war of the roses

The real war behind ‘Game Of Thrones’

Based on the bestselling book series by George R.R. Martin and created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, ‘Game of Thrones’ is undoubtedly the most successful series of the last decade. From bloody massacres to shifting loyalties and murdered princess ignited the plot of Game of Thrones. The series is based on an English war known as ‘The War of Roses’. Much like its fictionalized counterpart, the war of roses was a brutal series of events that led to mass murders and shifting reigns started upon the death of King Edward III of England in 1377; all for the English throne! 

The disloyalties among the two families- the York and the Lancaster serve the basic plot of the story. The rivalries of these two families were the most brutal recorded in history. The Battle of Towton in 1461 is considered the bloodiest of all in England’s history. The battle resulted in so many deaths that the archeologists are still recovering human remains even today. Unlike the ice zombies and supernatural elements, the war of roses was even more ferocious than the drama itself. So let’s take a tour down the exciting story behind our beloved show The Game of Throne, a roller coaster ride from the late 14th century to the 15th century witnessing brother against brother and father against sons.

The War Of The Roses

Upon the death of King Edward III in 1377, the throne was passed on to his then 10-year-old grandson Richard II, skipping Edward’s three surviving sons. This skip in the entire generation caused a lot of internal dispute within the family and proclamation to throne from various offspring. This is exactly where the drama kicked off. Richard II father, the oldest son of King Edward III was considered a brave hero of England who died long before, thus assuming his son to be the rightful heir of the throne does not seem wrong from the political view, however, it was wrong to his three surviving uncles who assumed equal right to the throne. Edward’s third son John, Duke of Lancaster descended from family ‘The Lancaster’ representing a red rose and his fourth son Edmund, Duke of York descended from family ‘The York’ representing a white rose. The war of roses is set within these two families.

war of the roses

With the start of the Little Ice Age, the mini apocalypse of the 14th century expanding the world glaciers, and a catastrophe just on the doorstep, the race for the English Throne was just about to begin. However, this common battleground was the one nobody assumed to last for the next 100 years!

Richard III’s throne was taken away in 1399 by his cousin Henry IV who reinstated the Lancaster family to power. His reign was peaceful and he soon passed on the throne to Henry V. In 1422, when Henry V passed away, his eight months old infant was announced as a king. This early royalty led to then decade long battle with the York. With Henry VI as a king, he always relied on his ministers and noblemen for political advice and this was the reason that he was married to the Princess of France, Margaret of Anjou in a political marriage. Margaret of Anjou was pretty, noble, and a ruthless woman who terminated anyone who threatened her power as a Queen. It was this marriage that led to the Battle of Towton.

The queen personally distrusted the Richard of York, the great-grandson of Edward III, who was a prominent figure in Henry’s court and still harbor the right to the throne. Henry VI being an amateur King led Richard of York to be his one of the most trusted loyalty; however, Margaret of Anjou distrusted his intentions. Thus she kept the king from promoting Richard to any higher position. This ignited York to protest against the Queen which ultimately resulted in his banishment to Ireland. His position was then granted to the Duke of Somerset who was the supporter of Queen Margaret. His control over the position didn’t go well and Henry VI’s reign became highly unpopular as he was seen as an incompetent ruler. Thus Richard of York returned and was elected as the Protector of England. When Henry VI suffered from a mental disorder, York was appointed as a regent in charge but soon his position was revoked when Henry VI was back to normal.

This reversal in designation was made upon the persuasion of the Queen herself. This time, in 1455, York attacked with an army and reinstated his position in the kingdom following the banishment of Henry VI. But he was soon killed by Margaret’s forces, and thus his son Edward IV sat on the throne. Edward IV fought the Lancasters frequently which included the bloody battle of TowTon in 1461.

The Downfall Of Edward IV

Though being constantly engaged in the battle with the Lancaster’s, Edward IV kingdom was well protected and thrived. His one of the best accomplice was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. However, his downfall came when he backed out from the marriage with the French Princess and secretly married a widow from the minor noble. This marriage outside the nobility was unacceptable for Warwick and he backed out his support to the York’s and instead joined the Lancaster’s. He turned many people against Edward IV including his jealous brother George. He also briefly supported Margaret to the throne; however, Edward IV once again won the fight in 1470 when Warwick invaded England. Edward of Westminster, the son of Henry VI, a very high-tempered child also fought the battle with the York’s but ultimately died in the Battle of Tewkesbury at the age of just seventeen. Henry VI was also not spared and was killed by the Edwards’s forces. Margaret was held imprisoned but was soon released upon the request from the France. The York’s once again ruled the throne until 1483 when Edward IV suddenly died.

war of the roses

The 12-year-old son of Edward IV was proclaimed to be the next king however it was interrupted by Edward’s brother Richard III. He protested that the child is from Edward’s secret marriage and thus is not legitimate to be the rightful king. He imprisoned the child along with his other brothers and took the crown for himself. The princes were soon disappeared and everybody assumed that they were killed by Richard III, though none questioned the mad king. Fate has its way and karma is always standing behind the door just in the case with Richard’s reign. Henry Tudor, a direct descendant of the first Duke of Lancaster returned to the kingdom and declared that he was raised in exile. Henry Tudor then fought the battle with Richard III and succeeded his way to the throne. Legend has it that the crown was placed on Henry’s head exactly the same place and the moment of Richard’s death.

The End Of The War Of Roses

war of the roses

With Henry Tudor finally succeeding the throne, the reign was once again in the hand of the Lancaster. But he soon married Elizabeth of York, the older sister of the disappeared princes, and thus tied the knot of love between the Lancaster’s and the York’s, ending the 100-year-old battle to the English Throne. He united the two roses bring the house of Tudor and established peace to the race of throne. This marriage gave rise to the Tudor Dynasty in Britain.  

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