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Wars of the RosesWars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses

In the 15th century, England lay in tatters. At the hands of the French, it had experienced catastrophic defeat in the Hundred Years’ War, the nation’s coffers were empty, and King Henry VI had declined into madness. With the king propped up by his cunning wife, Henry’s relatives descended hungrily on the crown, each vying to claim the English throne. The bloodshed and dynastic drama that followed was immortalised in history as the Wars of the Roses. In this brand-new book, discover how the Houses of York and Lancaster turned against each other as greed, glory and a thirst for power trumped family loyalty.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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wars of the roses

As English troops set sail for home shores after their devastating defeat during the Hundred Years’ War in 1453, few could gladly contemplate the prospect of conflict once more. Yet before the decade was out, England was engaged in a bloody civil war that reshaped the nation’s ruling elite. Incapacitated by mental illness, King Henry VI had retreated from the royal court, his power divided among his most trusted allies. In time he recovered but his advisors had experienced a taste of true power and wanted more. In May 1455, Richard, Duke of York, marched on St Albans. The first clash of the Wars of the Roses had begun. Over the following pages, discover the key battles that shaped the course of the conflict, meet the people who sought power…

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a gathering storm   the origins of the wars of the roses

According to one 15th-century chronicler, England was on the brink of disaster by the middle of the 1450s. The worst of the “whirlwind and tempest was still impending” but already “you might plainly perceive public and intestine broils fermenting among the princes and nobles of the realm.” Nor was the “spirit of contention” limited to society’s highest echelons. The “unhappy plague of division effected an entrance” in every “chapter, college, or convent” so that “brother could hardly with any degree of security admit brother into his confidence, or friend a friend.” In the years to come, the chronicler went on to lament, “The slaughter of men was immense; for besides the dukes, earls, barons, and distinguished warriors who were cruelly slain, multitudes almost innumerable of common people died of their wounds……

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the lancastrian and yorkist family tree

The various dynastic and familial conflicts that played a role in the Wars of the Roses can sometimes seem mind-bogglingly complex. Clarity can, however, be found by following the various lineages down from Edward III. All the chief contenders, and how they related to each other, can readily be located. The three Lancastrian Henries (IV, V and VI) can be traced back to Edward’s fourth-born son, John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. Richard, Duke of York, the father of the Yorkist ruler Edward IV, was the great-grandson of Edward III. Edward IV’s son, Edward V, was never crowned and Richard III, the final Yorkist king, was Edward IV’s brother.…

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the rose in bloom

We are accustomed to referring to the internecine conflicts of the 15th century as the Wars of the Roses, but the phrase is of relatively recent vintage – it never passed the lips of contemporaries. In tracing the phrase’s origins, mention is often made of Walter Scott who, in Anne of Geierstein, wrote of “the civil discords so dreadfully prosecuted in the wars of the white and red roses.” Similar coinages had, in fact, appeared earlier as one 17thcentury tract mentioned the “quarrel of the warring roses”. More importantly, the phrase would at least have made sense to those living at the end of the 15th century. The Yorkists deployed the white rose, a symbol throughout the period and, while Lancastrian use of the red rose is harder to locate before…

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england’s game of thrones

Henry VI is born The son of warrior king Henry V and Catherine de Valois, Henry VI was crowned king of both England and France during infancy. He would proceed to oversee England’s final losses in the Hundred Years’ War and famously married the strong and powerful Margaret of Anjou. 6 December 1421 The birth of the Kingmaker Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick was one of the most powerful figures in the entire war, personally overseeing the deposition of two kings is born. He was killed at the Battle of Barnet. 22 November 1428 Margaret of Anjou is born One of the key players in the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou, the future wife of King Henry VI, is born in France to René, Duke of Anjou, and Isabel de Lorraine. 23 March 1430 Jasper Tudor is…

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key figures 1455-60

Henry VI Alliance Henry was the last king of England to come from the House of Lancaster. Lifespan Born in 1421, Henry died 1471. He was most likely murdered. Political prowess Henry struggled with mental instability throughout his life and was controlled by powerful members of the court. Military might As king, Henry was the nominal leader of the Lancastrians and their armies. However, in reality he was nothing more than a figurehead. Overview King of England since the tender age of nine months, Henry ultimately proved to be an ineffective and weak monarch. His frequent bouts of mental problems contributed to a power vacuum at the English court and the subsequent fighting between the Houses of York and Lancaster. With his death, the Lancastrians ceased to rule England, although the Lancastrian claim was inherited by Henry VII, who later…