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The Wars of the Roses

Between the years 1455 and 1487 in medieval England, the House of Lancaster and the House of York fought a series of civil wars. They became known as the 'Wars of the Roses' because of the emblems used by the two opposing sides, the red rose of the Lancastrian's and the white rose of the Yorkist's.

One of the major causes of the wars was due to the conflict over the line of royal succession with both houses laying claim to the throne.  The House of Lancaster and the House of York were both descended from Edward III.  The Lancastrian claim to the throne was through John of Gaunt who was the third son of Edward III.  Richard, Duke of York, had claims to the throne through both his mother and his father and he believed his claim to be stronger than any Lancastrian.

The first battle took place on May 22nd, 1455 when Richard of York led a force of approximately 3,000 men towards London.  Henry VI moved from London to intercept the Yorkist army, but Richard attacked and defeated him.

Battle of Ferrybridge 1461

After proclaiming himself king, Edward IV gathered together a large army and headed north towards the Lancastrian forces positioned across the River Aire.  The forces engaged on 28th March, 1461 at Ferrybridge and at first the Yorkist army were pushed back and their leader, Lord Fitzwalter, was killed.  Later that day however, more Yorkist forces arrived and they eventually beat back the Lancastrians.

The following day the Yorkists attacked the Lancastrians and were victorious at the battle of Towton, regarded as one of the bloodiest battles in our history.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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