The War of the Roses
This is only a brief description of the war and if you want to know more get a good book from the library,search the Internet or visi
t BARNET MUSEUM. We hope you enjoy and realise just how important THE BATTLE of BARNET was in history.

In order to understand the importance of THE BATTLE of BARNET it is equally important to understand why and how the War of the Roses happened, with all the intrigue and treachery that had Englishmen fighting Englishmen for over thirty years, from 1455 to 1487. It was a power struggle between the two most powerful families in England.
            
The symbol of the York family was a white rose and a red rose for the Lancaster Family.
This popular English flower would show which side your loyalties lay, although the term “The War of the Roses” would not be used until writers such as WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE wrote about it many years after the battles that took place all over England to decide who would be king.

To know more about the reasons why such a bloody civil war would last so long it might be helpful to learn more about the main players. None of this would have happened if the Plantagenet KING EDWARD III (born 1312) had not married PHILIPPA of HAINAULT of Belgium, (born 1311).
This marriage lasted for 41 years until the queens death of the plague in 1369
KING EDWARD III was born in Windsor Castle on 13th November 1312.
He was the son of EDWARD II and ascended to the throne in 1327 at the age of 14, reigning for 50 years. He married PHILIPPA in 1328 when he was 16 and she was only 14.
          
    
This was an arranged marriage, and she bore him thirteen children. Of these, five were sons who lived into adulthood, and their rivalry would eventually bring about the long-running civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses.
The Children were:
Edward Plantagenet (The Black Prince) 15th June 1330
Isabel Plantagenet 16th June 1332
Joan Plantagenet 1335
William Plantagenet 1336
Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence 29th November 1338
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster 24th June 1340
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York 5th June 1341
Blanche Plantagenet Born & died: March 1342
Mary Plantagenet 10th October 1344
Margaret Plantagenet 20th July 1346
Thomas Plantagenet Unknown birth
William Plantagenet June 1348
Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester 7th January 1355

Even though he was married and the father of many children, Edward was always dominated by his mother ISABELLA (1296–1358).

She,and her lover Roger Mortimer, despised her husband and,were thought to be responsible for cruelly murdering his father Edward II at Berkeley Castle in 1327.

In October 1330 Mortimer was arrested at Nottingham and sentenced to death. He was executed at Tyburn in London and Isabella was exiled from court.

On the death of his father, EDWARD III was quickly crowned king of England, although it would take a few years for him to gain complete control of his kingdom.
The hundred-year war with France, (in fact it lasted 116 years from 1337 until 1453), took up the largest part of Edward's reign. also the Black Death swept across England and northern Europe throughout 1348-1350, removing nearly half the population
.

Edward's son, also Edward, won fame in battle as THE BLACK PRINCE. Some say he was called this because of the colour of his armour while others thought it was because of his bad temper.

Domestically, England saw many changes during Edward's reign. Parliament was divided into two Houses, the Lords and the Commons, and they met regularly to finance the war. Treason was defined by law for the first time (in 1352), the office of Justice of the Peace was created (in 1361) and English officially replaced French as the national language (in 1362). Philippa died in 1369 and in the last years of Edward's reign he was once again dominated by a woman.

This time it was by his mistress, Alice Perrers. Alice preferred one of Edward's other sons, JOHN OF GAUNT over the Black Prince, which caused political conflicts in Edward's last years.

In 1374 (five years after Blanche's death), John ordered that effigies be made of himself and his late wife. Twenty-five years later, he and Blanche were buried side by side in St. Paul's Cathedral. This Duke of Lancaster would be related to 3 English Kings and the Red Rose would be their war cry.

EDMUND of LANGLEY was called "of Langley" because of his his birthplace at the Royal Palace of Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. He was the fifth son of King Edward III, and he too was a soldier who fought against the French.

In 1372, Edmund married the Princess Isabel of Castile, the youngest daughter of King Pedro "the Cruel".
In 1385 he was created Duke of York and when Richard II went to Ireland in 1394, the Duke was appointed guardian of the realm in his absence. When the House of Lancaster ruled the country he retired from court to his palace in Langley, where he died on the 1st August 1402.
This Duke of York would also be related to 3 English Kings and the White Rose would be their war cry.
Both brothers ended up on different sides, but it was to be the sudden death of King Edwards first born son that would split a family and start a war.
       
    

The king's health was failing and he was becoming senile. But, the year before he died in1377, the Black Prince passed away in 1376 at the age of 46, leaving his ten-year-old son RICHARD II as heir to the throne.
THE BLACK PRINCE had married JOAN THE FAIR MAID OF KENT (born 1328) in 1361 and Richard was their only child.

KING RICHARD II was born in Bordeaux, France in 1367.
He succeeded his grandfather and reigned for 22 years before he was deposed. Because he was so young when he became king Richard's uncle John of Gaunt was put in charge of the country.
 
Just over ten years later Richard regained control and in 1382, he married ANNE of BOHEMIA, (born 1366). When ANNE died in 1394 Richard married ISABELLE, daughter of Charles VI of France, which was mainly a political arrangement rather than to provide heirs to the throne HENRY BOLINGBROKE, DUKE OF LANCASTER, (the son of JOHN OF GAUNT) had an on/off relationship with his cousin, Richard, and in 1398 the increasingly suspicious king banished Henry for ten years.
When John of Gaunt died in February 1399, Richard stopped Henry from inheriting his father’s estates.
This was to be Richards downfall.
While he was in Ireland gathering an army Henry, (who had been exiled in France) landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, declaring that he had come to claim his lawful rights to his fathers land. He soon collected an army, and from York he led a march across England to Bristol, while Richard returned to the country via Wales, trying to gather forces as he went.

The Welsh saw that they faced an impossible task against what was now a large army backing Henry, and at Flint Castle Richard was captured by the new sovereign to the throne. He was marched to London and imprisonment in the tower.
                           
Richard was then taken to Pontefract Castle, where he was probably murdered, and Henry the Duke of Lancaster became KING HENRY IV in 1399. Richards death was not officially announced, (due to the fact that some believed he was still alive), until February 1400. Then it was let known that the old king had died from starvation due to his hunger strike (his body was exhibited in London).
Because Richard left no heir to the throne a long struggle began for the crown by the descendants of EDWARD III

HENRY IV was born in Bolingbroke Castle in 1367,the son of JOHN OF GAUNT and BLANCHE OF LANCASTER. He married MARY BOHUN (in 1380), and she bore him seven children before her death in 1394.
Only one of them, HENRY of LANCASTER, (born 1387), would have any real bearing on the civil wars which followed. In 1402, Henry remarried, taking as his bride Joan of Navarre.
From Henry's reign in 1399 until the year 1410 rebellions were happening all over England. These he firmly put down and there were no other uprisings until 1455, which was the start of the War of the Roses.
He had ruled England for 14 years, until his death in Westminster Abbey in 1413 at the age of 46. The peace in the country was kept by his son Henry, the fifth king of England to have that name. When he came to the throne in 1413 he was 26.
HENRY V was born in Monmouth in 1387 and did much to restore confidence in the House of Lancaster during his 9-year reign. This was the king who was to have the famous victory against the French at Agincourt in 1415.

This has been written about by Shakespeare and made into a superb film starring Laurence Oliver as the king, and featuring the famous speech to his troops.
           

In 1420 he married CATHERINE of VALOIS, (born 1401), the daughter of the King of France. After Henry V’s death, she married OWEN TUDOR in 1429,which led to the house of Tudor ruling England before the end of the century (1486)
Within two years of their marriage, in August 1422, HENRY V died, probably after becoming ill with dysentery.
He was just 35. Now it was the turn of his only son, HENRY VI of Lancaster, who became king of England and France, all at the age of nine months.
An important part of the War of the Roses happened then as future kings argued about the validity of Henry taking over the throne. Now there were descendants of two of EDWARD III sons, (JOHN OF GAUNT, DUKE OF LANCASTER and EDMUND LANGLY, DUKE OF YORK. THE country was split, as neighbour argued against neighbour as to who they thought was the rightful king of England.  
         
 
KING HENRY VI was born at Windsor Castle in 1421, and was proclaimed king as an infant, in 1422. He ruled England until 1461, and again from 1470 to 1471. But he was not like his brave father. Because of his own weakness, and that of his government, it was not long before he lost France. Only Calais remained under the control of the English. He was pious and devoted to education, but lacked the governing and military skills to run a country.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET (born 1411), was the great grandson of Edward III. In 1424 he married CECILY NEVILLE, (born 1415). They had many children including EDWARD of YORK, who would become EDWARD IV and RICHARD of YORK, who would become RICHARD III. Although he never became king, the Duke would play a vital part in the future of England.
The following year, 1454, Henry recovered, and he and Richard disagreed about who should run the country. During the king's bad health and the birth of her son it was Margaret and her favourites, Lord Somerset (Edmund Beaufort) and The Duke of Buckingham that tried to hold onto the kingdom.

Unfortunately for Somerset, he also had a private feud in the North with the NEVILLES, a very powerful family. When York became Protector, Somerset found himself thrown out of court and into the Tower of London.
In a reversal of fortunes, however, when the King regained his sanity in December 1454, Somerset was freed.
The birth of MARGARET’s son, EDWARD PRINCE of WALES also displaced York as heir and he was excluded from the royal council. This was the real starting point of the war of the roses.

The Yorkists gained popular support as a result of the failure of the English armies in the Hundred Years War and the corruption in Henry's court. Richard now knew that his only way to gain the throne was in battle against his family. In May 1455 the Queen MARGARET and Somerset called a meeting of the Council at Leicester, which included none of York's supporters.

But Richard did have the support of RICHARD NEVILLE, 16th EARL OF WARWICK (born 1428 - Died in BARNET on April 14, 1471), who was to become known as "WARWICK THE KINGMAKER."
He was the richest man in England, outside the royal family, and was a key player for the Yorkists during the Wars of the Roses as well as being a victim at The Battle of Barnet.

Both his daughters married into royalty, (Anne to Edward,Prince of Wales,son of King Henry VI and also to Richard III, and Isabel to George, Duke of Clarence brother of King Edward IV).
Warwick was a very important man and his death, in or around Hadley,changed the course of English history.
                                   
War was about to break out. As Richard led a large force of men towards London Henry moved his forces out of the capital to intercept the Yorkist army. He stopped his march in the town of St Albans in Hertfordshire and waited.
On the 22nd of May 1455 Richard attacked and defeated Henry, inflicting many casualties. Lord Somerset was hacked to death in front of the Castle Inn in the town, while The Duke of Buckingham and his son were wounded by arrows. The king was also slightly wounded in the main street. Here he was discovered by The Duke of York who spared him as he again seized control of Henry, regained the Protectorship, and appointed Warwick captain of Calais.
This was THE FIRST BATTLE OF SAINT ALBANS.

There was to be no more fighting for the next three years, but quite a lot of political manoeuvring. In February 1456 King Henry recovered from his second bout of madness, and York was again removed from power.
Warwick refused to surrender Calais to the Queen, and it remained a Yorkist base, which proved to be quite useful.

With the birth of a son, Henry now had an heir and Lancaster had a rallying point. Queen Margaret, in order to protect her son's birthright, now became more involved in political matters, and for the next two years removed Yorkist sympathisers from royal office.
With York away from the centre of power, and Warwick disgraced, Margaret decided to make her move.
She summoned a council meeting for all the great nobles, excluding York, and Warwick, to meet in Coventry in June 1459. Both were charged with treason. It was expected that this would remove Richard 's power, but he contacted his allies.
They planned to meet at Ludlow and attempt to seize the king.

Over the past three years Margaret of Anjou had maintained pressure to end Yorkist claims to the throne.
She ordered a Lancastrian general (Lord Audley) to intercept Lord Salisbury's force to prevent it joining with York and Warwick's troops at Ludlow.

On the morning of 23 September 1459, the two armies met a mile north of the village of Blore Heath. The two sides faced up on the heath, the Yorkists on the south and the Lancastrians on the north, both parallel to Wemberton Brook.
Salisbury realised that he was outnumbered, and so ordered his centre to withdraw beyond the woods.
The Lancastrian cavalry, believing this to be a total withdrawal, charged across the brook towards the Yorkist centre.The Yorkists were lined up at the top of a slope and a hail of arrows soon made the Lancastrians withdraw.
A second attack was also repelled, and Lord Audley was killed. Lord Dudley (later captured) now took leadership of the Lancastrian forces, and ordered a large proportion of the cavalry to dismount. There now followed several hours of fierce hand-to-hand fighting, and the remaining Lancastrian cavalry, realising the fight was not going well, left the field.
With the expected cavalry support not arriving, the Lancastrians began to give way, with as many as five hundred deserting to the Yorkist side.

The Lancastrian line soon broke and the battle was lost. The pursuit of fleeing Lancastrians lasted until the early hours of the next morning. The Lancastrian casualties were close on two thousand, while the Yorkists lost very few men.

                            
After defeating the Lancastrian at THE BATTLE OF BLORE HEATH, Salisbury reached his allies at Ludlow without much trouble.
At Ludford, Richard, Salisbury and Warwick wrote to the King, justifying their actions.
Henry replied by promising to pardon all those who raised arms against him if they joined the Lancastrian army, except for those involved in The Battle at Blore Heath. When they received no answer from the Yorkists, the Lancastrians advanced towards Ludlow, reaching Ludford Bridge on 12th October 1459.

Here the Yorkists fortified their position with carts and cannons, and laid ambushes and traps but they were hugely outnumbered.
Then, overnight, troops who came to fight from Calais with Warwick, accepted the King's pardon and changed sides.
This strengthened the Lancastrian position even more, and made the Yorkist position hopeless. During the night, Richard, his two sons, Salisbury and Warwick left the field of battle, saying they were returning to Ludlow Castle for the night. From the castle, they quickly collected a few belongings and fled, leaving their army and equipment behind them. THE BATTLE OF LUDFORD BRIDGE was over.


Richard and his second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, went to Ireland, (York was still the Lieutenant of Ireland). Salisbury, Warwick, and York's eldest son Edward, Earl of March, went to Calais. Henry and Margaret returned triumphantly to Coventry.

In the morning the Yorkist army, no longer having any leadership, disbanded, and the Lancastrians sacked both the town and York's castle. Richard also left behind his Duchess Cecily, who was arrested with three of his children, Margaret, George and Richard, (who would become RICHARD III). If anything had happened to them at that point, history would have been altered and a king would not have been looking for a horse.

The Battle at Ludford Bridge was a disaster for the Yorkists, and the Lancastrians immediately took advantage of it.
Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was appointed as Captain of Calais, but Warwick was well liked by his men at the garrison and they did not want him to be replaced. Somerset sailed for Calais with a small force, but on arrival found the city gates closed to him. Queen Margaret organised an army to reinforce Somerset, and he launched daily attacks on Calais.

In March 1460, Warwick secretly left Calais for two months to meet with York in Ireland. During his absence, John, Lord Audley (son of James, Lord Audley, who was killed at Blore Heath), sailed to Calais with supplies for Somerset.
During his crossing, bad weather forced him into Calais harbour, where he was arrested. Although his father,was killed by the Yorkists Audry became good friends with The Duke of York's son,Edward which was to see him change sides and support the white rose.
In early June, after his return from Ireland, Warwick led a raid on Sandwich. He left a small Yorkists force there under the leadership of his uncle, Lord Fauconberg.

On June 26th 1460 Warwick, and his loyal friends, sailed to Sandwich with an army of about two thousand men. From here, they marched to London, gathering support as they went. King Henry and the Lancastrian army were in Coventry and there were not many prominent Lancastrians left in London. At the end of June the Mayor of London informed the Yorkist lords that they could enter the city as long as their soldiers behaved. The Yorkists were
welcomed into London on 2 July, and those Lancastrians that were in the town, hid in the Tower of London.
Warwick left Lord Salisbury to guard the Tower while he marched north to attack the Lancastrian army that were heading south from Coventry.

The Lancastrian army learned of the plans of the Yorkist forces, and stopped at the town of Northampton to build up a defensive position. When Warwick received news that the king's army, under the leadership of the Duke of Buckingham, had made camp in a meadow outside the city walls, he spent many hours trying to contact the King and negotiate a settlement. Henry refuses to listen. No doubt influenced by Buckingham, who wanted a battle with the Yorkists before they were joined by York, ( on his way from Ireland) and Salisbury. But it was the York force who attacked first.
When they reached the Lancastrian position, Lord Grey, a commander of the King's army, ordered his men to lay down their arms and allowed the Yorkists into the camp.

THE BATTLE OF NOTTINGHAM lasted only another half hour after that. The king was soon under Yorkist control,having been found sitting in his tent while others had run away. Warwick then returned to London and handed over the city to Richard when he arrived from Ireland. But this was not popular with the nobles, as they could not depose of a king to whom they had sworn their loyalty. A compromise was reached, resulting in the Act of Accord. In this act Henry VI was to retain the throne, but York and his sons were designated his heirs.

The Yorkists were now in a position of power, but as Margaret and the Prince of Wales had avoided capture, they were not secure. Warwick sailed for and recaptured Calais and quickly returned to England.
With the Act of Accord King Henry VI’s own son, Edward Prince of Wales, was disinherited. Queen Margaret and the Lancastrians now had a powerful motive for continuing the civil war. Many thought of the Act as a violation of the rights of inheritance, and in a society based on landed wealth this was a serious issue.
When Margaret heard about the Act, she stepped up her recruitment campaign. By the time her army, under the command of Somerset, Northumberland and Devon, reached York, it numbered about 20,000. At York, Margaret publicly protested against the Act of Accord, and challenged Richard to settle the issue in battle.
All those nobles who had not agreed with the Act joined her and in late November her army started marching south.

In early December 1460 Richard and The Earl of Salisbury marched out of London with about 5,000 men. The Earl of Warwick was left to maintain control of the capital and guard the king. York headed for Wakefield, recruiting more troops on the way. When he arrived, he set his men to building trenches and positioning guns at his castle to be in a good defensive position if the Lancastrians attacked.
For some unknown reason and it is still not clear why, York, his son, Edmund, and his small force of men rode out of the relative safety of the castle, to a place called Wakefield Green. Here they attacked a Lancastrian force even though it was twice their size.

Richard held out for some time, but was eventually overwhelmed, pulled from his horse and killed just 500 yards from his castle. With this the Yorkist resistance broke down. Edmund and The Earl of Salisbury were captured and executed. The hatred between the two sides was now intense and the violence displayed at THE BATTLE OF WAKEFIELD set a precedent for the rest of the Wars.

When Richard's eldest son Edward, Earl of March, heard of the disaster at Wakefield, he decided to move east to link-up with Warwick in London. During this movement he learnt of a Lancastrian force located in central Wales. Edward decided to change direction and engage the enemy. His army of mostly Welshmen were up against a Lancastrian army of mercenaries from France, Ireland and Wales.

On the morning of 2nd February 1461, Edward's forces meet with their Lancastrian rivals at Mortimor’s Cross.
The Lancastrians moved into the battle first,advancing across the frozen fields towards the waiting Yorkists.
Once more it was the archers of York who did damage with a barrage of arrows that struck the un- armoured foot soldiers. Edward advanced and the Lancastrians broke and scattered. About 4,000 men were killed in the battle, mostly wearing the emblem of the Red Rose, while Edward's losses were light.
The Yorkists pursued the fleeing Lancastrians all the way to Hereford. There, after a brief skirmish, the remaining Lancastrian were captured and some were executed in Hereford market place.

THE BATTLE OF MORTIMOR'S CROSS was the first in a line of victories for Edward.
It showed the Lancastrians that the new head of the House of  York was a man to be feared.
After the battle Edward continued his march eastward to join Warwick near London.
Margaret had been marching south at the head of an army provided by Queen Mary of Scotland, when The Battle of Mortimor's Cross took place. In return for these troops, Margaret had agreed to marry Prince Edward to Margaret Stewart, Mary’s daughter. This never happened.
The main Lancastrian army was camped near York, and the two forces planned to meet up and march to London.
Margaret reached York on 20th January 1461, where her troops met up with the main Lancastrian army. As this army moved south, it was also joined by some of the Welsh soldiers escaping from Mortimor’s Cross.

The Lancastrians had by far the greater number of nobles in their ranks, however it also included many who were unreliable. The army had been recruited quickly. The further south they marched, the more it began to disintegrate and the captains had trouble maintaining discipline. Many towns, particularly those with Yorkist sympathies, suffered a great deal of damage from the Lancastrian army as they passed through on their way south. One of these could have been BARNET.
There was panic in London, and citizens began to board up their homes and bury their possessions. A great number of armed men began arriving in London voluntarily, offering to join the Earl of Warwick, as they believed he would save the south from the northern hordes.
On 12th February 1461 Warwick marched out of London, with an army slightly smaller than the Queens. He took Henry VI with him under guard. The Yorkists arrived in St Albans the following day, and Warwick spent time reinforcing his position.
The Yorkist army’s information was not very good, and Warwick was unsure how close to St Albans the Lancastrian army was. Late on 16 February 1461, Warwick received news of the Yorkist outpost at Dunstable. It had been overrun by Lancastrians and the entire force of two hundred men had been killed or captured. As this news could not be verified, Warwick chose to ignore it. The Yorkist troops did not even man the town gates, instead they waited for Edward's army, victorious at Mortimor's Cross, to join them.

Before the Yorkists could link up, the Lancastrians attacked early in the morning of 17th February 1461. They entered the town from the northwest and surprised Warwick. The Lancastrians fought with the Yorkists in the market square, but were pushed back by Warwick’s archers. His cannons were almost useless, as snow had started to fall, dampening the gunpowder. The fighting continued until dusk, but the Lancastrians were eventually able to break through the Yorkist lines.
Warwick sounded the retreat, and withdrew some of his troops into a defensive position to the north of St Albans. The rest of the army remained in the field, until they fled, pursued by the Lancastrians. Warwick withdrew from St Albans that night with a force of 4,000 men, and hoped to link up with Edward at York.

THE (SECOND) BATTLE OF ST ALBANS was a significant victory for the Lancastrians as not only was it a defeat for the Yorkists but also a political disaster.
Warwick had left Henry VI under the guard of Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyre, but the Lancastrians had quickly arrested them and Henry was returned to his wife and son. The two guards were brought before the Queen and her 7 year old son,the Prince.
It was reported that Margaret asked the young Prince of Wales how the knights should die and he replied "Let there heads be taken off" which they were. Nice boy,but it was a time when savage revenge came from the victors.
With the king again in their possession, and the Yorkist army scattered, the way to London lay open to the Lancastrians.

When Edward, Earl of March, now calling himself The Duke of York, entered London, he was cheered and welcomed by the Londoners as a hero. It now became clear to the Yorkists that they no longer needed Henry under their control.
They would crown their own sovereign. On the 4th March 1461, in the Great Hall of the Palace of Westminster, Edward was formally proclaimed KING EDWARD IV OF YORK and England. He was taken there by "The Kingmaker", Richard Neville.
KING EDWARD IV was born on 11th February 1442 in Rouen, France and he married ELIZABETH WOODEVILLE (1437-1492) in secret in 1464, partly because The Earl of Warwick, had other marriage plans for him and partly because of Elizabeth's Lancastrian connections.

The marriage was soon made public, however, and Elizabeth's large family received numerous royal favours.
They had 10 children who were: Elizabeth of York * Mary * Cicely * Edward (V) * Margaret * Richard, Duke of York * Anne * George, Duke of Bedford * Catherine and Bridget.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard Woodville and her first husband, Sir John Grey, was killed fighting on the Lancastrian side at The Battle of St. Albans (1461).
The marriage to Elizabeth was to become the root of many future troubles
                                   

After proclaiming himself king, Edward IV, with Warwick by his side, gathered the largest force a king had ever put together, and marched north toward the Lancastrian position behind the Aire River.
This was going to be a big battle, with perhaps up to 80,000 on the battle field. This would make it the largest battle ever fought on English soil.
On March 28th 1461 the two sides had a skirmish at Ferry bridge, which was followed by the larger battle of Towton. The Yorkist army was pushed back, and their leader, Lord Fitzwalter, was killed however more Yorkist forces arrived later on in the day and beat back the Lancastrians.

On March 29th 1461, the day after THE BATTLE OF FERRYBRIDGE, the Yorkist forces attacked the Lancastrians up a sloping hill between the villages of Towton and Saxton (about 12 miles from York) Using the snow and the wind direction to their advantage, Edwards archers were able to shoot farther than their enemies.
The Lancastrians believed their best strategy was to charge like the knights of old, and after many hours of intense fighting the Yorkist line showed signs of strain. Continuous hand to hand fighting with axes,swords and anything that could kill or maim were used, as both sides tried to break the others line.
Fortunately the Duke of Norfolk arrived with reinforcements, and Edward's army once more defeated the Lancastrians.
Many drowned in the river in their attempt to escape. King Henry VI, the Queen, and their son fled to Scotland.

The battle had started about 10'o clock in the morning and It would be the longest and largest of any battle of the Wars. The field in which the battle was fought would later be known as "Bloody Meadow". It is estimated that about 20,000 men died in the battle, some have put it as high as 36,000. However, this number includes only the dead on the battlefield. Many more were killed during the rout.
With their armies annihilated the Lancastrians would be unable to put an effective force in the field for several years. Two huge pits were dug, one at Saxton and another near the Cock Beck, and hundreds of bodies were buried there.
THE BATTLE OF TOWTON was won at a very high price. Perhaps the population was tired of war, as there was peace in the country for the following three years. The Earl of March, Duke of York, heir to Richard Plantagenet was crowed King Edward IV in London on 28th June 1461. But the Lancastrians were plotting their comeback and peace would not last long.

Early in 1464 the Duke of Somerset, who had been pardoned by Edward, decided to join the remaining Lancastrian sympathisers. They managed to secure the castle of Norham.
In mid April 1464 Lord Montagu, (John Neville, Warwick's brother), was sent to the northern border to meet Scottish envoys and escort them through Lancastrian held territory to York. Throughout this journey, Yorkist sympathisers joined Montagu. By the time he left Newcastle, he had a following of about five thousand men. On 25th April 1464, they met up with the main Lancastrian force of similar number at Hedgeley Moor.

THE BATTLE OF HEDGELEY MOOR did not last long, and most of THE Lancastrians were either killed or ran away from the fight.
After his victory, Montagu continued to the border to meet with the Scottish envoys and escorted them to York. The Duke of Somerset led the remaining Lancastrian army south to Hexham.Whi le Montague was making his way south, Edward made plans to head north to deal with the Lancastrians.
Lord Montagu, hearing the Lancastrian army had reached Hexham, decided to go there to meet with the Lancastrians, without waiting for reinforcements.

On 15th May 1464 the Yorkists reached Hexham, taking the Lancastrians totally by surprise. Somerset had no chance to move his troops into an advantageous position. He was obliged to form a line at the base of a hill on which the Yorkists had already taken up position.
It was early morning when Montagu ordered his men to charge down the hill and engage in fierce hand-to-hand fighting with the Lancastrians. When the Lancastrians began to give way under the onslaught, they had their backs to a stretch of river called Devil's Water and could not retreat. Somerset tried in vain to reorganise his troops, but the front ranks were being pushed back.
Those in the rear were pushed into the water and many were drowned under the weight of their armour, while others were crushed to death.
Now the rest of the Yorkists advanced. Once again Lancastrian soldiers fled the battlefield, probably realising that all was lost.

THE BATTLE OF HEXHAM was over, and the captured Somerset was executed the next day. Over the next two months, more than two dozen Lancastrian sympathisers were captured and executed on Montagu's or his brother, Warwick's orders.
The Lancastrian resistance in the north was effectively finished.
Two weeks after his victory at Hexham, Montagu was rewarded for his services to Edward by being granted the Earldom of Northumberland.

After eight years of ruling the country, Edward IV began to drift apart from many of the nobles and his friends. This was MAINLY due to his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Richard Neville, and his brothers had been among the strongest, most loyal, and most successful of the Yorkist supporters, but now that the fighting was over they found themselves being pushed out of government by the influence of King Edward’s wife.
In early 1469 Warwick was already preparing to rebel against Edward IV. He was secretly arranging for a Papal privilege WHICH WOULD make it legal to marry his eldest daughter to Edward's brother, GEORGE, DUKE of CLARENCE.

GEORGE was born on 21st October 1449 in Dublin. He was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York.
Following his father's death and the accession of his elder brother, Edward, to the throne, George was created Duke of Clarence in 1461.

Rebellion against the king was stirring in the north. With all the unrest Edward decided to act, and he left Windsor on 6th June 1469 to make his way slowly to the cause of the troubles.
While he was out of London, Warwick's agents spread rumours that Clarence was the true heir to the Duke of York.
Edward had refused to allow Warwick's daughters to marry into the royal family, and he was rapidly losing his political power. Warwick's only option was to get rid of Edward before the queen had a son. Then Clarence would become king and Warwick's daughter would share the throne. So he took drastic action on 6th July 1469 and set sail for Calais with his brother, his two daughters and Clarence.
Five days later, Clarence and Warwick's daughter Isabelle were married. Now Warwick was once more within reach of power through the King's gullible younger brother. The Duke of Clarence rose up against the king in the summer of 1469 on their return to England.

When Edward reached Newark, with a small army, he realised the threat from the Lancastrians was greater than he  thought. He turned south to Nottingham to recruit troops and await the arrival of reinforcements.
On 12th July 1469 Warwick and Clarence declared openly for the northern rebels, claiming they sought reformation of the government.
By the time they left Canterbury for London on 16th July, they were at the head of a sizable force. While Edward still waited in Nottingham for reinforcements, the Lancastrians continued south. They by- passed Nottingham, hoping to cut off the king from London and reinforcements and to meet up with Warwick’s army.
On 25th July 1469,the Yorkists decided to make camp for the night at Edgecote, but they had scattered their forces several miles apart. The Lancastrians had made camp on the other side of a small river. As night fell it became clear that both forces were closer than they thought, and too close to avoid a battle.
                             

When the Lancastrians attacked the next morning, the Yorkists had to face the attack alone, as there was not enough time for the other half of their army to arrive. Without many archers, the Yorkists were forced to retreat. It was not until the afternoon that both armies were able to join up. About the same time, some of Warwick's forces starting arriving to reinforce their companions. The Royal York army thought Warwick's entire forces had arrived, and it was their turn to break ranks and run away.
After the battle, as many as two thousand Yorkists, mainly welsh soldiers, lay dead. On 29th July 1469 Edward, who was unaware of the events at THE BATTLE OF EDGECOTE, left Nottingham, hoping to be united with many of those that had died. But he was too late and when news of the defeat reached him he was abandoned by all except the most loyal of his followers.
With little alternatives open to him, Edward was placed in the "protection" of Warwick.

Warwick soon found that it was easier to capture Edward than to govern through him. Edward refused to be a puppet king and when the news of his capture reached London, violence broke out. This spread throughout the country as the absence of royal authority resumed feuds between nobles. Added to this was the more serious threat of Lancastrian uprisings. Warwick, realising he was losing control, needed the king's authority to restore some order.
Once again, Edward was in control, and Warwick's plan to run the government had failed. Edward pardoned his brother George and Warwick for their actions. Early in 1470, there was an uprising by Lancastrians in the North. Edward raised an army and attacked the rebels, (who were backed by Warwick), at Empingham. After an initial barrage of cannon, Edward ordered his forces to charge and the rebels fled. The king's forces were victorious and the defeated rebels shed their coats to flee more quickly, (hence THE BATTLE OF LOSECOTE FIELD.)
Edward was furious and Warwick, with the king’s brother George, fled to France to make an alliance with Margaret of Anjou. Edward declared them both traitors.

The first stop in France for Clarence and Warwick was the court of King Louis XI. Here they would do a deal to restore Henry VI, (who was still in the Tower of London), to the throne. Within a few
months he had a fleet of about sixty ships, most of which had been acquired through piracy. Now he had the support from Queen Margaret, die-hard Lancastrians, and his own powerful family.
In September 1470 Warwick arranged a revolt in Yorkshire. While Edward was in the north, he landed at Dartmouth. Caught entirely by surprise, Edward could only run for his life. When he reached the coast at King’s Lynn on 28th September 1470, he had a mere eight hundred men.
Waiting to take him away were only three ships, so some of the men had to be left behind. The ships sailed to Flanders, and for the time being the cause of York was lost.
Warwick marched into London and released a confused Henry VI from his residence in the Tower. He was crowned for a second time at St Paul’s Cathedral on 13th October 1470. KING HENRY VI was back on the throne, placed there by Warwick with of course, himself as the chief minister of government. Once more Warwick was going to be the king maker, this time on the side of the Lancastrians.

Although in exile, Edward was not without resources and supporters. With a large loan from the Duke of Burgundy, Edward managed to assemble a fleet of thirty-six ships. The trouble was he only had about twelve hundred men.
This was quite a small force for conquering a kingdom such as England, but Edward was relying on rallying men to his cause after he had landed. Edward sailed on 11th March 1471, and when he landed on the Humber River there was scarcely any opposition. He had been right in assuming that loyal supporters would flock to his side as he marched south.
He entered London without a battle in April 1471. But there was still the Earl of Warwick to deal with.
Although Warwick and  his supporters managed to bring large forces against him, Edward was a better General. By sudden movements and tactical warfare, Edward's small army managed to scatter and confuse Warwick's Lancastrians.
Edward's disloyal brother George, seeing the error of his ways, asked for forgiveness again. After returning King Henry to the Tower, Edward went to Westminster to greet his wife and children, who had been living in sanctuary for the past several months. His army was now considerably stronger and Edward headed back to the north to meet Warwick.

Warwick had gone to Northumbria, the heart of the Neville strongholds, to raise men and was marching south. Edward left London on the 13th April 1471 and the two forces met on the outskirts of Barnet, with the King taking up his position during the night.
The next morning, 14th April, was Easter Sunday.

The ground was covered in morning fog. Hastings commanded the Yorkist left, Edward the centre, Gloucester, (the future RICHARD III), was on the right. The Lancastrians had Oxford on the right, Montagu in the centre, and Exeter on the left. Warwick himself commanded a reserve force behind the centre. As the Lancastrians had more men, he had the luxury of keeping a reserve. Because the two armies had formed up during the night, they did not oppose each other exactly.
Instead each army’s right wing flanked the other side. At the initial charge, Oxford broke the Yorkists under Hastings. At the other end Gloucester triumphed over the Lancastrians led by Exeter. In the centre, both sides engaged in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Lord Oxford drove Hastings back so far that he began encountering his own forces in the centre.
Because Oxford’s colours were similar to Edward’s, Montagu’s men attacked them. Seeing this, Oxford’s men naturally thought themselves betrayed, (Montagu had already changed sides once), and cried treachery.
In the confusion, King Edward led a charge that crushed the Lancastrians. Montagu was killed in the fighting and Warwick was trapped in woods, where he was also killed. Oxford managed to escape and fled to Scotland.
THE BATTLE OF BARNET was a great victory for York, but not a final victory.  
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BATTLE OF BARNET CLICK HERE
                                  

On the same day as The Battle of Barnet, and unaware of the Lancastrian defeat, Queen Margaret and her son Edward landed with her French forces at Weymouth. Learning of the disaster, she quickly began to raise more troops.
The Countess of Warwick, who had also made the trip, went into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey. When they arrived in Exeter, the Queen's small force was joined by many of her supporters, with Somerset in command.

On 19th April 1471, Edward left London, marching west, while Margaret's army pressed on to Gloucester.
The town refused them entry.
They couldn't  take the time to besiege it so, with no other alternative, the Lancastrians headed towards the river crossing at Tewkesbury arriving on the evening of Friday 3rd May 1471. Presuming the Yorkists could not arrive before morning, it was decided it was too late to cross.
Margaret and the other Lancastrian ladies spent the night in a nearby religious house, but Edward's forces were closing in. That same evening of May 3rd, the exhausted Royal army made camp 3 miles short of Tewkesbury.
On the morning of May 4th 1471 Edward's troops marched towards Tewkesbury. On approaching the Lancastrian position, Edward noticed an area of woodland to the right. He thought it might be hiding Lancastrian soldiers, so he sent a few of his men to investigate. They found the woods empty, but stayed there, awaiting further instructions.
The Lancastrians were waiting for the Yorkists, with the young Prince of Wales waiting for his first taste of battle.

Edward opened the fight with a barrage of artillery and archery fire, and Somerset ordered his men to advance.
There was face-to-face fighting, in which the Yorkists gained the upper hand and were soon pushing the Lancastrians up the hill. Then the soldiers Edward had left in the woods came up behind the Lancastrians. This caused panic for Somerset’s men. They broke ranks and fled towards the River Severn, pursued by Gloucester's men.
So many were killed near the river, that the area is still called "Bloody Meadow". Somerset escaped the battlefield, but he was captured with many other Lancastrians, taken into the marketplace and beheaded. The young Prince Edward died in his first battle and Margaret was captured hiding in the local religious house.
She was taken to the Tower of London, where she stayed until she was removed to Wallingford Castle.

In 1475 Louis XI paid a ransom for her release and she returned to France to die in obscurity a few years later.
Immediately following King Edward's return to London on 21st May 1471, King Henry himself was executed, thus bringing to an end the direct line of the House of Lancaster. The Wars of the Roses again seemed to be over.

The rest of Edward’s reign was peaceful and prosperous. He died of a sudden illness on 9th April 1483, when he was only thirty-nine. He had two sons still alive, (Edward and Richard), both just young boys. Because of this Parliament made his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the Lord Protector of the realm. Richard was well liked, a good soldier and general. He had been loyal to his brother and he quickly become the most powerful man in the kingdom.
                                     
EDWARD V,KING of ENGLAND was born on the 4th November 1470 in London and died September 1483 in London.
His coronation date was set for May 4, 1483.
However, Richard said that he had discovered evidence that his brother's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had not been legal and that therefore the two boys were illegitimate and could not inherit the throne.
On his way to London for his coronation, Edward was intercepted and detained by Richard. The coronation was cancelled and Edward placed in a secure "royal residence" in the Tower of London.
His brother, Richard, joined him in mid-June of the same year.

Later that same month the young king was declared illegitimate by Parliament because the marriage of his father to his mother (Elizabeth Woodville) was declared illegal.
The two young princes never left the Tower again.

   
 RICHARD PLANTAGENET, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER was born in 1452 and became RICHARD III, King of England on June 26th, 1483. Probably fearing for his power, and perhaps his life under a Woodville monarchy, he seems to have been content under his brother Edward IV's rule.
But when Edward died and Edward V was too young to rule himself, Richard seemed to change as he set his sights on the throne. He was a successful administrator, but many in power mistrusted him.

Richard married Anne Neville, (1426 - 1492), daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, on July 12, 1472, at Westminster Abbey.
All seemed to be going Richards way, but one of the few remaining heirs of Lancaster was living on the Continent.
His name was HENRY TUDOR, and he had a claim to the throne being the grandson of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, who had been Queen to HENRY V. Also his father Edmund had married Margaret Beaufort, who was descended from King Edward III's son John of Gaunt.
He was now known as the Earl of Richmond and formed an alliance with Elizabeth Woodville, the ex-Queen to Henry IV. He proclaimed himself 'the very heir of Lancaster'. The other reason the Tudor claim to the throne was so strong was because most of the major Lancastrian and Yorkist candidates had killed each other during the thirty years of warfare.

With support from the French king, the disaffected Woodville lords and Lancastrian sympathisers, Henry Tudor landed with a small force on August 7th 1485 at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. This was a stronghold of anti-Richard feelings.
He quickly gathered an army and advanced to meet Richard's forces.

T
he two armies met at Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. Richard fought bravely and could have won the battle had not one of his lords suddenly defected to the Lancastrian side. After a fierce but brief struggle, the king was unhorsed and killed.
THE BATTLE OF BOSWORTH FIELD is probably one of the best known battles of the War of the Roses.

Made famous the Laurence Olivier
portrayal of Richard III . When news of the king's death reached the Royal army, the troops once again ran in panic. Richard's body was taken to Leicester, where it was stripped and exposed to the public for two days.
He was buried in the Grey Friars church in Leicester, but his grave was lost during the reign of HENRY VIII.
Richard III was the last English monarch to personally fight in battle beside his troops in war.

Bosworth fields today
Henry Tudor marched to London and was acknowledged KING HENRY VII, thus establishing the TUDOR dynasty of Kings and Queens.
In January of the following year, Henry married Elizabeth Plantagenet, the sister of the two princes who had been murdered in the tower, with the hope that the wars were over.

One last spark remained to flare up, however. A group of Yorkist loyalists made up a plan in a last attempt to regain the crown. Richard Simons, a priest, and others instructed a commoner by the name of Lambert Simnel to impersonate the Earl of Warwick, grandson of the late Warwick the Kingmaker.
Lambert claimed he escaped from the Tower of London where the real Warwick was imprisoned.
He was“crowned” king in Dublin Ireland on May 24th 1487. This new Yorkist group landed in England on June 4th 1487, and begin to collect an army of English soldiers and German and Irish mercenaries.

By 15th August, the Yorkists, who now numbered about ten thousand men, made camp in a meadow, west of a small village called East Stoke. But Henry was closing in on them with a large army. In the morning, the Yorkists moved into a defensive position on a hill known as Burham Furlong.
With their army in place, they waited for the king's forces to arrive.
But the king's forces did not know where the rebels were, or whether they had even crossed the Trent.
Oxford was the first to discover where the York army was and he decided to advance his forces into battle line.
The Yorkists attacked downhill, and Oxford found his forces were being pushed back. It was only the timely arrival of the king's main army that saved Oxford's men from defeat. As more and more fresh troops kept arriving, the Yorkists began to be pushed back up the hill, until they broke and fled.

The Yorkists were pursued for several days, thousand being killed and hundreds being captured including, Simnel who was later put to work in the royal kitchens.

Henry VII crushed the Yorkists at THE BATTLE OF STOKE on June 16th 1487 and many people consider this battle as the final conflict in the Wars of the Roses.

So ended the Plantagenet line and a new Tudor dynasty was to begin.