Because the Wars of The Roses are very interesting, long and confusing they had the historical effect of making kings’ reigns part of them and not as was usual the other way around.
As it is important that the wars are addressed as the main topic we should therefore bear in mind that although they started (sort of) in 1455 and sorted ended almost in August 1485 at Bosworth Field, Battle Of; the whole business didn’t really stop there and slopped over even until Henry The VIII.
Causes for Origins
The build up to the actual wars was a long and complex business and is best consider from Edward III who in addition to invading many places also had lots of sons.
Edward, Black Prince,- eldest and easily the most famous who would have been king but he died in France of not washing his hands. Thus kingship eventually passed to Richard II, who though not very successful did have a play written about him.
Lionel Duke of Clarence- he was born on 29th November 1338. He was 7 feet tall and had a daughter Philipa whose height was not recorded. She married on of many Edmund Mortimers. From this union was descended a Richard, a Duke of York who in the 1450s used to sit in Westminster saying he was or at least should be in charge.
John Duke of Lancaster– Born on the 6th March in the very neat years of 1340. He was serious, intelligent, gifted and so very Gaunt. For a while he aided Richard IIand also tried to be Spanish.,
Edmund Duke of York Born 5th June 1341. Richard II said after he had died, but not before Edmund was to be king; others didn’t agree, including Edmund.
Thomas Duke of Gloucester The youngest being born in 1355. He was one of the lords who forced Richard II to say for a while he was doing a bad job. Eventually Thomas was murdered by or for Richard II, who, therefore, can be seen as a wicked nephew
Events Prior To The Wars (Roses of)
When Richard (the II) died of Henry (the IV) he had not left a son (well not one that anyone noticed). This allowed everyone who was a male relative to say they had a ‘claim’ to the throne.
Amongst these was Henry IV (both Part 1 & 2) son of John of Gaunt by his wife Blanche who was a Bowfort, a careless family who had lost their name until it was found by Richard II who had generously said they could keep it.
Although Henry IV (Part I) had been crowned others said as he had only usurped the throne this didn’t count even if he did have two parts (and anyway he’d had lice). After Henry IV died of rebellions (and lice) there came Henry V. Now whereas some had tried to argue with Henry V they had ended up beheaded etc so the matter was dropped, however when he died of campaigning in France he only left a baby son who was was in a minority. The country was therefore run by a council of barons under the following rules and conventions:
They had to officially claim they acted in everyone’s best interests.
They acted in their own best interests.
They had to hate at least two other members of the council.
They either had to support war with France or peace with France.
They tried to avoid the king getting involved in government.
This never worked out well.
Things became so chaotic that two grand families who had their house in York or Lancaster tried to be kings.
During this era there were three and a bit kings these were:
Henry VI- (31st August 1422- 4th March 1461 & 3rd October 1470 -11th April 1471) who was possibly a kindly fellow (most of the time) and very pious, but was a weak king who kept on being captured and rescued and eventually recorded as being in Three Parts.
Edward IV- (4th March 1461 – 3rd October 1470 & 11th April 1471 – 9th April 1483) who was brave, bold and enjoyed his food so much that his brother Richard once playfully called him This Glorious Bun of York. Unfortunately, he had lots of other appetites and died of them.
Edward V– (9 April 1483- 25 June 1483). Son of IV. Who as he was only 12 didn’t get much of a chance and was either replaced or misplaced
Richard III- (26 June 1483- 22 August 1485) who took the whole business of kingship very seriously. He was the last King of England to fight a serious battle in England while famously and seriously being killed doing so. He may have seriously murdered his nephews (See Edward V) which makes him naturally far more interesting than his predecessors. He had a play written about him.
Other folk who were as interesting if not more so were:
Edward IV’s father Richard The Duke of York who was not grand and old but stern, austere and told everyone he was king when he wasn’t.
Warwick Earl of; who was loyal to Henry, then Edward, then got fed up with them both and was loyal to himself.
The Earl of Gloucester who believed the answer to everything was to fight the French.
Queen Margaret wife of Henry VI who was French but preferred to be considered Of Anjou
And was easily the toughest of the lot.
Edmund Bowdiddly- A Duke of Somerset who believed the answer was not to fight the French but get very rich instead.
A proliferation of Edmund Mortimers
Naturally, the Scots.
Louis XI King of France, who won the Hundred Years War by cunning, deceit, plots and thus displayed more intelligence than the whole English lot put together.
The Tudors who were welsh who came in several types and sizes and eventually won the whole thing
Naturally there were also grasping rapacious families.
In subsequent chapters all of these will be dealt with in more details
A True History of The Isles Vol. II Chapter 13. Henry IV a king of II parts.
A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 8 – The End of the 14th Century and Richard II (well also his beginning too)