Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

The causes of the Wars of the Roses were complex. The eldest son of Edward III, Edward, the Black Prince, died in battle and his young son became Richard II in 1377, with Edward III’s other descendants competing for power, notably the Duke of York and Henry, who became Henry IV after ousting Richard II in 1399.

The feudal lords all had armies of retainers, many of whom were hardened soldiers after fighting in the Hundred Years War.  They were kept in check under the strong kings, Henry IV and Henry V but, under the weaker Henry VI, feudal gang warfare broke out, all seeking power, land and wealth, with constant changes of power groupings.  The feudal lords coalesced into supporters of the Yorkist (white rose) and Lancastrian (red rose) lines of royal descent.

The Wars proper started with the Battle of St, Albans in 1455, when the Yorkists won and captured Henry VI.  There were many bloody battles until the Lancastrian victory by Henry Tudor in 1485, who replaced Richard III to become Henry VII.  Much of our knowledge of this period is based on Shakespeare’s plays but these demonstrate a pro-Lancastrian/ Tudor bias.


The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485 by Ann Milton-Worsell’s