Wars of the Roses Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

In this lesson you will learn about the Wars of the Roses, a 30-year battle between the House of York and the House of Lancaster for control of the English throne.

The Beginning of the Wars

The Wars of the Roses was a fight for the English throne. It took place in England and lasted many years, from 1455-1485. The wars were fought between two main groups called the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Wars of the Roses were named this because each side used a badge with a rose, the House of Lancaster used a red rose and the House of York used a white rose.

The wars began with King Henry VI (pronounced Henry the Sixth). King Henry VI, from the House of Lancaster, was the ruler in 1455 and was becoming mentally ill and had people advising him that the public did not like, among other things. Both Houses thought they had the right to the throne after Henry VI.

The House of York Takes Over

The first battle was in 1455, when Richard, from the House of York, defeated Henry VI at St. Albans. Richard then becomes the ruler of England, at least for the moment. Battles continue between the House of York and House of Lancaster, and the House of Lancaster finally wins an important battle in 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield.

In this battle, Richard is killed. However, the House of Lancaster does not control England, as Richard's son, Edward IV (pronounced Edward the Fourth), again defeats the House of Lancaster in 1461. Henry VI leaves England, and Edward IV is named King of England. The House of York maintains control of England.

Drawing of the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses

Henry VI Returns

However, Henry VI is not ready to give up, and returns to England to fight more battles. After winning the crown back for a little bit, he is again defeated by Edward IV. Henry VI is captured and dies; it is most likely that he was murdered. Edward IV remains King of England until he dies in 1483. When Edward IV dies, his son, Edward V (pronounced Edward the Fifth), becomes king. However, Edward V is just a child and is overthrown by his own uncle, Richard III (pronounced Richard the Third). Edward V 'disappears,' which means he was most likely murdered. Imagine living in a time where your own uncle would have you killed in order to gain power! Richard III of the House of York continues to rule England until 1485.

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