The interminable conflict of the Wars of the Roses dragged on for decades. At the end, the final question was not who won the war, but who killed the Princes in the Tower?
The Wars of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Henry VI was troubled all his life by recurring bouts of madness, during which the country was ruled by regents. The regents didn't do any better for England than Henry did, and the long Hundred Years War with France sputtered to an end with England losing all her possessions in France except for Calais. In England itself anarchy reigned. Nobles gathered their own private armies and fought for local supremacy.
The Wars of The Roses
The Princes in The Tower
In the 17th century workmen repairing a stairwell at the Tower found the bones of two boys of about the right ages. Were these the Princes in the Tower, and were they killed by their wicked uncle? We will probably never know. The person with the most to gain by killing the princes was not Richard, however, but Henry, Earl of Richmond. Henry also claimed the throne, seeking "legitimacy" through descent from John of Gaunt and his mistress. See a more in-depth article on the Princes in the Tower here.
Henry defeated and killed Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485). The crown is said to have been found hanging upon a bush, and it was placed on Henry's head there on the field of battle. Bosworth marked the end of the Wars of the Roses. There was no one else left to fight. It also marked the end of the feudal period of English history. With the death of Richard III the crown passed from the Plantagenet line to the new House of Tudor, and a new era of history began.
Kings were gaining the upper hand in the struggle with the barons. They encouraged the growth of towns and trade. They took more advisors and officials from the new merchant middle class.
This eroded the power of the land-based nobility. Further, kings established royal courts to replace local feudal courts and replaced feudal duties (which had been difficult to collect in any case) with direct taxation. They created national standing armies instead of relying on feudal obligations of service from vassals. Feudal kingdoms moved slowly towards becoming nations.
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Stephen I crowned as king
Stephen had no claim to the throne, which should have gone to his cousin Matilda, daughter of Henry I