Wars of the Roses Causes and Events 1265 – 1486

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This timeline details the main causes and events of the Wars of the Roses including the origins of the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York.


1265 (August)
Edmund, second son of King Henry III, was created 1st Earl of Lancaster. He chose a red rose as his emblem. Although it was not part of their flag, the red rose became synonymous with the House of Lancaster.
1361 (during)
King Edward III’s fourth son, John of Gaunt, became Earl of Lancaster after his father-in-law died.
1362 (13th November)
Edward III’s third son, Lionel, died.
1362 (13th November)
Edward III’s fourth son, John of Gaunt was created Duke of Lancaster.
1376 (8th June)
Edward III’s eldest son, Edward Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince died. His 9 year old son, Richard became heir to the throne.
1377 (21st June)
King Edward III died. He was succeeded by his grandson Richard II who was aged 10 years.
1385 (August)
Edward III’s fifth son, Edmund of Langley was created Duke of York. He chose the white rose as his emblem. The white rose symbolically represented the Virgin Mary. Over time the white rose became synonymous with the royal house of York.
1399 (3rd February)
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, died. His son, Henry Bolingbroke inherited the title Dukedom of Lancaster.
1399 (30th September)
Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster, overthrew his cousin, Richard II after Richard refused to let him inherit his father’s lands. He was crowned King Henry IV and Richard was imprisoned.
1399 (10th November)
Henry IV’s created his son, Henry, Duke of Lancaster.
1400 (Spring)
Richard II died in captivity, probably starved to death.
1402 (1st August)
Edward III’s son Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, died. His son Edward inherited the title Duke of York.
1413 (20th March)
Henry IV died. He was succeeded by his son Henry V.
1415 (during)
An act was passed that declared that the lands and titles of the Duchy of Lancaster should be merged with the crown.
1415 (25th October)
Edward, Duke of York, was killed at the Battle of Agincourt. Edward’s nephew Richard – eldest son of Edward’s brother Richard was next in line to inherit the Dukedom of York but as his father Richard had been executed the previous month for treason the title was forfeited to the crown.
1422 (31st August)
Henry V died. He was succeeded by his son, Henry VI aged 9 months.
1422 (1st September)
Henry VI’s uncles, John, Duke of Bedford, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort acted as regents for the infant King.
1422 (21st October)
Charles VI of France died. In accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, Henry VI became King of France.
1425 (during)
Humphrey Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort disagreed on how to manage the French.
1425 (24th February)
Richard, heir to the Dukedom of York, whose title had been forfeited due to his father’s treason, had the title restored to him.
1435 (14th September)
John, Duke of Bedford, Protector of the young King, died.
1435 (21st September)
Congress of Arras
This meeting between representatives of the French, English and Burgundians sought to find a peace. The Treaty of Arras found agreement between France and Burgundy which broke the Burgundians allegiance to the English and ultimately left the English in a much weaker position in France.
1437 (12th November)
Henry VI took over personal rule.
1444 (22nd May)
Treaty of Tours
This was a peace agreement between England and France. It was to be sealed with the marriage of King Henry VI to Margaret of Anjou.
1447 (23rd February)
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, uncle to the King, had been very critical of Henry’s marriage and the treaty with France. He was accused of treason and was imprisoned in Bury St Edmunds where he died before he could be tried.
1450 (during)
Richard Duke of York returned to England having served a year as Lieutenant of Ireland.
1452 (during)
Richard Duke of York declared his intention to remove Somerset and other evil counsellors from the King’s council. He marched to London where he demanded to be recognised as lawful heir to the throne.
1453 (August)
King Henry VI suffered a mental breakdown and was considered unfit to rule. The grandson of John of Gaunt, John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, a Lancastrian favourite of King Henry and Margaret of Anjou took control of government.
1453 (September)
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, adviser to the King, was annoyed that his enemy, Somerset, had control and turned his favour to Richard Duke of York.
1453 (13th October)
A son, Edward, was born to King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou at the Palace of Westminster. He was created Duke of Cornwall.
1454 (15th March)
King Henry’s son, Edward, was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.
1454 (27th March)
Richard, Duke of York became protector in place of the Duke of Somerset because many royal councillors were unhappy with the way Somerset was handling government.
1454 (December)
Henry VI regained his mental capacity. He dismissed Richard of York and put Somerset back in control of government.
1455 (Spring)
Richard Duke of York, his father the Earl of Salisbury and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick began raising troops against Henry VI and the Duke of Somerset.
1455 (22nd May)
First Battle of St Albans
This battle saw the forces of Warwick, Salisbury and Richard Duke of York defeat the Lancastrians led by Somerset and Northumberland. Somerset was killed and Henry VI was captured.
1455 (3rd May)
With the King under his control, Richard Duke of York, became Protector of the realm again.
1456 (February)
Richard Duke of York, was dismissed as regent when Henry resumed personal rule supported by Queen Margaret.
1459 (23rd September)
Battle of Blore Heath
Richard Duke of York, supported by his father, the Earl of Salisbury fought off a Lancastrian attack that was supported by the Percy family of Northumbria.
1459 (12th – 13th October)
Rout of Ludlow
Threatened by Margaret of Anjou and her supporters, Richard of York, Warwick and the Nevilles mustered their supporters at Ludlow but when the main Lancastrian army appeared their men deserted. Richard of York fled to Ireland. His son Edward, Earl of March was taken to Calais with his grandfather, Salisbury and the Earl of Warwick.
1459 (November)
Richard of York and his family had all their titles and lands forfeited by Act of Attainder.
1460 (26th June)
Edward, Earl of March, son of Richard of York, accompanied by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Salisbury landed at Sandwich at the head of an army and marched towards London.
1460 (2nd July)
Edward Earl of March rode north with the Earl of Warwick.
1460 (10th July)
Battle of Northampton
Edward, Earl of March and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeated a Lancastrian force led by Humphrey, Stafford and Buckingham and captured Henry VI. Margaret of Anjou and Prince Edward fled to Harlech Castle.
1460 (14th July)
Edward Earl of March and Warwick returned to London with Henry VI in captivity.
1460 (19th July)
Edward Earl of March and Warwick used their forces to defeat the Lancastrian forces in the Tower of London.
1460 (September)
Richard of York, claimed the throne but the nobility refused to accept him as anything other than heir to the throne.
1460 (25th October)
Act of Accord
Richard Duke of York, was named successor to the throne over Henry VI’s son, Edward.
1460 (30th December)
Battle of Wakefield
Queen Margaret, unwilling to accept the disinheritance of her son Edward, raised an army in the north. Richard of York was forced to march north where he was defeated and killed by the Lancastrian force.
1460 (30th December)
Edward Earl of March inherited his father’s titles of Duke of York, Earl of Ulster and Earl of Cambridge.
1460 (31st December)
Henry VI was released from captivity but was still mentally unstable and as a consequence was unfit to rule.
1461 (January)
Edward Duke of York was put forward as a claimant to the throne by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.
1461 (2nd February)
Battle of Mortimer’s Cross
Edward Duke of York led a Yorkist army that defeated a Lancastrian force led by the Earls of Pembroke and Wiltshire that was on route to join Margaret of Anjou’s advance on London.
1461 (17th February)
Second Battle of St Albans
The Yorkists were defeated in this battle that saw Henry VI returned to Lancastrian hands.
1461 (after 17th February)
Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou failed to take action to secure their place on the throne.
1461 (late February)
Edward of York joined forces with Warwick and marched towards London.
1461 (4th March)
Edward Duke of York took the throne as King Edward IV with the Earl of Warwick as his chief adviser.
1461 (29th March)
Battle of Towton
Edward of York pursued the Lancastrians north and attacked them near Tadcaster. After a long fight in heavy snowfall, the Lancastrians were defeated having suffered heavy casualties.
1461 (April)
Following the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and Prince Edward fled to Scotland where they were given refuge.
1461 (28th June)
Edward IV was crowned King at Westminster Abbey.
1461 (after June)
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick was the real power behind the crown and made decisions and shaped policy.
1461 (1st November)
Edward IV created his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
1462 (during)
Warwick was created High Admiral of England and Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster.
1462 (Summer)
Warwick successfully negotiated a truce with Scotland.
1462 (October)
Margaret of Anjou invaded England with French troops and with the support of northern nobles including Ralph Percy took the castles of Alnwick and Bamburgh.
1463 (January)
Warwick had recaptured Alnwick and Bamburgh castles. The leaders of the rebellion were pardoned and Warwick returned to London.
1463 (late March)
Ralph Percy and northern nobles rose in support of Henry VI and took Northumberland and Norham. Warwick returned to the north and took Norham but was unable to take Northumberland. Unable to put the rebellions down, Warwick negotiated a truce with France which would be sealed with the marriage of Edward IV to the French King’s sister. Without French support the Lancastrians were unable to maintain their hold on the north. The leaders of the rebellion were executed.
1464 (1st May)
King Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, Baron Rivers.
1464 (September)
Edward announced his marriage. Warwick was angry with Edward because he had promised the French that Edward would seal their alliance with a royal marriage between the two countries.
1465 (24th July)
The former Henry VI was captured by Yorkist forces and taken to the Tower of London.
1466 (11th February)
A daughter, Elizabeth, was born to Edward and Elizabeth Woodville at the Palace of Westminster. She was known as Elizabeth of York.
1466 (Spring)
Warwick was sent to negotiate with both the French and the Burgundians. Any truce would be sealed with the marriage of Edward’s sister Margaret. Warwick believed that a truce with France would be best for the country.
1466 (during)
King Edward IV made the Queen’s father, Baron Rivers, Treasurer. Rivers pressed for an alliance with the Burgundians bringing him into conflict with Warwick who favoured a French alliance.
1467 (October)
Warwick learned that Edward IV had gone behind his back and signed a treaty with the Burgundians. Warwick was frustrated and annoyed that Edward favoured his wife’s relatives rather than his trusted advisors.
1467 (late October)
Warwick was accused of plotting to return Henry VI to the throne. Warwick refused to attend court to answer the charge but instead sent a letter of denial which the King accepted.
1469 (during)
Warwick, frustrated by his lack of power over Edward IV, turned his attention to Edward’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, who he possibly intended to make King in Edward’s stead.
1469 (April)
Warwick secretly organised a rebellion, against Edward in the North. The rebellion, known as Robin of Redesdale’s Rebellion, was quickly put down by the Yorkists.
1469 (26th July)
Battle of Edgecote Moor
Warwick raised an army of northern rebels led by Sir John Conyers, Edward IV’s cousin. They defeated a force of Welsh loyalists led by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.
1469 (late July)
Warwick captured Edward IV, and executed Baron Rivers and his son. With Edward in captivity he married his daughter to Edward’s brother, George Duke of Clarence. Warwick then attempted to rule in Edward’s name but he was not supported by the nobility.
1469 (August)
Warwick moved Edward IV to Middleham Castle where he remained under house arrest.
1469 (10th September)
Failing to gain the support of the nobility and with the country descending into disorder Warwick was forced to release Edward.
1469 (October)
Edward IV and Warwick tried to work together but when Edward went against Warwick’s advice and restored Henry Percy to Northumberland their relationship broke down.
1470 (12th March)
Battle of Losecoat Field
Warwick and George Duke of Clarence, with Lancastrian support, rebelled against Edward IV but were defeated. They fled to France.
1470 (1st May)
The Earl of Warwick made an alliance with Margaret of Anjou.
1470 (13th September)
Warwick and the Duke of Clarence at the head of an army returned to England and landed at Plymouth.
1470 (2nd October)
In the face of mounting opposition from Warwick, Edward IV fled to Burgundy.
1470 (30th October)
Henry VI was restored to the English throne with Warwick as chief minister.
1470 (2nd November)
A son, Edward, was born to King Edward and Elizabeth Woodville at the Palace of Westminster.
1470 (13th December)
Warwick’s daughter, Anne Neville, married Henry VI’s son and heir, Prince Edward at Angers Cathedral.
1470 (November)
Edward IV’s titles and lands were confiscated by Parliament.
1471 (14th March)
Edward IV returned to England, landing at Ravenspur in Yorkshire at the head of a Burgundian Yorkist army. He was joined by the Earl of Northumberland and his brother George Duke of Clarence who defected from Warwick.
1471 (14th April)
Battle of Barnet
The Lancastrians, led by the Earl of Warwick, met Edward’s Yorkist force at Barnet. After a three hour fight in thick fog, two Lancastrian divisions mistakenly attacked each other and the army broke and fled. Warwick also fled but was knocked off his horse and killed.
1471 (4th May)
Battle of Tewekesbury
Edward of York, supported by his brother, Richard of Gloucester, attacked Margaret of Anjou’s Lancastrian forces as they were leaving for Wales. The Lancastrians were defeated and Edward, Prince of Wales, was killed. Margaret of Anjou was captured. Henry VI was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1471 (22nd May)
Edward IV returned triumphant to London. It is believed that King Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London on the same day. Margaret of Anjou was placed under house arrest.
1471 (June)
Henry Tudor, son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, grandson of Catherine of Valois, wife of King Henry V, by her second marriage to Owen Tudor, the last remaining Lancastrian hope for the crown, fled to Brittany with his uncle, Jasper Tudor.
1471 (25th June)
Edward IV’s son, Edward, was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.
1472 (12th July)
Edward IV’s brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, married Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick.
1473 (17th August)
A son, Richard, was born to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville at the Dominican Friary, Shrewsbury. He was known as Richard of Shrewsbury.
1474 (28th May)
Edward IV’s second son, Richard, was created Duke of York. Since this time the monarch’s second son has traditionally been given the title Duke of York.
1475 (during)
Edward IV negotiated a peace with Scotland.
1475 (during)
Edward IV invaded France with a large army to support his Burgundian allies against France.
1475 (August)
Treaty of Picquigny
Having received no help from Burgundy Edward decided to negotiate a peace with France. This was a seven year peace treaty between Louis XI and Edward IV that agreed that Louis would pay a yearly sum of money to keep the English away from France. Louis also agreed to pay a ransom to free Margaret of Anjou.
1478 (18th February)
Edward IV had his brother, George Duke of Clarence, tried for treason and executed.
1479 (8th July)
Edward’s son, Prince Edward, was created Earl of March.
1483 (Easter)
King Edward became ill. He nominated his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester to be regent for his young son Edward in the event of his death.
1483 (9th April)
King Edward IV died at the Palace of Westminster. He was buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. In accordance with Edward’s wishes, Richard became Lord High Protector.
1483 (14th April)
Prince Edward was given the news that his father had died at Ludlow Castle where he was staying with his Woodville relatives.
1483 (16th April)
Richard Duke of Gloucester, who was in the North, was informed of his brother’s death. He wrote to Lord Rivers, at Ludlow Castle pledging loyalty to the young king.
1483 (21st April)
Richard held a funeral ceremony for his brother. He also made the nobility swear an oath of fealty to the young King Edward V.
1483 (23rd April)
Richard left York to travel to London.
1483 (24th April)
Edward V began the journey south to London escorted by his Woodville family. The Woodvilles were keen to get Edward to London and have him crowned as soon as possible so as not to lose power.
1483 (30th April)
Richard Duke of Gloucester met Edward and his party as they were travelling south. He arrested Earl Rivers, Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan and sent them north where they were placed in captivity. He took Edward and continued on to the Tower of London.
1483 (1st May)
On hearing of her father’s arrest, Elizabeth Woodville, her son Richard, her five daughters and her brother Lionel sought sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.
1483 (4th May)
Richard and Edward reached London. This day had originally been intended for the coronation ceremony.
1483 (8th May)
Richard was officially appointed Lord Protector.
1483 (10th May)
Richard announced that the King’s coronation wold take place on 22nd June.
1483 (19th May)
Edward V reached the Tower of London.
1483 (early June)
The Duke of Buckingham told Richard that he suspected William Hastings of being disloyal and plotting with the Woodvilles.
1483 (13th June)
William Hastings was summoned to a Council meeting in the Tower of London. He was charged with treason and executed without trial on the same day.
1483 (16th June)
Edward V’s brother Richard joined him in the Tower of London. Elizabeth Woodville had been persuaded to give him up in the hopes of maintaining the safety of her other children.
1483 (17th June)
Richard III announced that the King’s coronation would now take place in October.
1483 (22nd June)
Ralph Shaw preached a sermon stating that Edward IV had been contracted to marry Eleanor Butler when he married Elizabeth Woodville and that the marriage was therefore invalid and his children all illegitimate.
1483 (25th June)
Parliament declared that as Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and the children of Richard of Gloucester’s older brother, George Duke of Clarence had been denied succession rights, then Richard Duke of Gloucester was the rightful King.
1483 (25th June)
Earl River was found guilty of treason and executed the same day.
1483 (26th June)
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, took the throne as King Richard III.
1483 (July)
Edward V and his brother Richard were last seen playing in the gardens of the Tower.
1483 (6th July)
Richard Duke of Gloucester was crowned King Richard III, his wife, Anne Neville was crowned Queen consort. Edward V and Prince Richard were notably absent from the coronation.
1483 (9th July)
The princes’ servants were dismissed.
1483 (mid July)
Richard III, accompanied by his wife and son left London to make a progress of the country.
1483 (August)
The princes, Edward and Richard were last seen at the windows of the Tower of London.
1483 (24th August)
Richard III’s son, Edward, was created Prince of Wales.
1483 (29th August)
Richard III reached York on his progress. He was well received by the city.
1483 (10th October)
The Duke of Buckingham rebelled against Richard’s rule. Buckingham was supported by Henry Tudor, son of Edmund Tudor (who was the son of Owen Tudor and Henry V’s widow, Catherine of Valois) and Margaret Beaufort.
1483 (2nd November)
Buckingham was executed.
1483 (25th December)
Henry Tudor announced that he was the rightful King of England and that when he took the throne he would marry Edward IV’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York.
1484 (January)
King Richard III, his wife and son, made a progress of Kent.
1484 (23rd January)
Titulus Regius
This act, passed by Parliament, formally declared Richard to be lawful King and settled the succession on his son Edward. The children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were declared illegitimate.
1484 (1st March)
Elizabeth Woodville paid homage to Richard and left sanctuary with her daughters.
1484 (9th April)
Richard’s son, Edward died.
1484 (mid July)
Richard III moved the Council of the North to Sandal in Yorkshire.
1485 (16th March)
Richard’s wife, Anne Neville died probably of tuberculosis.
1485 (7th August)
Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven in Wales at the head of an army.
1485 (18th August)
Richard called his army to muster at Leicester.
1485 (21st August)
Richard, at the head of his army, left Leicester and marched to meet the forces of Henry Tudor.
1485 (22nd August)
Battle of Bosworth Field
This decisive battle between the forces of Henry Tudor and Richard III, saw Richard killed and Henry proclaimed King Henry VII on the battlefield.
1485 (25th August)
Richard III was buried quickly and quietly in the church of Greyfriars, Leicester.
1486 (18th January)
Henry VII married Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV. The marriage united the houses of Lancaster and York. The Tudor rose is a symbol of the union of the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York.


Published Jul 13, 2017 @ 8:21 am – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2020). Wars of the Roses Causes and Events Timeline. https://www.thetimelinegeek.com/wars-of-the-roses-causes-and-events Last accessed [date]


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