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House of Lancaster (1399-1461) and House of York (1461-1485)
The crisis of kingship: Richard II died childless, and there were two possible successors to the throne, as there were two branches of the House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster and the House of York. One was the Earl of March, Edmund Mortimer (son of Roger Mortimer), the seven-year-old great-great-grandson of Edward III. The other was Henry of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt (son of Edward III) and founder of the House of Lancaster. As both were directly linked to the throne, it was difficult to say which had the better claim to the throne. However, Henry was stronger, as he won the support of the nobles and took the crown by force, deposing Richard.
House of Lancaster Henry IV (1367-1399-1413) Formerly known as Henry Bolingbroke, spent his reign establishing his royal authority and defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts. He had two wives: Mary of Bohun (1381-1394) and Joan of Navarre (1403-1413). He was the first king to take his coronation oath in the mother-tongue, English, as French was wiped out by the Statute of Pleading (1362). His first major problem as king was regarding Richard. Some earls that supported Richard were planning to murder the new king, Henry IV and restore Richard in the Epiphany Rising (a failed rebellion in late December 1399 and January 1400) as Richard rewarded those who supported him against the Lords Appellant with important titles and after his imprisonment, these were placed under attainder (being condemned for a serious capital crime, either felony or treason) due to their complicity in the murder of the Duke of Gloucester. They were captured, tried and executed (either beheaded or hanged). This attempted rebellion convinced Henry that keeping Richard alive was dangerous for him, and therefore had him killed (however, Richard’s body bore no signs of violence). However in the following years, there were many theories, saying that Richard was indeed alive and had survived, and a man even called himself Richard, but he was clearly an impostor. Due to these rumours, his body was finally set to rest at Westminster Abbey in 1413. Henry was a shrewd, watchful vigorous man, but he had none of the gifts that made a king popular. He wanted to maintain himself of the throne, and had to make three great concessions: ● Bishops: cheapest to buy, as the price was the permission to persecute the Lollards. Henry, catholic and deeply loyal to the church, wasn’t sympathetic with the Lollards and passed the Statute “De Heretico Comburendo” (1401), which enacted that people convicted in the Church courts of heresy should be publicly burned alive. The idea of executing the Lollards by burning was for the first time introduced into England. It was intended to frighten the Lollards into recanting, and it had the desired effect: few of them were actually burned. Lollardy wasn’t well enough organised to resist, and it was soon driven underground, and its spirit wasn’t seen again for a century until the Reformation.
Nobles: he was forced to grant them royal lands and allowed them to do pretty much as they liked. This kept them quiet for a while, but it weakened the position of the monarchy in two ways: ○ Allowed the great baronial families to become independent princes in their own districts ○ Robbed the crown of valuable sources of revenue. ● Parliament: financial difficulties became even more acute than under Richard II and Henry’s excuse was that with Richard’s irregular methods of raising money he couldn’t adopt such methods himself. He was dependent on the grant of special taxes and the Parliament took advantage to gain control over the government. They asked kings to carry out reforms but the king decided the best means of carrying them. Now the parliament began to discuss and bring forward bills of their own which were presented to the king for his approval → they gained the power to legislate. The rebellions: the king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who later became king (although he managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410). Henry gained military experience from this, which was later shown in his outstanding military successes in the Hundred Years’ War. ● Wales in Revolt (1400-1415): Owain Glyndwr (descendant of Llewelyn) was the first and only Welsh prince to have wide and popular support in every part of Wales. His rebellion didn’t start as a national revolt: first, he joined the revolt of Norman-Welsh border lords who had always tried to be free of royal control. But after ten years of war, Owain’s border rebellion had developed into a national war, and in 1400 he was proclaimed Prince of Wales by his supporters, and he even captured Cilgerran Castle in 1405. However, he wasn’t strong enough to defeat the English armies sent against him. He continued to fight a successful guerrilla war, which made the control of Wales an extremely expensive problem for the English After 1410, Owain lost almost all his support, as the Welsh realised that however had they fought, they would never be free of the English. Owain was never captured, and as William Wallace did in Scotland, he created a feeling of national identity among the Welsh. ● Scotland: Henry attempted to invade Scotland but failed. He marched to the country, but the Scots avoided battle and he was forced to retire. In 1402 the Scots retaliated with a counter raid but were defeated and invaded by the English at the Battle of Homildon Hill (1402). Even this victory was a humiliation for Henry, for it was gained by a force raised by the Percys of Northumberland, and drew attention to the fact that great baronial families could succeed where the king had failed. The Percys quarrelled with Henry about the prisoners and booty taken at Homildon. Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, rebelled against Henry. Therefore, the Percys made an alliance with the Scottish border and tried to join forces with the Welsh, but Henry cut them to pieces in the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403) in which Henry IV won and Henry Percy was killed. After this battle, Henry IV's son, Prince Henry, was left with an arrow penetrated in the left side of his face under his eye. Also, the Welsh rebellion ceased to be dangerous. Later years: When Henry seemed to have surmounted the difficulties he faced at his accession, he was struck down with a disease, and his last years were marked by these serious health problems, from which he never recovered. He had a disfiguring skin disease
(probably leprosy or psoriasis) and, more seriously, suffered acute attacks of some grave illness (probably epilepsy or some sort of cardiovascular disease) that finally killed him in 1413. He was buried at Canterbury Cathedral. Henry V acquired an increasing role in England's government due to the king's declining health, but disagreements between father and son led to political conflict between the two. Either way, Henry passed the crown to his son peacefully. However, he had sown the seeds of civil war, which was later known as The War of the Roses, as the nobility would be divided between those who supported the Lancastrians and those who supported the Yorkists.
Henry V (1386-1413-1422)
Henry of Monmouth was the son of Henry IV and Mary of Bohun (Henry’s first wife). He had inherited a kingdom that was peaceful and united, and it is said that he was impatient to inherit the crown (which was a bitter blow to the dying king). He was a brave and intelligent man, and he became one of England’s favourite kings of those times. Grim, lean, stern-looking and young; his character matched his appearance as he was cold-hearted, hard-working and keen. He was very tall and slim, with a ruddy complexion and a prominent and pointed nose, as well as quite moody (he was either peaceful or hostile). He had led a wild and dissipated life in his youth, however, he now devoted his energies to kingship. His reign was generally free from serious trouble at home. The exception was the Southampton Plot in favour of Mortimer (a Yorkist) in 1415. Edmund Mortimer himself, however, remained loyal to Henry. His reign marks the appearance of English as well as the adoption of English as the language of record within the government. His main aim was to strengthen his grip on the throne, and he did this by renewing war with France. Resumption of the Hundred Years’ War (1415): since the situation was peaceful at home, Henry V felt able to begin fighting the French again, initiating the third and last phase of the war. This time he had a great advantage and he believed he will be successful because: ● The king of France, Charles VI, was weak-minded and mad (he was psychotic), and his nobles were quarrelsome. A fierce feud had broken out between the court party and the greatest of the vassal princes: the Duke of Burgundy. ● He had confidence in his capacity as a general. ● English archers would overcome French knights as they did in the Battle of Crécy. In 1415 Henry renewed Edward III’s claim to the throne of France, and he demanded that Charles VI should forthwith his crown. Since Henry was very religious, he called God to witness that he was weaved by no spirit of selfish ambition but by his love of justice, although there was no real justification for him to claim the crown. As he desired, the national spirit was roused with enthusiasm and Parliament established a subsidy, and he made careful preparations for his campaign and collected provisions. Burgundy supported England, and the English army was able to prove once more that it was far better in battle than the French army. At the Battle of Agincourt of that same year, the English defeated a French army three times its own size, but the English were more skillful and had better weapons. The English were close to conquering France; taking advantage of political divisions within France, he conquered large portions of the kingdom, resulting in Normandy's occupation. This battle marked the beginning of the third phase of the Hundred Years’ War and it secured the Lancastrian dynasty upon the throne.
Between 1417 and 1420, Henry carried out the conquest and managed to capture most of Normandy and the nearby areas, and he was greatly strengthened by a close alliance with the Burgundians. After Henry’s successful military campaign, by the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, Henry was recognised regent and heir to the mad king instead of the Dauphin (the title held by the eldest son of the kings of France), and he married Katherine of Valois, his daughter. Following this conversation, everything seemed to point to the formation of a union between the kingdoms of France and England under King Henry. But he never became king, as he died a few months before the French king in 1422 after he fell ill, probably by dysentery from constant campaigning. His sudden and unexpected death in France two years later condemned England to the long and difficult minority of his infant son and successor. Although his reign was rather short, he is remembered as the most heroic of English kings because of his brilliant campaigns in France. His death brought to an end the English kings’ hopes of ruling France.
Henry VI (1422-1461)
Henry V left an only child, his nine-month-old son, Henry VI. He inherited the thrones of England and France. He had become king as a baby, and because of that, a regency government governed for him until 1437 when he was declared fit to rule, although most of his life the real direction of affairs was in the hands of others, and the consequences for the country were confusion at home and humiliation abroad. He grew up to be simple-minded and book-loving. He hated the warlike nobles, and was averse to violence and warfare; he was an unsuitable king for such a violent society, as he was shy, soft-spoken, timid and passive. But he was a civilised and gentle, well-intentioned, pious man. Henry was interested in religion and education and he could happily have spent his life in such places of learning, but Henry’s simple-mindedness gave way to periods of mental illness (he was mentally unstable), his character subject to these occasional fits of insanity. His ineffective reign saw the gradual loss of the English dominions in France. After the death of Charles VI, the Dauphin (which was disinherited by the Treaty of Troyes) should claim his birthright and war began again. On his deathbed, Henry V had given the Duke of Bedford, John (his brother) responsibility for English force (as Henry VI was only an infant). The war in France continued under Bedford's generalship and several battles were won; he was a capable soldier as his brother Henry V, but much better. Under his direction and with the aid of Burgundy, French provinces after another were overrun, and the English won an emphatic victory at the bloody Battle of Verneuil (1424). John continued to enlarge the area under English control, but soon the French began to fight back, as the foreign invasions had created, for the first time, a strong French national feeling. French Victory (1429-1453): by 1429, all that remained to the Dauphin was the fortress of Orleans and the country just round it. However, the English army was defeated twice by the French, inspired by a mysterious peasant girl called Joan of Arc, who claimed to hear heavenly voices as God asked her to drive out the English. The Dauphin had little to lose and gave her command of his forces. The Dauphin was demoralised by constant defeat, and when we had almost given up hope, it was almost like a miracle and his faith was renewed. Within a few months, the whole situation has changed: the two battles were the Siege of Órleans (1428-1429) where the English were forced to raise the siege, the Siege of Paris
(where the French failed to enter Paris) and the Battle of Patay (both in 1329), where John Talbot, a nobleman and earl, was taken prisoner for four years in France. However thanks to his battle, the Dauphin was crowned as King Charles VII. Joan was later captured by the Burgundians after another attempt to capture Paris, and she was sold to the English, who accounted for their defeats by accusing her of using magic arts and then gave her to the Church, and they tried and burnt her alive as a witch in 1431. But the English hadn’t destroyed her spirit when they burned her because he had lit the fires of patriotism in the nation. After the death of Joan of Arc, the fortunes of war turned dramatically against the English, and England started to lose an extremely costly war and was unable to defend what it had captured. Most of Henry's royal advisers were against making peace. Bedford and his troops fought gallantly and obstinately but they were defeated because: ● The French learned the lesson after two defeats that they should use archers. ● They were successful by adopting a new weapon: artillery. ● The alliance with Burgundy was dissolved because of a personal quarrel between the Duke of Burgundy and Bedford. The English refused to surrender Henry’s claim to the French throne, but Burgundy made a treaty with Charles By the Congress of Arras (1435) the English were unrealistic on their demands, and by the Treaty of Arras signed later in September, they returned Paris to the King of France, which was a major blow to the English sovereignty in France, and the only provinces that remained in English possession were Normandy and Guienne. John, Duke of Bedford died a few days after the treaty was signed, and England lost his best general. England’s allies lost confidence in the value of the English alliance. The basic reason for the decline in the English fortunes was the same as the first half of the war: the paralysis of home government. The weakness of Henry placed control of affairs in the hands of the Council, the members of which were quarrelling among themselves and there was no longer any check on the actions of the great nobles, and therefore, the Council was by no means powerful, and the country fell into a lawless anarchy as in King’s Stephen reign or the Dark Ages: ● Feudalism arose again in a new corrupt form: no modest “one-manor man” could feel safe in the possession of his property unless somebody could protect him (a magnate) and a legal document would be drawn up by whom the noble undertook to maintain the knight/shire to bring a certain number of retainers to maintain the noble in return. This was called the “Livery and Maintenance System” and the result was that the country was harassed by incessant private warfare. Even the elections of parliament fell under the control of local magnates and its members became nominees of a faction instead of representatives of a shire or borough. ● The chief men of the Council and Court fell into two groups: the “defeatists”, led by Henry IV’s half-brother Cardinal Beaufort, who felt that the longer the war went on, the worse would be to England’s position and they wanted to make peace on the best terms detainable at once. The others were called “the war party”, led by Humphrey (Duke of Gloucester and Henry IV’s youngest son) and stated that war should be carried on more vigorously than ever until France had been reconquered. However in 1447 both died, but the bitter struggle went on: the Duke of Suffolk (defeatists) and the Duke of York (war-party) became the new leaders.
In 1444, there was a truce in fighting and the defeatists contrived that the king should marry a French princess. So, in hope of achieving peace, in 1445 Henry married Charles VII's niece, the ambitious and strong-willed Margaret of Anjou. The peace policy failed as war soon broke up again, but Margaret (energetic and active-minded) was in favour of peace with her native land. However, she took advantage of Henry’s condition and ruled the kingdom in his place (he was under her domination); but the government didn’t dare to humiliate the nation by giving up all claim in France and the French wouldn’t agree to other terms. The Battle of Formigny (1450) was a major battle, where the destruction of England's last army in Normandy in the battle and the decisive French victory by Charles VII, paved the way for the capture of the remaining English strongholds in Normandy. The loss caused a rebellion under Jack Cade, and demanded that the king’s incompetent ministers should be dismissed and punished. The revolt, however, was suppressed and hundreds of the rebels were hanged, but the situation at home caused the end to the resistance of the English forces in France. Finally, at the Battle of Castillon (1453), with the loss of Gascony, the English were decisively defeated. This battle is considered to mark the end of the Hundred Years' War. As a result of the battle, the English lost everything, all its possessions in France, except the port of Calais. Castillon was the first major battle won by a massive usage of field artillery. The Wars of the Roses (1455-1485): The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars since a dynastic struggle for the English crown and the throne broke out, which saw the throne pass back and forth between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. It was later named this way because the York’s symbol was a white rose, and Lancaster’s a red one. It is considered a strange form of civil war, since the majority of the nation was not involved in them, and they were a struggle that involved the nobles and their hired retainers. Secondly, some of these nobles changed sides from time to time in accordance with their personal feelings and their family interests. Thirdly, the wars weren’t continuous, a month or two of fighting was followed by years of quiescence. Causes: ● The Lancastrian Party was held responsible for the disasters upon the English, and the differences between the Duke of York and the Queen became more bitter. The Yorkists began as a protest against the awful conduct of the Hundred Years’ War by the king’s ministers. The utter failure of Henry VI to provide any kind of strong leadership during his reign, and the disappearance of law and order encouraged defiance to the government. ● The loss of the Hundred Years’ War caused an increase in political instability in England. They were ruled by a mentally ill king (who was unable to move, speak or feed himself) who was bad at choosing advisers, and nobles started to ask questions about who should be ruling the country, and then remembered that Henry IV had taken the throne. The two reasons combined, it became a determination for the Yorkists to gain control of the government and to bring the Lancastrian usurpation to an end. The outbreak: the discontented nobility were divided between those who remained loyal to Henry VI (the Lancastrians) and those who supported Richard, the Duke of York (the Yorkists). Until 1453 Henry was childless, and the best claim to succeed him was made by Richard, who was the nephew of Edmund Mortimer, the earl of March, who had lost the
competition for the throne when Richard II was deposed. Therefore, Richard had a more direct descend from Edward III than any of the Lancaster kings, but this matter was complicated by the birth of a son to the King. Since the king was insane, the Parliament appointed York as Lord Protector of the Realm, and dismissed most of Henry’s ministers and sent their chief (the Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort) to the Tower of London. But the next year the king recovered and the Queen regained control of the government. She expelled York and his friends from office and released from prison York’s rival, Somerset. The queen determined to obliterate the Yorkists altogether and summoned a meeting to “provide for the safety of the king against his enemies”. Richard, realising it was a threat to their lives, resorted to arms and concentrated his armed forces in self-defense, and the war began. The battles were brutal and were mostly fought on a small scale by groups of noblemen and their bands of private mercenaries. Starting with the skirmish in St Albans (1455) when the Yorkists, while marching to London, found their way blocked by the king’s forces. It was a Yorkist victory: the Duke of Somerset was killed, and Richard became master again. Henry was anxious to prevent any more bloodshed, so in 1458 he held a ceremony of reconciliation but it was in vain, as the Queen was determined to regain her ascendancy in the government. In 1459 she summoned the Lancastrian nobles to meet at Leicester and York was forced to flee. Through an Act of Attainder (1459) condemned the leading Yorkists to death and forfeiture of all their estates (this type of act condemns the person to the penalties of treason without any form of trial). York and the Earl of Warwick (Richard Neville), now exiled, didn’t submit and renewed the struggle and returned, with a considerable force and overthrew the Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton (1460). The king fell into their hands, and the Queen fled to Wales. However Richard claimed the throne for himself, but the Lancastrians succeeded the Yorkists and he died in the Battle of Wakefield (1460) and some prisoners were beheaded. Because of this, his son Edward took up the struggle. He defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross (1461) where he was acclaimed king, and his position on the throne was made safe by Warwick’s overthrow of the main Lancastrian force at the Battle of Towton, becoming King Edward IV (1461-1470). This battle placed Edward as king, initiating the reign of the House of York, and deposed Henry from the throne, being put into the Tower of London. England was in the hands of Warwick and the accession of the Yorkist throne was a change in the government for the better. He confiscated the property of the Lancastrian nobles (especially Henry’s) and he became the richest king of the century and helped him to not be dependent on Parliament. In 1465, the king and Warwick had a disagreement in foreign policy. Louis Xi wanted to build up the French monarchy by absorbing into its provinces ruled by vassal princes, one of them being Charles the Bold (Duke of Burgundy). Warwick supported Louis, and Edward was more interested in securing wool trade with Flanders (part of Burgundy). He married Elizabeth Woodville, an English lady, which made Warwick vessed as he didn’t fulfil his promise of marrying a French one. Edward was tired of being under the domination of the Earl and intended to build up a party of personal supporters. Warwick lost patience, and was determined to undo his own mark in making him king. So after nine years of the reign of Edward, a new Lancastrian army rescued Henry and chased Edward out of the country (supported by Warwick), and Henry initiated his second reign as Henry VI (1470-1471), the House of Lancaster recovering the Crown. Warwick ruled on his name.
However, like the Lancastrians, Edward was able to raise another army. He had the advantage of his popularity with the merchants of London and the southeast of England, since the Yorkists had strongly encouraged profitable trade, particularly with Burgundy, who supported him. Edward then returned to England in 1471 and defeated the Lancastrians in the Battle of Barnet in April he defeated Warwick’s army and in the Battle of Tewkesbury in May the Lancastrians were annihilated, where Edward killed Henry’s only son and heir (Edward of Westminster), and Henry himself was imprisoned again. Edward IV's second reign started and he was safe on the throne. Henry VI died in the Tower of London soon after, presumably murdered, and with the only heir also dead, the direct Lancastrian line was wiped out. After this, the only possible Lancastrian claimant was Henry Tudor, who was sent to live in Brittany as it wasn’t safe near the reach of the Yorkists.
House of York Edward IV ( 1442-1471-1483)
Son of Richard of York, was a lineal descendant from Edward III. He was a big, good-looking, jovial man but devoid of any sense of responsibility and was devoted to enjoying life. His reign was relatively peaceful but it is considered a failure, although he had the abilities required to be a good king. This is considered his second reign, reigning undisturbed for twelve years. This time, he was completely independent of Parliament and settled down to rule by a genial kind of despotism. The War of the Roses continued throughout his reign and his successors, and it would probably have stopped then if Edward’s son (later Edward V) had been old enough to rule, and if his brother, Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III), hadn’t been so ambitious. War with France: in 1474, Edward allied with Burgundy, as the Duke Charles took up arms against Louis XI, the King of France. The Duke was counting with Edward's support, and he finally declared war on France, and he wanted to support his old friend. This almost resumed the Hundred Years’ Wars, however, Louis managed to isolate them by buying Edward off with a large cash sum and an annual pension (he was bought off). This peace treaty was called the Treaty of Picquigny (1475), which gave Louis the freedom to deal with Charles. This treaty meant that Edward renounced his claim to the throne of France. However, other kings of England claimed the title until 1803. Scotland: they were paying heavily for the Auld Alliance, since it supported France during the Hundred Years’ War, as the English repeatedly invaded the Scottish lowlands. England renewed its claim to overlordship of Scotland, and his army occupied Edinburgh in 1482. However, the English army was forced to withdraw, with little to show for an expensive campaign, apart from the capture of Berwick Castle. Edward's health began to deteriorate, and he soon fell fatally ill, partly due to his dissipated manner of life. Edward suddenly died in 1483, although it was probably apoplexy (bleeding within internal organs) as he had terrible eating habits and the ingestion of emetics. Because of his early death, his twelve-year-old son Edward V became king only for a few months (from April to June) as Richard, his uncle, put both Edward and his younger brother Richard in the Tower of London. Edward remains the only king in English history in active possession of his throne who failed to secure the safe succession of his son.
Richard III “The Wicked Uncle” (1452-1483-1485) Upon the death of his brother, Richard was named Lord Protector of the Realm, as he had served his brother well as an administrator and adviser. The two young princes, Edward V and Richard, were to be protected by the Queen Mother or their uncle, but his overriding ambition and suspicion of the Queen caused him to act rapidly and without scruple; he couldn’t resist the temptation of taking advantage of the boy’s helplessness and secured the Crown for himself. He arrested the supporters of the Queen and proceeded to imprison Edward V and his brother Richard in the Tower of London. He falsely claimed that Edward IV’s sons were illegitimate and he was the rightful heir, and he was crowned king as Richard II. He had the two brothers most probably murdered a month later, although their fate after their disappearance is nowadays unknown, as their bodies were never found. He hoped this would secure his position but it was actually the opposite. It’s possible that he might have gained the consent of the national to his usurpation: ● He had the makings of an able ruler. ● Nobody liked having a boy king on the throne. But this cold-blooded murder of two innocent children shocked everybody in the country, and people felt it was intolerable to have such a miscreant as king. In the next two years, he tried to compensate for his violent seizure of the throne by efforts at good government, but his unpopularity increased and he soon resorted to repressive measures. He is the last king both of the House of York and the Plantagenets. He was not a popular king, and both Lancastrians and Yorkists disliked him. He was married to Anne Neville, with whom he had only one son, Edward, who died in 1484 by means unknown (he was more or less 10 years old). He had other illegitimate children, John of Gloucester and Katherine Plantagenet. It is said that Richard was framed by the Tudors as a bad king. However, there are many claims that he had indeed a good heart. Either way, his crimes couldn’t be proven, therefore he is considered to be guilty because it’s impossible to prove him innocent. He made good laws, although he lived “wickedly”. Buckingham’s Rebellion (1483): led by Richard's former ally and first cousin once removed Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, although it had begun as a Woodville-Beaufort conspiracy. They planned to depose Richard III and place Edward V back on the throne, and that when rumours arose that Edward and his brother were dead, Buckingham proposed that Henry Tudor (the Earl of Richmond) should return from exile in France and take the throne. The rebellion failed, but it was significant. As dissatisfaction grew against the king and nobody liked him, the discontented lords joined Henry in preparing his way to the throne, since he was connected to the Lancastrian line (a very distant claim to royal blood through John of Gaunt). This gave an opportunity to Henry Tudor, and Richard couldn’t do anything to prevent it, as he couldn’t trust anybody to back in his behalf. Preparations were complete, with the help of the King of France, and the Welsh were called upon to support him. In 1485, Henry invaded England to claim the throne. He was outnumbered, but Richard couldn’t hold his armed forces together, as they hated fighting for such a king, and many of them changed to the other side. Richard sought to seek safety, but whatever his crimes he was no coward: if he had to die, he would die king of England. At the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485), he defeated Richard and the battle quickly ended in his defeat and death. Henry was immediately
crowned king on the battlefield and gave an end to the War of the Roses. Richard’s body was lost ever since, until his skeleton was recently found in 2015. Results of the Wars: ● It ended the Middle Ages in England. Dawn of the Renaissance. ● It almost destroyed the English idea of kingship forever. After 1460, there had been little respect for anything except the power to take the Crown. ● Fighting took place only for a total of fifteen months out of the whole 30 year period, and only the nobles and their armies were involved. ● They were a disaster for the nobility. For the first time, there had been no purpose in taking prisoners, because nobody was interested in the payment of ransom. Everyone was interested in destroying the opposing nobility, and those captured in battle were usually killed. By the Battle of Bosworth Field, the old nobility almost destroyed itself. Since half of the lords of the noble families died (there weren’t more than sixty noble families controlling England by the time the wars started), this made possible for the Tudors to build a new nation state. ● After the wars, the country yearned for a strong, orderly government that could bring peace. ● During the wars, the nobles used their private armies to force the justices of the peace and judges to do what they wanted, but this was the last time the nobility in Britain tried to destroy the authority of the king. END OF THE MIDDLE AGES AND START OF THE MODERN AGE THE RENAISSANCE