Wars of the Roses
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.
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.
|EDWARD (III, King of England 1327-1377)|
|Philippa (of Hainault)|
|Edward (The Black Prince)|
|Joan (of Kent)|
|Lionel (of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence)|
|Elizabeth (de Burgh)|
|John (of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster)|
|Blanche (of Lancaster)|
|RICHARD (II, King of England 1377-1399)|
|Philippa (daughter of Lionel Duke of Clarence)||Mortimer, Edmund (3rd Earl of March)|
|HENRY (IV, King of England 1399-1413)|
|Mortimer, Roger (4th Earl of March)|
|Holland, Eleanor (Wife of Roger, Earl of March)||Henry (V, King of England 1413-1422)|
|Catherine (of France)|
|Mortimer, Edmund (5th Earl of March)|
|Mortimer, Anne (daughter of Roger, Earl of March)||Richard (Earl of Cambridge)|
|Henry (VI, King of England 1422-1461, 1470-1471)|
|Margaret (of Anjou)|
|Richard (Duke of York)|
|Neville, Cecily (Duchess of York)|
|Edward (of Lancaster, Prince of Wales)|
|Edward (IV, Earl of March and King of England 1461-1470, 1471-1483)|
|Richard (III, King of England 1483-1485)|
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 Four Phases
The Wars of the Roses was not a constant fight but a series of events and battles that can the divided into four distinct phases.
The build up to the first battle of the Wars of the Roses at St. Albans.
After a series of major battles between 1459 and 1461 Edward IV of the Yorkists deposed the Lancastrian King Henry VI.
Starting in 1461 and ending in 1471 the third phase centres around the first reign of Edward IV.
Richard III, Edward's brother becomes King of England in 1483 and killed at Bosworth in 1485.
Battles of the War of the Roses
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Last Middle Ages
Early Modern Period
Event Participants and Locations