Medieval & English Civil War Experience
Copyright © Des & Judith Thomas (Historical Services To Schools) 2016 All Rights Reserved
With Ned (Young Ned) & Judith Carlewe
Colonell Granville Thomas with Mistress Judith Thomas
14th - 15th Century
The Wars of the Roses
Back Into The Past
The Wars of the Roses
The Origins:
What gave rise to the series of upheavals in the 15th cent, known today as the Wars of the Roses ? A more accurate title would be The Wars of the Cousins. The disputes, some, very bitter ones, led to a series of wars that was interspersed with long periods of uneasy peace. These struggles included no less than 14 great battles and a numbers of lesser engagements all in a space of 32 years..

Although there were no battles fought until 1455, the causes can be traced back to the reign of Edward III (1327 - 1377) and the power struggle between his five sons after his death. The devastating losses during the War in France, which restarted with Henry V's invasion of France in 1415, the failure of the Kingships of Richard II (1377 - 1399) and Henry VI (1422 - 1471).

The origins of the Wars of the Roses stem from the dynastic struggle of the House of York and the House of Lancaster for supremacy in England.  Both houses felt they had a reasonable claim to the throne.  When Henry V died his Heir was his young son Henry VI
Young King Henry VI: 
At first Henry VI ruled in name only under a protectorate, as he was only 9 months old.  Even after Henry was old enough to rule on his own, he was seen as weak and not able to control the nobility under him.
Henry VI's right to the crown was challenged by Richard, Duke of York.

And So To War: Although armed clashes had occurred previously between supporters of York and Lancaster, the first open fighting broke out in 1455 at the Frist Battle of St Albans.  Several prominent Lancastrians died, including the Duke of Somerset, but their heirs continued a deadly feud with Richard Duke of York.
Some Peace: 
Although peace was temporarily restored, the Lancastrians were inspired by Queen Margaret, forcing York to flee the country, but he returned with Warwick to capture Henry.  He became Protector of England but was dissuaded from making a claim to the crown.