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The Wars of the Roses,
1455 - 1487
Osprey

by Terence Wise

The civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses were fought between Yorkshire and Lancashire, identified by white and red roses respectively, and lasted thirty bloody years, inflicting great damage to the land and its people and killing so many of the aristocracy that a new nobility had to be created in the reign of Henry VII a good king who brought peace and prosperity to his kingdom, unlike his predecessor, the usurper Richard III, who stole the throne by deceit and foul murders. On the battlefields the longbow reigned supreme, while the knights and men-at-arms waddled around encased entirely in cumbersome plate armour, or rode great horses also wearing plate armour.

A civil war is one in which men fight and kill their countrymen, and in this respect the Wars of the Roses might properly be called a civil war. But these wars were in reality a dynastic struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster, and involved only the aristocratic families of these houses and their followers. Rather than a civil war, these campaigns represented a prolonged struggle for power between two political parties, both of which accepted the unity of the kingdom and the existing system of government by King, Council and Parliament. Neither party sought to destroy or divide the royal authority of the kingdom, as was the case with civil wars on the Continent; but rather to obtain power over the Council and through it to govern the country.

The Wars of the Roses are generally dated as lasting from 1455 until 1485, a total of 30 years of war though this figure may be divided into three periods of actual conflict: 1455 64, 1469 71, and 1483 87. Actual campaigning time during these years has been estimated as 428 days (Goodman, pp. 227-8: see Bibliography). Fighting erupted only to subside quickly; the longest campaign lasted four months (Wakefield to Towton), and even Edward's campaign to seize the throne lasted only two months from his landing at Ravenspur to the battle of Tewkesbury.

Here the few chapters from the Terence Wise's book "The Wars of the Roses, 1455 - 1487" that illustrates most importatnt events of this war.

   First St. Albans, Northampton, Wakefield, Mortimer's Cross, Second St. Albans, Towton and Hexham (1455-1464)
   Barnet and Tewkesbury (1469-1471)
   Bosworth, Stoke, Blackheath and Exete (1483-1487)
 
Text by Terence Wise from Men-at-Arms 145: Wars of the Roses
Osprey Publishing