Today marks the 560th anniversary of the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, which began at the First Battle of St. Albans, when Richard, the Duke of York, defeated and captured Henry VI, who was King of England at the time.
I’ve always thought the name of this civil war was such a pretty one, but the war itself was a horrible thing. Civil wars are never very pleasant, perhaps even worse than wars between nations, because they often pit family members against each other, and they certainly force friends, allies and comrades to pick sides. I suspect (although this is pure gut feeling and conjecture) that betrayal and turncoats and spies are far more frequent in civil wars.
The houses of Lancaster and York fought each other to a bloody standstill dozens of times over the next thirty-two years, and power shifted from one branch of the family to the other many times. It didn’t end until Henry Tudor finally conquered the Yorkists. All the potential heirs to the throne on both sides didn’t survive the last battle, which effectively ended the war.
Henry established the Tudor dynasty, which would eventually bring stability and prosperity to the kingdom.
If you like to view your history as fiction, try to catch up with The White Queen, a miniseries that shows the best and the worst of these times with a degree of historical accuracy – which is perhaps not surprising, when you consider the series was based on three novels by Phillippa Gregory, who really knows her stuff.
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