Wars of the Roses (Lancaster, Red Rose - York, White Rose), 1455-1487

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In summary, the Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars fought for control of the English throne in the mid-to-late fifteenth century. The conflict lasted for approximately thirty years and resulted in the unification of the Houses of Lancaster and York under the Tudor dynasty. The roots of the wars can be traced back to socio-economic troubles and weak rule of the English monarchy. The final battle of the wars, the Battle of Bosworth Field, marked the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. The conflict was not solely between Lancashire and Yorkshire, as the duchies and estates of both houses were spread throughout England and Wales. There is a book by Michael Hicks entitled "The Wars
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I did not realize that there were Wars (plural) rather than a War of the Roses that lasted 32 years, 3 weeks and 4 days.

Various ancestors come from Lancashire and Yorkshire, and neighboring counties like Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, as well as others. A good number come from areas on the border area of Yorkshire and Lancashire. I can trace the paternal name as far back as the 1400s, and less reliably back to 1224, based on some historical texts and anecdotes. I expect ancestors were on both sides of the conflict, and they survived, when many others did not. According to the Wikipedia article, an there were an estimated 105,000 dead.

Other ancestors come from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, as well as Germanic Europe, Norway and Sweden/Denmark. The latter set were probably Agles/Saxons/Jutes and Vikings who settled along the east coast of England, as well as some on the west coast.

The Wars of the Roses, known at the time and for more than a century after as the Civil Wars, 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 Lancaster and York were united, creating a new royal dynasty, thereby resolving the rival claims. The conflict lasted for approximately thirty years, from 1455 to 1487, with various periods of greater and lesser levels of violent conflict during that period, between various rival contenders for the monarchy of England.

The conflict had its roots in the wake of the Hundred Years' War and its emergent socio-economic troubles, which weakened the prestige of the English monarchy, unfolding structural problems of bastard feudalism and the powerful duchies created by Edward III, and the mental infirmity and weak rule of Henry VI, which revived interest in the Yorkist claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree over which of these factors was the main catalyst for the wars. It was also used as a proxy War between France and the Burgundian State.

When I first learned about the War of the Roses, I did not know how it related geographically to my family's ancestry. Only recently did I develop and understanding based on the geographical locations of various ancestors. Wakefield is more or less halfway between Halifax and Pontefract, and various ancestors were born within the corridor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Wakefield (30 December 1460)
The Battle of Wakefield took place in Sandal Magna near Wakefield in northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses. The opposing forces were an army led by nobles loyal to the captive King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster and his Queen Margaret of Anjou on one side, and the army of Richard, Duke of York, the rival claimant to the throne, on the other.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bosworth_Field (22 August 1485)
The Battle of Bosworth or Bosworth Field was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York that extended across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by an alliance of Lancastrians and disaffected Yorkists. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty by his victory and subsequent marriage to a Yorkist princess. His opponent Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed during the battle, the last English monarch to die in combat. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it one of the defining moments of English history.
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Actually, it's Lancaster red and York white.
And it wasn't primarily a conflict between Lancashire and Yorkshire. To quote from the Wikipedia article:
"While the names of the rival houses derive from the cities of York and Lancaster, the corresponding duchy and dukedom had little to do with these cities. The lands and offices attached to the Duchy of Lancaster were primarily located in Gloucestershire, North Wales, Cheshire, and, ironically, in Yorkshire, while the estates of the Duke of York were spread throughout England and Wales, with many in the Welsh Marches."
Insofar as there was a geographical split, the Yorkist support was mainly in the prosperous south-east of England, while the Lancastrian support was mainly in the north and west. (It was the wealthy merchants of the SE that suffered most from the corruption and misgovernance of the Lancastrian regime.)
  • #3
mjc123 said:
Actually, it's Lancaster red and York white.
Correction made.

mjc123 said:
the corruption and misgovernance of the Lancastrian regime.
Is there an authoritative text on the corruption and misgovernance of the Lancastrian regime? It seems to me that most or nearly all kings and queens have been rather fickle.



There is a book by Michael Hicks entitled "The Wars of the Roses" published by Yale University Press, 2010. Any thoughts?

Historically, it looks like a terrible system.
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  • #4
Astronuc said:
Historically, it looks like a terrible system.
A Timeline of Modern English History beginning with 1485 rather than 1455, which is also as arbitrary.

A lot of English wars both offensive (aggression) and defensive.

My interest was in finding out why a distant relative died in France in December 1869. I was wondering if it related to one of the many wars between England and France.

The above time line has:
1869 Suez Canal opened
Irish Church disestablished
Debt imprisonment ended

1870 Irish Land Act
Elementary Education Act

No war was occurring (at least not formally) between England and France at the time, but there was the Franco-Prussian war from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871.

I have identified various ancestors and relatives who have died in wars/combat during the last 400 years.
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  • #5
I was listening to a documentary (ostensibly) about the Plantagenet dynasty, which is described as a bloody, or bloodiest, period of British/English history (not to mention for Irish, Welsh and Scottish). It starts with Henry II (in 1153) and goes through Richard II (ca. 1400).


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