Wars of Roses 1455-1487 – English Civil Wars DOCUMENTARY

Wars of Roses 1455-1487 – English Civil Wars DOCUMENTARY


Wars often happen because different sides
have intractable contradictions, but each new war often creates the causes for the next
one. The Hundred Years’ War between England and France was no different, causing many
conflicts in Europe. In England, the Wars of the Roses stemmed from the Hundred Years’
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a new account via the link in the description! Good luck on the battlefield! The king of England Edward III had five sons
who survived into adulthood. For the first time in English history he created duchies
for them, making his sons the biggest landowners in the country. On the one hand this strengthened
the crown, but at the same time it formed a new class of nobility, which had claims
to the throne and enough power to vie for it. Edward’s son and heir, the famous Hundred
Years’ War commander Edward the Black Prince passed away in 1376, followed by the king
himself a year later. The Black Prince’s son was crowned as Richard II. The reign of
this monarch was tumultuous: The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, was followed by the Parliamentary
crisis of 1386-1388. Richard’s attempts to reach peace with France, his marriage to
the young Valois princess, the lack of an heir and the constant strife with the nobility
made him deeply unpopular. Richard’s cousin and one of the most powerful
lords – the Duke of Lancaster Henry Bolingbroke – was exiled to France in 1398. In May of
1399 Richard embarked on a campaign in Ireland, and Henry used the opportunity to return to
England. He immediately garnered enough support to dethrone Richard and assumed the throne
as Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king. Richard was arrested and died in 1400, while his heir
presumptive, another grandson of Edward III – Edmund Mortimer was bypassed. That created
legitimacy problems for the king and he faced at least six significant rebellions. In 1413 Henry IV succumbed to chronic disease
and was succeeded by his son Henry V. The new king was one of the most talented monarchs
of England during this era. In 1415 he renewed hostilities with France and won an impressive
victory at Agincourt. In less than a decade he conquered more French land than any English
king before him. The Treaty of Troyes was signed with France in 1420, according to which
Henry married French princess Catherine. Their descendants would inherit the French throne
after the death of Charles VI the mad. Both sovereigns passed away in 1422. Henry V’s son Henry VI, who was less than
one year old, was crowned as the king of England. The King’s uncle, John of Bedford, became
the regent and took command in France, while his other uncle Humphrey of Gloucester looked
after English affairs. Although Bedford was a decent commander, the French soon rallied
around Joan of Arc and Charles VII was crowned as king of France in Rheims. Henry’s coronation
in Paris was a mere symbol. By the time Henry reached adulthood and started
governing in 1437, Bedford was dead, and the situation in France was untenable. The king
was weak and easily swayed by his nobles, and at that point the peace party led by Edmund
of Somerset and William of Suffolk had more influence on the king than the war party of
Gloucester and Richard of York. The sides agreed to peace at Tours in 1444. According
to their agreement, Henry was to marry Charles’ niece Margaret of Anjou and return Maine and
Anjou to France. The marriage and the peace conditions were unpopular in England. Among those who protested was Gloucester and
that gave Henry a cause to imprison his uncle in 1447. Gloucester died shortly after and
this weakened the war party even more. Richard, who commanded the English lands in France,
was stripped of his office and sent to govern Ireland, which was an exile. Somerset and Suffolk became dukes in this
period. However, Suffolk was exiled under popular pressure and then murdered. Hostilities
with France were renewed and Somerset, who was appointed the commander in Normandy, lost
all the northern holdings save for Calais by 1450 and returned to England. He and Queen Margaret had the king under their
influence. The prestige of the monarchy was at an all-time low. The Hundred Years’ War
impoverished England, the losses in France were hard to swallow, and the nobles who lost
their lands on the continent were unhappy. At the same time, all the duchies created
in the last century had become too strong and independent, and the dukes often had personal
retinues larger than that of the king. At this point it is essential to show you
the family tree of the Plantagenet dynasty, as many grandsons of Edward III controlled
these duchies, ushering in the era of what is controversially known as bastard feudalism.
This era was characterized by the loyalty of the soldiers being to their lords, rather
than the king. The nobles would use that to procure offices, lands, and finances from
the king. These lords and their heirs would play a central role throughout the Wars of
the Roses. Richard, who had a strong claim to the throne
as a great-grandson of Edward III, used the circumstances to return from exile in 1452.
Although many came to his banner and demanded Somerset’s arrested, the queen’s party
still was stronger, and Margaret’s pregnancy made her position even more secure. The situation
would change in 1453: affected by the loss of Bordeaux and Aquitaine, the king suffered
a mental breakdown and became unresponsive. Scholars still argue about the nature of his
illness, but it is clear that Henry VI lost the remainder of his political power. In the north, two noble families, the Nevilles
and Percys, used the lack of central power to renew a feud, and as Somerset supported
the latter, the Nevilles allied with Richard. By 1454 Richard had enough backing to become
the Royal Protector and appoint his supporters to offices, while Somerset was arrested. However, in 1455 the king recovered, and queen
Margaret managed to influence him yet again. Richard’s decisions were rolled back, and
he was exiled. This time the Duke of York wasn’t going to take it, and he raised an
army to move to London. The conflict that would be later called the Wars of the Roses
because of the heraldic badges used by the Lancasters and the Yorks became inevitable. Henry knew that he would receive no support
in London and moved out to a town called St. Albans with his 2 thousand men, where an at
least 5 thousand strong Yorkist army was waiting for him. Richard wasn’t ready to dethrone
Henry, so negotiations started, but as the latter refused to surrender Somerset, the
Yorkists attacked. The Lancastrian army, led in battle by the Duke of Buckingham, took
up defensive positions around St Albans’ defences – primarily the gates on Sopwell
and Shropshire Lanes, while the king was in the market square. Meanwhile, York’s army
drew up in a line east of the town in the Key Field, behind the gardens of Hollywell
Street, the market square and St Peter’s square. At 10AM Warwick, Salisbury and York
simultaneously attacked the gates on both Shropshire and Sopwell Lane.
Due to its unexpected and swift nature, the attack succeeded at first, with the Yorkists
pushing onto the city streets. However, as it became apparent that an attack was taking
place, more men rushed to defend these strong points, and the narrow streets caused the
mass of Yorkists to suffer heavy losses. As the fighting threatened to bog down into a
grinding stalemate, the Earl of Warwick disengaged from the battle and rode to the rear, where
a rearguard was waiting in reserve. He then led them in a flanking maneuver through the
gardens near the market square, successfully remaining undetected as he did so. With a
blast of his trumpeters, the 25 year old Warwick charged and smashed the surprised Lancastrian
line in two. Hearing of this breach and fearing an attack
from their rear, the defenders of the gates now broke their lines and fled towards the
market square. More Yorkist forces now entered the city through the undefended gates. In
the square, the Lancastrian remnants attempted to rally, but were prevented from doing so
by the devastating short-range fire of Yorkist archers, who continuously showered the remaining
Lancastrians with missiles. Many Lancastrian commanders, among them Somerset,
were killed, while the king was captured. Richard returned him to London and was appointed
the Protector by Parliament. By that time Margaret gave birth to Edward
and became the leader of the Lancastrian party. It seemed that both sides were shocked by
St. Albans as hostilities continued only in the form of Percy-Neville feud between 1456
and 1459. Henry attempted to reconcile the parties on a few occasions, but the suspicions
were too strong, and in the Fall of 1459, the sides clashed once again. This time the Lancastrians gained the upper
hand, and the Yorkists were forced to find refuge in Calais and Ireland. The Yorkists
recovered quickly and returned to England in the Summer of 1460. The King’s forces
were defeated at Northampton, and Henry was captured. Richard attempted to claim the throne,
but even his staunchest supporters refused. Instead, the so-called Act of Accord was adopted,
according to which, Henry VI would rule for life, but would be succeeded by Richard of
York. The Queen was willing to fight for her son’s
inheritance and was gathering her forces in the north. Richard moved toward the Lancastrian
troops to prevent their recruitment efforts, but his enemies were already on the way, and
their 18 thousand blockaded his 5 to 10 thousand strong force near Sandal castle. What happened
next is still debated, but his next move was an attempt to sally out of the castle and
attack the Lancastrian forces, a move which seems in hindsight to have been incredibly
ill advised and rash. Many scholars have attempted to explain this move by Richard. Theories
range from simple miscalculation and rashness on Richard’s part, to Lancastrian trickery.
It said that Sir Andrew Trollope sent in pretend deserters to Sandal Castle, proclaiming that
their ‘former’ commander was going to change sides. The Lancastrian forces also
apparently showed false colours in order to trick Richard of York into thinking his reinforcements
had arrived. Whatever prompted it, Richard chose to ride
out from the castle and fight, rather than withstanding the trials of a siege, which
would further deplete his provisions. After marching down the modern day Manygates Lane
towards the Lancastrian forces, who were to the north, York was cut off from his castle
from behind and surrounded, while he engaged the enemy frontally. His numerically inferior
forces were soundly defeated, and York himself was killed, probably being unhorsed, wounded
and killed during a fight to the death. In early 1461 his son Edward became the leader
of the Yorkists. In February he defeated a Lancastrian army at Mortimer’s Cross. Meanwhile,
a smaller Yorkist force under Warwick was defeated at St. Albans by the army commanded
by the Queen. Henry VI was recaptured by the Lancastrians. Edward learned about this defeat
and moved south where he united with the remainder of Warwick’s troops. As Lancastrian soldiers committed atrocities
in the area, Margaret and Henry lost all their support and decided to move to the north.
That allowed Edward to enter London in March and take the throne as Edward IV. The showdown
was imminent. Both sides continued to recruit troops over
the next few weeks. Edward left London on the 13th and arrived in Nottingham on the
22nd. Here he received the news that the 30 to 35 thousand Lancastrian troops commanded
by Somerset were to the south of the city of York. Edward had less than 30 thousand. On the 28th of March King Edward sent FitzWalter
to secure the bridge over the Aire River, near Ferrybridge. However, Fitzwalter was
ambushed by Clifford’s cavalry. Many Yorkists were massacred or drowned. King Henry had sent a messenger to negotiate,
but his offer was refused. Edward knew that the main Lancastrian forces led by Somerset
were waiting two miles away, ready to crush the Yorkists if they pushed Clifford away
and crossed the river. He sent a vanguard under Suffolk, which managed to push the Lancastrians
back to the end of the bridge. Edward then marched with the main force to Ferrybridge
and led his men personally to Suffolk’s aid. To stop the Yorkist advance, the Lancastrians
destroyed the bridge, but the former constructed a narrow raft to ferry across. This raft was
captured by the Lancastrians, and the fight continued in the area for some time, until
the Yorkists managed to cross the river to the north, at Castleford and set up camp. At dawn on the 29th of March, both armies
found themselves in a snowstorm. At eleven in the morning, the Yorkists marched northward
and encamped on the hill ten miles south of York, with their backs to the village of Saxton.
Edward put his men in formation – their lines stretched for a mile along the ridge. At the
same time, the Lancastrians moved north and took positions to the north of the Yorkists
on high ground a hundred feet above them, on the meadowland to the south of Towton.
Part of their cavalry was hidden in the forest to the west of the Yorkist positions. The
Lancastrians had the advantage of the high ground. The Yorkist position was shaky, as
any retreat would trap them along the river. Edward had artillery, but the weather conditions
did not allow its usage. Somerset didn’t want to descend from the
high ground and waited for the Yorkists to approach. The battle started with the archers
exchanging volleys. However the wind was blowing into the faces of the Lancastrian archers,
and they were unable to see the enemy properly. Their arrows fell short of the mark, and according
to the sources, all they could hear through the whirlwind was the laughter of their counterparts.
A hail of counter-volleys accompanied this: the Yorkists were gathering thousands of enemy
arrows and were firing them back at them, retreating after each volley to avoid the
return fire. The Lancastrians suffered heavy losses and were forced to descend from the
hill, taking up melee weapons and charging. The Yorkist archers sent a few more volleys
and then retreated behind their man-at-arms. As the main Lancaster force charged into the
Yorkist army, a fierce melee began across the line. At the same time, the hidden flanking
force attacked the left flank of Edward’s army, did significant damage and almost routed
it. Edward himself led the reserves and stabilized the situation on the left side. Still, the
Lancastrians outnumbered their enemies and slowly pushed them back. It was then that
the forces send by Norfolk to assist Edward arrived. It is not clear if Edward gave an
order or if the commander of this unit took the initiative, but these troops attacked
the Lancastrians in the flank. Soon Henry’s forces were routed. Sources claim that 20
thousand Lancastrians and up to 10 thousand Yorkists were killed, making Towton the bloodiest
battle fought on English soil. After the decisive victory at Towton in 1461,
Edward IV returned to London for his coronation, while Henry VI alongside his wife Margaret
and son Edward fled to Scotland. The Lancastrian party still controlled part of Northumberland
and Edward left Richard of Warwick, aptly nicknamed the Kingmaker for his role in the
rise of the Yorks, to deal with the last remnants of the resistance. By 1463, Warwick retook
all of the castles belonging to the Lancastrian nobles and returned to the South. As Edward’s
position was strong and he decided to forgive some of his past enemies, among them Henry
Somerset and Ralph Percy. King Edward was wary that the Scots supported
the Lancasters throughout the first phase of the war, so in 1463 he asked James III
to sign a treaty. The Scots agreed and sent their diplomats to York in 1464. To prevent
the agreement from happening, Lancastrian nobles nudged by queen Margaret rebelled in
1464 under the leadership of Somerset and Percy in Northumberland. Edward sent a force
led by Warwick’s brother John Neville to the north, and in May he defeated Somerset
at Hexham. All Lancastrian leaders were killed, which ended the rebellion for good. The treaty
with the Scots was signed and queen Margaret and Prince Edward escaped to France to their
relative – king Louis XI. In 1465 Henry VI was captured in Lancashire and brought
to London, which ushered in a short period of peace in England.
During this time Richard Warwick became even more powerful, assuming many offices and taking
lands from the Lancastrians. He tried to assert influence over the young king, and he saw
the negotiations with Louis in 1466 as one of the ways to do it. Warwick tried to marry
Edward with the daughter of the French king – Anne and this is when a secret came out:
the king had privately married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464, and the fact that she was from the
lower nobility shocked the magnates. On top of that, Edward entered a secret alliance
with the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold negating Warwick’s negotiations with Louis
and embarrassing him. Warwick left the court in 1467 and started plotting against the king.
In 1469 one of his captains started a rebellion in the North. Edward moved to Nottingham in
the early days of July, but upon learning that the rebels outnumbered him decided to
wait for reinforcements. However, Warwick entered London a few days after and declared
for the rebels alongside his son-in-law, the king’s brother George. The rebels managed
to bypass Nottingham and attacked the royal reinforcements at a place called Edgecote
Moor. Supported by Warwick’s troop the rebels routed the forces of the king. Edward was
captured on his way back to London. Warwick’s attempt to rule in the king’s
name or even dethrone him failed, as Edward was still very popular among the nobility
and the commoners. Rebellions forced Warwick to release the king, and he ended up with
even less influence over governance than before. So, Warwick decided to instigate another rebellion
in Lincolnshire, in March of 1470. This time the king moved swiftly, not allowing the rebels
to connect with Warwick. At Losecoat Field Edward’s outnumbered army defeated and routed
the rebels. This forced Warwick to flee to France, where
Louis reconciled him with Queen Margaret. Kingmaker was going to restore Henry VI, who
by now wasn’t in possession of his faculties, to the English throne, using French support.
In September Warwick landed in Devon. Initially, Edward was planning to march against him,
but Warwick’s brother John, who had remained loyal to the king until now, finally rebelled,
and Edward had no other choice but to leave England. In October Warrick entered London
and restored Henry to the throne. Meanwhile, Edward found refuge in Flanders,
which was under the control of Charles the Brave. Although the help he received from
Burgundy was minimal, Edward returned to England in March of 1471. Edward used deceit, stating
that he was not vying for the throne and had come back to reclaim the Duchy of York. The
city of York allowed him to enter and soon he started his march towards London, receiving
reinforcements along the way. Even his disloyal brother George rejoined him.
It seems that Warrick was waiting for aid from his allies in England and France, so
he avoided battle, as it was expected that Edmund Somerset would defend the capital.
However, the Londoners preferred Edward, and Somerset was forced to leave either to avoid
rebellion or to unite with Margaret, who was going to land in Dorset. Edward took control
of the city and captured Henry VI yet again. Edward had between 10 and 15 thousand and
was outnumbered by Warwick’s army, which had more than 20 thousand, but he knew that
he needed to attack before the more reinforcements could join his enemy from the south. Warwick
was probably hoping to block the road to the North, as on the 12th of April his troops
took a position to the north of London at a place called Barnet.
The Yorkist army arrived on the evening of the 13th and Edward positioned his troops
in the dark, planning to take his stand at dawn. It is said that Edward made a mistake
in the dark, underestimating the distance between the two armies, and moved his troops
closer to those of Warwick than he had intended. This, however, proved fortunate, as the Lancastrians,
who were using their artillery to weaken their enemy, were overshooting Edward’s troops,
who moved through most of the night to take up positions.
He deployed Hastings on the left and his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, aged eighteen
at the time, on the right, while George was to stay with him in the center. A small reserve
was stationed behind the main line. Opposite them, Warwick and his brother John Neville
commanded the center, with Exeter on the right, and Oxford on the left side. The Lancastrian
knights were dismounted, as that usually showed that they weren’t going to retreat and would
fight among the commoners until the very end. As the morning of April 14 dawned, a mist
engulfed the battlefield. The armies failed to line-up parallel to each other, with both
ending up in a slight oblique formation in relation to the enemy. The Lancastrians had
numbers, so this at first worked to their advantage – Oxford’s unit attacked the
flank of Edward’s army. Hastings’ troops were soon overwhelmed. Many of them died during
the retreat, while the remainder fled all the way to London, claiming that Edward had
already lost the battle. Unfortunately for Warwick, a big part of Oxford’s unit remained
detached from the battle, as they attempted to loot their fallen enemies, with only part
of it returning to the fight. As visibility was still poor, neither side knew about these
events. Meanwhile, Gloucester repeated Oxford’s
maneuver, attacking the Lancastrian left and pushing Exeter’s troops back. This shifted
the lines yet again. Warwick, aware of this, ordered his reserves to support Exeter and
restore the formation, while his forces moved against the enemy’s center, and the lines
finally joined. It is said, that the remainder of Oxford’s troops returned to the battle
at this point and in the mist ended up behind the reserves commanded by John Neville, which
were sent to support Exeter. Apparently, Oxford’s coat of arms with stars on it was mistaken
for Edward’s banner with the sun on it. The panicked forces of Neville turned towards
Oxford’s troops and unleashed their bows killing many of their comrades. As backstabbing
was so common during this period, Oxford and his soldiers cried “Treason!” and started
retreating to the north. This cry resonated across the Lancastrian line, which ended up
in disarray. At this point the fog started to dissipate
and Edward, seeing his enemies panicked, sent his in his reserves to move across the right
side and attack the Lancastrians from the flank and rear. Soon Warwick and Neville were
killed, while Exeter was captured. Between 5 and 10 thousand Lancastrians were dead,
while the Yorkists lost less than a thousand. Unfortunately for Edward, while this battle
was raging, Queen Margaret and her son – Prince Edward landed in Dorset and were greeted by
Somerset. Edward dismissed most of his troops and returned to London then learned about
the arrival of Margaret 2 days later. The queen knew about the death of Warwick at Barnet,
so she decided to move towards Wales with her 6 thousand strong army to connect with
one of her supporters – Jasper Tudor. A few of her units were sent to the east to
deceive Edward, but the king was not fooled and moved swiftly to the west with his remaining
5 thousand. By the time Margaret reached Bristol on the
30th of April, Edward was at Cirencester, some 60 kilometers to the Northeast. He attempted
to block the Lancastrian route to the north but was outmaneuvered. It was becoming clear
that Margaret was trying to move across the River Severn to reach Wales, so Edward sent
a message to the governor of Gloucester, the city which controlled the nearest crossing,
ordering him not to let Margaret pass. The Lancastrian army had no other choice but to
move to the north and cross near Tewkesbury. However, Edward was moving as swiftly as usual,
and his speed made it impossible for the Lancastrians to cross the bridge. On the 4th of May, they
were forced to fight him at Tewkesbury. The battlefield was full of small woods, hedges,
and marshes which was favorable for the Lancastrians, who assumed a defensive position, dividing
their army into three equal parts. Their left and rear were protected by a river, while
the center was positioned on a hill. Similarly, Edward divided his troops into three groups,
but a small cavalry ambush was placed in the woods to the extreme left. The Yorkists also
had a decided advantage in artillery, as the army of the queen was forced to abandon its
cannons during the march. The battle started with a Yorkist advance
supported by artillery volleys, but as the terrain was broken, it was impossible for
Edward to move in a coherent line. Somerset attempted to use the divide in the enemy forces
and attacked the unit commanded by Edward. Initially, this charge surprised the king
and his troops, and they were pushed back. However, the charging Lancastrians ended up
with the ambushing horsemen to their rear, and a charge routed them. Most of this unit
was cut down. According to the legend, Somerset managed
to return to his main line and killed the commander of the center, who failed to support
him. It was clear that the Lancastrians has lost and their retreat ended up in a massacre.
Most of the Lancastrian commanders, among them Summerset and Prince Edward were executed,
while Margaret was taken captive. On the 4th of May 1471, King Edward IV of
the house of York decisively defeated his enemies from the house of Lancaster at Tewkesbury.
Most of the Lancastrian leaders, among them Prince Edward and Edmund of Somerset, were
killed, while the queen, Margaret of Anjou, became captive. The king knew that some Lancastrian
allies, chief among them Jasper Tudor, were active in Wales and Northern England, so he
moved his troops to Coventry to prevent these enemies from uniting their forces.
Meanwhile, one of the last representatives of the Neville family, Thomas landed in Kent
and started recruiting troops on his march to London. By the 14th of May, he had 15 thousand
under his command and was attacking London, which was critical both as the capital, and
the place the Lancastrian king Henry VI was kept prisoner.
The Londoners supported the Yorks at this point and not only sent messengers to Edward
IV but also repulsed all the attacks of Thomas Neville. Edward was fast as usual and entered
London on the 21st of May. On the same night, Henry VI was executed, and Thomas Neville,
who learned about this and the loss at Tewkesbury retreated to the South. His troops now demoralized,
the Lancastrian leader decided to surrender. At the same time, the rebellion in the North
also fizzled out. It would be helpful to look at the family
tree of the English monarchs at this point. With the execution of Henry VI, the house
of Lancaster was exterminated, and the remaining challenger to Edward IV was 14-year-old Henry
Tudor, who had a weak claim to the English throne via his matrilineal ties to the house
of Beaufort, which was descended from the son of Edward III, John of Gaunt.
Henry Tudor was with his uncle Jasper in Wales at that point, and upon learning about the
events in London, they decided to flee. They were heading to France, which was ruled by
Henry’s relative Louis XI, but a storm forced them to land in Brittany. Its ruler – duke
Francis II was willing to use Henry as a bargaining chip in his dealings with France and England,
so the Tudors became partly hostages, partly guests in Brittany. Francis rejected the bribes
and threats from the English king through the years.
Still, England entered a period of relative peace, as Edward had no real opponents. Louis
XI traditionally supported his enemies, so when the Duke of Burgundy offered to help
with the old English claim to the French throne with his troops, Edward agreed, and in 1474
they signed a treaty in London. In June of 1475 the English king landed in Calais, but
received no support from Burgundy. Neither Edward nor Louis was willing to fight, so
the former bribed the latter by signing the treaty of Picquigny.
During this period the relationships between the brothers of the English king Richard of
Gloucester and George of Clarence were tense, and in 1478 George was accused of plotting
against Edward, and then, arrested and executed. As Richard had supported Edward throughout
the Wars of the Roses, the king elevated Richard to effectively control northern England.
Although Edward was just 40 years old, he became terminally ill in 1483 and soon passed
away. There are multiple theories about his death, and even poisoning is not ruled out,
but in any case, his 12-year-old son Edward V became the king, with Richard Gloucester
as the regent. However, on the way to London Richard ordered the relatives and closest
allies of the Queen Elizabeth Woodville to be arrested. Edward V and his brother were
placed in the London tower. Just a few months later, the offspring of Edward IV and Elizabeth
Woodville were declared illegitimate, and Richard III claimed the throne. The fate of
Edward V and his brother is unclear, but they had disappeared, while the legend of “The
Princes in the Tower” became famous. This naked power grab would stir the political
situation in England once again. Queen Elizabeth started plotting with the mother of Henry
Tudor – Margaret Beaufort. Margaret’s new husband the Earl of Derby Thomas Stanley
and the Duke of Buckingham Henry Stafford also became part of this plot.
In the Fall of 1483, Henry Tudor sailed from Brittany, while Buckingham started a rebellion
in the West and South of England. However, severe storms prevented Henry from landing
in England, while Buckingham was slowed down and not able to unite his forces with other
rebels. Soon the rebels were defeated by Richard, Buckingham was executed, and Henry had to
return to Brittany. Here he was joined by the remainder of the rebel forces. The English
king demanded that Francis of Brittany extradite Henry, but his demands were rebuked, so Richard
sent his navy to blockade Brittany. At this point duke Francis fell ill, and as his ministers
were willing to surrender the fugitive for a bribe, so Henry escaped to France.
At the end of 1484, Henry publicly promised to marry the daughter of Edward IV Elizabeth
to unite the dynasties, which strengthened his position in England. Henry received support
from the new French king Charles VIII and recruited mercenaries. Back in England, Richard’s
wife passed away, and the rumors claimed that he wanted to marry his niece, Elizabeth.
This spurred Henry to action and on the 1st of August 1485 he set sail from France at
Honfleur and landed in Wales on the 7th without meeting any obstacles, despite the fact Richard
had placed small garrisons to blockade a naval invasion. As Henry had Welsh blood, many local
lords joined him, and on the 15th he entered England near Shrewsbury.
Meanwhile, Richard learned about the landing on the 11th of August; it took him a few days
to gather all his forces. On the 16th the Yorkist forces started moving towards Leicester.
Although that gave Henry a chance to move towards London, he also marched his troops
towards Leicester, as he had allies in the area and needed their help to win. Gathering
these allies, Henry moved closer to Richard. On the 21st the armies encamped to the south
of Bosworth, with Richard taking Ambion hill, while Henry stopped at a place called White
Moors. Thomas Stanley seemingly promised to join both sides but instead made camp at a
hill called Dadlington to the south of Henry and Richard. The Tudors had more than 5 thousand
troops, while the Yorks probably fielded an army closer to 10 thousand. Stanley’s 5
thousand were a wildcard. In the morning of the 22nd, Henry arrayed
most of his forces in one large unit commanded by the Lancastrian veteran of the battle of
Barnet, John of Oxford, while he led a small reserve. The Tudor army started marching towards
their numerically superior enemy. Richard was surprised by this as he expected Henry
to take a defensive stance. The battle was not beginning according to his expectations.
Still, he managed to get his army into three groups: John of Norfolk commanded the right,
Percy of Northumberland the left, while the king was leading the center.
While the Tudors were getting closer, the Yorkist artillery opened fire upon them. Oxford
was prepared for that, and his troops started shifting to attack the left flank of the Yorkist
army. This put his main division directly against Norfolk, and the artillery barrage
stopped to prevent friendly fire. Although the Yorkists had numbers on their side, Oxford
widened his line on the march before two groups finally clashed. The Tudor forces started
to push back their counterparts. At the same time, Northumberland on Richard’s
left flank wasn’t moving in, either due to betrayal or in fear that Stanley, who still
hadn’t made his move, might attack him from the rear. Richard needed to turn his center
to descend from the hill, but it was moving too slow and that allowed the Tudor rearguard
to move in and attack Norfolk from the right. Seeing Henry’s Dragon banner, Richard decided
to charge against him with a thousand horsemen. Initially, this charge pushed Henry’s forces
back, and the unit was close to panic. However, the challenger to the throne stood firm, and
his bodyguards managed to stem the tide. Oxford also supported his liege, sending a group
of pikemen to attack Richard from the left. This attack started pushing the English king
towards the marshes in the southeast. Simultaneously, Stanley sent his younger brother
William to join the battle, and he attacked Richard’s group from the right. This was
the final straw. The knights around Richard started dying, and soon he was killed with
a blow to his head. The news of his death ended the battle. We have conflicting information
on the casualties, but it seems that they were relatively low, as the fight took less
than 2 hours and was decided in the engagement of two groups of knights.
After Henry dismissed his mercenaries, established his rule over England and married Elizabeth
of York, it seemed as though the War of the Roses was over. Indeed, many consider the
Battle at Bosworth Field to be the concluding moment of this war, but Yorkist sympathisers
would not allow Henry’s rule to begin smoothly. Though a vast number of Richard III’s noble
supporters had been killed at Bosworth field, two of them – Francis, Viscount Lovell, Sir
Humphrey Stafford and his brother Sir Thomas Stafford, had escaped and fled to the sanctuary
of Colchester Abbey. They had lost their lands and titles, but still felt they had sufficient
power to rally the common people against the new king. In the April of 1486 – eight months
after Bosworth, the trio left the sanctuary of the abbey and began to incite armed rebellion.
Lovell travelled to the region of Yorkshire around Middleham castle, which was a former
Yorkist stronghold, while the Stafford duo went to Worcestershire in the West Midlands.
Henry VII was in Lincoln when he received news of the budding Yorkist revolt, travelling
on his first royal procession. With the large retinue he had with him, a
decision was made to deal with Lovell first, as Henry feared the reaction of the traditionally
Yorkist areas that Lovell was rousing to rebellion. By the time Henry reached the city of York
on April 23rd, the rebels were struggling to gain any traction due to the lack of a
central Yorkist figure to rally behind. The nail in the coffin was hammered in by Jasper
Tudor, who was sent to offer pardons to all the rebels except for Lovell. This worked
out and, while the rebellion collapsed in Yorkshire, Lovell eventually fled to Burgundy
and to the court of Edward IV’s sister – Margaret of York. To the south, the Staffords had no
greater success in Worcestershire, and the incipient rebellion utterly collapsed after
news arrived of Lovell’s flight and the fact that Henry was coming with a large army.
With that, the 1486 rebellion fell apart, but did inspire many other smaller bouts of
unrest elsewhere in the country, which were quickly quelled. Meanwhile in Burgundy, Lovell discovered that
he was not the only exiled Englishman present. Many other Yorkists, including a Calais captain
known as Thomas David who had brought a part of the Calais garrison with him, were present
and quickly became allies. Another prominent Yorkist who had survived the Battle of Bosworth
was the Earl of Lincoln – Sir John de la Pole, a nephew of Edward IV. After king Richard’s
death in 1485, Henry had imprisoned Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick – who was
a potential rival to the throne as the nearest male heir of the Yorkist line. An Oxford priest
known as Richard Simons noticed a striking physical resemblance between a ‘scholar’
called Lambert Simnel and the imprisoned Warwick, and he was claimed to be the real thing. Lincoln
realised this was an opportunity began to rally the Yorkist lords at Margaret’s court
to him. With financial backing in the form of mercenaries and ships, the false Warwick,
Lovell, Lincoln and the other diehard Yorkists in Burgundy now sailed for Ireland. The mercenaries
which had been hired were 2,000 Germans under the command of a Captain Martin Schwartz,
whose men had gained a reputation as rapacious and capable fighters in campaigns against
France. Shortly after the arrival of Lovell and Lincoln
in Ireland on the 24th of May 1487, the false Warwick was crowned as Edward VI in Christ
Church Cathedral, Dublin. The Irish lords, who most likely sought to benefit from the
revolt by gaining independence, supported this pretender king without hesitation. Other
dissatisfied Yorkists from as far away as Jersey and Cornwall began to flock to Ireland
in hopes of assisting this restoration, and the army therefore grew in size. King Henry
had been keeping an eye on the situation since January and by April had come to the conclusion
that the movement could lead to an armed invasion. Knowing that the prominent remaining Yorkists
were at first in Burgundy, Henry had moved his court to Norwich in order to be best placed
to resist an invasion from the south or east. However, when the King learned that the Irish
lords had accepted the pretender king upon his arrival in the country, he moved his base
to the western city of Coventry. Aware that an invasion was now imminent, Henry ordered
that warning beacons were to be made ready, and the nobles were to begin assembling at
Kenilworth Castle, where the king was making his final plans to face the foe. After setting sail from Dublin on the 2nd
of June, the rebels came ashore on the Lancashire coastline two days later near Peil Island
in Furness. As soon as they landed, they formally declared for ‘Edward VI’ and then set
off inland almost immediately. That night, they encamped at a place named Swarthmoor
near Ulverston, where more Yorkist forces under Sir Thomas Broughton joined them. The
following day the rebel force set off for Yorkshire, moving through Carnforth, where
they were further reinforced by contingents sent by the anti-Tudor Harrington and Middleton
families. As they crossed the border into Yorkshire itself, additional supporters joined
then, but the extremely rapid progress of the revolt prevented them from rallying their
full forces. Lincoln now chose to write a warning addressed to the lord mayor of York
in the name of ‘Edward VI’, stating that his army intended to enter the city in order
to gather supplies. However, the divided citizens did not know whose side to take, and they
eventually decided to remain loyal to Henry, who had been generous to them in his short
time as king. Lincoln soon received a reply from the city
leaders of York, stating that if he tried to enter the city he would be resisted with
force. This was a setback, but on the 11th of June this rebel force won a minor victory
against a Lancastrian force led by Sir Henry Clifford, capturing his baggage train intact.
Realising that a rapid advance would be more beneficial than a lengthy siege, the victorious
Lincoln made the decision to turn south instead. Aware that the king would attempt to intercept
them on the march, a decision was made to head for the Nottinghamshire town of Newark.
Henry was well served by his many scouts and agents, quickly becoming aware of the rapid
rebel advance. Correctly anticipating their destination, the king arrived at Nottingham
on June 14th. The rebels continued their march south via Castleford and towards Rotherham,
reaching the town of Southwell by the 14th. On the 15th, the two forces finally came near
one another at a small village known as East Stoke. The rebel army which broke camp on
the morning of the 16th of June 1487 consisted of around 8,000 men at arms, primarily consisting
of farmers and other common folk who had been recruited on the march south. 2,000 more of
the highly trained German mercenaries were also dispersed through the army, along with
a small Irish contingent. When Henry’s men left camp that morning,
they continued to march down the Fosseway in a column, rather than in battle formation,
and were spread across several miles of the old Roman road. This was due to the fact that
the royal army was not aware that the rebels were nearby – fully formed up for battle near
East Stoke. Leading vanguard of the army was the Earl of Oxford, who quickly became aware
of the rebel position and now had to make a crucial decision which would decide the
fate of the battle. Aware that a retreat would mean a devastating blow to morale and standing
his ground would be a massive risk, Oxford instead chose to attack after sending a message
about the situation to the king – who was several miles behind. Putting faith in the
superior equipment and training of his 6,000 strong vanguard, Oxford marched towards the
10,000 rebel troops in battle order. At 9AM the two sides drew ever closer to one
another and began an arrow exchange – the royal troops inflicted heavy losses on the
badly armoured rebels at first, but then the royal troops had to adjust their formation
as they reached the base of Burham Furlong – a small hill on which the rebels had formed
up. As they did this, the largely unarmoured Irish contingent charged down the hill as
they were being badly mauled by the arrow fire. Hoping to prevent a catastrophic partial
attack, the rebel commanders committed the entire army to this downhill charge, and they
contacted with the enemy, driving them back due to superior numbers and momentum. As Oxford’s
hard pressed men were on the verge of completely routing, the king’s main force arrived from
the rear and began feeding in fresh troops to the line. The rebels, now hopelessly outnumbered,
found themselves gradually pushed back towards the hill and then up it. Less than three hours
after the conflict had started, the rebel line broke and their army routed. As the rebels fled, the majority of them tried
to escape along a ravine leading from the hill down to the River Trent, which was nearby.
Many of them were cornered by the king’s troops here and were slain in their hundreds.
This grim place is still locally known as the ‘Red Gutter’, as the slaughter was
apparently so great that the floor of the ravine ran red with blood. The false Edward
VI – Lambert Simnel, was captured by a squire and was surprisingly spared. This was the final battle of the War of the
Roses, and the Tudor dynasty would rule England for over a century after. We always have more stories to tell, so make
sure you are subscribed to our channel and pressed the bell button. We would like to
express our gratitude to our Patreon supporters and channel members, who make the creation
of our videos possible. Now, you can also support us by buying our merchandise via the
link in the description. This is the Kings and Generals channel, and we will catch you
on the next one.

Comments

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    Kings and Generals

    Merry Christmas! Unlike our previous full episodes, this one has 15 minutes or so of new footage, as we tried to cover three more battles that weren't described in the stand-alone episodes. Consider supporting us on patreon: http://www.patreon.com/KingsandGenerals

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    Vaenir

    this is why you never give land titles to family members and change your succession laws to primogeniture as soon as possible…

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    J Kotadia

    Couple videos ago: β€œif we mentioned every detail, the video would be an hour long”

    Couple videos later: time to go an hour long.

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    frank gunner

    Brilliant stuff why wasn't i taught about all this at school our history is fascinating and brutal but sadly forgotten. Merry Xmas

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    Bremner's Ghost

    I was born and educated on the battlefield of Wakefield 1460, Why the Hell did Richard of York come out of Sandal Castle to fight an Army at least 3x the size of his Force, When he knew he had massive reinforcements coming up the Great North Road within a few days??

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    Kadir bozkuş

    Is nt it the same think where ever you go different parts of the world ? Power hungry influencal people playing with its country and people for nothing in the end i realy dont understand these people s mindset killing thousands tens of thousand for a one comfy chair .

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    TsukiyamaSensei

    Love the 1212 mod, just hate its helmets. Very very few armets, and with sallets and others looking really odd and not historically accurate. Early period helmets look great, but anything past 1450s the mod loses its accuracy.

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    Caratacus

    'Fun' fact: More Englishmen died at Towton than died on the first day of the Battle of The Somme in WW1. It was the bloodiest day in all of English history by far.

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    TsukiyamaSensei

    By far my favorite time period in history as far as arms and armor go. 1450-1600 is so interesting and the closer you go to 1600 the less you'll find people making videos over it. Really hope to see more videos over the late medieval to early modern period. Awesome video.

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    Timothy Kimemia

    That Five sons surviving into adulthood quote echoed through the centuries is what defines the wars of the rosesπŸ˜„

    Great Job devin.

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    homemade history

    Me: I want to sleep
    Kng: post 55min of war the roses
    Me: ah shit here we go again
    .
    .
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    Ps: by the way I love ur videos

    Ps

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    NjK

    It be cool if you released a version of these without the constant soundtrack, then people could listen to it more like a podcast at times

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    Slave and follower

    25:00 "Then captured Henry VI yet again"

    Edward IV" I am assuming you know where the tower London is" ?
    Henry VI "Yes I know, I will see myself out"

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    TheNighthawk00

    I had a very hard time following this. I feel one needs to be British or be very familiar with British history to understand everything.

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    Malter Dwight

    Britain History πŸ‘ I have to hand it to the British. I thought they might be defeated by the progressive agenda. Much like the BREXIT vote this election really shocked me. An early Christmas present. God Bless the UK. Freedom! I also support Scottish independence. It's the right thing to do. Respect the vote.

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    Branimir

    Finally a solid documentary about the great history of your country? At least judging from your accent πŸ˜‰ Well done! And Merry Christmas πŸ™‚

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    Rebecca Herschman

    White rose had a better claim to the throne I've always looked at the Lancasterians as a bunch of power hungry royal douchebags.. Henry Bolingbrook gave into more aggressive less royal Lancasterian Henry Tudor who had absolutely no legitimate claim except through his mother and her family was barred from the throne.

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    noah

    Why are the british soo bad a ruling. They constantly conquer huge portions of land at huge cost but lose it right afterwards. What a waste of money and men. Pathetic.

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    noah

    The first battle of the Rose's doesnt make any sense. Why would the king have split his army up to gaurd the street entrances if you could just go around threw the gardens. I thought at first there was a wall with gates. that would have made sense

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    noah

    Its wierd that Scotland didnt get involved in the war of the Rose's. England was weakened. I geuss scotland has always been too weak to actually invade england

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    Joshua Audie Depositario

    Ow what a beautiful present! Hahaha. Merry Christmas guys! Keep up the good work. Really appreciate every videos. πŸ˜€

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