RICHARD PLANTAGENET, 3RD DUKE OF YORK, CLAIMANT TO THE ENGLISH THRONE
AND ONE OF THE MAIN LEADERS OF THE WAR OF ROSES
[WAR BETWEEN THE HOUSES OF LANCASTER AND YORK,
BOTH DESCENDANTS OF KING EDWARD III]
EDWARD PLANTAGENET, FOURTH DUKE OF YORK,
SON OF RICHARD, THIRD DUKE OF
YORK, THE LATER KING EDWARD IV
RICHARD NEVILLE, 16TH EARL OF WARWICK, THE KINGMAKER
COUSIN TO EDWARD IV, FIRST ALLY TO HIS FATHER, RICHARD,
DUKE OF YORK, THEN TO KING EDWARD IV
LATER THEY BECAME ADVERSARIES AND THE KINGMAKER TURNED
TO MARGARET OF ANJOU [BECOMING A ”LANCASTRIAN] TO RESTORE HENRY VI TO THE THRONE
HE FAILED AND LOST HIS LIFE IN THE BATTLE OF TEWKESBURY
HIS DAUGHTER, ANNE, LATER BECAME QUEEN OF ENGLAND,
MARRIED TO KING RICHARD III [BROTHER TO KING EDWARD IV]
ANNE PLANTAGENET, DUCHESS OF EXETER [MARRIED TO HENRY HOLLAND,
3TH DUKE OF EXETER], DAUGHTER OF THE DUKE OF YORK
ANNE OF YORK’S HUSBAND, HENRY HOLLAND, THIRD DUKE OF EXETER, SON
IN LAW OF THE DUKE OF YORK, WHO BECAME A SOLID
LANCASTRIAN, PROBABLY ONE OF THE CAUSES OF
THE DIVORCE OF THE COUPLE
WAR OF THE ROSES
SCENE AT THE TEMPLE GARDEN
RICHARD, DUKE OF YORK, WEARING A
WHITE ROSE, TO CONFRONT
HIS POLITICAL RIVAL AND ENEMY,
EDMUND, BEAUFORT, 2ND DUKE OF
SOMERSET, FORCING HIM TO
CHOOSE A RED ROSE
THE NOBLE LORDS TAKING SIDES
THIS IS A SHAKESPEARE SCENE [HENRY VI]
AND NOT BASED ON ANY HISTORICAL
The White Rose of theHouse of York
The Red Rose of theHouse of Lancaster
MARGARET OF ANJOU, QUEEN OF ENGLAND
TWO IMAGES OF MARGARET OF ANJOU, QUEEN OF ENGLAND
EDMUND BEAUFORT, 2ND DUKE OF SOMERSET, FAVOURITE
OF MARGARET OF ANJOU AND BITTER ENEMY OF RICHARD,
DUKE OF YORK
WILLIAM DE LA POLE, IST DUKE OF SUFFOLK, IN FAVOUR
BY BOTH QUEEN MARGARET AND KING HENRY VI
COUNCILLOR OF KING HENRY VI
THE WARS OF THE ROSES/CAUSES OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES/A TRAVEL TO THE PAST
Much has been said about the Wars of the Roses, the English
civil war between 1455 till 1485 (although some let it end in 1471,
with the battle of Tewkesbury), when the main royal line
of the royal Lancaster House was finished by the death of
Edward of Westminster, son to King Henry VI], which nearly
exterminated the old English nobility.
Many colourful characters passed the bloody theatre, like the determined and hard
Queen Margaret of Anjou [although not harder than the men
involved], her great adversary Richard, Duke of York, her favourites
And not to forget ”the golden boy” ‘Edward, the fourth Duke of York ,
Richard, Duke of York’s son, who later became King Edward IV, as his
cousin and ally, Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, the
”Kingmaker”, who would ultimately
became Edward’s adversary and end so tragically in the battle of Barnet.
I myself hold the opinion, that when King Edward would have concentrated
on the military (he was an extremely capable military commander)
and the Earl of Warwick on
ruling and diplomacy, they whould have been made a deadly double and perhaps
ruled England happily together, if at least Edward had not fallen ill and died
And last but not least, the pious and tragic King Henry VI, who,
alas, had a mental illness his tendency to forgiveness and
aversion of war and bloodshed, characteristics, which were admired
in Medieval women, but not in men, especiallynot Kings and
noblemen, had to be brave warriors, as Henry VI’s father,
Although I wrote about the Wars of Roses earlier, now
I want to focus in particular on the causes and events, that led to such a
disastrous period in English history and the end of the
impressive Plantagenet dynasty [in fact also the end of Medieval England]
and the beginning of the also interesting Tudor dynasty.
ENTER THE WORLD
WHAT WERE THE WARS OF THE ROSES
Most people know, that the Wars of the Roses was a civil war in
England between the nobles of the two rival branches of the royal family,
the House of Lancaster [descended from John of Gaunt, third
son of King Edward III , the family line of King
Henry VI, and the House of York [with the Duke of York, descendant
of both Lionel of Antwerp , second son of King Edward III and
Edmund of Langley, fourth son of King Edward III.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
The House of Lancaster and the House of York were
bothbranches of the House of Plantagenet.
The Lancaster branch consisted of King Henry VI, descendant of John
of Gaunt [from his marriage with Blanche of Lancaster,
as the Beauforts [descendants of John of Gaunt
and his mistress, Katharine Swynford , whom he later married]
A very important member of the Beaufort family was Edmund Beaufort,
Duke of Somerset, later the bitter enemy of the Duke of York.
The price of the fighting?
The throne of England, of course, which both the Beauforts as
Richard, Duke of York claimed, especially after the insanity of Henry VI showed
Through his mother, the Duke of York
had a superior claim to the throne, even above Henry VI, who
was descending of Henry IV, the usurper King , which I
will explain below.
But however dynastic rivalry played a role, is too simplistic
to point it out as a major cause of the War of Roses.
The major causes are more complicated
The great losses in the Hundred Years War and the subsequent
The diminishing of the royal mystic authority by
the usurping of thrones.
The weak reign of Henry VI. lie in the great losses in the Hundred Years
war, the diminishing of royal authority by usurping a throne.
and the weak reign of King Henry VI.
CAUSES OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES
CLAIMS TO THE THRONE
THE SONS OF EDWARD III ANF THEIR OFFSPRING
But first the deep rooted enmity, caused by various
claims to the throne.
King Edward III had five sons, The Black Prince [originally
named Edward of Woodstock], Lionel
of Antwerp , John of Gaunt [first Duke of Lancaster]
, Edmund of Langley [first Duke of York] and Thomas of Woodstock.
When King Edward III died , his grandson Richard II [son of the Black Prince]
inherited the throne.
However, his other sons had children too, like Lionel
of Antwerp, John of Gaunt, Edmund of Langley and Thomas of Woodstock.
Inheritance right stated, that the rights to the throne went
from the descendants of the first son of Edward III, then [when
they remained childless] the second son, then the third and so on.
So when Richard II should die childless
the descendants of Lionel
of Antwerp, the second son of Edward III, would inherit the throne,
And in that spirit Richard II acted.
During his reign, he appointed Roger Mortimer, grandson
of Lionel of Antwerp
[through his mother, Philippa Plantagenet],
as heir presumptive.
However, he died a year before Richard II.
When Richard II was deposed of the throne
by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke
[the son of John of Gaunt] and was probably murdered,
Henry Bolingbroke usurped the throne and became the
new king, Henry IV.
The reign of the House of Lancaster started.
Not only Henry IV deposed Richard II, he also ignored the rights
of Edmund Mortimer, who, as the son of the late Roger Mortimer,
Henry IV was only the son of the third son of Edward III, John of Gaunt,
AND PAY ATTENTION
The Roger Mortimer case had a direct connection with
Richard, Duke of York , who would fight a bitter fight
with the House of Lancaster for the English throne.
Because through his mother, Anne Mortimer , daughter
of Roger Mortimer, he had
a superior claim to the English throne.
He, his mother and Roger Mortimer were
descendants of Lionel of Antwerp , second son of King Edward III.
Can you still follow it?
Yes, this explanation is necessary, otherwise the whole
history is unclear.
CAUSES OF THE WAR OF ROSES
THE DIMINISHING MYSTIQUE OF KINGS
A medieval king was believed to
have given his authority by God
and anointing a King was an almost holy ritual.
So deposing a king, as Henry IV did with Richard II
and also passing the heir to the throne [Edmund Mortimer,
son of the late presumptive heir, Roger Mortimer], was
a serious business, not undertaken lightly.
Usurpation [replacing an anointed King
by somebody else] was a dangerous thing, for
everytime it happened, the authority of
the monarchy weakened.
Indeed, the monarchy was not very stable under Henry IV,
and that usurpation thing, which happened in England
before, lay the basis for the assumption, that
replacing a King was not such a big deal, which
played a key role in the Wars of the Roses.
CAUSES OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES
THE LOSSES IN THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR
But there was more.
Because when it was only a matter of claiming the throne,
at which Richard, Duke of York and his maternal
family, the Mortimers, had a superior right, why not
claim that right earlier?
First there was that usurpation thing of course and
the fact, that Edmund of Mortimer was only a minor.
And then, especially under Henry V, son of Henry IV,
the monarchy was very successful, especially
Even when Henry V died in 1422 and baby Henry VI
became King [and was at his weakest] there was no sign
of challenging the throne.
But after being so victorious in the Hundred Years War, disaster
[for the English] finally came.
First Jeanne d’Arc had military successes and made the dauphin
crowned in 1431 ,as King Charles VII , an enormous
revival of French struggle for liberation,
then piece by piece the English lost French possessions.
One of the reasons laid in the reign of Henry VI , no warrior King
at all, who had no interest in occupying France anymore and
This was shown by his marriage with Margaret of Anjou, on condition
And on that point, two Court factions were formed, but not yet
on York/Lancaster basis.
Queen Margaret, Lord Suffolk and Lord Somerset [Edmund
Beaufort, Lancaster House] and Cardinal Beaufort [Lancaster
House] supported this peace policy,
However, Richard Duke of York and the uncle of the King,
Humphrey of Gloucester [Lancaster House] were fiercely
Tensions rose and eventually it would turn out in a fight
to the death between the Duke of York and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of
Somerset , who was a farvourite of Margaret of Anjou.
CAUSES OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES
SOCIAL UNREST/THE JACK CADE REBELLION
LINK WITH THE WAR OF ROSES, YORK STYLE
The agreement, to give Main and Anjou back to France,
had big consequences.
With the subsequent losses of other territories in
France, especially Normandy, led to rising unpopularity
of the monarchy, since it was associated with the Dukes
of Somerset and Suffolk, who were extremely unpopular
because of their peace policy with France.
English refugees [people who had lived in the
English territories of France] arrived, as English troops,
who had often not been paid, spreading social
There was also big discontent of English landowners about the financial losses resulting from the loss of their continental holdings.
To intensify the tensions, the Jack Cade rebellion
The Jack Cade Rebellion stemmed from local grievances concerned about the corruption and abuse of power surrounding the king’s regime and his closest advisors.
And who were his closest advisors?
Again, Somerset and Suffolk.
Other causes were the considerable debts England suffered because
of the costly war with France and since Normandy was lost
[after Maine and Anjou] many people feared for a French invasion.
against corruption and extortion by the Kings councillors.
Most rebels were peasants, craftsmen and shopkeepers.
Initially succesful, Cade marched to London, but after
looting and plundering in Londen, they were driven out
The uprising, that began in may, ended somewhere in july, when
The link with the War of Roses is the demands of the rebels,
to bring the Duke of York [who was sent to Ireland as King’s
back to England and to remove the Duke of Suffolk,
whom they considered a traitor.
I quote from The Complaints of the Poor Commons of Kent:
”His true commons desire that he will remove from him all the false progeny and affinity of the Duke of Suffolk and to take about his noble person his true blood of his royal realm, that is to say, the high and mighty prince the Duke of York, exiled from our sovereign lord’s person by the noising of the false traitor, the Duke of Suffolk, and his affinity. Also to take about his person the mighty prince, the Duke of Exeter, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Norfolk, and his true earls and barons of his land, and he shall be the richest king Christian.”
CAUSES OF THE WARS OFTHE ROSES
THE WEAK REIGN OF HENRY VI
Part of the outbreak of the Wars ofthe Roses lies in the
person and reign of King Henry VI.
King Henry VI had suited well as a monk, doing good
deeds and charity, but not as a ruler and a King.
He was generous, pious, forgiving and didn’t like
war or violence.
Not suited to a medieval King.
He was in everything the opposite of his
warrior father, King Henry V.
Alas he had psychic problems, which resulted in various
nervous breakdowns, with as a consequence, that rival
noblemen sought to control the crown.
That was not so strange, since an incapacitated King
meant anarchy and unrest, and a strong government
Untill 1453 [when his only son was born], he had no children,
what made the Duke of York [who had inherited the Mortimer
claim to the throne after the death of his maternal uncle,
Edmund Mortimer in 1425] his heir presumptive.
When King Henry VI was incapacitated, York became
Protector of the Realm and Chief Councillor.
He did a pretty good job in ruling the country, untill
Henry VI wake up again [he was in a sort of
coma], reversed York’s action, Somerset in power
again and the country prepared for civil war.
According to the historian Robin Storey, “If Henry’s insanity was a tragedy, his recovery was a national disaster”
Unwisely the King was encouraged by his wife Margaret of
Anjou, who was a strong opposer of York, aligning
herself with men like the Duke of Suffolk
and the Duke of Somerset.
The King was not able to control the rivalling noble factions
[York/Somerset], nor other conflicts as the Percy/Neville feud,
Queen Margaret of Anjou unwisely favoured Somerset, embittering
the Yorkists, tensions flow to extremes, all hell burst out.
A civil war.
War of Roses, Marc Goacher rightly points out:
A situation of an undermighty King and overmighty subjects.
CAUSES OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES
KING HENRY VI CHOOSES SIDES
What not has been pointed out thouroughly, that King Henry VI,
on purpose or not, was not ”above the rivalling parties”,
but became party himself.
At first he took sides with the peace party in the French war, consisting
against the ”war party”, consisting Humphrey of Gloucester, uncle to
the King and the Duke of York.
In 1445 Henry sent the Duke of York to Ireland instead of prolonging
And in 1455, after the Duke of York ruled the country two years when
Henry was in coma, he dismissed the Duke of York, putting
Somerset in charge again.
And Henry being a Lancaster himself, like the Duke
of Somerset [whose grandfather had been the half brother of
Henry IV, sharing the same father, John of Gaunt], quickly the
whole thing became not only Somerset against York,
but Somerset AND the King against York, added the preference of
Margaret of Anjou for Somerset.
WARS OF THE ROSES
MARGARET OF ANJOU
DUKE OF SOMERSET
DUKE OF YORK
In the first military confrontation in the First Battle of St Albans
Duke of Somerset was killed, the Yorkists were victorious
and King Henry VI came into the hands of the victorious
Fighting went on and on, when than one side, than the other
After a final attempt for reconciliation, the socalled
´´Loveday´´ in 1458, fighting embittered and finally
at instigation of Margaret of Anjou, the Duke of York and his
allies,Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury (brother of his wife
(the son of Lord Salisbury), suffered attainder, which meant
In 1460, the victorious York did an attempt in Parliament
to be acclaimed as King, which failed.
However, he obtained the Act of Accord , meaning,
that King Henry VI remained King, but that after his death,
York and his heirs would rule.
This excluded Edward of Westminster, the son of the
King, which infuriated Margaret of Anjou.
The struggle went on.
At 1460, the Duke of York was killed in the battle of
Wakefield, with his second son, Edmund, Earl of
Rutland, as his brother in law, Lord Salisbury.
It is assumed, that Rutland was executed after the battle.
Certainly, Lord Salisbury was executed afterwards.
But the tides were turning.
York´s eldest son Edward, then Earl of March, was victorious
in the Battle of Townton and became King Edward IV.
Margaret of Anjou left the country (Henry VI was in
Yorkist hands and yearlong prisoner of
the Tower) for exile in France, did a last attempt
to conquer the throne (together with former Yorkist
ally, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, who choose her
side out of conflict with Edward IV, but was
finally defeated at Tewkesbury in 1471,
where her son Edward of Westminster was killed and she
According some sources, he was executed after the battle.
Shortly after that, Henry VI died in prison,
Margaret was imprisoned for some years,
ransomed by the French King Louis XI and
A sad and tragic end.
WARS OF THE ROSES
Edward IV died in 1483, his brother Richard III
succeeded him, disinheriting Edward IV´s eldest
son and heir, Edward V.
He and his brother disappeared in the Tower,
probably murderd, although it is not clear, whether
Rebellion against his reign took place, and
1485, Richard III was defeated in the Battle of
son of Margaret Beaufort of the House
of Lancaster, (niece of
the Duke of Somerset and descendant of
John of Gaunt) and Edmund Tudor.
The victorious Henry VII married Elisabeth
of York , daughter of King Edward IV.
They became the parents of King Henry VIII.
So in a way, the House of Lancaster (the Beaufort branche) and
the House of York were united.
The Tudor era began.
Interesting is the Tudor emblem, a Red Rose with a
And through their granddaughter Elisabeth of York,
and his wife Cecily.
WARS OF THE ROSES
MARGARET OF ANJOU IN LITERATURE
The way history is written [apart from the main undeniable
facts as ”there was a war” or ”that king ruled”] is important
in giving a positive or negative image of the persons involved.
In the case of Margaret of Anjou, her image is very much
coloured by Shakespeare´s play Henry VI, where
she is portrayed as a ruthlless, murderous, vindictive and extraordinary cruel
The Duke of York, in the contrary, was pictured as chivalrous
, manganimous and brave, sides he undoubtedly posessed, but leading
a fight to the death against the Beaufort branche of
the House of Lancaste first, and later openly
against King Henry VI, whom
he forced to disinherit his own son, in favour of York
and his heirs, he must have been hard and ruthless, too.
A warlord, like his Beaufort enemies.
Coming back to Shakespeare’s Henry VI
After the Battle of Wakefield, where the Duke of York
was defeated, Margaret of Anjou personally stabs
When he is dead, she orders to put his head on a pike
and to be crowned with a paper crown, to mock
his rights to the throne.
That horrible image of Margaret of Anjou was shown
in the work of many historians and influenced generations
and generations, including myself.
I myself read in old Dutch history books, that Margaret of
Anjou personally ordered to put the heads of York his son
and brother in law, on pikes, tarnishing York´s head with
a paper crown.
But historical fact is, that this is not altogether true.
Margaret of Anjou could not have ordered the execution
of York and the paper crown thing or torturing York
asking Queen Regent Mary of Guelders military aid against
Modern historical investigation shows that.
Probably York would have suffered considerably, when she
could have lain her hands upon him, but that´s of
no importance, because she did not.
Moreover, most historians assume, that York has been
PICTURING MEDIEVAL QUEENS
MARGARET OF ANJOU REVIEWED
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
The bad image Shakespeare had of Margaret of Anjou
is probably inspired by the picture of medieval women, who
were supposed to be mild, soft, forgiving, obedient wives
and caring mothers.
Being a noblewoman and certainly a Queen, good works,
charity and being forgiving were other characteristics.
Often it happened, that when the King conquered
a city, his Queen plead for mercy of the citizens, which
as a rule could be granted.
Women, who took a firm stand in men´s affairs (as politics
and war was seen in the Middle Ages) were viewed as
Therefore, apart from her personality, Margaret of Anjou
provoked little sympathy for her active political
role, which she probably not would have fullfilled,
whether Henry VI was capable of ruling and there were
no rival branches in the royal family.
Had she been the wife of warrior King Henry V, for
example, she probably would go in history unnoticed,
a loyal wife, doing good works and trying to soften
the harder sides of the King sometimes.
But her circumstances were extraordinary, with an incpacitated
husband, a growing unpopularity (being a French Queen, allgning
herself with unpopular nobles like Edmund of Beaufort, Duke
of Somerset and the Duke of Suffolk) and childless until 1453, standing
against powerful men like the Duke of York, claiming the throne,
with a superior claim indeed.
As I see it, it was a difficult situation for her and when she really
wanted to play´´ the Game of thrones´´, she had to be tough.
At the other side, her character limited her possibilities.
Being a fierce woman, who saw no middleground, she demonized
the Duke of York in an early stage (also by her alliance with his
arch enemy the Duke of Somerset) and didn´t see the necessity of
a strong reign, since her husband was not able to do it.
The fact, that the Duke of York should be regent or Protector
of the Realm seemed natural considering his right to
the throne, but soon enough Margaret considered all
his action in a treacherous light, with escalating consequences.
So the aversion of men for women taking power, combined
with her uncompromising attitude, caused many of the
MARGARET OF ANJOU
WOMAN OR SHE WOLF
HISTORY AND FICTION
There were two sort of critics on Margaret of Anjou
The fact, that she was a woman
Her uncompromising character and ruthless acts
In my view,Shakespeare and many elder historians
were especially influenced, not by cruel or unreasonable
acts of Margaret of Anjou, but the fact, she was a woman.
Admitted, she was hard and uncomprfomising, ordering executions
and forfeited her adversies of all their lands (which gave York
no alternative than eventually demanding the crown for himself
with the Act of Accord), but
she did no worse than the men in that time.
the Battle of Agincourt, yet making him a war hero.
Otherwise, you can condemn or criticize her hard and uncompromising
character, alienating many and driving her enemies to the point
But that is another stand than critic, because she is a woman.
Considering the Middle Ages and later, that is what can be expected,
but in present days actions have to be valuated, not whether
male or female.
In each case unacceptable are the myths about Margaret,
presenting as historical facts.
She was not present at the Battle of Wakefield, not ordering
York´s execution and her troops plundered and looted,
And concerning her hardness and cruelty, honesty
urges me to say, that she was hard and gave orders to
but she also spared prisoners of war.
At least three Yorkist prisoners of war, including John of Neville, The Earl
of Warwick’s younger brother, were spared execution, probably
asone of her commanders, the Duke of Somerset (son of Edmund Beaufort,
York’s bitter enemy) feared that his own younger brother who was in Yorkist hands might be executed in reprisal.
But that’s speculation.
Fact is, she spared his life.
So in her hardness, she had outburst of mercy too.
In fact, she was no better or worse as the warrior men, Lancaster
But hardness and cruelty are no characteristics I can valuate,
especially (I admit that) when there are women involved.
Apart from that, following the timeline of events, it seemed
to me, that, not denying the responsibility of the men involved,
especially the Dukes of York and Somerset, she was more vengeful,
embittered and prejudiced, pushing her policies to extremes, when
a peaceful solution still possible.
And that has nothing to do with a man/woman thing, but with character.
So although her hardness is not sympathetic to me,
one must pity her fate.
Loosing both husband and especially son, for whom she
fought so hard and died in poverty.
You travelled with me to the past again, meeting the
main players in the Wars of the Roses, their ambitions,
dilemma´s and struggle.
It was a disastrous time for the ancient English nobility,
nearly terminating each other.
It was a hard fight, from brother against brother
(King Edward´s own brother George, Duke
of Clarence, rebelled against him) and families
were divided in their loyalties to either Lancaster and
York, or switched sides.
I have made an overwiew of the causes of
the Wars of Roses, but especially wanted
to focus one of the main players, Queen Margaret
of Anjou, who is often villified as one of the
main causes of the conflict.
Although she played a major role in her favouritism
dislike of the Duke of York, I think, the wars
would have broken out even when she had been
Because the conflict was seeded by other causes already,
the incapacitation of King Henry VI, the losses
of the Hundred Year´s war with France, with as a consequence
The other villification of her is the reproach, that
There is (as so often) no proof whatsoever and
we´ll never know, but the accusation of adultery
was the Medieval way to villify women of nobility
or noble blood.
And at least, her cruelty was mentioned.
I don´t deny, she was a hard woman, who ordered
executions and that´s a dark side
of her indeed, as not ordering to remove the
his brother in law, Lord Salisbury [father of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker]
but no worse then men in her
environment., which not excuses her behaviour, of course.
As to the ordering the executions of the Duke of York, his son
and his brother in law Lord Salisbury at the battle of Wakefield
In contrary to popular allegations and some older
books, that, is
not possible, since Margaret was in Scotland at that
And regardless of one sympathises with her or
The Wars of the Roses were bloody and disastrous to
the old English nobility, but a remarkable period
in English history, the end of Medieval England, with
horrible events, but colourful players.
Thanks for travellingwith me to the past again.