The War of Roses


  • The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles that took place in England from 1455 to 1485.
  • The fighting was between two families that claimed the right to the throne—the House of York and the House of Lancaster.
  • They were called the Wars of the Roses because the symbol of each house was a rose.
  • The House of York was represented by a white rose.
  • The House of Lancaster was represented by a red rose.


  • In 1453 Henry became mentally sick and could not rule effectively.
  • Richard, duke of York, then became the temporary ruler of England.
  • After Henry recovered, Richard did not want to give up his power.
  • This led to the first battle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, at Saint Albans on May 22, 1455.  Richard and the Yorkists won.
  • There was an uneasy peace until 1459. Battles were fought during 1459 and 1460.
  • Lancastrians surprised and killed Richard in December 1460.
  • Richard’s son Edward was proclaimed King Edward IV on March 4, 1461. Edward IV pursued the Lancastrians to Towton, where the bloodiest battle of the war took place
  • The Yorkists won. Henry, Margaret, and their son fled to Scotland.
  • The Yorkists then began to argue among themselves.
  • Edward IV’s brother George rebelled against Edward’s rule.
  • Supporters of George fought with supporters of Edward. George fled to France in 1470.
  • He became partners with the former queen, Margaret of Anjou.
  • They returned to England, forced Edward to flee to the Netherlands, and put Henry VI back on the throne.
  • However, Edward returned in 1471. He defeated the queen and king and killed their son.
  • Edward IV became king once again. He held the throne until he died in 1483.
  • After Edward’s death, his brother Richard III claimed the throne.
  • He declared that Edward’s son, Edward V, did not have the right to be king.
  • Edward V’s supporters turned to Henry Tudor, a Lancaster.
  • Henry and his forces defeated and killed Richard III at Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. This battle ended the Wars of the Roses.

The Houses United

  • Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII on October 30, 1485.
  • He united the York and Lancaster houses by marrying Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth of York in 1486.
  • This began the reign of the House of Tudor.


  • One of the largest battles in the war was the Battle of Towton where over 50,000 soldiers fought and around 25,000 soldiers were killed.
  • Edward IV was six foot four inches tall. This was very tall for the time.
  • The two houses were both branches of the royal House of Plantagenet.
  • Some English nobles switched sides several times hoping to end up on the winning side in the end.
  • Margaret of Anjou led the Lancastrian army during several of the battles.
  • The Battle of Lose Cote Field got its name when several of the losers took off their coats in order to run away faster.

About Me

Over 20 years of experience developing software to support multi-million dollar revenue scale and leading global engineering teams. Hands-on leadership in building and mentoring software engineering teams. I love History as a subject and also run regularly long distances to keep myself functional.


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