The War of Roses

The war of roses was a war between two rival families, the house of Lancaster, and the house of York that began during the reign of Henry VI of England.

To set the stage a bit, Edward III was succeeded by Richard II. When Richard II died, he left behind no direct heirs so instead of the next in line successor from the house of York taking over the throne, Henry IV of Lancaster usurped the throne.

Henry IV continued to rule, succeeded by Henry V, then Henry VI. Meanwhile, the house of York continued to accumulate heirs. Henry V evaded a war with the house of York because he was busy fighting a separate war in France during his reign, but the trouble started when Henry VI succeeded the throne.

The Duke of York, Richard, opposed Henry VI. They struggled constantly between 1455 and 1485. At one point during this time, Henry VI was taken prisoner, but then, during a battle, Henry VI’s wife killed Richard the Duke of York in 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield. After the war, the feudal system with lords and ladies was effectively abolished.

At the end of the war of roses Richard’s son, Edward gained victories in the battles of Cross, Mortimers, and Towton over Henry VI in 1461. After these victories, he was crowned King Edward III.

For 10 years, Edward III ruled peacefully and successfully. Then, Henry VI was released from his exile in 1470. The next year, however, in 1471, Henry VI was again defeated by Edward III. Edward III killed both Henry VI and Henry VI’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Then, until he died in 1483, Edward III ruled peacefully. His sons, both thirteen years old, succeeded him before being killed off by their uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester

Next, came the battle of Bosworth Field which signaled the end of the war.

Henry VII concord Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. This battle is famous as indeed the battle ended the war of roses, thus forming the Tudor dynasty.

When he was released from his exile On August 11th, Henry VII led an army to land at Milford Haven and spend 11 days marching into English land until they met Richard III and his army on August 22nd at the battlefield of Bosworth Field. He’d been counting on allyship from Lord Stanly, The earl of Derby, and the Earl of Northumberland. In the primary fight,  the Duke of Norfolk, John Howard, died. During the battle, Sir William Stanley, the brother of Lord Stanly, Earl of Derby, betrayed Richard III because Sir William Stanley secretly supported and approved of Henry VII. This betrayal forced the army to surrender. The army fled, but Richard III allowed Henry VII to execute him.

This betrayal and subsequent execution was the consummation of the war of roses and instated the Tudor dynasty. The Tudor dynasty was a major player in the larger politics of Europe as a continent and ruled through the entire Renaissance period as well as the many long Italian wars. For any country in the 1400s, this would have been an accomplishment, but for England, this was especially remarkable because the next time a new power came into play, it signaled the end of the Renaissance. This happened when Elizabeth II, who was a Tudor queen, defeated the Spanish armada, the other of the most powerful European powers of the day.