The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses

Synopsis

The struggle between Lancaster and York has fascinated both students and scholars for generations. In this book, Bruce Webster examines the events of the era within the wider context of medieval politics and society.

Excerpt

The problem

The period from Jack Cade's rebellion in 1450 till the battle of Bosworth in 1485 has traditionally been labelled as that of the “Wars of the Roses”. This conflict was allegedly between the rival houses of Lancaster and York, the descendants respectively of two sons of Edward III: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose son, grandson and great-grandson ruled England as Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI from 1399 till 1461; and Edmund, Duke of York, whose remoter descendants reigned as Edward IV and Richard III from 1461, with a brief interlude in 1470-71 when Henry VI was restored, until Richard's defeat at Bosworth in 1485. There is no good evidence that anyone at the time actually referred to “The Wars of the Roses”, though the Lancastrians did use a red rose as an emblem, and the Yorkists a white one; and Henry VII's “Tudor Rose” displayed both colours as a symbol of restored unity. Nevertheless, however we try to escape from it, the concept of the Wars of the Roses continues to dominate our thinking about fifteenth-century England. This is hardly surprising, for the years from 1450 to 1485 experienced a degree of political instability unparalleled since the Norman Conquest. In these 35 years, the reigning king was deposed on five occasions; and one, Henry VI, contrived to be deposed twice! Temporary breakdowns of government had occurred at other periods, even outbreaks of civil war; and in the previous century two kings, Edward II and Richard II, had actually been deposed; but such a rapid series of dynastic upheavals seems unique to the midfifteenth century.

In the more than 500 years which have elapsed since the Wars of

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.