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The War Of The Roses History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The War of the Roses affected England’s throne for many years, thereby changing the outlook of the country. The War of the Roses was a civil war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. This civil war impacted the whole country of England from its economy to the rule of that the English government had over England. The War of the Roses had such a big impact on England and lasted for thirty-three years from 1455 until the last battle in 1487. Because of the length of the war and all the different groups of English nobility being involved in the war, the War of the Roses became one of the most devastating wars to ever happen in the history of England.

The War of the Roses was a war of several different battles between the House of York and the House of Lancaster which were the two major house of nobility of in England at the time. These two houses spent the whole thirty-three years of the War of the Roses fighting over the throne of England and who the throne should belong too, because the House of York did not like the way the Lancastrian house was ruling England.

The House of Lancaster was started in 1267 and is referred to when talking about the English kings or nobility that were descended from John of Gaunt (Luminarium.com page 1). The Lancastrians were one of the wealthiest groups of nobility in England at the time until the begun the War of the Roses which severely weaken the whole House of Lancaster. Throughout the whole thirty-three years in the War of the Roses the House of Lancaster was only ruled by three different kings. Entering into the fifteenth century the Lancastrians were led by Henry IV who at the time was the King of England and he ruled for the first two years of the war. The rest of the War of the Roses the time was split between Henry V, and Henry VI. The majority of the war Henry VI or Henry VII was on the throne. Henry VI was a very weak ruler who did not do his Lancastrian people well because he suffered from a type of mental illness (Alison Weir page 122). This mental illness of Henry VI severely crippled the throne of England and he lost his power for some time since he was put in jail during that time period. He soon reclaimed his throne when he overcame his illness, but shortly after he became sick again and was taken over once more where he would end up dying in captivity. Henry VI after his death had no heir to the Lancastrian rule because his son had just lost his life seventeen days earlier in the Battle of Tewkesbury which ended the line of John of Gaunt which was the end of the House of Lancaster.

The second party that was involved in the War of the Roses was the House of York. The House of York originates all the way back to the beginning of the War of the Roses. The Yorkist Party was only started in order to overthrow the House of Lancaster. Although the House of York was made just to oppose what the Lancastrians were doing it was very strict on who was allowed to be part of the Yorkist Party. Richard, the Duke of York, made thee Yorkist men to start his overthrow of the House of Lancaster in order to be on the throne of England and run the country the way he seemed fit. Richard, Duke of York, was part of the royal line in England who started the House of York because he opposed what Henry VI was doing on the throne (P.A. Johnson page 47). Richard, Duke of York, ruled under Henry VI while he was going through his mental issues but was not allowed to work higher in the government because Henry VI put other people in positions over him. Because Richard, Duke of York, for several years wanted to change the way of the government Henry VI had because he thought it was weak. With all of this new found courage Richard had this is when he decided to fight the bad advisors that he had made into personal enemies and forcibly took the throne of England (New Standard Encyclopedia page 111). Soon after Richard got all the Lords to agree on kicking Henry VI off of England’s throne in order for him to take control of England in order to turn England back into the country that it was before Henry VI took over. Even though Richard was denied positions before he became the Protector of England in the absence of Henry VI when he was captured. This brought the House of York into control of England while Richard was on the throne allowing them to make a big push for the total control of England and its entire government.

The War of the Roses had some conflict between two houses that ended up being major parts of the English nobility system. The House of Lancaster and the House of York were the two houses that were the main reason behind the War of the Roses. The houses first began to have to conflict between each other when Richard, Duke of York, strongly disliked the way that Henry VI ,leader of the House of Lancaster at the time, was ruling England. With the House of York agreeing with Richard and the House of Lancaster was sticking up for the way Henry VI was ruling England which in turn was the beginning of the War of the Roses.

May 22, 1455 was the day that marked the start of the War of the Roses. The fighting and battles in the war did not start for a couple of months after the House of York revolted and decided to take the House of Lancaster to war over the throne of England. With the start of this civil war both houses fought behind their leaders to make sure the throne of England belonged to the right house by the end of the War of the Roses. The start of the War of the Roses happened slower than how most wars in history because they did not start fighting until about two months after The House of York declared war on the Lancastrians. Once the fighting and battles started the amount on English noblemen in both the Lancastrians and Yorkist Houses begun to drop which was devastating. This was a very devastating time for both houses because they were losing their noblemen that were ruling and leading the troops. The length of the war of the roses played a huge factor in this considering that it lasted almost half a century which gave each house many opportunities to kill off the opposing noblemen in turn would weaken the other houses armies.

The first battle in the War of the Roses started in 1455 and it was the first Battle of St. Albans. The first Battle of St. Albans was fought twenty-two miles away from London and was Richard, Duke of York’s, first battle against the House of Lancaster. In this battle Henry VI was captured for the first time and was made the Constable of England (History.com page 2).

The House of Lancaster’s army was the first to enter the town of St. Albans with their two thousand troops. The Lancastrian troops were set up in all the major entrance of the city ready to defend the city for the Yorkist troops. The Yorkist forces set up camp with their three thousand soldiers east of St. Albans in the city of Keyfield. For the several hours in the beginning of the battle both houses tried to negotiate terms in order for the fighting not to happen. Although negotiations were happening Richard, Duke of York, tired from waiting for the fighting to start said,” I am not made of stone” and with that they began to fight. With this sudden strike from the Yorkist troops the Lancastrian forces were caught off guard and were defeated in the first Battle of St. Albans.

With the Yorkist troops quick offensive attack in the first battle of St. Albans it gave them the victory in the battle (Britannica.com page 1). Although the forces from the House of Lancaster were caught off guard by the attack the House of York still lost a very large amount of troops in this first battle. The Yorkist troops although losing one of their major Yorkist leaders had another upside to the win over the Lancastrian troops; they captured Henry VI and took control over the throne of England giving them an advantage for the rest of the war.

The next major battle in the War of the Roses was the Battle of Wakefield. This battle being the next major battle in the War of the Roses did not take place until five years after the first Battle of St. Albans. The Battle of Wakefield took place at the Sandal Castle on December 21, 1460. The Yorkist troops were not well prepared for this battle because the Lancastrians forces were the ones to attack quickly this time in the battle which caused remaining Yorkist troops to flee from the Sandal Castle.

The Battle of Wakefield was not a lengthy battle at all because of how swiftly the House of Lancaster’s troops attacked. The battle lasted from December 21 through December 31 which was the day the Yorkist troops fled Sandal Castle. This battle took the lives of about two thousand Yorkist troops but on the other side the House of Lancaster only lost about seven hundred troops (J.R. Lander page 69). The Yorkist troops were completely over powered in this battle with the amount of causalities that each of the houses ended up losing. The greatest casualty in the Battle of Wakefield was the death of Richard, Duke of York, but his death did not ensure the victory at Wakefield it just help the House of Lancaster a great amount which was the last push the gave them this overwhelming victory.

With the House of Lancaster completely demolishing the House of York in the Battle of Wakefield they easily won the battle. In this win the Lancastrian troops managed to kill Richard, Duke of York, along with most of the Yorkist troops. With this victory the House of Lancaster made their charge to in taking over the English government once again.

The Second battle of St. Albans was the third major battle in the War of the Roses. This battle did not take long to begin after the Battle of Wakefield, because this battle started on February 21, 1461 only one year after. The battle took place in the same location as the First Battle of St. Albans except this time the Yorkist troops were lead into battle by Earl of Warwick since Richard, Duke of York, died in the last battle.

The Second Battle of St. Albans only lasted for about a month and ended on March 2, 1461. The Lancastrian and Yorkist troops both suffered a large amount of casualties in this battle with the Lancastrians losing two thousand troops and the Yorkist losing four thousand troops. With each side losing close to the same amount of troops this battle was one of the bloodiest battles in the War of the Roses. Even with both sides being on the same level in this battle the deciding factor that helped the House of York overcome the Lancastrians was when they recaptured the mentally ill Henry VI and some of his other noblemen.

With Henry VI recaptured and the Yorkist forces fighting well in the Second Battle of St. Albans the House of York came out with the victory in the battle. The battle was very close and well fought by both house but with the Lancastrian forces losing Henry VI who was King of England and leader of their troops helped give the Yorkist troops the slight advantage they needed to beat the Lancastrian army. With Henry VI being in the hands of the House of York this allowed Earl of Warwick to be put on the throne of England thus becoming the new king of England. Earl of Warwick with his new place on the throne helped the House of York take full control over England.

The second to last major battle in the War of the Roses was the Battle of Towton. The Battle of Towton started on March 29, 1461 shortly after the Battle of Warwick. This battle took place in the village of Towton which was part of the city of Yorkshire. At the time in the city of Yorkshire there was a snow storm that caused many problems for most of the troops from both the Yorkist and Lancastrian forces.

The Battle of Towton lasted for about of month but in that month over 28,000 troops from both the House of York and House of Lancaster were killed (Robin Neillands page 223). With the largest amount of troops dead in the Battle of Towton it is said to be the, “Bloodiest Battle to ever take place on English soil.” The battle was very gruesome and gory with Lancastrian soldiers having to retreat from the opposing troops in bloody meadows flinging off their armor in order to try and escape faster so they can save their lives (J.P. Sommerville page 2).

The Battle of Towton is the bloodiest battle in the War of the Roses and even though the vast majority of the troops were killed the House of York won the battle. With the victory at the Battle of Wakefield before this battle it gave the Yorkist troops the confidence needed to pull through and win the battle. The Yorkist troops were now in complete control of England and all of its government with this victory at Towton giving the House of York the edge still over the House of Lancaster in the War of the Roses. This victory also wiped out all of the Lancastrian forces that were in northern England which was something that would aid the House of York if the Yorkist army were to win the war (Web.cn.edu page 1).

The last and deciding battle in the War of the Roses was the Battle of Stoke Field. The Battle of Stoke Field started on June 16, 1487 which was twenty-six years after the previous major battle in the War of the Roses. This battle would be the last time both houses would fight each other for the throne of England. This battle being the last stand for both the Yorkist and Lancastrian force had a “no quarter policy” which meant that there will be no one left standing and that this battle would be a fight to the bitter end. With the battle being a fight to the end both sides lost a grand total of seven thousand soldiers with the Yorkist losing 4,000 soldiers and the Lancastrians losing 3,000 soldiers (Historyextra.com page 1). Even with the slim amount of troops lost between the two sides the Lancastrians with the help of Henry of Tudor would come out with the victory over the House of York and also getting the most important win which was the complete victory in the War of the Roses.

The Battle of Stoke Field had a major impact on the War of the Roses because it was the deciding victory that gave the House of Lancaster complete control over all of England and the English government. The leader of the Lancastrian forces Henry of Tudor became Henry VII the new king of England and he married Elizabeth of York which united the House of Lancaster and the House of York. With the new united houses there was nothing to t keep fighting over because the house were united and collaborating together to lead England the right way. Although the houses were united people who used to be part of the House of York still tried to revolt against the new English government but none of their attempts to overtake the throne were successful. These small militias were soon dismembered by the English government so now more revolts could happen.

The War of the Roses had no great impact on the country of England. The battles caused some destruction on cities throughout England no major cities were destroyed. Most of the land that was destroyed was very little and did not affect the people of the city the land was destroyed in. The War of the Roses was not a very destructive war it only killed off most of the English nobility which left the government in England a little weak and in need of some noblemen.

The impact the War of the Roses had on the throne of England was tremendous in that the whole time during the war the throne had someone different one it throughout the entirety of the war. The English throne had many rulers during the war which left the country very unstable throughout the War of the Roses until Henry of Tudor took the throne. With Henry of Tudor now on the throne the country of England could get back to its original state.

In conclusion the War of the Roses was a war that had a very strong effect on England and its future as a country. The war set the path for the start of the English reformation which would change how the world would view England. If it was not for the War of the Roses the England would still be the same as it was before the war and all the art, music and other things that came out of the English Reformation would never have existed.

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