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Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses
Painting by Henry Payne in 1908 of the apocryphal scene in the Temple Garden, from Shakespeare's play Henry VI, Part 1, where supporters of the rival factions pick either red or white roses
Military Conflict
ConflictWars of the Roses
Date1455 1485
LocationEngland, Wales, Calais
ResultLancastrian victory; founding of the Tudor dynasty
House of York
House of Lancaster
Richard, Duke of York  
Edward IV of England
Richard III of England  
Henry VI of England
Edward of Westminster  
Henry VII of England

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The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York (the "red" and the "white" rose, respectively). They were fought in several sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1485, although there was related fighting both before and after this period. The final victory went to a relatively remote Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king Richard III and married Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses. The House of Tudor subsequently ruled England and Wales for 117 years.

Henry of Bolingbroke had established the House of Lancaster on the throne in 1399 when he deposed his cousin Richard II and was crowned as Henry IV. Bolingbroke's son Henry V maintained the family's hold on the crown, but when Henry V died, his heir was the infant Henry VI. The Lancastrian claim to the throne descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the fourth son of Edward III. Henry VI's right to the crown was challenged by Richard, Duke of York, who could claim descent from Edward's third and fifth sons, Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Richard of York, who had held several important offices of state, quarrelled with prominent Lancastrians at court and with Henry VI's queen, Margaret of Anjou.

Although armed clashes had occurred previously between supporters of York and Lancaster, the first open fighting broke out in 1455 at the First Battle of St Albans. Several prominent Lancastrians died, but their heirs continued a deadly feud with Richard. Although peace was temporarily restored, the Lancastrians were inspired by Margaret of Anjou to contest York's influence. Fighting resumed more violently in 1459. York and his supporters were forced to flee the country, but one of his most prominent supporters, the Earl of Warwick, invaded England from Calais and captured Henry at the Battle of Northampton. York returned to the country and became Protector of England, but was dissuaded from claiming the throne. Margaret and the irreconcilable Lancastrian nobles gathered their forces in the north of England, and when York moved north to suppress them, he and his second son Edmund were killed at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460. The Lancastrian army advanced south and recaptured Henry at the Second Battle of St Albans, but failed to occupy London, and subsequently retreated to the north. York's eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, was proclaimed King Edward IV. He gathered the Yorkist armies and won a crushing victory at the Battle of Towton in March 1461.

After Lancastrian revolts in the north were suppressed in 1464 and Henry was captured once again, Edward fell out with his chief supporter and advisor, the Earl of Warwick (known as the "Kingmaker"), and also alienated many friends and even family members by favouring the upstart family of his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, whom he had married in secret. Warwick tried first to supplant Edward with his younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, and then to restore Henry VI to the throne. This resulted in two years of rapid changes of fortune, before Edward IV once again won complete victories at Barnet (April 1471), where Warwick was killed, and Tewkesbury (May 1471) where the Lancastrian heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, was executed after the battle. Henry was murdered in the Tower of London several days later, ending the direct Lancastrian line of succession.

A period of comparative peace followed, but King Edward died unexpectedly in 1483. His surviving brother, Richard of Gloucester, first moved to prevent the unpopular Woodville family of Edward's widow from participating in the government during the minority of Edward's son, Edward V, and then seized the throne for himself, using the suspect legitimacy of Edward IV's marriage as pretext. Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancastrian kings who had inherited their claim, defeated Richard at Bosworth in 1485. He was crowned Henry VII, and married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, to unite and reconcile the two houses.

Yorkist revolts flared up in 1487, resulting in the last pitched battles. Although most of the surviving descendants of Richard of York were imprisoned, sporadic rebellions continued until 1497 when Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be the younger brother of Edward V, one of the two disappeared Princes in the Tower, was imprisoned and later executed.

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Peter Hall Returns to Wars of Roses Plays at Bath - Tweet this news Peter Hall, who celebrated his 80th birthday last November, will revisit two of Shakespeare's history plays Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 this summer for the first time since he mounted them as part of his legendary -Wars of the Roses - Date : Mon, 11 Apr 2011 16:51:32 GMT+00:00
Two Books on the Wars of the Roses: review - Tweet this news Clements finds much to admire in a brace of books about the -Wars of the Roses-, Fatal Colours by George Goodwin and Towton by John Sadler. By Toby Clements 11:22AM BST 05 Apr 2011 The civil wars that Walter Scott later rechristened - Date : Tue, 05 Apr 2011 10:30:11 GMT+00:00
HBO Gambles on Fantasy With 'Game of Thrones' - ABC News Tweet this news
ABC News--The 10-part series, which debuts Sunday at 9 pm EDT (and on Britain's Sky Atlantic the next day), is set in a world that mixes medieval Europe England's fratricidal -Wars of the Roses- were one inspiration with elements of chivalri - Date : Mon, 11 Apr 2011 18:12:47 GMT+00:00
Understanding the Sesquicentennial and the war's real causes - Charleston Post Courier Tweet this news
Charleston Post Courier---...- sense that there were two sides fighting in one country, because there was no attempt by the rebellious side to take over the other, as in such combats as the English civil war of Charles I, the -War of the Roses- -- or the - Date : Tue, 05 Apr 2011 15:25:58 GMT+00:00
Monday Miscellanea - Londonist Tweet this news
Londonist--Thursday - 14th April 1471: During the -Wars of the Roses-, the Yorkists defeat the Lancastrians in the Battle of Barnet, allowing Edward IV to resume the throne. Friday - 15th April 1755: Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Langu - Date : Mon, 11 Apr 2011 07:04:56 GMT+00:00
On The NightTable - Winnipeg Free Press Tweet this news
Winnipeg Free Press--"Right now I am reading Alison Weir's book on the -Wars of the Roses- and the Arden edition of Richard III. To balance that, I just started re-reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen before I get to his next novel, F - Date : Sat, 05 Mar 2011 14:44:42 GMT+00:00
Visitors remember historic Battle - St Albans & Harpenden Review Tweet this news
St Albans & Harpenden Review--The battle, one of the more significant engagements of the -Wars of the Roses-, pitched some 25000 Yorkists and Lancastrians against each other - firstly in the city streets and then on Bernards Heath. Visitors to St Savi - Date : Tue, 01 Mar 2011 08:58:48 GMT+00:00
Libya and the Arabs deserve democracy - and our help - Tweet this news England, we had our own phases of tribal warfare (what else were the -Wars of the Roses-?), genocidal religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, and on-again, off-again autocratic monarchies, before establishing a tradition - Date : Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:25:35 GMT+00:00
Upcoming Community Events and Activities - Fayette Daily News Tweet this news
Fayette Daily News--The social will begin at 7 pm and the program at 7:30 pm Tom Siebert of Weeks -Roses- will talk on "Changes in the Rose Industry and the new varieties of rose ... - Date : Thu, 13 Jan 2011 14:49:01 GMT+00:00
"Schindler's List 3-D," Anyone? The Problem With Hollywood's 3-D Addiction - Fast Company Tweet this news
Fast Company--But it's not all digitally enhanced sunshine and -roses- in Tinseltown--or, at least, it shouldn't be. The industry's addiction to profits is creating a ... - Date : Tue, 11 Jan 2011 15:44:18 GMT+00:00

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