The start of War of the Roses. Not as nice as it sounds.

In the comedy series “The Young ones” Vyvyan makes the point that in medieval time even the wars were “girly”. He points to the fact that the biggest civil conflict was called the Wars of the Roses. Unfortunately, this is an inaccurate assessment of the time. It did not see hordes of peasants and noblemen getting together to build floats of flowers for competition it was actually a hard fought blood soaked period of struggle in England fought between the Lancastrians represented by the Red Rose and the Yorkists represented by the White Rose. They were fighting for the Crown of England a very high prize indeed. If they’d had the internet back then, a nicely appointed Web Design Yorkshire company for the side of the Yorkist would have been a great idea to drum up support. It would have been much easier for them to garner some support if they had of been online!

Image credit

The conflict started with two parts of the ruling Plantagenet House. The Hundreds Years war with France was over with little success, apart from capturing and keeping Calais, and the coffers were running low plus it was becoming apparent that the feudal system that had served so well for the last 300 years was becoming unmanageable in light of the recent Black Death plague killing off all the nobles as well as the peasants. Added to that, King Henry the Sixth was a bit mad and so the orders coming down were not exactly what were needed and also it was looking highly likely that he wasn’t going to be up to having any children. A King with no heir always means trouble ahead.

Image credit

Up then steps Richard of York (not the one to become King) and his claim to the throne. He got off to a good start in 1453 when he was able to get the nobles to make him the Lord Protector after King Henry went completely unresponsive. However, before that, Henry had managed to “do his duty” with the Queen and an heir, Edward, was produced. In 1455 Henry had made enough of a recovery to figure out what was going on and order Richard stripped of the title. This resulted in the first all-out Battle at St Albans.  This turned out to be a big win for the Yorkist’s side with several top Lancastrians being killed and Henry imprisoned. Things may well have been left as that with Richard as Lord Protector but the Lancastrians were not done and they pulled behind the Queen, Margaret of Anjou and the feud that arose was to last for the next 32 years.

It has so many twists and turns to it that the period was a major influence on George R Martins Game of Throne series.