Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Wars of the Roses - 1455

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One of Britain’s worst civil wars was that known as the Wars of the Roses, begin-fling in 1455 and lasting until 1485. It was so called because the two rival parties each chose a rose as a symbol: York (white) and Lancaster (red). It began when Henry VI (1421—71) became insane and Richard, Duke of York claimed the throne.

A number of battles followed (begin­ning with that of St Albans in 1455) with periods of truce between them. At the battle of Northampton (1460) Henry was captured and at Wakefield (1461) York was killed. The Lancastrians were de­feated at Towton in the same year and their position seemed hopeless until the powerful Earl of Warwick, the ‘King­maker’, and hitherto a Yorkist supporter, changed sides.

Henry was released from prison and again made king, but the Lancastrians were defeated at Barnet (1471) where Warwick was killed and the Battle of Tewkesbury placed York’s son Edward IV (1442—83) firmly on the throne. He was succeeded by Richard III (his own son Edward V dying mysteriously in the Tower) who reigned for two years until he died on Bosworth Field fighting the Tudor prince who was to become Henry VII (1457—1509).

The struggle between the Yorkists and Lancastrians came to an end with the Battle of Bosworth Field. fought on August 22. 1485. Richard lll was killed and Henry Tudor came to the throne.