Henry VI became King of England at the young age of one, succeeding his father Henry V. He was incapable of following in his mighty predecessor’s footsteps. Fractions in the court dominated him all his life. Margaret was the daughter of the powerful French noble Rene of Anjou, was married to Henry VI to strengthen ties with France. She was beautiful, fiery, blunt, and was a loyal friend as well as a dangerous enemy. Her blatant favoritism caused much resentment in England, and set sparks which would later flare up into the Wars of the Roses.
Somerset escalated the clash between the two families enormously. He was the bastard grandson of John of Gaunt and one of the King’s closest relations, who handled a great amount of power. He supported King Henry VI and the Queen during the King’s breakdown. William de la Pole was a magnate of moderate power who came to exercise much control in the Lancastrian circle. Yorkist Richard Plantagenet was a man of many titles and lands who was filled with a passion to raise his family to what he saw as their proper due. He was also the father of Edward IV and Richard III.
His relationship with King Henry was amiable at first and his claim to the throne was considered strong enough for him to become heir to Henry VI. Salisbury staunchly stood by York at all times, even when York later endangered both of them with his arrogance. His devotion was paid back by death. Richard, the Earl of Warwick, was the most powerful noble ever seen in England. Richard was York’s nephew and a firm defender of that party, continuing to fight alongside his cousin Edward after York’s death. He eventually was the person who placed Edward on the throne.
Edward IV, Earl of March, was handsome and skilled. He fought by his father’s side during the early years of the Wars of the Roses. When his father was killed at Wakefield, he became leader of the Yorkist cause. In 1461 he organized a landing at Sandwich, then marched into London and claimed the throne for himself, crowning himself King Edward IV. Upon the death of his father, the Duke of York, in the battle of Wakefield on December 31, 1460, Edward took up both the position and the quarrel of his father. 2-3. The reasons for The Wars of Roses and the final outcome
The reason the Wars of the Roses started was to determine who would have control over the English throne. It was between the descendants of the sons of Edward III, the Duke of York and the Duke of Lancaster. In 1399 Henry of Bolingbroke, the son of the Duke of Lancaster, seized the throne from Richard II and declared himself King Henry IV. This placed the House of Lancaster, son John of Gaunt, on the throne of England even though there were descendants better suited by birth rank to be king, such as the Earl of March.
The people opposed Henry IV until his death. When he died his son was crowned King Henry V and proved to be a great king. He led his army into France and scored several victories, but Henry V died in 1422 leaving the one year old Prince Henry as his heir. When he became old enough to rule England he listened too much to his current favorite advisor, which made him unpopular with his people. The struggle began in 1455 when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, challenged Henry VI’s right to be king.
Richard was descended in the direct male line from Edward III’s fifth son, Edmund, Duke of York, and through his mother, Anne Mortimer, in the direct female line from the third son Lionel Duke of Clarence. Richard had a better title to the throne than Henry VI. Despite this fact the Yorkist family chose not to press its claim. Henry IV and his son, Henry V, were well supported by the population, and any attempt to overthrow Lancastrian power during their reign would have been a difficult endeavor. This changed upon the reign of Henry VI.
Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of an influential person in France, one of England’s enemies, which made him even more unpopular. The Duke of York was seen as a threat by those close to the king, and was called back from his important post in Calais and eventually banished to Ireland. Pushed by these bad decisions, Richard, Duke of York, was planning an attack on the Lancastrians. Fighting between the rivals broke out and in late 1460 and Richard was killed by the royal army, which was supported by Margaret.
Continuing the Yorkist intent was now in the hands of the eldest son of York, Edward IV, Earl of March. He wasted little time and defeated Margaret who fled with her son, Edward of Lancaster, to France. Edward IV’s greatest ally had been Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was the cousin and son of Salisbury. With Henry VI imprisoned in the Tower, and Margaret in France, Edward IV strengthened his empire and England remained at peace until 1469. Warwick remained Edward IV’s supporter and was given much control of northern England.
Edward IV placed his two younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, in the household of his cousin Warwick for tutoring and training. Edward IV was a well-loved and excellent ruler, but he produced more trouble by marrying a commoner, widow of a Lancastrian knight, Elizabeth Woodville. Warwick had been sent to arrange a marriage between Edward IV and the sister of the French queen, Elizabeth who was part of the Woodvilles’ family.
They were a large and ambitious family that Elizabeth managed to increase their positions through her marriage. This created devastation among the old nobility and caused fierce resentment on the part of Warwick who felt Edward IV had played him for a fool. In 1469 the displeased Warwick joined forces with his eldest enemy and leader of the Lancastrians, Margaret of Anjou, and her son Edward of Lancaster. Invading England, Warwick took quick control. Surprised, Edward IV and his youngest brother Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, fled to Burgundy.
Warwick released Henry VI from his Tower prison and declared him king once more. Within a few months Edward IV and Gloucester returned, reversing their fortunes, and Gloucester managed to convince George, Duke of Clarence, to ally himself with his brothers. In rapid succession, Warwick and his brother the Marquis of Montagu were defeated. During this time Edward of Lancaster was killed in battle, and Margaret was captured. By 1471 Edward IV was firmly on the throne and to prevent any further Lancastrian uprisings, he executed the old king, Henry VI.
When Edward IV died unexpectedly in April of 1483, the king had appointed Richard of Gloucester, in his will, as sole Protector until Edward V was of age. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, imprisoned Edward IV’s son, Edward, and crowned himself King Richard III. When he became King of England he almost arranged for the deaths of Edward V and his younger brother. This made him unpopular and in two years Henry VII, from the Tudor family (the second husband of the wife of Henry V), fought Gloucester and won. He was crowned King Henry VIII and this when the Wars of Roses ended.