English



22 min

1455 to 1487

War of the Roses

by Something Something




The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars fought over control of the English throne in the mid-to-late fifteenth century, fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: Lancaster and York. The wars extinguished the male lines of the two dynasties, leading to the Tudor family inheriting the Lancastrian claim. Following the war, the Houses of Tudor and York were united, creating a new royal dynasty, thereby resolving the rival claims.






  Table of Contents / Timeline



CHAPTER   1

Prologue

1453 Jan 1 -

England, UK



Henry V dies in 1422. Henry VI would prove to be ill-suited to leadership. In 1455, he marries Margaret of Anjou, niece of the King of France in exchange for the strategically important lands of Maine and Anjou. Richard of York was stripped of his prestigious command in France and sent to govern the relatively distant Lordship of Ireland with a ten-year term of office, where he could not interfere with affairs at court. Margaret, along with her close friendship with Somerset, would wield almost complete control over the pliable king Henry. On 15 April 1450, the English suffered a major reversal in France at Formigny, which paved the way for the French reconquest of Normandy. That same Year, there was a violent popular uprising in Kent, which is often seen as a precursor to the Wars of the Roses. Henry displayed several symptoms of mental illness, possibly inherited from his maternal grandfather, Charles VI of France. His near-total lack of leadership in military matters had left the English forces in France scattered and weak.







CHAPTER   2

Percy–Neville feud

1453 Jun 1 -

Yorkshire, UK



Henry's burst of activity in 1453 had seen him try to stem the violence caused by various disputes between noble families. These disputes gradually polarised around the long-standing Percy–Neville feud. Unfortunately for Henry, Somerset (and therefore the king) became identified with the Percy cause. This drove the Nevilles into the arms of York, who now for the first time had support among a section of the nobility. The Percy–Neville feud was a series of skirmishes, raids, and vandalism between two prominent northern English families, the House of Percy and the House of Neville, and their followers, that helped provoke the Wars of the Roses. The original reason for the long dispute is unknown, and the first outbreaks of violence were in the 1450s, prior to the Wars of the Roses.

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Henry VI (right) sitting while the Dukes of York (left) and Somerset (centre) have an argument.


CHAPTER   3

Henry VI suffers mental breakdown

1453 Aug 1 -

London, UK



In August 1453, on hearing of the final loss of Bordeaux , Henry VI experienced a mental breakdown and became completely unresponsive to everything that was going on around him for more than 18 months. He became completely unresponsive, unable to speak, and had to be led from room to room. The Council tried to carry on as though the king's disability would be brief, but they had to admit eventually that something had to be done. In October, invitations for a Great Council were issued, and although Somerset tried to have him excluded, York (the premier duke of the realm) was included. Somerset's fears were to prove well grounded, for in November he was committed to the Tower. Some historians believe Henry was suffering from catatonic schizophrenia, a condition characterised by symptoms including stupor, catalepsy (loss of consciousness) and mutism. Others have referred to it simply as a mental breakdown.

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| ©Graham Turner


CHAPTER   4

Richard of York appointed Lord Protector

1454 Mar 27 -

Tower of London, UK



The lack of central authority led to a continued deterioration of the unstable political situation, which polarised around long-standing feuds between the more powerful noble families, in particular the Percy-Neville feud, and the Bonville-Courtenay feud, creating a volatile political climate ripe for civil war. To ensure the country could be governed, a Regency Council was established and, despite the protests of Margaret, was led by Richard of York, who was appointed Lord Protector and Chief Councillor on 27 March 1454. Richard appointed his brother-in-law, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury to the post of Chancellor, backing the Nevilles against their chief adversary, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.


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CHAPTER   5

Henry VI recovers

1455 Jan 1 -

Leicester, UK



In 1455, Henry made a surprise recovery from his mental instability, and reversed much of Richard's progress. Somerset was released and restored to favour, and Richard was forced out of court into exile. However, disaffected nobles, chiefly the Earl of Warwick and his father the Earl of Salisbury, backed the claims of the rival House of York to control of the government. Henry, Somerset, and a select council of nobles elected to hold a Great Council at Leicester on 22 May, away from Somerset's enemies in London. Fearing that charges of treason would be brought against them, Richard and his allies gathered an army to intercept the royal party at St Albans, before they could reach the Council.


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CHAPTER   6

First Battle of St Albans

1455 May 22 -

St Albans, UK



The First Battle of St Albans traditionally marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses in England. Richard, Duke of York, and his allies, the Neville earls of Salisbury and Warwick, defeated a royal army commanded by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who was killed. With King Henry VI captured, a subsequent parliament appointed Richard of York Lord Protector.

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CHAPTER   7

Battle of Blore Heath

1459 Sep 23 -

Staffordshire, UK



After the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, an uneasy peace held in England. Attempts at reconciliation between the houses of Lancaster and York enjoyed marginal success. However, both sides became increasingly wary of each other and by 1459 were actively recruiting armed supporters. Queen Margaret of Anjou continued to raise support for King Henry VI amongst noblemen, distributing an emblem of a silver swan to knights and squires enlisted by her personally, whilst the Yorkist command under the Duke of York was finding plenty of anti-royal support despite the severe punishment for raising arms against the king. The Yorkist force based at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire (led by the Earl of Salisbury) needed to link up with the main Yorkist army at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire. As Salisbury marched south-west through the Midlands the queen ordered Lord Audley to intercept them. The battle resulted in a Yorkist victory. At least 2,000 Lancastrians were killed, with the Yorkists losing nearly 1,000.


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CHAPTER   8

Rout of Ludford Bridge

1459 Oct 12 -

Ludford, Shropshire, UK



The Yorkist forces began the campaign dispersed over the country. York himself was at Ludlow in the Welsh Marches, Salisbury was at Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire and Warwick was at Calais. As Salisbury and Warwick marched to join the Duke of York, Margaret ordered a force under the Duke of Somerset to intercept Warwick and another under James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley to intercept Salisbury. Warwick successfully evaded Somerset, while Audley's forces were routed at the bloody Battle of Blore Heath. Before Warwick could join them, the Yorkist army of 5,000 troops under Salisbury were ambushed by a Lancastrian force twice their size under the Baron Audley at Blore Heath on 23 September 1459. The Lancastrian army was defeated, and Baron Audley himself killed in the fighting. In September, Warwick crossed over into England and made his way north to Ludlow. At nearby Ludford Bridge, the Yorkist forces were scattered due to the defection of Warwick's Calais troops under Sir Andrew Trollope.

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CHAPTER   9

Yorkist flees and regroups

1459 Dec 1 -

Dublin, Ireland



Forced to flee, Richard, who was still Lieutenant of Ireland, left for Dublin with his second son, the Earl of Rutland, while Warwick and Salisbury sailed to Calais accompanied by Richard's heir, the Earl of March. The Lancastrian faction appointed the new Duke of Somerset to replace Warwick in Calais, however, the Yorkists managed to retain the loyalty of the garrison. Fresh from their victory at Ludford Bridge, the Lancastrian faction assembled a Parliament at Coventry with the sole purpose of attainting Richard, his sons, Salisbury, and Warwick, however, the actions of this assembly caused many uncommitted lords to fear for their titles and property. In March 1460, Warwick sailed to Ireland under the protection of the Gascon Lord of Duras to concert plans with Richard, evading the royal fleet commanded by the Duke of Exeter, before they returned to Calais.

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CHAPTER   10

Yorkist win at Northampton

1460 Jul 10 -

Northampton, UK



In late June 1460, Warwick, Salisbury, and Edward of March crossed the Channel, making landfall in Sandwich and rode north to London, where they enjoyed widespread support. Salisbury was left with a force to besiege the Tower of London, while Warwick and March pursued Henry northward. The Yorkists caught up with the Lancastrians and defeated them at Northampton on 10 July 1460. During the battle, at the Lancastrian left flank, commanded by Lord Grey of Ruthin changed sides and simply let the Yorkist inside the fortified position. The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Viscount Beaumont, and the Baron Egremont were all killed defending their king. For a second time, Henry was taken prisoner by the Yorkists, where they escorted him to London, compelling the surrender of the Tower garrison.

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CHAPTER   11

Act of Accord

1460 Oct 25 -

Palace of Westminster , Lond



That September, Richard returned from Ireland, and, at the Parliament of October that Year, he made a symbolic gesture of his intention to claim the English crown by placing his hand upon the throne, an act which shocked the assembly. Even Richard's closest allies were not prepared to support such a move. Assessing Richard's claim, the judges felt that Common law principles could not determine who had priority in the succession, and declared the matter "above the law and passed their learning". Finding a lack of decisive support for his claim among the nobility who at this stage had no desire to usurp Henry, a compromise was reached: the Act of Accord was passed on 25 October 1460, which stated that following Henry's death, his son Edward would be disinherited, and the throne would pass to Richard. However, the compromise was quickly found to be unpalatable, and hostilities resumed.

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CHAPTER   12

Battle of Wakefield

1460 Dec 30 -

Wakefield, UK



With the king effectively in custody, York and Warwick were the de facto rulers of the country. While this was happening, the Lancastrian loyalists were rallying and arming in the north of England. Faced with the threat of attack from the Percys, and with Margaret of Anjou trying to gain the support of the new King of Scotland James III, York, Salisbury and York's second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, headed north on 2 December and arrived at York's stronghold of Sandal Castle on 21 December, but found the opposing Lancastrian force outnumbered them. On 30 December, York and his forces sortied from Sandal Castle. Their reasons for doing so are not clear; they were variously claimed to be a result of deception by the Lancastrian forces, or treachery by northern lords who York mistakenly believed to be his allies, or simple rashness on York's part. The larger Lancastrian force destroyed York's army in the resulting Battle of Wakefield. York was killed in the battle. The precise nature of his end was variously reported; he was either unhorsed, wounded and overcome fighting to the death or captured, given a mocking crown of bulrushes and then beheaded.

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CHAPTER   13

Battle of Mortimer's Cross

1461 Feb 2 -

Kingsland, Herefordshire, UK



With York's death, his titles and claim to the throne descended to Edward of March, now 4th duke of York. He sought to prevent Lancastrian forces from Wales, led by Owen Tudor and his son Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, from joining the main body of the Lancastrian army. After spending Christmas in Gloucester, he began to prepare to return to London. However, Jasper Tudor's army was approaching and he changed his plan; to block Tudor from joining the main Lancastrian force which was approaching London, Edward moved north with an army of approximately five thousand men to Mortimer's Cross. Edward defeats the Lancastrian force.

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CHAPTER   14

Second Battle of St Albans

1461 Feb 17 -

St Albans, UK



Warwick, with the captive King Henry in his train, meanwhile moved to block Queen Margaret's army's route to London. He took up position north of St Albans astride the main road from the north (the ancient Roman road known as Watling Street), where he set up several fixed defences, including cannon and obstacles such as caltrops and pavises studded with spikes. The Yorkists were defeated in this battle that saw Henry VI returned to Lancastrian hands. Although Margaret and her army could now march unopposed on to London, they did not do so. The Lancastrian army's reputation for pillage caused the Londoners to bar the gates. This in turn caused Margaret to hesitate, as did the news of Edward of March's victory at Mortimer's Cross. Instead of marching on London to secure the tower after her victory, Queen Margaret hesitates, and thus wastes an opportunity to regain power. Edward of March and Warwick entered London on 2 March, and Edward was quickly proclaimed King Edward IV of England.

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CHAPTER   15

Battle of Ferrybridge

1461 Mar 28 -

Ferrybridge, Yorkshire



On 4 March Warwick proclaimed the young Yorkist leader as King Edward IV. The country now had two kings — a situation that could not be allowed to persist, especially if Edward were to be formally crowned. The young king summoned and ordered his followers to march towards York to take back his family's city and to depose Henry formally through force of arms. On 28 March, the leading elements of the Yorkist army came upon the remains of the crossing in Ferrybridge crossing the River Aire. They were rebuilding the bridge when they were attacked and routed by a band of about 500 Lancastrians, led by Lord Clifford. Learning of the encounter, Edward led the main Yorkist army to the bridge and was forced into a gruelling battle. The Lancastrians retreated but were chased to Dinting Dale, where they were all killed, Clifford being slain by an arrow to his throat.

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CHAPTER   16

Battle of Towton

1461 Mar 29 -

Towton, Yorkshire, UK



After the Battle of Ferrybridge, the Yorkists repaired the bridge and pressed onwards to camp overnight at Sherburn-in-Elmet. The Lancastrian army marched to Tadcaster and made camp. As dawn broke the two rival armies struck camp under dark skies and strong winds. On reaching the battlefield the Yorkists found themselves heavily outnumbered. Part of their force under the Duke of Norfolk had yet to arrive. The Yorkist leader Lord Fauconberg turned the tables by ordering his archers to take advantage of the strong wind to outrange their enemies. The one-sided missile exchange, with Lancastrian arrows falling short of the Yorkist ranks, provoked the Lancastrians into abandoning their defensive positions. The ensuing hand-to-hand combat lasted hours, exhausting the combatants. The arrival of Norfolk's men reinvigorated the Yorkists and, encouraged by Edward, they routed their foes. Many Lancastrians were killed while fleeing; some trampled one another and others drowned in the rivers, which are said to have run red with blood for several days. Several who were taken prisoner were executed. It was "probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil". The strength of the House of Lancaster was severely reduced as a result of this battle. Henry and Margaret fled to Scotland and many of the most powerful Lancastrian followers were dead or in exile after the engagement, leaving a new king, Edward IV, to rule England.

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CHAPTER   17

Battle of Piltown

1462 Jun 1 -

Piltown, County Kilkenny, Ir



The Battle of Piltown took place near Piltown, County Kilkenny in 1462 as part of the Wars of the Roses. It was fought between the supporters of the two leading Irish magnates Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, head of the government in Dublin and a committed Yorkist, and John Butler, 6th Earl of Ormond who backed the Lancastrian cause. It ended in decisive victory for Desmond and his Yorkists, with Ormond's army suffering more than a thousand casualties. This effectively ended Lancastrian hopes in Ireland and bolstered FitzGerald control for a further half-century. The Ormonds departed into exile, although they were later pardoned by Edward IV.It was the only major battle to be fought in the Lordship of Ireland during the Wars of the Roses. It is also part of the long-running feud between the FitzGerald dynasty and the Butler dynasty.


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Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort to Edward IV


CHAPTER   18

Growing discontent

1464 May 1 -

London, UK



Warwick persuaded King Edward to negotiate a treaty with Louis XI of France; at the negotiations, Warwick suggested Edward would be disposed to a marriage alliance with the French crown; the intended bride either being Louis' sister-in-law Bona of Savoy, or his daughter, Anne of France. To his considerable embarrassment and rage, Warwick discovered in October 1464 that four months earlier on 1 May, Edward had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian noble. Elizabeth had 12 siblings, some of whom married into prominent families, turning the Woodvilles into a powerful political establishment independent of Warwick's control. The move demonstrated that Warwick was not the power behind the throne as many had assumed.

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CHAPTER   19

Battle of Hexham

1464 May 15 -

Hexham, UK



The Battle of Hexham, 15 May 1464, marked the end of significant Lancastrian resistance in the north of England during the early part of the reign of Edward IV. John Neville, later to be 1st Marquess of Montagu, led a modest force of 3,000-4,000 men, and routed the rebel Lancastrians. Most of the rebel leaders were captured and executed, including Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and Lord Hungerford. Henry VI, however, was kept safely away (having been captured in battle three times earlier), and escaped to the north. With their leadership gone, only a few castles remained in rebel hands. After these fell later in the Year, Edward IV was not seriously challenged until the Earl of Warwick changed his allegiance from the Yorkist to the Lancastrian cause in 1469.

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CHAPTER   20

Battle of Edgcote

1469 Jul 24 -

Northamptonshire, UK



In April 1469, a revolt broke out in Yorkshire, under a leader called Robin of Redesdale. Warwick and Clarence spent the summer assembling troops, allegedly to help suppress the revolt. The northern rebels headed for Northampton, intending to link up with Warwick and Clarence. The Battle of Edgcote resulted in a rebel victory which temporarily handed power over to the Earl of Warwick. Edward was taken into custody and held in Middleham Castle. His in-laws Earl Rivers and John Woodville were executed at Gosford Green Coventry on 12 August 1469. However, it soon became clear there was little support for Warwick or Clarence; Edward was released in September and resumed the throne.

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CHAPTER   21

Battle of Losecoat Field

1470 Mar 12 -

Empingham, UK



Despite the nominal reconciliation of Warwick and the king, by March 1470 Warwick found himself in a similar position to that which he had been in before the battle of Edgecote. He was unable to exercise any control over, or influence, Edward's policies. Warwick wanted to place another of the king's brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, on the throne so that he could regain his influence. To do so, he called on former supporters of the defeated House of Lancaster. The rebellion was initiated in 1470 by Sir Robert Welles, son of Richard Welles. Welles received a letter from the King telling him to disband his rebel army, or his father Lord Welles would be executed. The two armies met near Empingham in Rutland. Before the leaders of this attack could even come to blows with the rebel front line the battle was over. The rebels broke and fled rather than face the king's highly trained men. Both captains, Sir Robert Welles and his commander of foot Richard Warren were captured during the rout and were executed a week later on 19 March. Welles confessed his treason, and named Warwick and Clarence as the "partners and chief provokers" of the rebellion. Documents were also found proving the complicity of Warwick and Clarence, who were forced to flee the country.

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CHAPTER   22

Henry restored, Edward flees

1470 Oct 2 -

Flanders, Belgium



Denied access to Calais, Warwick and Clarence sought refuge with King Louis XI of France. Louis arranged a reconciliation between Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, and as part of the agreement, Margaret and Henry's son, Edward, Prince of Wales, would marry Warwick's daughter Anne. The objective of the alliance was to restore Henry VI to the throne. Again Warwick staged an uprising in the north, and with the king away, he and Clarence landed at Dartmouth and Plymouth on 13 September 1470 at the head of a Lancastrian army and in October 2 1470, Edward fled to Flanders a part of the Duchy of Burgundy, then ruled by the King's brother-in-law Charles the Bold. King Henry was now restored, with Warwick acting as the true ruler in his capacity as lieutenant. At a parliament in November, Edward was attainted of his lands and titles, and Clarence was awarded the Duchy of York.

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CHAPTER   23

Edward returns: Battle of Barnet

1471 Apr 14 -

Chipping Barnet, London UK



Backed by wealthy Flemish merchants, in March 1471 Edward's army landed at Ravenspurn. Gathering more men as they went, the Yorkists moved inland towards York. Supporters were initially reluctant to commit; the key northern city of York opened its gates only when he claimed to be seeking the return of his dukedom, like Henry IV seventy years earlier. As they marched south, more recruits came in, including 3,000 at Leicester. Once Edward's force had gathered sufficient strength, he dropped the ruse and headed south towards London. Edward sent Gloucester to entreat Clarence abandon Warwick and to return to the House of York, an offer that Clarence readily accepted. This further shows how frail loyalty was in these times. Edward entered London unopposed and took Henry prisoner; Lancastrian scouts probed Barnet, which lay 19 kilometres north of London, but were beaten off. On 13 April their main army took up positions on a ridge of high ground north of Barnet to prepare for battle the next day. Warwick's army heavily outnumbered Edward's, although sources differ on exact numbers. The battle lasted from two to three hours, and by the time the fog lifted in the early morning, Warwick was dead and the Yorkist had won.

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CHAPTER   24

Battle of Tewkesbury

1471 May 4 -

Tewkesbury, UK



Urged on by Louis XI, Margaret finally sailed on 24 March. Storms forced her ships back to France several times, and she and Prince Edward finally landed at Weymouth in Dorsetshire on the same day the Battle of Barnet was fought. Their best hope was to march northward and join forces with the Lancastrians in Wales, led by Jasper Tudor. In London King Edward had learned of Margaret's landing only two days after she arrived. Although he had given many of his supporters and troops leave after the victory at Barnet, he was nonetheless able to rapidly muster a substantial force at Windsor, just west of London. At the Battle of Tewkesbury the Lancastrians were completely defeated and Edward, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle or executed. Queen Margaret was completely broken in spirit after her son's death and she was taken captive by William Stanley at the end of the battle. Henry died of melancholy on hearing news of the Battle of Tewkesbury and his son's death. It is widely suspected, however, that Edward IV, who was re-crowned the morning following Henry's death, had in fact ordered his murder. Edward's victory was followed by 14 years of Yorkist rule over England.

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CHAPTER   25

Reign of Edward IV

1483 Apr 9 -

London, UK



Edward's reign was relatively peaceful domestically; in 1475 he invaded France, however he signed the Treaty of Picquigny with Louis XI whereby Edward withdrew after receiving an initial payment of 75,000 crowns plus an annual pension of 50,000 crowns, while in 1482, he attempted to usurp the Scottish throne but was ultimately compelled to withdraw back to England. In 1483, Edward's health began to fail and fell fatally ill that Easter. Prior to his death, he named his brother Richard to act as Lord Protector for his twelve-eventYear-old son and successor, Edward. On 9 April 1483, Edward IV died.

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CHAPTER   26

Reign of Richard III

1483 Jul 6 -

Westminiser Abbey, London, U



During Edward's reign, his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester had risen to become the most powerful magnate in the north of England, particularly in the city of York where his popularity was high. Prior to his death, the king had named Richard as Lord Protector to act as regent to his twelve-eventYear-old son, Edward. Acting as Lord Protector, Richard repeatedly stalled the coronation of Edward V, despite the urging of the king's councillors, who wished to avoid another protectorate. On 22 June, the selected date for Edward's coronation, a sermon was preached outside St. Paul's Cathedral declaring Richard the rightful king, a post which the citizenry petitioned Richard to accept. Richard accepted four days later, and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 6 July 1483. The fate of the two princes following their disappearance remains a mystery to this day, however, the most widely accepted explanation is that they were murdered on the orders of Richard III.

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CHAPTER   27

Buckingham's rebellion

1483 Oct 10 -

Wales and England



Since Edward IV had regained the throne in 1471, Henry Tudor had lived in exile at the court of Francis II, Duke of Brittany. Henry was half-guest half-prisoner, since Francis regarded Henry, his family, and his courtiers as valuable bargaining tools to barter for the aid of England, particularly in conflicts with France, and therefore shielded the exiled Lancastrians well, repeatedly refusing to surrender them. Francis provided Henry with 40,000 gold crowns, 15,000 troops, and a fleet of ships to invade England. However, Henry's forces were scattered by a storm, compelling Henry to abandon the invasion. Nevertheless, Buckingham had already launched a revolt against Richard on 18 October 1483 with the aim of installing Henry as king. Buckingham raised a substantial number of troops from his Welsh estates, and planned to join his brother the Earl of Devon. However, without Henry's troops, Richard easily defeated Buckingham's rebellion, and the defeated duke was captured, convicted of treason, and executed in Salisbury on 2 November 1483.

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CHAPTER   28

Battle of Bosworth Field

1485 Aug 22 -

Ambion Hill, UK



Henry's crossing of the English Channel in 1485 was without incident. Thirty ships sailed from Harfleur on 1 August and, with fair winds behind them, landed in his native Wales. Since 22 June Richard had been aware of Henry's impending invasion, and had ordered his lords to maintain a high level of readiness. News of Henry's landing reached Richard on 11 August, but it took three to four days for his messengers to notify his lords of their king's mobilisation. On 16 August, the Yorkist army started to gather. On 20 August, Richard rode from Nottingham to Leicester, joining Norfolk. He spent the night at the Blue Boar inn. Northumberland arrived the following day. Henry won the battle of Bosworth Field was won and became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Richard died in battle, the only English monarch to do so. It was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses.

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CHAPTER   29

The pretender

1487 May 24 -

Dublin, Ireland



An impostor claiming to be Edward (either Edward, Earl of Warwick or Edward V as Matthew Lewis hypothesises), whose name was Lambert Simnel, came to the attention of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln through the agency of a priest called Richard Symonds. Although he probably had no doubt about Simnel's true identity, Lincoln saw an opportunity for revenge and reparation. Lincoln fled the English court on 19 March 1487 and went to the court of Mechelen (Malines) and his aunt, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret provided financial and military support in the form of 2000 German and Swiss mercenaries, under the commander Martin Schwartz. Lincoln was joined by a number of rebel English Lords at Mechelen. The Yorkists decided to sail to Ireland and arrived in Dublin on 4 May 1487, where Lincoln recruited 4,500 Irish mercenaries, mostly kerns, lightly armoured but highly mobile infantry. With the support of the Irish nobility and clergy, Lincoln had the pretender Lambert Simnel crowned "King Edward VI" in Dublin on 24 May 1487.

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CHAPTER   30

Battle of Stoke Field

1487 Jun 16 -

East Stoke, Nottinghamshire,



On landing in Lancashire on 4 June 1487, Lincoln was joined by a number of the local gentry led by Sir Thomas Broughton. In a series of forced marches, the Yorkist army, now numbering some 8,000 men, covered over 200 miles in five days. On 15 June, King Henry began moving north east toward Newark after receiving news that Lincoln had crossed the River Trent. Around nine in the morning of 16 June, King Henry's forward troops, commanded by the Earl of Oxford, encountered the Yorkist army. The Battle of Stoke Field was a victory for Henry and may be considered the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, since it was the last major engagement between contenders for the throne whose claims derived from descent from the houses of Lancaster and York respectively. Simnel was captured, but was pardoned by Henry in a gesture of clemency which did his reputation no harm. Henry realised that Simnel was merely a puppet for the leading Yorkists. He was given a job in the royal kitchen, and later promoted to falconer.

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CHAPTER   31

Epilogue

1509 Jan 1 -

England, UK



Some historians question the impact the wars had on the fabric of English society and culture. Many parts of England were largely unaffected by the wars, particularly East Anglia. Contemporaries such as Philippe de Commines observed in 1470 that England was a unique case compared to wars that befell the continent, in that the consequences of war were only visited upon soldiers and nobles, not citizens and private property.


Several preeminent noble families had their power crippled because of the fighting, such as the Neville family, while the direct male line of the Plantagenet dynasty was rendered extinct. Despite the relative paucity of violence undertaken against civilians, the wars claimed the lives of 105,000 people, approximately 5.5% of the population level in 1450, though by 1490 England had experienced a 12.6% increase in population levels compared to 1450, despite the wars.


The ascension of the Tudor dynasty saw the end of the medieval period in England and the dawn of the English Renaissance, an offshoot of the Italian Renaissance, that saw a revolution in art, literature, music, and architecture. The English Reformation, England's break with the Roman Catholic Church, occurred under the Tudors, which saw the establishment of the Anglican Church, and the rise of Protestantism as England's dominant religious denomination. Henry VIII's need for a male heir, impelled by the potential for a crisis of succession that dominated the Wars of the Roses, was the prime motivator influencing his decision to separate England from Rome.






References



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  • Seward, Desmond (1995). A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses. London: Constable & Co. ISBN 978-1-84529-006-1.
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