The War Of The Roses

Week #19 Essay, History


The War of the Roses


From 1455 to 1485 AD the throne of England was fought over by the Lancasters and Yorks.

The War of the Roses got its name for the badges of the Lancasters and Yorks. The Yorks had a white rose on its badge and the Lancasters had a red rose on its badge.

The war began with the death of Edward II. After him, his grandson, Richard II became king. Henry IV of the Lancasters took over the throne. Henry V had a lot of popularity since the Hundred Year’s War and that strengthened the claim to the throne. He suddenly died and left his infant son, Henry VI, as king. Henry often had mental breakdowns, which made him a weak king.

Richard, Duke of York, took this time of weakness to march into London in 1455 and fight the Battle of St. Albans. After the battle, Richard was named the Protector of the throne while Henry VI recovered, so Richard was in command for a while. Eventually, Henry VI retook the throne, but the people had begun to like Richard and the Earl of Warwick supported him.

The Battle of Blore Heath and the Battle of Ludford lead the Yorkists to leaving London. After the Battle of Northhampton, the Yorkists were in control again. Richard captured Henry and claimed the throne as his.

Parliament didn’t say he could be king, but they said he could be the successor of Henry. Richard agreed and left London to visit the Lancastrians, his future subjects. He was attacked at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 and he was killed. His son was captured and then executed.

Richard’s son, Edward of York, took over, which meant he would also succeed Henry VI as king of England. He tried to continue his father’s fight, but lost many battles. He joined forces with the Earl of Warwick and found a lot of support in London. Edward was unofficially crowned by Parliament, because he couldn’t be officially crowned until Henry and Margret were dead.

At the Battle of Towton, it was decided by the two sides that this battle would be the last one to decide the war. At this battle, an estimated 20,000 English men were killed and this is known as the bloodiest battle in history.

The Yorks won and the remaining Lancastrians fled for the north. Edward was officially crowned as king of England in 1461.

The Earl of Warwick suddenly switched sides and supported the Lancastrians (traitor!). He won a small victory, but was killed in the Battle of Barnet by his own men due to confusion in the fog.

Margret sent an army, which was destroyed and her son and Henry VI were killed. This left the throne completely in the hands of the Yorks. 1471 is when the War of the Roses is recognized to be over.

Peace lasted until Edward’s death in 1483. Richard Gloucester was named heir, but rebellions rose against him. Henry Tudor of Lancaster led the last rebellion and managed to overthrow Richard in 1485. Henry was tired of the fighting and married Elizabeth of York, tying the two warring sides together.

Henry developed a new dynasty, the Tudor dynasty. The symbol was a pink or red and white rose to signify the end of the War of the Roses.


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