HISTORY MEME ♕ [1/1] war

The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic wars fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. They were fought in several sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1485, although there was related fighting both before and after this period. They resulted from the social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years’ War. The final victory went to a relatively remote Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king Richard III and married Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses. The House of Tudor subsequently ruled England and Wales until 1603.


History Meme:  1/1 Wars: War of the Roses 

The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic wars fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York (whose heraldic symbols were the red and the white rose, respectively) for the throne of England. They were fought in several sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1485, although there was related fighting both before and after this period. They resulted from the social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years’ War. The final victory went to a relatively remote Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king Richard III and married Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses. The House of Tudor subsequently ruled England and Wales until 1603.

Henry of Bolingbroke had established the House of Lancaster on the throne in 1399 when he deposed his cousin Richard II and was crowned as Henry IV. Bolingbroke’s son Henry V maintained the family’s hold on the crown, but when Henry V died in 1422, his heir was the infant Henry VI. The Lancastrian claim to the throne descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of Edward III. Henry VI’s right to the crown was challenged by Richard, Duke of York, who could claim descent from Edward’s second and fourth surviving sons, Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Richard of York, who had held several important offices of state, quarrelled with prominent Lancastrians at court and with Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou.

lthough armed clashes had occurred previously between supporters of York and Lancaster, the first open fighting broke out in 1455 at the First Battle of St Albans. Several prominent Lancastrians died, but their heirs continued a deadly feud with Richard. Although peace was temporarily restored, the Lancastrians were inspired by Margaret of Anjou to contest York’s influence. Fighting resumed more violently in 1459. York and his supporters were forced to flee the country, but one of his most prominent supporters, the Earl of Warwick, invaded England from Calais and captured Henry at the Battle of Northampton.

York returned to the country and became Protector of England, but was dissuaded from claiming the throne. Margaret and the irreconcilable Lancastrian nobles gathered their forces in the north of England, and when York moved north to suppress them, he and his second son Edmund were killed at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460. The Lancastrian army advanced south and released Henry at the Second Battle of St Albans, but failed to occupy London, and subsequently retreated to the north. York’s eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, was proclaimed King Edward IV. He gathered the Yorkist armies and won a crushing victory at the Battle of Towton in March 1461.

After Lancastrian revolts in the north were suppressed in 1464 and Henry was captured once again, Edward fell out with his chief supporter and advisor, the Earl of Warwick (known as the “Kingmaker”), and also alienated many friends and even family members by favouring the family of his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, whom he had married in secret. Warwick tried first to supplant Edward with his younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, and then to restore Henry VI to the throne. This resulted in two years of rapid changes of fortune, before Edward IV once again won complete victories at Barnet (April 1471), where Warwick was killed, and Tewkesbury (May 1471) where the Lancastrian heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, was executed after the battle. Henry was murdered in the Tower of London several days later, ending the direct Lancastrian line of succession.

A period of comparative peace followed, but King Edward died unexpectedly in 1483. His surviving brother, Richard of Gloucester, first moved to prevent the unpopular Woodville family of Edward’s widow from participating in the government during the minority of Edward’s son, Edward V, and then seized the throne for himself, using the suspect legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage as pretext. Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancastrian kings who had inherited their claim, defeated Richard at Bosworth in 1485. He was crowned Henry VII, and married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, to unite and reconcile the two houses.

Yorkist revolts, directed by John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln and others, flared up in 1487 under the banner of the pretender Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be Edward, Earl of Warwick (son of George of Clarence), resulting in the last pitched battles. Although most of the surviving descendants of Richard of York were imprisoned, sporadic rebellions continued until 1497 when Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be the younger brother of Edward V, one of the two disappeared Princes in the Tower, was imprisoned and later executed. (x)

I found a bunch of books through Wars of the Roses lists, so I wanted to pay it forward with a list of my own. Lancaster heavy, but includes Plantagenet, York and Tudor stuff. Go here for a York heavy list (and enjoy the spot on sporking of the awful-brilliant The White Queen by the op). Most files in pdf, others in epub (I recommend calibre). For educational aka fandom purposes.

There are bunch of books I couldn’t find electronic versions of but would like to mention anyway: John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting, Susan James biography of Katherine Parr, W. L Warren’s biography of King John, and The Fears of Henry IV, another biography, this one by Ian Mortimer, who appears a few times on this list. Find them and read them! They are amazing.

Biographies The Three Edwards by Thomas Constain The Plantagenets by Dan Jones The Perfect King by Ian Mortimer [Edward III] History of the Reign of Richard III by Thomas More Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir History of the Reign of King Henry VII by Francis Bacon The Winter King by Thomas Penn [Henry VII] Young Henry: Rise of Henry VIII by Roger Hutchington Blood Sisters [Women of the Wars of the Roses] by Sarah Gristwood

Historical Fiction Katherine by Anya Seton [John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford] Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell [Henry V] Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham [Margaret of Anjou] The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory [Margaret Beaufort] To Hold The Crown by Jean Plaidy [Henry VII] Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle [Katherine Parr] The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey [Richard III] Wars of the Roses by Conn Iggulden [Henry VI] Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell [Thomas Cromwell] The Sunne In Splendor by Sharon K. Penman [Richard III] Knighthood In Flower by Charles Major [Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor] Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston

Extras The Enduring Appeal of Richard III by Harriet Jordan Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn Most Pleasant Song of Lady Bessy [Elizabeth of York] Shakespeare’s Histories - RII to RIII Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies by Ian Mortimer Polydore Vergil’s History - Volume 3 - Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck by Mary Shelley

Streaming Older Movies Tower of London [Richard III] Chimes at Midnight [Henry IV] Streaming Older TV The Devil’s Crown [Henry II to King John]  The Shadow of the Tower [Henry VII] Six Wives of Henry VIII Elizabeth R Princes In The Tower [Perkin Warbeck] By The Sword Divided [English Civil War]

+  The first episode of An Age of Kings.


Wars of the Roses — The Real Game of Thrones

Part I, The Fall of the House of Lancaster

From the mid to late middle ages England had been ruled by a dynasty of kings from the House of Plantagenet.  By 15th century, however, the Plantagenet’s ceased to be a united family, but was divided into two main family lines, the House of York (symbolized by the white rose) and the House of Lancaster (symbolized by the red rose).  

The House of Lancaster ruled England starting in 1399 when Henry IV overthrew the power hungry King Richard II.  A strong line of kings, the Lancastrian’s were renowned for bringing wealth and power to the kingdom through successful conquests in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and France.  Unfortunately all of that changed when in 1422, Henry VI ascended to the throne (pictured above).  A deeply troubled man who suffered from mental illness, he could barely rule his kingdom, causing England to descend into a period of political chaos, corruption, economic stagnation, and lawlessness.  England lost most of her conquests in France, rebellion broke out across the country, and when things couldn’t get any worse the Black Death killed as much as half of the population.

In 1453 Henry suffered a mental breakdown to the point that he was unable to rule England.  The English Parliament elected Richard, the Duke of York to rule in his stead as Protector of the Realm.

On Christmas Day, 1454 Henry VI regained his health and demanded that his authority be re-established.  The nobles were hesitant to grant his request, they did not want a return of the corrupt and powerless kingship of Henry VI.  Most of the nobles of England chose to back the Duke of York as a replacement for Henry. With few friends and his throne in jeopardy, Henry once again slipped into madness. To take his place his wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou, raised an army to defend the kingdom.  A beautiful and strong woman, Margaret personally led the army into battle and served as the power behind her husband’s throne.

Over the next six years a bloody civil war was waged between Henry and the Duke of York.  Finally in 1461 the royalist army was defeated by the Duke, although York was killed during the battle.  His eldest son, Edward of York, was named King Edward IV of England.  Henry was captured and imprisoned, but later freed when Margaret used the remnants of her army to break him out of prison (2nd Battle of St. Albans).  It was said that he was so mad at that point that he was laughing and singing as the battle raged around him.

Queen Margaret was determined not to give up.  She and Henry fled to Scotland where she personally raised an army from loyalists in Northern England.  She gained support from Louis VI of France, and more importantly Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, a former supporter of Edward IV turned traitor.  Margaret managed to regain the throne in 1470, but Henry’s rule was once again weak and ineffectual.  After merely six months on the throne, Henry was once again ousted in favor of Edward IV.  

Margaret of Anjou was ransomed to the King of France, where she lived in exile until 1482.  Her bones were stolen and scattered with the ransacking of Angers Cathedral during the French Revolution.  Henry VI was imprisoned in the Tower of London until his death in 1471.  While his cause of death is unknown, it is rumored that Edward IV arranged to have him murdered.

With Edward IV in power, it was now time for him to secure his throne.  In a move truly in line with “A Game of Thrones”, Edward IV would order the mass execution of every Lancastrian noble in England.  Meanwhile his two younger brothers would make their own bids for the throne.

To Be Continued…

The Wedding of John I of Portugal and Philippa of House Lancaster.

There is a story registered by cronicle writers of the time regarding a curious episode between the couple. Philippa of Lancaster was known for being hard on cheating men - having learned it from her father. And didn’t seem to be any different towards her husband, despite not being able to prevent the birth of bastard sons.

Upon taking a walk with his wife, king John I stepped aside for a while to steal a kiss from one of his lady’s maidens. Having, however, caught his husband in such an infamous doing, the queen became very upset. The king justified his doing, begging for his wife’s fogiveness: «It was for non but goodness!», he said. And the queen answered: «A whore!»

The portuguese word for whore, pega, is also the name of a bird - a magpie.

So when the kings of Portugal had a palace built in Sintra, Philippa decided herself the decoration of the ceiling of one of the rooms:

She had it painted with magpies (pegas, i.e. whores) holding ribbons that spellt «non but goodness».

Lady Kitana and Princess Mary of York/ First meeting

As the carriage rolled into the courtyard, Kitana couldn’t help but to peak through the thick curtains surrounding the carriage. As a niece to Richard Warrick, also known as the King maker, Kitana had talked her uncle into getting a position at court, to be a lady in waiting to either the queen or one of the princesses.

Stepping out of the carriage, she smoothed down the front of her white and blue gown. She was only 14 and still considered young, but Kitana was wise beyond her years. She brushed a piece of dirty blond hair away from her face and she took a deep breath before entering the throne room. While her uncle wanted her to act as a sort of spy for him, Kitana’s heart was with the the true king and Queen ,Edward and Elizabeth. 

She knelt low to the ground before then and she pledged her services to them both. She then assured them that while she was a Warrick, her heart and loyalty was to them and the York family. Both clearly please, Elizabeth stood and she pulled Kitana up. She kissed her cheek and she smiled, ‘You will learn under me and then in a few weeks you will join my daughter Mary’s house hold. Kitana nodded,

“Yes your majesty." 

She couldn’t stop the smile from spreading. Elizabeth was so much more beautiful than she thought. All she had heard about her was from her cousins, Isabel and Anne. But before her stood a beautiful woman, who knew exactly what she was doing, even if other’s doubted her. 

Kitana was taken before the Princess and she dipped into a low bow, 'Your highness” She said almost breathless….

On this day in history, 4th of May 1471, battle of Tewkesbury took place, which was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV. 

On the same day as the Lancastrians were defeated at the battle of Barnet, on 14th April 1471, Queen Margaret with Prince Edward and supporters arrived back in England from exile in France. Landing at Weymouth, the Queen was joined by Lancastrian supporters led by the Duke of Somerset. After Barnet, Somerset would not attempt an assault upon the Yorkist forces without superior numbers and so, in order to reinforce his army, Somerset headed for Wales where he could count upon the support of Jasper Tudor.

King Edward meanwhile was at Windsor and, learning of the Lancastrian manoeuvres, he headed for the West Country in an attempt to intercept the Queen and Somerset before they could reach Wales. The Lancastrian advance to Wales was delayed, first when they made a detour to Bristol for much needed supplies, and second when the city of Gloucester refused them entry. Instead they headed north to make the crossing of the River Severn at Tewkesbury. Edward, at the nead of his army, having narrowly missed an opportunity to confront the enemy at Sodbury, followed in pursuit.

The Lancastrians arrived at Tewkesbury first on 3rd May. They had marched swiftly for several days, covering the last twenty four miles in just sixteen hours, and so their troops were exhausted. With Edward hard on their heels Somerset chose to stand and fight, rather than risk his army being caught in a bottle-neck as they attempted the difficult crossing of the Severn at Lower Lode, a mile south of the Abbey.

Somerset had the choice of ground and he chose to set his camp in a pasture close called ‘Gastum’ (now The Gastons) to the south of the Abbey. The next morning, the 4th May, he probably deployed his army between the Gastons and Gupshill Manor, with his left flank against the Swillgate River (little more than a stream) and his right across the gently sloping ground to a stream on the west. Thus Edward arrived to find the Lancastrians already deployed and so he arrayed his army to the south of and parallel to Somerset’s.

The battle of Tewkesbury was to prove a decisive encounter, which ended the second phase of the Wars of the Roses. Edward IV’s victory and the death of Henry VI’s son and heir, shortly followed by Henry’s own death and Queen Margaret’s imprisonment, destroyed hopes of a Lancastrian succession and led to fourteen years peace.

With the deaths of Somerset and his younger brother, the House of Beaufort, who were distant cousins of Henry VI and had a remote claim to succeed him, had been almost exterminated. Only the female line of Somerset’s uncle, the1st Duke of Somerset, remained, represented by Lady Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry Tudor. Henry escaped from Wales with Jasper Tudor, his paternal uncle, and remained in exile in Brittany for the remainder of Edward’s reign. 


  • Name: Battle of Tewkesbury
  • War period: Wars of the Roses
  • Outcome: Yorkist victory
  • Country: England
  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Terrain: open field, meadow, enclosures
  • Date: 4th May 1471
  • Start: morning
  • Armies: Yorkist under King Edward IV; Lancastrian under Duke of Somerset
  • Numbers: Yorkist: circa 4,000; Lancastrian: circa 5,000
  • Losses: Yorkist 500; Lancastrian circa 2,000

Pictured: The Battle of Tewkesbury, as illustrated in the Ghent manuscript


The Real Game of Thrones — Wars of the Roses Part II: The Bleeding Rose

For part i click here.

After Henry VI had been deposed as King of England, the conqueror Edward IV moved to secure his throne and remove any remaining challenges to his power.  After a series a successful battles against the House of Lancaster, many Lancastrians had been killed in battle.  Edward IV intended to completely exterminate the Lancastrian line.  After the Battle of Tewkesbury, the final and decisive victory against the House of Lancaster, many Lancastrians sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey.  Under the rules of sanctuary those seeking refuge within a church or monastery cannot be harmed or arrested on pain of excommunication.  After the battle Edward entered the Abbey and prayed as the Lancastrians watched, wondering if he would honor the rules of sanctuary.  He then announced that they were pardoned, and could leave the abbey without threat or arrest. Two days later, Edward’s men stormed the Abbey and grabbed all male Lancastrians. They were dragged to Tewkesbury’s town square and immediately beheaded.  

After the incident at Tewkesbury, most of the Lancastrian line was extinguished.  Others were arrested and either executed or imprisoned. Only one Lancastrian, a minor noble named Henry Tudor, had managed to escape the wrath of Edward IV.  At the warning of his mother Margaret Beaufort, he quickly left the country and went into exile in France.   Although the Lancastrian line was all but extinct, the threats to Edward’s rule did not come to an end.  In fact the most serious threat came from within the family.  Edward had two younger brothers, George the Duke of Clarence and Richard the Duke of Glouchester.

The Duke of Clarence was disgruntled with Edward and his regime.  Being Edward’s younger brother Clarence expected that he would be given a shot at inheriting the throne.  However Edward IV decided that the throne would be directly inherited by his sons, Edward and Richard.  To upset his older brothers rule, Clarence spread rumors that Edward IV’s marriage to wife, Elizabeth of York, was a bigamous relationship, claiming that he had been married previously while marrying Elizabeth.  Edward IV had his brother arrested and interrogated.  Under torture Clarence confessed to organizing a rebellion against his brother and used black magic against him to ensure his death.

After packing the courts with judges loyal to him Edward IV personally prosecuted his brother Clarence in a show trial.  Edward had him found guilty and sentenced to be executed.  Rather than being drawn and quartered, the execution method of most traitors in which they are gutted alive, Edward found a more creative way to dispose of his brother.  Clarence was a connoisseur of a certain type of beverage called Malmsey wine.  On the 18th of February 1478 Clarence was dragged from his cell to the execution place.  There before him was a barrel of Malmsey wine.  His head was dunked into the wine and forcefully held down until he expired from drowning.

Catherine Of Valois & Henry V Of England

By 1417 Henry V was ready to renew his campaign. At this stage his successes had made him virtually master of Paris, yet he was in no rush to complete his mission and remained in Normandy, which was now almost completely under English control. Anxious for an amicable settlement, and keen to reopen negotiations, the pragmatic Isabeau, saw a match between Catherine and Henry as the only way to salvage the situation. It was rumoured that Princess Catherine, aware, perhaps of Henry’s previous proposals, and flattered by his interest and the prospect of a crown, ‘had very early set her mind on being Queen of England’ and that she was not averse to her mother’s schemes. Taking matters into her own hands the Queen sent her ambassadors to Henry with a portrait of the young daughter, already known to her people as 'Catherine the Fair’ because of her good looks; and ordered them to enquire whether so beautiful a princess required so great a dowry. Her plan failed, for although the King declared Catherine, 'surpassingly fair’ to Isabeau’s irritation he remained immovable.

By the close of 1418 Rouen had fallen into English hands and a peace conference was held at Melun. Confident that her daughter’s personal charms would succeed where her portrait had failed, the determined Queen ensured that Catherine was included as one of the party. In the richly ornamented enclosure at Pontoise, seated on opposing sides, both surrounded by men-at-arms, Catherine of Valois was first introduced to her future husband. Although the King appeared quite taken with the French princess, he still made no effort to lower his demands. Outraged at this stalemate, the Queen decided to take action and at the next meeting, Catherine was nowhere to be seen. Contemporary chroniclers note the King’s anger, and declare that by now 'Éit was plainly to be seen that King Henry was desperately in love.’ He became enamoured.

These terms, which reversed the sovereignty of France and disinherited the Dauphin, were made official in the Treaty of Troyes. While her distressed husband remained out of sight and her dispossessed son, Dauphin Charles retreated to Bourges, Queen Isabeau gave the Treaty her wholehearted approval. If Catherine had any reservations about disinheriting her brother they were never documented, and it seemed to her contemporaries that despite the harshness of the treaty Catherine remained almost as keen for the match as her mother. Whatever her motives, Philip of Burgundy declared that from the moment of their first meeting, the princess 'had passionately longed to be espoused to King Henry’. Henry and Catherine were betrothed on 21st May 1420 and a few weeks later were married in a magnificent ceremony at Troyes. According to one contemporary, such pomp and magnificence was displayed during the ceremony, 'as if he had been king of the whole worldÉ’

the white queen- house of lancaster