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The War of the Roses - Page 2

The only 'fly in the ointment' for Edward IV was Henry Tudor, House of Lancaster. He had a small claim to the throne, but was thought of as being only a minor irritant. His claim arose from a legitimated branch of Lancaster; legitimated with the proviso that no member was eligible for the crown.

Edward made some attempts to have Henry under his roof. After all, Henry was the last Lancaster standing, but the future Henry VII always managed to stay a step ahead of England's king.

Henry Tudor was still residing in Brittany when Edward IV died. Edward's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, had been named by Edward as Lord Protector of Edward's heir, the future Edward V. Upon the 12 year old Edward V's arrival in London, he was given apartments in The Tower to await his crowning.

Residing in this fortress just before a coronation was not unusual for a soon-to-be monarch. Edward's younger brother, Richard, joined him for companionship while preparations were made for the ceremony.

Now happens one of the most debatable incidents in English history. For some reason, Duke Richard decided that it was best for him to become King of England. Was Richard afraid for the safety of the realm with a minor on the throne?

Was proof shown to Richard that Edward IV was not legally married to his children's mother, and thus their offspring were bastards? Was Richard taking advantage of a given opportunity to take power for himself? Whatever the reasoning, it wasn't Edward V who went to a coronation, but Richard III.

Shortly thereafter, Edward V and his brother went missing. Rumour surfaced that the boys had been murdered. By whom? With the finger pointing at Richard III, his reign quickly went from crisis to crisis. Henry Tudor seized the moment and on a field at Bosworth, in 1485, the Tudor Dynasty was born.

With Richard III's death during the battle, and with Henry's marriage to Edward IV's oldest daughter, Elizabeth, the Houses of York and Lancaster were finally united. All was still not quiet, though.

Bosworth Field was a very decisive battle of the War of the Roses, but not the last. The final conflict was at Stokes, in 1487. A group of Yorkists declared that Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be the nephew of Edward IV, was the actual king. Their army met Henry VII's forces and were soundly defeated. The Yorkist cause was over.

How did this war receive such a pretty name? The title "War of the Roses" is believed to have been first coined by Sir Walter Scott, almost 450 years after Henry VII defeated Richard III.

As for the roses themselves, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster were fixed in the public's mind by Shakespeare. They were referred to in his play "Henry VI". There is no historical reference to the romantic idea that the Yorks and the Lancasters plucked their roses as a sign of loyalty to their respective families while conversing in a garden.

Article by "Tudor Rose"

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