England 1445-1509: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry VII.

Overview of key events of the Wars of the Roses 1445-1461 and England 1461-1509.


Henry VI reaches his majority rule


As son of Henry V who died when Henry VI was only 9 months old, Henry VI grew up as king and never experienced another king. Henry V had achieved much in his dominance of France and success in gaining French territory, however this had left England in significant debt from war, with which Henry VI had to deal with throughout his reign. Did not live up to the glory of his father

Truce of Tours


Suffolk negotiated the marriage of the King of France's niece (Margaret of Anjou) to Henry VI, in return suffolk agreed to return the lands of Anjou and Maine- secretly to France. This period of peace would allow for the England to refill its coffers, however this truce was broken by the English when they seized the Breton fortress of Fougeres in March 1449,

Duke of Suffolk blamed for Growing discontentment in the running of England

1445 - 1450

The people were beginning to resent the amount of taxation being paid to fund the 'hundred years war' with France, however Normandy was lost in 1450, further fuelling discontentment that these considerable taxes had been wasted. Suffolk impeached and exiled in 1450- captured and killed by pirates on his way to Calais.

England's governance


Parliament had been established in the 12th century so the king no longer had absolute rule but still hevaily belived in divine right. Magna Carta limited the King's control over the nobility, providing the expectation that war would be the only reason for him to go to Parliament and ask for tax. Closest nobles are called upon as part of a small council that is called regularly.
King's household is run by the Lord Chamberlain. are expected to be the local government, local police force. Impose Royal will, oversee collection of taxes in their area. They make up the Justices of the Peaces and Sheriffs.
Expected to give Loans(which would be repaid) / benevolences (which would not)
Some would provide advice as part of his council.
Their expectation is that they do service for their king and their country.
Fill the offices of state; Chancellor, Treasurer, L. Lieutenant- Of France- Of Ireland
Captain of Calais, Constable “Dover”

The nobility are expected to fight or provide forces to fight on behalf of the king.
are expected to be the local government, local police force. Impose Royal will, oversee collection of taxes in their area. They make up the Justices of the Peaces and Sheriffs.
Expected to give Loans(which would be repaid) / benevolences (which would not)
Some would provide advice as part of his council.

Their expectation is that they do service for their king and their country.
Fill the offices of state;Chancellor, Treasurer, L. Lieutenant -Of France-Of Ireland
Captain of Calais , Constable “Dover”
The nobility are expected to fight or provide forces to fight on behalf of the king.
The king is expected to provide patronage via marriages, wardships and land in France

Suffolk and his faction held to blame for losses in France

1449 - 1450

violent reaction in England to these losses. January 1450 Adam Moleyns Bishop of Chichester killed by unpaid soldiers and sailors. worst outbreak of violence being Cade's rebellion in 1450

England break the truce with France formed in the Treaty of Tours

March 1449

England break the truce by seizing the Breton fortress of Fougeres

The Battle of Rouen

October 1449

The Battle of Rouen- French retaliate to England breaking the truce by seizing the Breton fortress. Emphatic French victory, by early 1450 most of Normandy had been overrun culminating in a French victory at the Battle of Formigny in April and the fall of Cherbourg in August. CONTINUED ENGLISH LOSS OF LAND IN FRANCE.

Act of Resumption


Henry VI's poor management of patronage led to the Act of Resumption in an attempt to regain royal lands and finances, however Henry VI made too many exceptions for his affinity.

overview of 1445-1450


Normandy lost in 1450

Approx. 1450

Due to failure of English campaign

Duke of Somerset lost prestige, beginning the enmity between Somerset and York.
influx of the English that had settled in Normandy, returning to England.
A reduction in trade as northern French towns were no longer held by the English.
Increase in French naval attacks on the English coast as places in Sussex and Kent were attacked, only shelling-mainly in sussex, kent faced the refufees (Brits that had been residents of the lost French territory)

The loss of Normandy meant the return of soldiers to England, eho had military knowledge and skill who then became available for hire, increasing the ranks of the opposing sides within the wars of the roses.

Suffolk charged, exiled + murdered

February 1450

suffolk charged with treason, exiled and murdered. This being as a result for the loss in Normandy. June 1450- Bishop of Sailisbury killed

Causes of Cade's Rebellion

Approx. May 1450

Murder of the Duke of Suffolk as the Kentish people were afraid that tehy would be held accountable as his body was found on a Kent beach.
Taxes were unfairly levied
Taxes had been increased because the King had given away so much crown land in patronage to his favourites and affinity
Justice was not impartially administered
The Lords allowed to continue to hold their positions of office despite the losses in France and the misgovernment in England

Cade's Rebellion 1450

June 1450

Triggered by murder of the Duke of Suffolk (captured and killed by French pirates as he was on his way to Calais, his body found on a Kent beach. Further triggered by unfairly levied taxes due to the King haven given away much crown land to his affinities. Justuce noot impartially administered. Began in Kent led by Jack Cade (use the name John Mortimer). Army of discontented citizens and rebels gathered as they progressed through Kent, leading to a an army of over 46,000 as well as over a hundred nobles. This army reached Blackheath on 1st June.
Resulted in the deaths of Lord Say and Lord Crowmer

Consequences of Cade's rebellion

July 1450

This rebellion demonstrated the King's inability to cope with a crisis such as this, this rebellion demonstrated the qualms of teh English people not just the problems in Kent.
York did not rush back to England from Ireland following this rebellion and the calls from the people for him to return and take up the position of the King's chief advisor. This allowed time for the Duke of Somerset to take this place.
Those in power saw York as a threat and an enemy as he was challenging their positions as the King's advisors but challenging the throne itself.

Richard Duke of York returns to England

November 1450

York returned to England from Ireland where he was fulfilling the role of Lord lieutenant of Ireland. York was not asked to return by the king and the King who was under the guidance of Edmund, Duke of Somerset was suspicious of York's motives.
Somerset-returned from defeat in Normandy- filled the position left by Suffolk's death- became the King's chief councillor.
York felt that the position of Chief advisor to the crown was his right by birth. York had much land in Normandy which had been lost, Somerset being responsible for this.

Attempted coup at Dartford (failed)

March 1452

York continued to accuse Somerset of plotting against him- York claimed that he was acting before his enemies could act first.
York seeking the removal of SOmerset because of his failures in France (loss of Normandy)
Via this coup York decided to try force to remove Somerset from his position as the King's chief adviser as he had failed in trying to do this through Parliament.
Nevilles gave York their support at Dartford, when York challenged Henry's authority as they had sought York's help with the Percys following the attack at Heworth.

Margaret of Anjou's battle to become regent

1453 - 1454

Margaret was stepping beyond the traditional bounds of Queen. Queen Eleanor in 1253 had been only previous female regent. Only Viscount Beaumont came out in her support.
Margaret putting herself forward to become regent demonstrated the first sign of Margaret's interest in political matters.
It has been suggested that once her husband, Henry VI had recovered in early 1455, she became further involved in political matters and may have even encouraged Henry VI, along with Somerset to call a great council at Leicester- convincing them that it was the Nevilles and York that were plotting treason. As it was Margaret who held the town to Leicester.
The 1455 Battle of St Albans, confirmed her suspicions of York as he had raised an Army against the King who had been injured by an arrow to the shoulder.

Henry VI's illness

August 1453 - January 1455

This began the struggle between Margaret, Somerset and York for power in place of Henry VI, during his illness where he was incapacitated to rule. York, through the Duke of Norfolk, repeated the claim that the Duke of Somerset was guilty of treason as well as being responsible for the loss of Normandy and the loss of Gascony. Continuing the feud between the Dukes of York and Somerset.
open warfare between the Percy and Neville families broke out, the king was incapacitated to intervene and put a stop to this illegal behaviour after an attack upon the Nevilles at Heworth. The Neville family then seeking support in the Duke of York.

Nevilles attacked at Heworth by Percys

24th August 1453

party of Nevilles were returning home from a family wedding when they were attacked at Heworth near York by over 700 Percy followers, result of the fight was inconclusive and led to fuether fighting between the two families. This is when the King's intervention was required to prevent further escalation of events between these two families however the king was incapacitated at the time due to his illness and the council lacked the confidence to act with sufficient firmness to quell the feud between these two waring families.
PERCYS AND NEVILLES WERE THE TWO GREAT FAMILIES OF THE NORTH OF ENGLAND. Nevilles held substantially more land, had gained more earldoms such as that of the earldom of Warwick and the earldom of Salisbury through advantageous marriages. The Percys had also rebelled against Henry IV and the Nevilles had been key beneficiaries of this land, fuelling further resentment. However both these families, the Nevilles and the Percys collaborated against their common enemy of the Scots.

Birth of Prince Edward

13 October 1453

This solved the question of succession however did nothing to deal with the problem of who should run the country during Henry VI's mental illness.
Duke of York was no longer heir presumptive (as the King's closest male relative) now that he had a son. York was now determined to acquire the leading position on any regency council should there be due to the King's incapacity.
Margaret of Anjou showed heavy support for the Duke of Somerset by having him involved in her newborn son's-Prince Edward's christening.

Somerset's imprisonment in the tower of london

23 November 1453

sent to the tower possibly for his own safety, he was never brought to trial, this suggesting that there may have been little legal validity to Norfolk's claims.
Margaret of Anjou was increasingly fearful for her sons inheritance following her husband-the King's mental decline and was determined to prevent the Duke of York from becoming regent and attempted to take thsi role of regent herself, however she gained little support, likely due to the combination of her female gender, her nationality (French) who were still heavily disliked by the English as well as England's lack of experience of female leadership.

Death of Cardinal Kemp-Chancellor of England.

March 1454

Cardinal Kemp, the Archbuishop of Canterbury as well as the Chancellor of England, meant that drastic changes would have to be taken as the government could not act without a chancellor and the King could not provide a decision regarding appointment of a new chancellor. The Duke of York was then appointed Protector and Defender of the Kingdom demonstrating that Henry VI's illness had provided the Duke of York with the power that he craved.

Protectorate set up- York's first protectorate

27 March 1454

York made Protector and Defender of the kingdom initiating his first protectorate following the death of Cardinal Kemp, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chancellor of England. King Henry VI, in his mental state was incapacitated and unable to choose a new appointment himself so the government made the decision.
Not long after York's appointment as Protector and Defender of England, the great offices of state were filled with men nominated by York such the earl of salisbury (York's brother-in-law) who became chancellor.

Recovery of Henry VI from illness

December 1454

Tense atmosphere in london-rioting and attacks

1455 - 1459

yorkists took to wearing padded jackets, fearful of attack.
Margaret of Anjou dislike by the people of London thus moving her court away from London to tje West midlands, encouraging her husband Henry VI to join her at Kenilworth castle.
episodes of rioting and attacks on foreign traders such as the Lombards and the Venetians

Protectorate ended

February 1455

Somerset released from the tower

First Battle of St Albans+ Death of Somerset

May 1455

Violence in the South-West

October 1455 - December 1455

some of the worst violence was seen in December when the Courtenays attcked Bonville's men, murdering Bonville's lawyer Nicholas Radford and taking control of Exeter. Despite these highly illegal acts from the Courtenays, the King had taken no action against them to dispell this violence and prevent any more from occurring. Therefore Parliament's meeting in 1455 resulted in York gaining the power of (second) protectorate so that he would be able to deal with this violence in the South- west, not only was Parliament concerned with the violence in the south west but also with the King's deteriorating health which was preventing him from fulfilling what was required from him as King

York's second Protectorate begins

19 November 1455


24 March 1458

a demonstration of reconciliation between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians- likely to have been held at the request of Henry VI. Involved Yorkists and Lancastrians walking arm in arm through London to St Paul's cathedral.
Queen Margaret walked hand in hand with the Duke of York

Breakdown of peace


build up towards war- long period of peace following the battle of st albans in 1455 surprising. Open warfare in 1459 due to;
heirs of the nobles killed at the battle of st albans want vengeance,
Margaret of Anjou deadly enemy of teh Duek of York as she saw him as a threat to the reign of her son, beliveing that York wanted the throne in place of her son,
Henry VI too ill to govern thus whoever had control of Henry VI had control of government
complete lack of trust between the yorkists and the lancastrians- each side often turning up to council meetings with armed followers

Battle of Blore Heath

23rd September 1459

the only significant Yorkist success after the resumption of open warfare in 1459
Richard;s advance to London was halted, Richard then decided to cenralise his forces around the town of Ludlow and launch a massive assault on the Lancastrians. Queen Margaret sent Lord Audley and almost twice as many troops to interceot Richard's forces, however Lord Audley and his forces were defeated by the Lancastrians and Lord Audley lost his life.

The Batte of Northampton

July 1460

Richard Plantagenet (Duke of York)'s lieutenant Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick defeated the Lancastrians at Northampton and captured King Henry VI- a compromise was then made that Henry VI would remain king for the remainder of his life but Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York would be his heir and the crown would be passed down to the Duke of York's heirs rather than to Henry Vi's heir (thus making Margaret of Anjou a deadly enemy to the Duke of York)

The Battle of Wakefield

30th December 1460

large Lancastrian force near the city of York, Richard and Richard Neville,Earl of Salisbury (Yorkists)
Richard decided to ride out and meet the Lancastrian forces directly however he was overwhelmed and killed in battle. Richard Neville and Richard's son are executed

Battle of Tewkesbury

4th May 1471

The Lancastrian forces of the 4th Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort headed for Wales. King Edward IV heard of their intentions and sent an army to intercept, the two sides met at Tewkesbury. Lancastrian forces defeated, Prince of Wales killed, Somerset executed, Queen Margaret of Anjou captured

Battle of Bosworth

22nd August 1485

Richard III succeeded Edward IV as king. Henry Tudor landed in Wales on 7th August 1485 to take the crown, Richard went to intercept Henry Tudor and his forces where they then met at Bosworth. During the battle Lord Thomas Stanley and Sir William Stanley switched sides from the Yorkists to the Lancastrians as a result Richard III was killed and Henry became King Henry VII

Battle of Stoke

16th June 1487

last battle of the wars of the roses. Yorkist troops started to march towards London but were met at East Stoke and obliterated by the Lancastrian forces, Yorkist leaders were captured and imprisoned, Yorkist men killed and the last remnants of the Yorkist faction were destroyed

Yorkshire rebellion




concerned enough about Warbeck to do a trade embargo

Trade embargo

1492 - 1496

gains French pension in 1492.
Economy is weakened during the embargo

Warbeck under control


Cornish Rebellion


ideal time for nobility to rebel as Warbeck attacking from the north, attacks from south-west.
However the nobility do not rebel, suggesting that the power he has over them is significant, the risk is too high as england has been relatively peaceful- peace with the french.
Financial strain on the nobility is very high. Nobility resentful, general discussion of how long they could have put up with it.
The last time Henry VII faced noble rebellion had been at the battle of stoke.

Warbeck and Warwick executed


loss of Arthur (Henry VII's son)

1502 - 1503

Henry VII needs to secure his dynasty, foreign policy is hevaily affected by the loss of his son

Kings- Monarch in power

King Henry VI

1429 - 1461

Last Lancastrian ruler of England, he gained the throne at the age of only 9 months due to his fathers death in France.

Had a mental breakdown and Richard, Duke of York was made protector to handle the affairs of state

POOR FINANCIAL POSITION- heavily in debt due to financing a long war with France and there was a slump in European trade, exacerbating Henry's financial problems
Mishandled his patronag- too generous e.g endowments of Eton and King's college in 1440 and 1443.
Failed 1450 act of resumption due his insistamce on making exceptions. 1451 Act of Resumption more successful.
Henry VI had inherited a substantial debt from his father.
In July 1460 at the Battle of Northampton, Richard Neville- Earl of Warwick defeated the Lancastrians and capture King Henry VI, compromise was made for his release that Henry VI would remain king for life but that Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York (who had a stronger hereditary claim to the throne than Henry VI) would be King Henry VI's heir and that the crown would be passed on to Richard's heirs also (soon to be Edward IV who seized the crown at the Battle of Towton in the following year)
Henry VI defeated by the Yorkist Edward, son of Ricgard Plantagenet at the Battle of Towton in 1461

King Edward IV (first reign)

4th March 1461 - 3rd October 1470

First YORKIST King of England- defeated Henry VI at the Battle of Towton in 1461, his father Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York had been killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 so Edward had inherited his father claim to the throne.
Warwick felt that he would be able to control the king and attempted to arrange a marriage for him however in 1464 Edward secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a widowed commoner thus ending any possibilities at strengthening his reign via a foreign marriage (alliance).
Warwick, furious, then allied himself to Edward's brother, the Duke of Clarence resulting in a rebellion against the king- Edward IV, Warwick and Clarence fled to France to join Margaret of Anjou, Margaret's army then invaded England in september 1470 causing Edward to flee to the Netherlands until March 1471

King Henry VI

1470 - 1471

Following Warwick's alliance to Edward's brother, the duke of clarence and the rebellion in england, Warwick and clarence fled to France to ally themselves with Margaret of Anjou. Margaret's lancastrian army then invaded England in september 1470 causing Edward IV to flee to the Netherlands (until his return in March 1471) , thus placing her husband Henry VI back on the throne

King Edward IV

1471 - 1483

The second part of Edward's reign, from 1471 to 1483, was a period of relative peace and security. He used income from the Crown Estates to pay governmental costs, and was therefore less in need of parliamentary grants than his predecessors - he called parliament only six times. Commercial treaties, external peace and internal order revived trade, benefiting customs duties and other revenues. Councils were set up to govern in the Marches of Wales and in the north.

Edward died on 9 April 1483. His young sons, Edward and Richard, were left in the protection of their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard housed them in the Tower of London where they were probably murdered on his orders. Parliament requested that Richard take the throne and he accepted, being crowned Richard III.

King Edward V

9th April 1483 - 26th June 1483

Became king following his father's death in April 1483. (eldest surviving son of Edward IV , made prince of wales in June 1471. Was then sent to ludlow with his mother to be titular ruler of wales and remained there for the rest of his fathers reign) became king at aged 12 and Richard duke of Gloucester-his uncle- was made protector. However conflict between the Duke of Gloucester and the Woodville nobles led to the Duke of Gloucester arresting the Woodville nobles and gaining possession of Edward and his younger brother Richard(the princes in the tower) they were kept as prisoners in the Tower of London (also a royal residence)
Parliament accepting the Duke of Gloucester's claim that Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and thus their children were illegitimate. Richard, Duke of gloucester (Edward V's uncle) was proclaimed Richard III on the 26th June 1483

King Richard III

26th June 1483 - August 1485

Richard was the last Yorkist king of England, whose death at the Battle of Bosworth effectively ended the Wars of the Roses. He has become infamous because of the disappearance of his young nephews - the Princes in the Tower - usurped the 0throne of Edward V, the 12 yr old son of Edward IV who Edward IV had left him to protect as protector of England

King Henry VII

22nd August 1485 - 21st April 1509

Henry Tudor-had a calim to the throne as his mother was a decendant of Edward III. Not a very secure claim. Defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field, then married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV- uniting the houses of York and Lancaster