastrous conduct in France. After assurances this would be done York disbanded his army, only to be temporarily arrested.

In 1453, York's relatives by marriage, the Nevilles, found themselves in a deadly feud with their northern neighbours the Percy family. In a great diplomatic move York and the Neville made an alliance and enlisted each other's help against their enemies. So, when the King was taken ill in 1454 the Nevilles stormed Somerset's council with a few other Lords and elected York as Protector, even in his absence. York instantly imprisoned the Duke of Somerset in the Tower, while the Percies suffered greatly at the hands of the Nevilles. When the King recovered his health in 1455, Somerset was released and in turn allied himself to the Percies. Shortly after, the Yorkists were publicly dismissed from their government posts. York and his Neville allies the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick fled London and upon Warwick's advice they wasted no time in raising an army for the purpose of an armed return to power.

The Wars' opening battle took place on May 22, 1455 at the fortified town of St Albans. In the conflict that followed York and the Nevilles would be known as `the Yorkists', while King Henry, the Duke of Somerset and the Percies would be known as the `Lancastrians'.

Name and Symbols

The name "War of the Roses" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_the_Roses refers to the Heraldic badges associated with the two royal houses, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. It came into common use in the nineteenth century after the publication of Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott. Scott based the name on a scene in William Shakespeare's play Henry VI Part 1, set in the gardens of the Temple Church, where a number of noblemen and a lawyer pick red or white roses to show their loyalty to the Lancastrian or Yorkist faction respectively. The Yorkist faction used the symbol of the white rose from early in the conflict, but the Lancastrian red rose was apparently introduced only after the victory of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth, when it was combined with the Yorkist white rose to form the Tudor rose, which symbolized the union of the two houses.

Most of the participants in the wars wore livery badges associated with their immediate lords or patrons under the prevailing system of so-called "bastard feudalism". For example, Henry Tudor's forces at Bosworth fought under the banner of a red dragon, while the Yorkist army used Richard III's personal device of a white boar.

Though the names of the rival houses derive from the cities of York and Lancaster, the corresponding duchies had little to do with these cities. The lands and offices attached to the Duchy of Lancaster were mainly in Gloucestershire, North Wales and Cheshire, while estates and castles that were part of the Duchy of York (and the Earldom of March, which Richard of York also inherited) were spread throughout England, though many were in the Welsh Marches.

House of Lancaster

House of Lancaster http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/328992/House-of-Lancaster, a cadet branch of the house of Plantagenet. In the 15th century, it provided three kings of England--Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI--and, defeated by the house of York, passed on its claims to the Tudor dynasty.

The family name first appeared in 1267, when the title earl of Lancaster was granted to Edmund “Crouchback” (1245-96), the youngest son of Henry III. Two of Edmund's sons by his second wife, Blanche of Artois, succeeded to the title: Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (d. 1322), and Henry, Earl of Lancaster (d. 1345). Henry's son, Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster (d. 1361), was survived only by two coheiresses. The elder daughter, Maud, married to William, duke of Bavaria, died without issue a year after her father. The Lancastrian inheritance thus fell to the younger daughter, Blanche, and to her husband, John of Gaunt (d. 1399), third surviving son of Edward III. After Gaunt's death his son Henry of Lancaster deposed Richard II and became king himself, as Henry IV. On his accession the duchy of Lancaster was merged in the crown, and the house of Lancaster, in the persons of Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, ruled England for more than 60 years.

Henry V alone had the strength to rule; and his marriage to the daughter of the mad King Charles VI of France did not improve his son's chances. Henry IV had founded his title to the throne on the descent of Lancaster from Henry III in order to avoid the greater claim of the heirs of Gaunt's elder brother Lionel, Duke of Clarence; in the end his grandson was defeated by Edward IV of the house of York--the heir both of Clarence and of Gaunt's younger brother Edmund, Duke of York.

The last remaining fragment of Lancastrian title was that which Henry VII derived through Gaunt's legitimized bastard line, the Beaufort family. By the time Henry VII had inaugurated the Tudor monarchy, the Lancaster lands were firmly in the hands of the crown.

House of York

House of York http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/653692/house-of-York, younger branch of the house of Plantagenet of England. In the 15th century, having usurped the throne from the house of Lancaster, it provided three kings of England--Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III--and, in turn defeated, passed on its claims to the Tudor dynasty.

The house was founded by King Edward III's fifth son, Edmund of Langley (1341-1402), 1st Duke of York, but Edmund and his own son, Edward, 2nd Duke of York, had for the most part undistinguished careers. Edward, dying childless, passed on the dukedom to his nephew Richard (whose mother was a descendant of Edward III's second surviving son, Lionel, Duke of Clarence). Richard, 3rd Duke of York (1411-60), was the initial Yorkist claimant to the crown, in opposition to the Lancastrian Henry VI. It may be said that his claim, when it was advanced, was rightly barred by prescription, the house of Lancaster having then occupied the throne for three generations, and that it was really owing to the misgovernment of Queen Margaret of Anjou and her favourites that it was advanced at all. Yet it was founded upon strict principles of lineal descent, for the 3rd Duke of York was descended from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of Edward III, whereas the house of Lancaster came of John of Gaunt, a younger brother of Lionel. One thing that might possibly have been considered an element of weakness in Richard's claim was that it was derived through females--an objection actually brought against it by Chief Justice John Fortescue. But apart from strict legality, Richard's claim was probably supported in the popular view by the fact that he was descended from Edward III through his father no less than through his mother.

After seeking for many years to correct the weakness of Henry VI's government, Richard first took up arms and at length claimed the crown in Parliament as his right. The Lords, or those who did not purposely stay away from the House, admitted that his claim was unimpeachable but suggested as a compromise that Henry should retain the crown for life and that Richard and his heirs succeed after his death. This was accepted by Richard, and an act to that effect received Henry's own assent. But the act was repudiated by Margaret of Anjou and her followers, and Richard was slain at Wakefield fighting against them. In little more than two months, however, his son was proclaimed king at London by the title of Edward IV, and the bloody victory of Towton immediately after drove his enemies into exile and paved the way for his coronation.

After his recovery of the throne in 1471, Edward IV had little more to fear from the rivalry of the house of Lancaster. But the seeds of distrust had already been sown among the members of his own family, and in 1478 his brother Clarence was put to death--secretly, indeed, within the Tower of London, but still by his authority and that of Parliament--as a traitor. In 1483 Edward himself died; and his eldest son, Edward V, after a nominal reign of two months and a half, was put aside by his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, who became Richard III, and then, it is said, caused him and his brother Richard, Duke of York, to be murdered. But in little more than two years Richard was slain at Bosworth Field by the Tudor Earl of Richmond, who, being proclaimed king as Henry VII, shortly afterwards fulfilled his pledge to marry the eldest daughter of Edward IV and so unite the houses of York and Lancaster.

Here the dynastic history of the house of York ends, for its claims were henceforth merged in those of the house of Tudor.

CHAPTER 2.The War of the Roses

The War of the Roses http://www.heritage-history.com/www/heritage.php?Dir=wars&FileName=wars_roses.php was a terribly destructive, long-lasting, civil war in England between two families with rival claims to the throne, the Yorks and the Lancasters. The war takes its name from the two Roses that symbolized respectively, the houses of Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose), among the English aristocracy. It had its roots in a disputed succession that had occurred two generations previously, when Henry IV (Bolingbroke, a Lancaster), ascended to the throne after Richard II had been deposed. It truth, his cousin Clarence, whose descendents were the Yorks, had a better claim, but Bolingbroke was able to make good his claim because his father, John of Gaunt, had been regent and was very influential. Henry V, who succeeded Bolingbroke was very popular due to his great victories in France, so no one disputed his claim to the throne, or that of his son, as long as he lived. Unfortunately, Henry V died young, and Henry VI proved to be a weak and indecisive king, surrounded by unpopular advisors. In this circumstance, the York family, spurred on by the Earl of Warwick, began to actively reassert their claim. The war itself occurred in three phases. The first phase was the longest and bloodiest, and resulted in a York victory. The second phase involved a rebellion within the York family which provided an opportunity for the Lancaster's to reassert their claim. They briefly succeeded, but the crown soon fell back into the hands of the Yorks. The third phase occurred following the death of the Yorkish King Edward IV, and was fought between Richard III, a usurper, and Henry Tudor a distant cousin on the Lancaster side.

Defeat and exile of Lancasters

The most serious years of fighting between the Yorks and Lancasters occurred between 1459 and 1461, and resulted in a victory for the Yorks--the Lancaster Royal family was sent into exile in France, and Henry VI was imprisoned in England. There were however, very many striking reverses during this period of the fighting, and at times it seemed as though the Yorkish cause was lost. In 1453 at Stamford bridge, and again in 1455 at St. Albans, the conflict between the Lancaster's and Yorks had broken into armed combat, but on both of these occasions, the conflicts were temporarily resolved by compromise. The underlying issues however, and the conflict between the Queen, who was essentially running the country, and the Duke of York worsened over time and again broke into open warfare at the battle of Blore Heath.

Once both sides had settled on open war, the early victories went in favor of the Yorks, but at the battle of Wakefield, in December of 1460, the Yorks met with disaster. The Duke of York and his eldest son were both ambushed and beheaded, and the Yorkish forces were scattered. Far from discouraging the Yorks however, this horrid loss enraged their supporters and over the next few months, the Yorks raised more armies under Edward IV, the second son of the deceased Duke of York. The Yorks prevailed over the Lancasters first at (second) St. Albans, and then at Towton, the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. Towton was as great a disaster for the Lancasters as Wakefield was for the Yorks, and the royal family scarcely escaped with their lives. London had been, from the beginning, a Yorkish stronghold, so with the Royals in exile, in 1461, Edward IV was crowned King of England and assumed control of the government in the south. Lancastrian strongholds in the north continued to hold out, however, and broke out in rebellion in 1464. When Somerset, the military leader of the Lancasters, was killed at the battle of Hexham however, all armed resistance ceased for almost a decade.

Warwick's Rebellion

The second phase of fighting in the War of the Roses broke out because of discontent with Edward IV within the Yorkist camp. The influential Earl of Warwick http://www.heritage-history.com/www/heritage.php?Dir=wars&FileName=wars_roses.php (a.k.a. Richard Neville) had been allied with the father of Edward, and had orchestrated the Yorkist victories, but he became disillusioned with Edward when the young king married into a rival family against Warwick's wishes, and failed to heed Warwick's advice on other important issues. Warwick allied himself with Clarence, one of Edward's brothers, and attempted to depose Edward and place Clarence on the throne. At the battle of Edgecote, the king's army was defeated and Edward IV himself, was captured. Warwick's victory was short lived however--the tide soon turned again in favor of Edward when his faithful brother Richard came to the rescue, and most of the nobles stayed loyal to the king. Warwick and Clarence were declared traitors and driven out of England.

At this point, the most curious twist of the war occurred. Warwick, approached Queen Margaret, his old arch-rival, and negotiated an agreement by which her son, Prince Henry would marry Warwick's daughter, and Warwick, with the help of the French King, would raise and army and invade England on behalf of the Lancaster's claim to the throne. Edward IV, whose popularity had suffered significantly over the last few years, fled as soon as Warwick landed with his army and King Henry VI, who had been imprisoned for most of the last ten years was briefly restored to the throne. Within a year however, Edward IV raised an army in Burgundy and met Warwick in the Battle of Barnet. Due to an unfortunate series of setbacks, the Lancaster army was defeated and Warwick himself was killed. A few weeks later Prince Henry was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury, and Henry VI was murdered. With both Lancastrian claimants dead, Warwick dead, and Clarence back in the fold, Edward IV regained the throne and ruled the rest of his life without opposition.

Richard III vs. Henry Tudor

Edward IV lived for fifteen years after his victory at the Battle of Barnet, and when he died, Edward V, his eldest son was the heir apparent. Since Edward V was too young to rule for himself, his uncle Richard, who had been a faithful ally of his father was appointed regent. Not content with this honor however, Richard quickly began forming a plan to usurp the throne from his nephews. He first captured the Princes and kept them in the Tower of London for "safe-keeping" and later put forward accusations of illegitimacy based on an alleged previous marriage of Edward IV. No one is quite sure what happened to the Princes, but they were never seen alive again.

The palace politics involved in the elevation of Richard III to the throne of England and the probable murder of the rightful princes was highly contentious at the time, and remains controversial. Richard was enthusiastically supported by the nobles who disliked the Queen Mother's family, and desired a strong, capable and proven leader, and greatly distained by those who felt he had usurped the throne and murdered his nephews. It was into this contentious situation that Henry Tudor, a distant cousin, asserted his claim to the throne on the Lancaster side. Although his own claim was somewhat dubious--all of the direct Lancaster descendents were deceased, and his claim was no greater that of other cousins--Henry believed he could count on Richard's manifold enemies to assist him. In this he was correct. Landing in Wales, Henry gained many followers, and at the Battle of Bosworth Field, several of Richard's generals either deserted to the enemy or held back from battle. Richard was slain in the fiercely fought battle, and the crown passed to Henry Tudor.

Henry Tudor knew that in order to rule England he must reconcile with the Yorks, so his first order of business was to marry Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV. This move assured the York family of continued influence in the government, and the country, weary of war, accepted the new monarch.


The war of the Roses (also called the war of the two Roses) is a very important period (1455-1487) for the British culture and history. This war had erupted among the two rival houses of Lancaster and York, over the dispute for the crown of England. Both houses were descendants of Edward III, so they both had claims to the throne. The war takes its name from the two Roses that symbolized respectively, the houses of Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose), among the English aristocracy. The reason for the conflict was the fact that both of these houses wanted to rule the country. It lasted around thirty years but was more destructive for England than the Hundred Years War (this was because in the War of the Roses all the battles took place in England, and during the Hundred Years' War a lot of fighting happened in France. This means that there was a lot more loss of life in the English ranks in the War of the Roses.). The war itself occurred in three phases. The first phase was the longest and bloodiest, and resulted in a York victory. The second phase involved a rebellion within the York family which provided an opportunity for the Lancaster's to reassert their claim. They briefly succeeded, but the crown soon fell back into the hands of the Yorks. The third phase occurred following the death of the Yorkish King Edward IV, and was fought between Richard III and Henry Tudor a distant cousin on the Lancaster side. The wars of the Roses had finally come to an end, with the establishment of the Tudor dynasty being ruled by Henry Tudor defeating the king, Richard III, at the battle of The Bosworth field. When Henry became king he married Elizabeth of York (Richard's niece) in order to unite the two houses and end the battle between them. Henry merged the rival symbols of the red and white roses into the new emblem of the red and white Tudor rose. war rose conflict lancaster

The War of the Roses marked the end of the medieval era and a shift toward national stability. More importantly the War of the Roses had social and political consequences for England, largely shifting the balance of power away from feudal autonomy together with the rise of the merchant class. It has been a turning point in the history of the United Kingdom: a very large part of the aristocracy was killed (some noble families even disappeared) and the royal dynasty changed. It has also been a vast source of inspiration for English authors, such as Shakespeare.

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