The Wars of the Roses The White Rose of York The Red Rose of Lancaster
When Edward III died in 1377, his heir was his 10 year-old grandson, Richard (son of Edward the Black Prince who had died a year earlier). Richard II
Decline of Monarchy • Expenses of the Hundred Years War • Increasing power of House of Commons • Powerful nobles, including too many king’s uncles!
Edward III Edward, the Black Prince Lionel, Duke of Clarence John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Edmund, Duke of York Thomas, Duke of Gloucester Richard II Richard had too many uncles!
Between 1382 and 1386 Richard began to give power, titles, and estates to his personal friends—to the dismay of his council of barons. Richard was handsome, cultured, and sensitive—but totally lacking in political sense!
During the first five years of his reign, from 1377 to 1382, a baronial council ruled England under the leadership of Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt
Parliament demanded that Richard dismiss his royal favorites and rule only with the consent of Lords and Commons in Parliament. The real leader of the opposition party was another of the king’s uncles, Thomas, Duke of Gloucester. Arms of John of Gaunt
Richard believed that only the absolute rule of a king could bring peace to England. He was determined to rule through use of the royal prerogative, without requiring the consent of Parliament.
The “Merciless Parliament” of 1388 • Dominated by the Lords Appellant • Appointed a council to rule with the King • Marks the high point of parliamentary power and the low point of royal power in medieval England.
In 1397, he ordered the arrest of the Lords Appellant, leaders of the opposition party. The murder of Thomas, Duke of Gloucester (Richard II’s uncle) at Calais.
For two years, Richard ruled without Parliament, angering the politically powerful barons and merchants.
But when John of Gaunt died in 1399, Richard confiscated the lands of Gaunt’s heir, Henry, Lord Bolingbroke, and exiled him. • Most of the barons felt this was too much. • John of Gaunt had remained faithful, and if his lands were not safe, no one’s lands were. Henry, Lord Bolingbroke (son of John of Gaunt)
Henry Bolingbroke returned from exile at the head of an army. He captured Richard, summoned a Parliament, and forced Richard’s abdication.
Henry Bolingbroke claimed the throne through right of descent, conquest, and Richard’s faulty government. He prevailed because Richard had made himself universally hated. By choosing to remove Richard through act of Parliament, Henry set an important precedent.
“Uneasy lies the head that bears the crown.” William Shakespeare, Henry IV Henry IV was a capable king and good military leader. But his uncertain title to the crown meant many plots, and lack of money meant dependence on Parliament. The barons who had helped to put him on the throne expected that their wishes would be heard. Henry IV
Henry IV’s weakness was an opportunity for Parliament, especially the House of Commons. Commons refused taxes unless Henry agreed to select his councilors from Parliament, to govern with their advice, and to allow Commons to appoint auditors to oversea the crown’s expenditures.
Henry IV also had trouble with his son, Shakespeare’s “Prince Hal,” who wished to resume the war with France—a war his father could not afford. Henry V
Henry V came to the throne in 1413, at the age of 25—young, energetic, and courageous. He was, Shakespeare wrote, “the mirror of all Christian Kings.” He personally ruled with firmness and justice and with the advice and consent of Parliament. Modern historians, however, consider him cruel, domineering, selfishly ambitious, and overly pious.
In 1415, Henry V invaded France to regain all the territory his ancestors had lost.
At the Battle of Agincourt on Oct. 25, 1415, an outnumbered English army defeated a French force five times larger. 5000 Frenchmen died, including 3 dukes, 5 counts, and 90 barons. The English lost 300 men.
By the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, Henry V married the sister of Charles VI of France, Catherine of Valois. Henry was also acknowledged as the heir to the French king.
But Henry died only two years later, in 1422, leaving a 9-month-old son as his heir.
Joan of Arc (the Maid of Orleans) inspired the French to withstand the English armies. Although she was ultimately captured, sold to the English, and burned as a witch, Joan turned the tide of war in favor of the French.
During the reign of Henry VI, the power of the English monarchy reached its lowest point. Henry VI grew up as a pious, sensitive recluse, with little capacity for politics or governing. Henry VI
The York faction was led by Richard, Duke of York, and his son Edward. When Richard died at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, his son Edward became the leader of the York forces. Edward IV at 19
Edward III Edmund, 1st Duke of York Richard, 2nd Duke of York Edward Edmund Richard John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Henry IV Beaufort line, legitimated by Henry IV Henry V
The Lancaster faction was led by Queen Margaret of Anjou and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (a descendent of John of Gaunt through his third marriage). Henry VI
Edward was proclaimed king in 1461. He was tall, handsome, and a lover of wine, women, and pleasure. He was descended from two of Edward III’s sons—from Lionel through his mother and from Edmund through his father. Edward IV
Edward III Edward, the Black Prince Lionel, Duke of Clarence John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Edmund, Duke of York Thomas, Duke of Gloucester Richard II Anne married Richard (d. 1460) Edward IV Edmund Richard (III) d. 1460
In 1464 Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two sons. The marriage so infuriated Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, that he turned against Edward. In alliance with Margaret of Anjou, he forced Edward to flee England and put Henry VI back on the throne!
Henry VI’s “re-adoption” as King did not last long. Edward quickly raised a large army in the Netherlands and defeated and killed the Earl of Warwick. From 1471 to his death in 1483, Edward ruled England without challenge.
Edward’s brother Richard is Shakespeare’s “Crookback,” although no contemporary evidence of disability exists. Most of the evidence for Richard’s villainy comes from later Tudor historians.
Evidence was presented to Parliament that Edward V had married another woman, Lady Eleanor Butler, prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Such a marriage, if true, would make his marriage to Elizabeth bigamous and his children bastards. Parliament accepted the claim of bastardy and proclaimed Richard King.
In 1674, the bones of two children were found at the foot of a staircase in the Tower of London. Tradition has held that the bones of those of the two princes. Memorial urn in Westminster Abbey
The new leader of the Lancastrian forces was Henry Tudor, a young man with a very remote claim to the throne. Young Henry Tudor
Edward III Edmund, 1st Duke of York Richard, 2nd Duke of York Edward Edmund Richard John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Henry IV Beaufort line, legitimated by Henry IV Henry V Margaret Beaufort m. Edmund Tudor Henry VII
On Aug. 22, 1485, Richard III was slain by treacherous allies at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
Henry Tudor claimed the throne through right of conquest, descent, and his marriage to Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. Henry Tudor
The Tudor Rose combined the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York. Bronze effigies of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York