Wars of the Roses
The Earl of Warwick rebels
The third 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.
Battles of the War of the Roses
Event Participants and Locations
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Last Middle Ages
Early Modern Period
Event Participants and Locations