Wars of the Roses
Middle Ages for Kids
The Wars of the Roses was a civil war fought in England. It lasted for just over 30 years from 1455 to 1487, however, the battles were mostly small and sometimes were years apart.
Who fought in the Wars of the Roses?
The Wars of the Roses was fought between two rival families who both laid claim to the throne of England: the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
What did Roses have to do with it?
The "War of the Roses" comes from the symbols, or badges, of the two warring houses: the House of Lancaster was represented by a red rose and the House of York by a white rose.
What started the war?
The reasons behind the wars were complex. Both houses claimed to have a right to the English throne as descendents of King Edward III. It didn't help that the current king, Henry VI, was mentally ill and was being advised by corrupt and unpopular nobles.
People from the Wars of the Roses
House of Lancaster
- Henry VI - The king at the start of the war, Henry VI was mentally ill. He was housed in the Tower of London for many years until he died.
- Margaret of Anjou - Wife of Henry VI, she took control of the country and led the fight against Henry's enemies.
- Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - He began the war on the side of the Yorks. He later changed sides when he didn't like the way Edward IV was leading the country.
- Richard, Duke of York - Father of Edward IV and Richard III, he began the war by defeating the Lancastrians and putting Henry VI in jail. He served as Lord Protector.
- Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - See above.
- Edward IV - The first York to become king, Edward IV was king for much of the war from 1461 to 1470 and 1471 to 1483.
- Edward V - The son of Edward IV, he was twelve when his father died. He was king for only a few months before he was sent to the Tower of London and disappeared.
- Richard III - Brother of Edward IV, he took the throne from his nephew Edward V. He was king for just over two years before he was killed in battle.
- Henry VII - Defeated Richard III to end the Wars of the Roses in 1487. Founder of the house of Tudor.
- 1455 - The Wars of the Roses begins with the Battle of First St. Albans on May 22, 1455. At this battle Richard of York defeated the army of Henry VI. Richard put Henry VI in prison and became the "Lord Protector" of England.
- 1460 - The Lancastrians win a major victory at the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460. Richard of York is killed.
- 1461 - Richard of York's son, Edward IV, defeats the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton. Edward IV is declared king of England. Queen Margaret flees to France.
- 1470 - The Earl of Warwick and Queen Margaret forge an alliance. They return to England and restore Henry VI to the throne.
- 1471 - Edward IV gathers a new army and once again defeats the Lancastrians at the Battles of Tewksbury and Barnet. He sends Henry VI to the Tower of London where Henry VI dies in April of 1471.
- 1483 - Edward IV dies and his twelve-year-old son, Edward V, becomes king. However, his uncle, Richard III, has him sent to the Tower of London where he disappears from public view. Richard III becomes king of England.
- 1485 - Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485. Richard III is killed and Henry is declared king.
- 1487 - The House of Tudor, Led by Henry VII, defeats the House of York at the Battle of Stoke Field. This brings the Wars of the Roses to an end.
- One of the largest battles in the war was the Battle of Towton where over 50,000 soldiers fought and around 25,000 soldiers were killed.
- Edward IV was six foot four inches tall. This was very tall for the time.
- The two houses were both branches of the royal House of Plantagenet.
- Some English nobles switched sides several times hoping to end up on the winning side in the end.
- Margaret of Anjou led the Lancastrian army during several of the battles.
- The Battle of Losecote Field got its name when several of the losers took off their coats in order to run away faster.
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