Wars of the Roses

Red rose of Lancaster

The Wars of the Roses (1455 - 1487)

The battles of the Wars of the Roses took place between 1455 and 1487. The war was fought between supporters of several descendants of Edward III, the King of England from 1327 to 1377. The war was not a constant fight that affected the whole country and its population, but a series of battles spread out over the years between sets of supporters known as the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. Some of the battles were fought by thousands of men. The Battle of Towton being the largest and the bloodiest.

White rose of York

Background to the War

It is not truely known why the Lancastrians and Yorkists went to War. There may have been more than one reason.

Was the conflict just a struggle between two factions of supporters eager to improve their positions of power in the country?

A popular suggestion is that the two factions disagreed who was the rightful heir to the English throne. In 1399, some fifty years before the wars began, Richard II the King of England was overthrown by Henry Bolingbroke who claimed the English throne as Henry IV. Bolingbroke's claim to the English throne was through his father, John of Gaunt, the fourth son of Edward III. At the time there was a stronger claim to the throne and that was by Edmund Mortimer who was descended from Edward III's third son. Edmund was not old enough to rule the country and it was agreed that Henry Bolingbroke should become king. It would be more than half a century later that this unsafe claim to the English throne would become important.

Family tree

Although slightly complicated, the following family tree of Edward III shows how both sides had claim to the English throne.

                                                                    
 
 
 
 EDWARD (III, King of England 1327-1377)
b.1312
d.1377
   Philippa (of Hainault)
d.1369
 
   
   
 
                                                     
 
Edward (The Black Prince)
b.1330
d.1376
   Joan (of Kent)
d.1385
 Lionel (of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence)
b.1338
d.1368
   Elizabeth (de Burgh)
d.1363
 John (of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster)
d.1399
   Blanche (of Lancaster)
d.1369
 
      
      
 
       
 
RICHARD (II, King of England 1377-1399)
b.1367
d.1400
 Philippa (daughter of Lionel Duke of Clarence)   Mortimer, Edmund (3rd Earl of March)
d.1381
 HENRY (IV, King of England 1399-1413)
b.1367
d.1413
   Bohun, Mary 
     
     
 
     
 
 Mortimer, Roger (4th Earl of March)
b.1374
d.1398
   Holland, Eleanor (Wife of Roger, Earl of March) Henry (V, King of England 1413-1422)
b.1387
d.1422
   Catherine (of France)
d.1438
 
     
     
 
               
 
 Mortimer, Edmund (5th Earl of March)
b.1391
d.1425
 Mortimer, Anne (daughter of Roger, Earl of March)   Richard (Earl of Cambridge)
d.1415
 Henry (VI, King of England 1422-1461, 1470-1471)
b.1421
d.1471
   Margaret (of Anjou)
b.1429
d.1482
 
      
      
 
     
 
 Richard (Duke of York)
b.1411
d.1460
   Neville, Cecily (Duchess of York)
d.1495
 Edward (of Lancaster, Prince of Wales)
b.1453
d.1471
 
    
    
 
             
 
 Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483)
b.1442
d.1483
 Richard (III, King of England 1483-1485)
b.1452
d.1485
 
   
   
 

The Red and White Roses

The red and white roses were probably not used at the time of the war. It may have been William Shakespeare who invented the symbols when he used them in a scene from Henry VI, part 1. The scene takes place in the Temple garden between Richard, Duke of York, and Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, in the presence of other important barons. Each choose a different coloured rose and ask those who support them to choose a rose of the same colour.

A War in Three Phases

The Wars of the Roses was not a constant fight but a series of battles that can the divided into three distinct phases.

Phase One

The start of the war

During the late 1440's the country was being ruled poorly by King Henry VI. His wife Queen Margaret and her followers had a great influence over the weak king and in northern France many English held towns were falling to the French King Charles VII. Henry began to be openly criticised and these critisisms were being led by Richard, Duke of York. Richard himself had a good claim to the English throne being descended from Lionel of Antwerp Duke of Clarence the second son of Edward III through the female line. The Duke had the support of two strong figures of the time and both members of the Neville family. One was the Duke's brother-in-law, Richard Neville the Earl of Salisbury, and the other was the Earl's son Richard Neville Earl of Warwick.

The first battle of the Wars of the Roses took place at St. Alban's on May 22nd 1455 when the Yorkists tried to confront the King. The King had by his side the Dukes of Somerset and Buckingham, Lords Pembroke, Northumberland and Devon and around 2,000 Lancastrian men. They tried to hold the town against the Yorkists led by the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick but Warwick was able to enter the town through an unguarded spot and attack the flanks of the Lancastrian barricades. Although this battle was small it left the Duke of Somerset dead along with Lord Northumberland and Clifford. As a result of this victory power swung to the Yorkists although support from the Barons was not total. Ricard, Duke of York, became Protector of the Realm and the powerful position of Captain of Calais was given to the Earl of Warwick.

Return of the Lancastrians

Led by Richard Earl of Salisbury the Yorkists in the north mobilised an army and headed south to meet the Duke of York at Ludlow. Salisbury was intercepted by a Lancastrian army led by Lord Audley on September 23rd 1459 at Blore Heath in Shropshire. The Lancastrians were the first to attack but their first and second cavalry charges were repulsed and when the Lancastrian foot soldiers were also repulsed they turned and fled. In the battle Audley was killed and although two of Salisbury's sons were captured they were quickly released. The Yorkists had won this battle.

But the Yorkist control was soon to come crashing down. The Earl of Warwick with a force from Calais reached Ludlow and the combined army of the Yorkists attacked the King's army at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow on October 12th 1459. The men from Calais refused to fight their king and a weakened Yorkist army was defeated. Richard Duke of York and his younger son escaped and fled to Ireland while Salisbury, Warwick and Edward of March (later Edward IV) fled to Calais.

The King is captured

The Yorkists' banishment did not last long and an army led by the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick landed on the south coast in June of 1460 at Sandwich. With them was the young Earl of March who would become the future king of England Edward IV. After securing Kent the Yorkists marched on London where the gates were opened and they were welcomed.

The Lancastrians's Court was in Coventry at the time of the Yorkist rebels entering London. When news reached them the Lancastrians moved south to Northampton to meet the rebels. The Yorkists led by the Earl of Warwick wanted to talk but the Lancastrians led by the Duke of Buckingham wanted to fight. Although the Lancastrians had less men than the Yorkists, they did have control of a stronger position. The Yorkists managed to defeat the Lancastrians due to a section of the Lancastrian army led by Lord Grey of Ruthin moving away allowing the Yorkists through. Orders were given that the King and ordinary men should be spared, while the knights and lords should be killed. When the fighting was over the casualties were light, but the Lancastrian leaders, Buckingham, Shrewsbury and Egremont were dead and the King was captured.

Queen Margaret escaped capture and fled to Wales where she plotted her revenge.

The Duke of York claims the throne

In October 1460 Richard, Duke of York, returned from Ireland and claimed the English throne. But the nobles refused to accept his claim while King Henry was still alive. It was decided to allow Henry to remain king but after his death the Duke of York or one of his heirs would take the English throne.

Attack from the North

Queen Margaret had not wasted much time and had regrouped her forces with support from men in the north of England. Her army began attacking Yorkist controlled lands. The Duke of York took an army north to stop the Queen's progress but underestimated how much support she had. At the battle of Wakefield on December 30th 1460 the Lancastrian army defeated the Yorkists and the Duke of York along with his second son, Edmund the Earl of Rutland, were killed.

Queen Margaret continued her progress south and at the Second Battle of St. Albans on February 17 1461 the Yorkist army, led by the Earl of Warwick, was split in two and sections of the Yorkists defected to the Queen's side. The Yorkists were defeated and Warwick escaped. The King, who had been travelling with the Yorkists, was freed and he was reunited with his wife and son.

Edward, Earl of March, proclaimed King

Although King Henry was free the inhabitants of London refused the Lancastrians entrance to the city. They were concerned by reports they had heard that the Lancastrian army had pillaged St. Albans after the battle and did not want that to happen to London. Instead, on February 27th, the Londoners opened the gates to the Yorkists. In early March Edward Earl of March and Richard Earl of Warwick entered London. Edward, being the son of the late Duke of York and having a claim to the throne, was proclaimed King of England as Edward IV.

The end of the first phase of the Wars of the Roses began at the Battle of Towton on March 29 1461. Edward took an army north to deal with the Lancastrians and they met at Towton in Yorkshire. The battle is supposed to be the bloodiest battle fourght on English soil and was a major victory for the Yorkists. After the battle King Henry and the Queen retreated further north captuting some Northumbrian castles. But after a series of smaller battles over the next three years the Yorkists forced the remaining Lancastrians into exile.

Phase Two

The Earl of Warwick rebels

The second phase of the Wars of the Roses centres around the rebellion of Richard Earl of Warwick (the 'Kingmaker') starting in 1469.

Earlier, in 1464, Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. For the Earl of Warwick there were two problems with this. The first was that the Woodville familly were Lancastrian supporters and second was that Warwick had contacted King Louis XI of France and had attempted to negotiate a marriage for Edward to a French princess. Warwick was losing control and his power over Edward. His plan involved Edward's brother George, the Duke of Clarence. If George was to marry Warwick's daughter Isabel and become king, Warwick would be back in a position of power. The marriage was arranged and took place in July 1469 in France.

The rebellion against King Edward started in early 1469 with the mysterious Robin of Redesdale in the north of England. King Edward took an army to deal with the rebels but the rebels proved too strong and defeated Edward's men at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on July 26th 1469. Shortly afterwards Edward was captured and several of the Woodville family were executed including Earl Rivers, Queen Elizabeth's father and also one of her brothers. This rebellion, orchestrated by Warwick, soon failed as Warwick did not have the support of Parliament and had to accept Edward as King. But Warwick tried again in 1470 with another revolt against the King using Sir Robert Welles. Sir Robert was captured and confessed that Warwick was behind the plot against the King. With their treachery uncovered, Warwick and the Duke of Clarence fled to France.

Warwick joins the Lancastrians - Henry VI is King again

In France Queen Margaret and the Earl of Warwick were persuaded by the Louis XI, the French King, to put their previous differences aside and combine their resources to remove Edward IV from the English throne. They met at Anger Cathedral in July 22, 1470. Warwick promised to restore King Henry VI as the English King and as a act of faith both sides agreed that Warwick's youngest daughter Anne Neville would marry Queen Margaret's son Edward, the Prince of Wales. Equipped with over fifty ships and an army provided by King Louis, Warwick invaded England in September of 1470. King Edward was in the north at the time of the invasion and an act of treachery by John Neville, Warwick's brother, led to him fleeing the country. John Neville (Lord Montagu) had accepted Edward as King but when his title had been given to the Percies he turned against the King. Montagu had a larger army than Edward and Edward was given little option other than escaping with his life. Edward sailed with his brother Richard to the court of the Duke of Burgundy. King Henry was freed from the Tower of London and restored to the throne of England.

Birth on an heir

When King Edward fled the country he did so quickly that he left Queen Elizabeth who was pregnant and his children behind. Elizabeth was in fear of her life and managed to reach the safety of Westminster Abbey and sanctuary from the Lancastrians enemies. It was here at the Abbey that she gave birth to a son. The boy was called Edward after his father. Meanwhile the marriage of Anne Neville and Queen Margaret's son, Edward, took place.

Edward returns from exile and the Battle of Barnet

King Louis declared war on the Duke Burgundy when he learnt that he was harbouring King Edward. In response, the Duke agreed to give Edward ships and men to return to England and take back the English throne. Edward landed back in England in March 1471. Because of bad weather his ships landed several miles apart on the north east of England but within days his army had regrouped and began to gain support. Edward's army was given a boost in numbers when his brother George, Duke of Clarence, abandoned Warwick's side and gave his support to Edward. By April Edward reached London where the citizens opened the gates to his army. King Henry was arrested and places back in the Tower of London.

The Earl of Warwick had left Coventry to confront Edward. The armies met at Barnet just north of London in thick fog. The two battle lines overlapped and Warwick's Lancastrian men commanded by the Earl of Oxford were able to get around the Yorkists commanded by Lord Hastings. Hastings' men fled back to London with Oxford's men in hot pursuit. On the other side of the battle the Yorkists, led by Richard, were outflanking the Lancastrians and took the advantage pushing their enemy back. When Oxford's men returned to the battle they were mistakenly fired upon by their fellow Lancastrians and fled. By early evening Lord Montagu and the Earl of Warwick were dead. The Lancastrians were defeated.

Queen Margaret, the wife of Henry VI, and her son Edward the prince of Wales landed at Weymouth on the very same day as the Battle of Barnet. Their intention was to assist the Earl of Warwick, but she arrived too late. Determined to avenge the Barnet defeat, the Queen and her army marched north towards Wales and men she could count on to join her army. Edward had thought of this and to cut the Queen off from Wales, had taken control of the bridges across the River Severn.

The Battle of Tewkesbury - Death of Henry VI

The Yorkists led by Edward and Richard met the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury. Richard was able to outflank the Lancastrians led by Edmund Beaufort, the self-proclaimed Duke of Somerset. Once Somerset's men had been dealt with, Richard attacked the rear of the Lancastrian line which broke apart and fled. Many of the Lancastrian leaders were caught and killed including Edward the Prince of Wales. Margaret of Anjou was also captured.

King Edward returned to London and that night Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London.

A period of calm

With the deaths of the Earl of Warwick, King Henry VI and his son Edward Prince of Wales the Lancastrian fight was over. Anne Neville, the widow of Prince Edward, married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Edward's brother. King Edward turned his attention to France and a plan to remove King Louis.

Phase Three

Richard III

to be continued...

Battles of the Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses battle map

HENRY VI, King of England. Henry became King of England in 1422 but was deposed by Edward IV between 1461 and 1470. Henry suffered from bouts of mental illness resulting in him being unable to rule the country.

Louis XI, King of France. Louis was a supporter of the Lancastrians and signed a treaty with Margaret of Anjou that promised him the return of Calais if Henry VI could be restored to the English throne.

Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Somerset's early military successes were not enough to save his career when his mistakes led to the loss of Anjou. He was locked in the Tower of London when King Henry lost power. The duke was released when Henry regained control of the the country but was killed at the Battle of St. Albans in May of 1455.

EDWARD IV, King of England. Edward was the son of Richard, Duke of York and after his father died continued the fight against the Lancastrians. In 1461 entered London and with the support of the Londoners was crowned King of England. His first reign lasted until 1470 when the Lancastrians took back control and placed Henry VI on the throne. Edward fled the country but returned in 1471 to defeat the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury and reclaim the English throne.

George, Duke of Clarence (**). Brother of Edward IV. Clarence came under the influence of the 'Kingmaker' when he married Isabel Neville, the 'Kingmaker's' sister. Clarence was taken back by Edward IV but conflicts between the brothers ended with the arrest of Clarence accused of treason and he was executed.

 

 

 

 

 

Timeline

Reign of Henry (VI, King of England 1422-1461, 1470-1471)

1447 Edmund Beaufort appointed lieutenant of France
   Edmund Beaufort was appointed lieutenant of France. Richard of York had wanted to be re-appointed to the position. Edmund and Richard became rivals in the battles of the Wars of the Roses.
1450 May Revolt in Kent
   Jack Cade was the leader of a rebellion that began in Kent and elsewhere in the south east of England. The rebels' grievances were directed at the king's councillors who were using their influence on the king for their own gains.
May Death of William de la Pole
   William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk was accused by Parliament of being the cause of the country's problems. Suffolk was arrested and imprisoned. The King allowed the Duke to be banished rather than executed but as he left the country he was attacked and killed.
Jun London ransacked by the rebels
   The rebels under the command of Jack Cade defeated a section of King Henry's army at Sevenoaks and entered London. The rebels ransacked the city and after crossing London Bridge to the south were prevented crossing back to the north by angry Londoners. The rebels were defeated and fled.
Jul Jack Cade killed
   After the defeat of the rebels in London Jack Cade fled but was pursued. He was caught and killed while resisting arrest.
1451 Qtr 4 York starts an uprising
   The Duke of York writes to supporters in Norfolk asking for their support in an uprising against the King.
1452 Feb The Duke of York marches on London
   The Duke of York gathered an army and marched on London intent on persuading the king to remove Somerset from power, King Henry took an army north to Northampton to prevent Yorkist supporters in the east joining York in the west. The king also sent word to the city of London to not allow York to enter, Learning that he was refused entry to the city the Duke continued south and crossed the the river Thames at Kingston. York moved his army to Dartford while the king came back south to London.
1453 Aug The King's health suffers
   From August 1453 until the end of 1454, the King's mental health was such that he was unable to conduct the day-to-day government of the country. The illness was some kind of mental condition possibly inherited from his grandfather Charles VI of France who also suffered from bouts of madness.
Oct 13 Prince Edward of Lancaster is born
   Edward of Westminster, also known as Edward of Lancaster, King Henry's and Margaret of Anjou's only son, was born at Westminster.
Nov Somerset sent to the Tower
   Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset was unpopular and only kept his position of power with the support of the King. While Henry VI was ill Somerset was sent to the Tower of London.
1454 Mar 27 Richard, Duke of York made Protector
   With the King unable to govern, the queen with the support of the powerful Neville Earls gave Richard, Duke of York the position of 'Protector of England'.
Apr 2 Earl of Salisbury becomes chancellor
   With Richard, Duke of York running the country, several changes were made, one of which was to make the elder Richard Neville chancellor. Richard also made himself the Captain of Calais removing his rival the Earl of Somerset from the post.
Dec Henry's health returns
   Henry returned to health and Edward, the Duke of York was removed from the position of Protector.
1455 Feb Somerset released from the Tower
   With Henry back in power the Duke of Somerset was released from captivity.
Mar Somerset back in command
   Henry's return to sanity swung the balance of power back to favour the Duke of Somerset and he was quickly restored to his former position of Captain of Calais. The Yorkists at this time felt it wise to leave London in fear of reprisals.
May 21 The Yorkists are summoned
   A council was called and the Edward and Warwick were summoned to attend. Concerned that the reason they have been called to attend was that they would be punished, the Yorkists decided to demand a meeting of their own with the King at St. Albans.
May 22 Battle of St. Albans
   The King had by his side at St. Albans the Dukes of Somerset and Buckingham, Lords Pembroke, Northumberland and Devon and around 2,000 Lancastrian men. They tried to hold the town against the Yorkists led by Salisbury and Warwick but Warwick was able to enter the town through an unguarded spot and attack the flanks of the Lancastrian barricades. Although this battle was small it left the Duke of Somerset dead along with Lord Northumberland and Clifford. As a result of this victory power again swung to the Yorkists although support from the Barons was not total. Richard, Duke of York, again became Protector of the Realm and the powerful position of Captain of Calais was given to the Earl of Warwick.
Jul Parliament held
   A Parliament was held after the Battle of St. Albans to confirm the changes of appointment. Richard, Duke of York became protector for the second time.
Oct Henry VI becomes ill once more
   King Henry VI suffered another bout of mental illness. This time to last until February of the following year.
1456 Feb 25 Duke of York resigns as protector
   Henry Vi again came around from a bout of mental illness and Richard, Duke of York, was relieved of position of protector of the realm.
1458 Mar 24 Loveday march
   In an attempt to bring both Yorkists and Lancastrians together in peace, King Henry led a march of both parties to a ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral. Could have been on the 25th of March.
1459 Jun 24 Great Council
   A council at Coventry decided that the Yorkists should be brought under control by the use of force.
Sep Warwick returns to England
   The Earl of Warwick arrived in England from Calais. He was welcomed in London before setting off north to meet up with the Duke of York.
Sep 23 Battle of Blore Heath
   Led by Richard Earl of Salisbury the Yorkists in the north mobilised an army and headed south to meet the Duke of York at Ludlow. Salisbury was intercepted by a Lancastrian army led by Lord Audley at Blore Heath in Shropshire. The Lancastrians were the first to attack. Their first and second cavalry charges were repulsed and when the Lancastrian foot soldiers were also repulsed they turned and fled. In the battle Audley was killed and although two of Salisbury's sons were captured they were quickly released. The Yorkists had won this battle.
Oct 12 Battle of Ludford Bridge
   The Earl of Warwick with a force from Calais reached Ludlow and the combined army of the Yorkists attacked the King's army at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow. The men from Calais refused to fight their king and a weak Yorkist army was defeated. Richard Duke of York and his younger son escaped and fled to Ireland while Salisbury, Warwick and Edward of March (later Edward IV) fled to Calais.
Nov Parliament acts against the Yorkists
   At a Parliament called in Coventry the Yorkists are condemned as rebels and their land was confiscated by the crown.
1460 Jan 15 Yorkists capture Lancastrian fleet
   The Lancastrians were building a large fleet of ships at Sandwich on the south coast and with it they planned to attack Calais. The Earl of Warwick became aware of this and arranged a raid led by John Dinham to steal the ships. Early in the morning of the fifteenth of January the Yorkists supporters attacked the dockyard and stole those ships that were seaworthy. Richard Woodville (Earl Rivers), his wife Jacquetta and their son Anthony were captured.
Mar Warwick sails to Ireland
   With the Yorkists in control of the seas around the south coast of England, the Earl of Warwick was able to leave Calais and sail to Ireland where the Duke of York had taken refuge. There they planned their invasion of England and the defeat of the Lancastrians.
May Warwick returns to Calais
   With plans of invasion made the Earl of Warwick sailed back to Calais to organise his army.
Jun Yorkists take control of Kent
   Yorkists from Calais landed on the south coast of England and quickly seized Sandwich. They prepared for the arrival of the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of March.
Summer Queen Margaret flees to Wales
   After the Lancastrian defeat at Northampton, Queen Margaret and her son Edward escaped to Wales and the safety of Harlech Castle.
Jun 26 Earls of March and Warwick land in England
   Once the Yorkist army had secured Sandwich the Earls of March and Warwick arrived from Calais. They had a force of around 2,000 and the support of the Kentish men.
Jul 2 Yorkists enter London
   The Yorkists marched first to Canterbury where the officers in charge of protecting the town against them joined forces with the rebels. They then moved on and arrived at London on July 2nd. There they were welcomed by the Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Jul 5 The Earls of Warwick and March leave London
   Accompanied by a large army of Yorkist supporters, the Earl of Warwick and Edward, the Earl of March left London and marched towards Northampton where the King was staying.
Jul 10 Battle of Northampton
   The Lancastrians's Court was in Coventry at the time of the Yorkist rebels entering London. When news reached them, the Lancastrians moved south to Northampton to meet the rebels. The Yorkists led by the Earl of Warwick wanted to talk but the Lancastrians led by the Duke of Buckingham wanted to fight. Although the Lancastrians had less men than the Yorkists, they did have control of a stronger position. The Yorkists managed to defeat the Lancastrians due to a section of the Lancastrian army led by Lord Grey of Ruthin moving away allowing the Yorkists through. Orders were given that the King and ordinary men should be spared, while the knights and lords should be killed. When the fighting was over the casualties were light, but the Lancastrian leaders, Buckingham, Shrewsbury and Egremont were dead and the King was captured.
Jul 19 Garrison at Tower of London surrenders
   The Lancastrian garrison holding the Tower of London surrendered. Lord Scrope tried to escape but was seen and killed by the river, but most of the garrison escaped.
Jul 30 Yorkists in power
   Now that the Yorkists had control of the King, they started moves to regain their confiscated lands and reverse the sentences of attainder passed by the Coventry Parliament. To this end they sent letters demanding Parliament should meet on 7th October. George Neville, the Kingmaker's brother was made chancellor of England.
Oct Duke of York claims throne
   Richard, Duke of York returned from Ireland to claim the throne of England as a direct descendant of Edward III. The Lords refused to abandon Henry VI and Parliament agreed he should remain King until his death. Then Richard or his heir should become the next king of England.
Dec 30 Battle of Wakefield
   Queen Margaret had been building an army in the North and started attacking Yorkist held settlements. Richard left London with a small army to deal with the Queen. He had underestimated the Lancastrians and at his castle at Sandal Richard was confronted by superior forces. Although Richard sent word to the Earl of March for assistance he didn't wait and attacked. The battle left Richard Duke of York and his son Earl of Rutland dead.

Reign of Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483)

1461 Feb 2 Battle of Mortimers Cross
   Edward Earl of March, now the heir to the English throne, showed off his military skills at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. The Lancastrians with Welsh support had caught Edward as he travelled to London. On the morning of the battle three bright lights were seen in the sky. Edward used this strange sight as a good omen. The Lancastrians were defeated and Owen Tudor was captured and beheaded. Jasper Tudor escaped.
Feb 17 Second Battle of St. Albans
   The Lancastrians army led by the Queen met the Yorkist army led by Warwick at St. Albans. The Yorkist army was split in two and during the battle sections of the Yorkists defected to the Queen's side. The Yorkists were defeated and Warwick escaped. The King, who had been travelling with the Yorkists, was freed and he was reunited with his wife and son.
Feb 27 Yorkists enter London
   Edward and Warwick were allowed to enter the city of London. The citizens of London had refused to let the Queen enter and so she returned north with the King.
Mar 4 Edward IV is proclaimed king
   Edward, the Earl of March, was crowned Edward IV of England at London by the available peers and public acclamation.
Mar 13 Edward leaves London
   Edward IV with a large army left London to march north and face the Lancastrians. Richard and George, the young sons of the late Duke of York were put on a ship and sent to Burgundy where they would be safe from Lancastrian hands.
Mar 28 Battle of Ferrybridge
   This small battle occurred just before the larger battle of Towton. The Lancastrians were defeated and John Clifford, Lord Clifford was killed.
Mar 29 Battle of Towton
   This was the bloodiest battle of the Wars of the Roses and was fought in a snowstorm at Towton in Yorkshire. Both the Lancastrian and Yorkist armies were large having possibly 40,000 men each. The battle lasted many hours until the Lancastrians's line was broken. Fleeing into a river many of the Lancastrians were drowned due to their heavy armour and the rest were killed by the pursuing Yorkists.
Jun 28 Edward IV is crowned
   The Yorkists were in control after the battle of Towton and Richard and George were brought back to England where they were made Knights of the Order of the Bath. Edward took part in the crown-wearing ceremonies at Westminster Abbey and became King of England. Shortly afterwards his younger brother George was given the title of Duke of Clarence.
Jul Lancastrian Embassy in France
   An embassy of several Lancastrians, including the Duke of Somerset, travelled to France and the court of Charles VII to ask for men and a loan of money to continue the fight against the Yorkists. But the death of Charles on the 22nd put an end to their plans. Their situation became serious when they were arrested. The new French King, Louis XI, at this stage of the Wars of the Roses was a Yorkist supporter.
Sep Pembroke Castle captured
   Pembroke Castle was captured by William Herbert. The young Henry Tudor was found in the castle where he had been hiding.
Oct Lancastrians lose castles in Wales
   By October the Lancastrians were losing control of the castles that they held in Wales.
Nov Pembroke Castle in Yorkist hands
   William Herbert was given the castle at Pembroke in recognition of his assistance to Edward IV. Herbert was made the guardian of the future Henry VII who was living at the castle.
1462 Carreg Cennen demolished
   Carreg Cennen Castle was captured from the Lancastrians by the Yorkists. To prevent it from being used as a castle again 500 men were employed to take it apart. The castle has remained a ruin ever since.
Feb A plot to kill the king
   A Lancastrian plot to kill King Edward IV was uncovered early in the year. Edward was planning to go north to deal with the Scots and the plotters planned to follow him north and kill him. One of the leaders was the 12th Earl of Oxford, John de Vere. Both the Earl and his eldest son where executed for treason.
Apr Queen Margaret sails to France
   In an attempt to raise support for the Lancastrian cause, Queen Margaret sailed from Scotland to Brittany. She hoped she could get support from the French King, Louis XI.
Jun 28 Queen Margaret and Louis XI
   Queen Margaret of England and Louis XI of France sign a treaty. Margaret promised that Calais would be his if he helped her return Henry to the throne.
Oct 25 Queen Margaret invades
   Queen Margaret landed near Bamburgh Castle on the Northumbrian coast with a small army. The main castles in the area, Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh surrendered to the Queen.
Nov 13 Queen Margaret retreats to Scotland
   Edward acted quickly to Queen Margaret's arrival in the north. He raised a large army that marched towards Northumbria. Queen Margaret did not have the resources and local support required to fight Edward and so she decided to seek refuge in Scotland. A garrison of soldiers were left at the three Northumbrian castles.
Dec Yorkists take back control of Northumbrian castles
   The Earl of Warwick was put in charge of capturing the castles from the Lancastrian garrisons. Edward had to stay at Durham to recover from a bout of the measles. The castles were not attacked but cut off from supplies to starve the soldiers out. Just before the new year the Lancastrian soldiers surrendered and the Yorkists took control of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles. Warwick used the castle at Warkworth as his base while he monitored the seiges at the other castles. The seige of Alnwick Castle continued into January.
1463 Jan 6 Alnwick Castle surrenders to the Yorkists
   The Lancastrians inside Alnwick Castle were short of supplies so an army from Scotland under the control of George Douglas, the 4th Earl of Angus marched down to assist. When the Scottish army arrived at the castle, the Yorkists who were beseiging the castle withdrew allowing many of those inside to escape. Douglas did not attack the Yorkists but turned with the rescued men back to Scotland. The Yorkists returned to the castle and those Lancastrians that had not been able to escape surrendered.
Mar Northumbrian castles fall to Lancastrians
   Sir Ralph Percy, the constable in charge of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles, defected and allowed the Lancastrians to take control. Alnwick Castle fell to the Lancastrians shortly afterwards.
May Alnwick Castle in Lancastrian hands
   Alnwick Castle was captured by the Lancastrians.
Jul Queen Margaret returns to France
   Warwick took an army north to deal with the new threat from Queen Margaret. The Lancastrians had laid seige to Norham Castle on the Scottish border. Under the control of the Earl of Warwick, the Yorkists again proved too powerful for the Lancastrians and with her invasion plans in ruin Margaret decided to return to France. She took Prince Edward with her.
Jul Siege of Norham Castle
   Queen Margaret, Henry VI and Scottish support besieged the castle at Norham. King Edward failed to react to the problem and it was left to the Earls of Warwick and Northumberland to come to the castle's rescue. Henry, Margaret and the Scots fled.
Oct Treaty with France
   Edward IV agreed a peace treaty with France in which both sides promising not to assist each others enemies. This was a disaster for the Lancastrians who had hoped that they could get French assistance against the English king.
Dec Duke of Somerset rebels
   Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and Lancastrian supporters rebelled against Edward and used Bamburgh Castle as a base.
Dec English Truce with Scotland
   Edward IV agreed a truce with Scotland who had lost interest in fighting for the Lancastrians and Queen Margaret. The truce was signed at York and Edward spent Christmas in the city.
1464 Apr 25 Battle of Hedgeley Moor
   The Battle of Hedgeley Moor took place a few miles from Alnwick. Lord Montague was attempting to meet Scottish envoys and escort then back to York for peace talks. The Lancastrians wanted to put an end to these plans and attacked Montague's army. Lancastrians involved in the battle were Somerset, Roos, Hungerford, , Sir Ralph Percy, Sir Richard Tunstall and Sir Thomas Finderne. Percy was killed in the battle. The Yorkist army was too strong for the Lancastrians and won the day.
May Edward secretly marries
   Edward married Elizabeth Woodville (Wydville) secretly during a hunting trip. The hunting trip that may have been arranged as a cover. Edward is supposed to have had a reputation as a lady's man and had many lovers. To Edward, Elizabeth could have been just another lover, but Elizabeth may have wanted more and persuaded Edward to marry her. The marriage took place in secret and was kept quiet until the spring of 1465. One problem with the marriage was that Elizabeth was the widow of Henry V's brother John, a Lancastrian and her family were Lancastrian supporters. The other problem was that Warwick had contacted the French king Louis XI and had been trying to arrange a marriage for Edward to a French princess. Edward's act upset Warwick's plans.
May Battle of Hexham
   The Nevilles defeated the last of the Lancastrian forces near Hexham and executed the rebels including Henry Beaufort the Duke of Somerset. In recognition of their contribution to the security of his reign Edward IV gave John Neville, Lord Montagu, the title of Earl of Northumberland and George Neville became the Archbishop of York.
Jun Herbert becomes Constable of Harlech
   William Herbert was given the title of Constable of Harlech Castle by Edward IV and told to capture the castle from the Lancatrians. But the castle was strongly fortified and a lengthy seige began.
Jun 23 Alnwick Castle Surrenders to Warwick
   After the Lancastrians were defeated at the Battle of Hexham their power in Northumberland was at an end. The Earl of Warwick accepted the surrender of Alnwick Castle on June 23rd. Dunstanburgh Castle surrendered shortly afterwards. The seige at Bamburgh Castle was brought to an end with the use of cannons, tthe first castle to fall in such a way.
Sep 14 Council at Reading
   Great Council at Reading Abbey; Edward IV announced his marriage and (29.9 - Michaelmas) Elizabeth recognised as Queen.
1465 May 26 Elizabeth crowned
   Elizabeth Woodville was finally crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey.
Summer Henry VI captured
   Henry had been helped by Lancastrian supporters in the north but was finally captured at Waddington Hall. He was taken to London and put in the Tower.
1468 Jul Jasper Tudor's invasion
   King Louis provider Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, with three ships and fifty soldiers to invade Wales. The small invasion force planned to gain support against Edward IV and help the Lancastrian garrison trapped at Harlech Castle. The castle was surrounded by the English so Pembroke attacked and occupied Denbigh gaining many supporters. Lord Herbert was dispatched to deal with the threat and defeated Pembroke who managed to escape.
Qtr 4 Warwick plots against the King
   Warwick was unhappy with the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth Woodville and he began to plan how overthrow the king. Warwick's plans centred around Edward's brother George, the Duke of Clarence. If George was to marry Warwick's daughter Isabel and become king, Warwick would be back in a position of power.
1469 Qtr 1 Rebellion of Robin of Redesdale
   A rebellion began early in the year started by a mysterious person calling himself Robin of Redesdale. The motivation for the uprising against the king was his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and the influence the Woodvilles were having. The rebels were supported by the Earl of Warwick.
Jun Edward advances against rebels
   Edward and the Duke of Gloucester took a small army in search of the rebels in the North.
Jul Clarence marries Isabel Neville
   Warwick and the Duke of Clarence travelled to France where Clarence was married to Warwick's fifteen year old daughter Isabel. The ceremony was conducted by Warwick's brother George Neville the Archbishop of York.
Jul 18 Warwick returns from France
   Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick returned from France to England with an army, passing through Canterbury and London. His plan was to take the army north and join up with the Rebels led by Robin of Redesdale.
Jul 26 Battle of Edgecote
   Edward's army was insufficient to deal with the rebels alone and he had moved them to Nottingham to wait for a larger army to join them led by Sir William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke. Pembroke's army was attacked and defeated by a combined rebel army led by Robin of Redesdale and the Earl of Warwick who had returned from France. The battle took place at Edgecote near Banbury. Sir William Herbert and his brother Richard were captured and executed.
Jul 29 Edward is captured
   After the defeat of William Herbert at Edgecote, Edward was left without a strong enough army to deal with the Earl of Warwick. Either Edward's army deserted him, or he dispersed his army on purpose, the outcome was the same. Edward was captured.
Aug Woodville family members executed
   While Edward was imprisoned, Warwick captured the Queen's father (Earl Rivers) and one of her brothers and had them executed at Warwick Castle.
Sep Riots and rebellions
   With the king in custody there began a series of riots around the country protesting against the Earl of Warwick. Warwick did not have the backing of Parliament and in the end had little choice but to let Edward go free and return to rule the country.

Reign of Henry (VI, King of England 1422-1461, 1470-1471)

1470 Mar 12 Lincolnshire rebellion
   A rebellion had begun in Lincolnshire early in the year and had been mostly been dealt with by Edward, but Sir Robert (Welles ?) had escaped capture and was still on the run. Edward finally caught up with Sir Robert near Stamford in Lincolnshire. In the battle known as Empingham (or Lose-Coat), Sir Robert was captured and confessed that the rebellion had been master-minded by the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence.
May Warwick and Clarence escape to France
   After their treachery had been uncovered, the Earl of Warwick and Duke of Clarence fled to France. Warwick's plan was to get help from the French King. They took a ship with their immediate relatives and followers from either Exeter or Dartmouth. Isabella, Warwick's daughter, gave birth on the ship to a son, but he died shortly afterwards.
Jul 22 Warwick and the Lancastrians
   Louis XI, the French King devised a plan to remove Edward IV from the English throne. Louis persuaded the Earl of Warwick (a Yorkist) and Margaret of Anjou the exiled wife of Henry VI (a Lancastrian) to combine forces and attempt to over through Edward. Warwick and Margaret met on 22 July at Anger Cathedral to put their differences aside and to agree on a course of action.
Jul 25 Betrothal of Prince Edward and Anne Neville
   The betrothal of Prince Edward and Anne Neville formed part of the agreement between Queen Margaret and the Kingmaker to put King Henry VI back on the English throne. The act taking place at the Cathedral of Angers,
Jul 31 The plan to restore Henry VI
   Warwick promised to restore Henry VI to the English throne, and he betrothed his youngest daughter Anne to Margaret's son Edward, the Prince of Wales.
Sep 9 Warwick sails from France
   With an army and over fifty ships provided by King Louis, the Earl of Warwick set sail from France to England.
Sep 13 Warwick lands in England
   The Earl of Warwick landed at Dartmouth in Devon accompanied by the Lancastrian Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor, the half-brother of Henry VI. Edward was in the north at the time of Warwick's return and was turned upon by John Neville, Warwick's brother. Although John Neville had accepted Edward as King, Edward had removed John's title of Earl of Northumberland earlier in the year and given it to the Percys. John Neville advanced on Edward's position with a force much larger.
Oct 2 Edward flees to Burgundy
   Warwick did not need to fight the King. Edward was outnumbered and was almost captured by John Neville at Doncaster. Along with his brother Richard and a small party of followers, Edward travelled to Lynn in Norfolk where he sailed to Burgundy and refuge.
Oct 6 Henry restored as King
   Warwick and Clarence entered London and Henry VI was released from the Tower of London. Henry was crowned King of England for the second time.
Qtr 4 Edward (V) is born
   King Edward IV's wife Elizabeth gave birth to her first son. Elizabeth had taken refuge at Westminster Abbey after King Henry VI had been restored to the throne by the Earl of Warwick and King Edward had fled to Burgundy. The baby was named Edward and would be heir to the English throne.
Dec 13 Marriage of Edward of Lancaster and Anne Neville
   The marriage between Edward of Lancaster, the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, to Anne Neville, the daughter of Richard Neville the Kingmaker was a marriage to cement the agreement that Richard and Margaret would support each other and try to get Henry VI back on the English throne. The marriage took place in France at the Chateau d'Amboise where Margaret and Edward were exiled.

Reign of Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483)

1471 Mar 14 Edward returns to England
   With a small combined force of English and Burgundians, Edward landed on the Yorkshire coast. His fleet had been hit and scattered by a storm off the coast of Norfolk. Luckily for Edward he wasn't attacked even though Lord Montagu, the Earl of Northumberland, was close by. As he marched south, Edward gained supporters and his army grew.
Apr 4 Clarence rejoins his brothers
   George, Duke of Clarence deserted the Earl of Warwick and joined his brothers Edward and Richard. Importantly for the Yorkist cause, he brought with him a sizable army.
Apr 11 London opens its gates to Edward and the Yorkists
   The Earl of Warwick was in Coventry and apparently unwilling to confront Edward, so Edward and Richard marched south to London. London was under the control of Warwick's brother, George Neville the Archbishop of York, but the Londoners were Yorkists and they welcomed the return of their true king. Once inside the city Edward had the Archbishop arrested and along with King Henry VI put in the Tower of London.
Apr 14 The Battle of Barnet
   The Earl of Warwick had left Coventry to confront Edward. The armies met at Barnet just north of London in thick fog. The two battle lines overlapped and Warwick's Lancastrian men commanded by the Earl of Oxford were able to get around the Yorkists commanded by Lord Hastings. Hastings' men fled back to London with Oxford's men in hot pursuit. On the other side of the battle the Yorkists, led by Richard, were outflanking the Lancastrians and took the advantage pushing their enemy back. When Oxford's men returned to the battle they were mistakenly fired upon by their fellow Lancastrians and fled. By early evening Lord Montagu and the Earl of Warwick were dead. The Lancastrians were defeated.
May London attacked by rebels
   A group of men from Kent attacked London but left the city before the victorious Edward returned after the battle of Tewkesbury.
May 4 The Battle of Tewkesbury
   The Yorkists led by King Edward IV and his brother Richard Duke of Gloucester met the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury. Richard was able to outflank the Lancastrians led by Edmund Beaufort, the self-proclaimed Duke of Somerset. Once Somerset's men had been dealt with, Richard attacked the rear of the Lancastrian line which broke apart and fled. Many of the Lancastrian leaders were caught and killed including Edward the Prince of Wales. Margaret of Anjou was also captured.
May 21 The murder of Henry VI
   Edward arrived back in London and that night Henry VI was murdered at the Tower of London.
1473 Dec Birth of Edward, Prince of Wales
   Edward, the son of Richard III and Anne Neville was born at Middleham Castle.

Reign of Richard (III, King of England 1483-1485)

1483 Apr 30 Richard captures the King
   Richard, assisted by the Duke of Buckingham rode to Stony Stratford where they met with the King under the pretence of offering their condolences for the death of his father. Instead, they captured King Edward and took him directly to London and safe keeping in the Tower. Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers was arrested and imprisoned at Sherriff Hutton Castle, near York.
Jun 13 Hastings executed
   Lord Hastings had supported Richard against the Woodvilles and had hoped to gain some reward for his loyalty, but the Duke of Buckingham seemed more likely to be rewarded at his expense. Hastings' loyalties swayed towards the Woodvilles and when Richard found out, Hastings was arrested and executed.

Reign of Henry (VII, King of England 1485-1509)

1485 Aug 7 Henry Tudor arrives in England
   Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven in Wales avoiding the south coast which was more heavily defended and made his way north. He was given money by Charles VIII of France to pay for soldiers and ships for the invasion.
Aug 15 Henry Tudor at Shrewsbury
   By August 15th, Henry Tudor had reached the town of Shrewsbury. He had gained the support of some Welsh as he marched north.
Aug 22 Battle of Bosworth
   Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth and Henry Tudor was proclaimed King of England.
Oct 30 Henry Tudor is crowned.
   Henry Tudor is crowned as Henry VII at Westminster Abbey.
1487 May 24 Lambert Simnel crowned in Dublin
   Lambert Simnel arrived in Ireland claiming to be Edward Earl of Lincoln and true heir to the English throne. He was crowned by the Irish at Dublin as Edward VI.
Jun 16 Battle of Stoke
   Henry VII fought the Earl of Lincoln and Lambert Simnel at Stoke. The English throne was at stake. Simnel was captured and Lincoln was killed. This battle ended the Wars of the Roses.

 

 

 

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