Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses


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The Wars of the Roses were a series of bloody civil wars for the throne of England between two competing royal families: the House of York and the House of Lancaster, both members of the age-old royal Plantagenet family. Waged between 1455 and 1485, the Wars of the Roses earned its flowery name because the white rose was the badge of the Yorks, and the red rose was the badge of the Lancastrians. After 30 years of political manipulation, horrific carnage and brief periods of peace, the wars ended and a new royal dynasty emerged.

Henry VI

In 1422, Henry VI succeeded his father Henry V and became King of England—at just nine months old.

Thanks to his father’s military conquests, Henry VI also became the disputed King of France. In 1445, Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou, a noble and strong-willed Frenchwoman whose ambition and political savvy overshadowed her husband’s.

All was not well in King Henry’s court. He had little interest in politics and was a weak ruler. This incited rampant lawlessness throughout his realm and opened the door for power-hungry nobles and kingmakers to plot behind his back.

Richard of York

Henry’s lack of leadership led him to lose almost all his holdings in France. This and the corruption and mismanagement of power in England, not to mention heavy taxation, caused frustrated property owners and peasants from Kent to revolt in 1450.

Led by Jack Cade, they marched on London and presented Henry with a list of demands known as the “Complaint of the Poor Commons of Kent.”

Henry never officially agreed to Cade’s demands, one of which was to recall Richard, Duke of York, from Ireland back to England. Richard of York—as great-grandson of King Edward III—had a strong competing claim on the English throne.

After a series of skirmishes, Henry squashed Cade’s rebellion and pardoned the rebels—except for Jack Cade himself, who would later die from a mortal wound during his arrest.

Henry believed Richard of York was behind Cade’s rebellion (though there’s scant evidence that the Duke of York was involved). This rivalry set the stage for 30 years of battles for power involving three generations of Yorks and Lancasters.

The Madness of King Henry VI

By 1452, Richard of York had returned to England and decided his mission in life was to rid Henry of his corrupt advisors, particularly Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. He raised an army and marched on London declaring fealty to Henry while also compelling him to remove Somerset from his post.

But Somerset held on until Henry succumbed to his first bout of madness in 1454, leaving him virtually catatonic and unable to reign.

During Henry’s illness, Richard became Lord Protector of England and imprisoned Somerset in the Tower of London. It was a bitter victory, however: Queen Margaret had given birth to Henry’s only son, Edward of Lancaster, in 1453, which weakened Richard’s claim to the throne.

In February 1455, Henry recovered from his spell of insanity almost as suddenly as he’d yielded to it. Richard and his ministers were sent away and Somerset reinstated.

St. Albans

On May 22, 1455, Richard of York, aligned with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, marched against Henry at St. Albans. After failed negotiations, the brief yet vicious battle raged through the town’s streets and left Somerset dead and Henry wounded.

The Yorks took Henry prisoner and Richard became Lord Protector again. Queen Margaret and her young son, fearful for their lives, went into exile.

The Battle of Blore Heath

As Richard maintained a shaky hold on England, Margaret worked behind the scenes to restore Henry to the throne, and uphold her son’s place as his rightful heir. Fearing his days were numbered, Richard formed an army commanded by Lord Salisbury.

Salisbury’s army met Margaret’s large and well-equipped army, commanded by Lord Audley, at Blore Heath on September 23, 1459 in Staffordshire. Though outnumbered two to one, the Yorks soundly defeated the Lancastrians.

The Battles of Ludford Bridge and Northampton

The Battle of Ludford Bridge was not waged with ammunition, but was a battle of wills and courage. By autumn of 1459, Henry and his queen had once again mustered a significant army, which now included many York deserters.

Richard of York, Salisbury, Warwick and their forces withdrew to Ludlow Bridge near Ludford, Shropshire to stand against Henry and his men. On the night of October 12, many Yorks defected and their leaders fled; Richard himself fled back to Ireland.

But Richard and his supporters weren’t finished harassing Henry and Margaret. In June of 1460, Richard’s ally Warwick entered London with thousands of men. As they advanced on Henry’s army in Northampton, victory seemed unlikely.

But unbeknownst to Henry, one of his Lancastrian commanders was a turncoat and allowed Warwick’s men access to Henry’s camp. The Yorks easily won the battle and captured King Henry as Margaret fled once again.

The Battle of Wakefield

With Henry under his control, Richard again proclaimed himself and his heirs Henry’s successors. Henry agreed so long as he’d retain the crown until his death.

Their agreement was passed by the English Parliament and called the Act of Accord. The ambitious Queen Margaret, however, would have none of this compromise, and raised another army to rise against the Yorks.

Richard set out with his forces to defeat Margaret’s army and settle the matter of succession once and for all. The armies clashed at Wakefield Green near Sandal Castle. But things didn’t work out as Richard had planned. He was killed; his severed head was put on display wearing a paper crown.

Battle of Towton

Richard’s son Edward, Earl of March, succeeded his father. He also took over where Richard left off against the Lancastrians.

In the middle of winter 1461, his York forces defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. Weeks later, they were crushed by the Lancastrians at the Second Battle of St. It was here King Henry was rescued and reunited with his queen, but Edward wouldn’t give up.

In March of 1461, Edward confronted the Lancastrian army in a snowstorm in the middle of a field near Towton, North Yorkshire. It’s believed over 50,000 men engaged in brutal fighting and around 28,000 died.

The Battle of Towton was the bloodiest one-day battle in England’s history. The Yorks emerged victorious and Henry, Margaret and their son fled to Scotland leaving Edward King of England.

Power Changes Hands Again and Again

Edward IV may have gained the throne, but he’d underestimated the deposed Queen Margaret’s stealth and ambition. With the help of her compatriots in France, she ousted Edward and restored her husband to the throne in October 1470.

Edward went into hiding but wasn’t idle. He mustered an army and won York victories at the Battle of Barnett and the Battle of Tewksbury. At Tewskbury, Henry and Margaret’s only son was killed and the royal couple were captured and held in the Tower of London; the throne of England reverted back to Edward.

On May 21, 1471, deposed King Henry VI died, supposedly of sadness, although some historians believe Edward had him murdered. Queen Margaret was eventually released and made her way back to Anjou in France, where she died in 1482.

Princes in the Tower

King Edward IV died in 1483 and was succeeded by his young son Edward V. Richard III, the ambitious brother of Edward IV, became his nephew Edward’s Lord Protector—but he plotted to have Edward V and his younger brother declared illegitimate.

The power-hungry Richard succeeded in his plot and was crowned in July 1483.

To eliminate any threats to his throne, Richard III had his young nephews held in the Tower of London, supposedly for their protection. When both boys—now famous as the Princes in the Tower—vanished and Richard was accused of ordering them murdered, the king quickly lost favor with his people.

The Tudors

As Richard’s right to the throne became tenuous, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor—with the help of France and many nobles—staked his claim to the crown. He met Richard on the battlefield at Bosworth on August 22, 1485.

After fighting valiantly, Richard III was killed. Legend has it his crown was placed on Henry’s head at the very spot where Richard fell. Henry was declared King Henry VII.

After his official coronation, Henry married Elizabeth of York to reconcile the long-feuding Lancaster and York houses. This union ended the Wars of the Roses and gave rise to the Tudor Dynasty.

Sources

Medieval Sourcebook: Jack Cade: Proclamation of Grievances, 1450. Fordham University.
War of the Roses, 1455-1485. Military History Encyclopedia on the Web.
The Wars of the Roses. Historic UK.
The Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). Luminarium: Encyclopedia Project.
Wars of the Roses. Oxford Bibliographies.


Wars of the Roses: how the French meddled in this very English conflict

Gordon McKelvie does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

University of Winchester provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

The Wars of the Roses are normally portrayed as a series of battles between two warring houses, York and Lancaster, over who was rightly king of England. However, they were about much more than that. In many ways, the wars were really about standards of government.

Remembered mostly as an English-only affair, on the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury, a key event in the wars, it is worth remembering how the wider politics of late-Medieval Europe, particularly France, shaped this important, and often commemorated, part of English history.

The Wars of the Roses were three distinct conflicts. The first phase of the wars ended when the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, was usurped by the 18-year-old Edward IV, who then cemented his position by winning the Battle of Towton.

Conflict re-emerged a decade later, this time caused by the deteriorating personal relations between the Yorkist king, Edward IV, and his closest ally and advisor, the Earl of Warwick, later known as “the Kingmaker”. During this instability, problems in England were drawn into a wider sets of events. Foreign rulers, particularly the French king, Louis XI, and his main adversary, Charles, Duke of Burgundy, were able exploit these divisions.


General Overviews and Textbooks

The Wars of the Roses has attracted a series of top-flight historians. Most influential among later contributors has been McFarlane’s brief paper (McFarlane 1981). Harriss 2005 and Pollard 2000 are contrasting detailed narratives, respectively, up to 1461 and of the whole 15th century. Goodman 1981 is still the best military history of the wars. Pollard 2001 and Carpenter 1997 are favorite textbooks and offer contrasting interpretations. Royle 2009 recycles the traditional story, which the author traces back to 1399. Hicks 2010 seeks to explain the entire era. Ross 1976 takes a broader and less narrative approach.

Carpenter, Christine. The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, c. 1437–1509. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

The most thorough and up-to-date survey that is the standard student textbook. Follows Watts 1996 (cited under The First War and Its Lengthy Preamble) in discounting Henry VI and takes a very favorable view of Edward IV.

Goodman, Anthony. The Wars of the Roses: Military Activity and English Society, 1452–97. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

The best military history that deals thoroughly with recruitment, manpower, and logistics.

Harriss, Gerald L. Shaping the Nation: England 1360–1461. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Now the standard history for the preliminaries. Especially strong on the period before 1447, but has much of value to say regarding the preamble to, and the outbreak of, the Wars of the Roses.

Hicks, Michael. The Wars of the Roses. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

Full-length survey that explains why the wars began, why they kept recurring, and why they ceased in terms of wider economic context. Less unfavorable than most to Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou skeptical of Henry VII.

McFarlane, Kenneth B. “The Wars of the Roses.” In England in the Fifteenth Century. By Kenneth B. McFarlane, 231–268. London: Hambledon Press, 1981.

Brilliant and superbly researched lecture by the inspirer of all modern studies.

Pollard, Anthony J. Late Medieval England 1399–1509. Harlow, UK: Longman, 2000.

A very full account of political history before and during the Wars of the Roses that comprehensively reviews all the relevant literature. Does tend to sit on the fence.

Pollard, Anthony J. The Wars of the Roses. 2d ed. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2001.

First published in 1988. Concise, accessible, reliable, and comprehensive survey of the whole sequence of wars. A student favorite.

Ross, Charles D. The Wars of the Roses. London: Thames and Hudson, 1976.

Succinct and well-illustrated account of most aspects of the wars.

Royle, Trevor. The Road to Bosworth Field: A New History of the Wars of the Roses. London: Little, Brown, 2009.

Takes a very long view and offers a highly accessible traditional interpretation.

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MajEvent: War of the Roses

Year EventNarrativeLocation
1435Death of John Beaufort Duke of Bedford. 14 SepAfter the death of King Henry V, his brothers John of Lancaster (Beaufort) Duke of Bedford and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester vied for control of England. John became Regent but mainly took care of affairs in France and Humphrey became Lord Protector of the young Henry VI. The country felt the loss of such a strong Regent.St Katherine's by the Tower London
1441Richard 3rd Duke of York appointed Lieutenant General of Normandy. 1 JuneIn 1439 Richard 3rd Duke of York was appointed Lieutenant General of Normandy, a measure taken to try to retain some of the French territories.He worked hard with some success to hold Normandy and to restore order there. He had been put in a very difficult situation there with insufficient funds to pay his troops and he had to use his own money to take care of many outstanding debts and his term of office there was greatly extended. In 1441, after failed negotiationswith the French, Henry sent him back to Normandy. This time his position was put under pressure by the king diverting resources to Somerset in Gascony. Normandy
1442Edward IV born. 28 AprEdward IV was born in Rouen in FranceRouen France
1444Treaty of Tours between Henry VI and Charles VII. 1 MayDuring the negotiations leading to the truce of Tours in 1444, the English made important concessions in saying that the claim to the French crown might be traded in return for sovereignty in Normandy In December 1445, In March 1448 the capital, Le Mans, finally surrendered. This meant that Henry VI had initiated the dispossession of English soldiers whose homes and livelihoods were in MaineTours France
1445Henry VI marries Margaret of Anjou at Titchfield Abbey. 23 AprHenry's marriage to the beautiful young Margaret, she was only 15 at the time of her marriage is interesting. She was not of particularly high rank and brought little of value to the English monarchy. Henry at the time also claimed the Kingdom of France and controlled various parts of northern France. Henry's uncle King Charles VII of France, also claimed the crown of France He agreed to the marriage of Margaret to Henry on the condition that he would not have to provide a dowry and would receive the lands of Maine and Anjou from the English. Henry at this time is thought to have been in an unstable mental condition and agreed tothis. But why was it allowed to proceed? The English government, fearing a highly negative reaction, kept the fact of the relinquishing of the French lands secret from the English public.Titchfield Hampshire
1445Margaret is crowned Queen. 30 MayMargaret of Anjou is crowned Queen at Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey
1445Henry VI secret deal to surrender Maine to the French. 1 Dec In December 1445, Henry VI secretly undertook the surrender of Maine, in so doing he appeared to renounce sovereignty over it. The implication of this was that the English might yield to further military or diplomatic pressure. Charles VII threatens to attack English Garrisons, Henry has to make secret deal to surrender Maine. He is perpetually on his back foot and concedes far too much ground to France.
1447Humphrey Duke Of Gloucester dies having been imprisoned. 1 FebHumphrey had run England as co-regent with his brother John of Bedford. Their partnership had been successful and Humphrey was a popular leader. He made an unfortunate second marriage with Eleanor of Cobham who was arrested for sorcery in 1441 and he himself became tainted by her alledged wrong doings. The problems mount as Henry VI takes over in his majority and in 1447 was tried with treason and then died just three days after his arrest in Bury St Edmunds.Bury St Edmunds
1447Death of Cardinal Beaufort. 11 AprCardinal Beaufort was a steadying hand throughout the period of King Henry IV and V's reign. His death removes a very important player in the politics of the day.Winchester
1447York exiled as Lieutenant of Ireland. 1 DecYork is posted as Lieutenant of Ireland. An insult to York, a demotion but actually a political convenience as it removes York from the disastrous capitulations and appeasements by Henry and Somerset in FranceIreland
1448England surrenders Le Mans to the French. 15 MarMaine had been English since 1425 when John Duke of Bedford seized it's capital Le Mans. By Feb 1448 the French laid seige to it and on 15 March the English surrendered it. Henry VI had made secret commitments to surrender Maine as part of the Treaty of Tours. Many English nobles resented such weakness and whilst in modern opinion peace would be preferable, in this period War creates commercial opportunity and revenue raising capabilities. War was about land in effect property rights. Henry VI had also sold short and dispossesed his Soldiers who lived and earnt their living from their lives in Maine.Le Mans France
1448Henry VI promotes some main players. 1 MarKing Henry decides to promote some of the main protagonists in the period and they start jostling for power. He promotes William de la Pole as Duke of Suffolk and Edmund Beaufort as Duke of Somerset. Richard of Yorks styles himself as a Plantagenet promoting his close Royal Family connections.
1449Richard Neville succeeds as Earl of Warwick. 1 JulyRichard Neville married Anne Beauchamp, who, when her brother's daughter dies, brings her husband Richard Neville the title and chief share of the Warwick estates, making him a very wealthy man.
1449English surrender Rouen and have lost Normandy. 1 OctIn English hearts the loss of Normandy is devastating. This was a view shared amongst the public not just the nobles. A weak king with a pious approach always seeking peace and appeasement was contrary to what the English valued amongst its majority.Rouen France
1450Bishop Moelyns Murdered in Portsmouth explaining Misdemeanours of Suffolk. 9 JanBishop Moleyns had both a political and religious career but was keen to exticate himself from the former as he became involved in a dispute with Richard, duke of York who claimed that Moleyns had accused him of financial irregularities, defamed his reputation, and blamed him for endangering the security of Normandy. Moleyns denied this. Soon after, York was removed from the post of lieutenant-general in France and as the situation there deteriorated Moleyns found himself exposed to criticism, particularly because of his close association with the Duke of Suffolk, but also because he advocated giving up French territory. He attempted to concentrate on his religious career and came to Portsmouth possibly to go oon pilgrimage. Some stories say he came with money to pay the troops in Portsmouth. He was set upon by a mob and murdered but quite who these mobsters were or their motives is still not certain. As a result the city of Portsmouth was excommunicated.Church Old Portsmouth Hampshire
1450The Hundred Years War- Battle of Formingy. 15 AprThe Hundred Years War with France was becoming an expensive and wearying burden on the English population and levels of intolerance are running high. A further defeat of the English at the Battle of Formingy, leaves the English people looking for a scapegoat.ent and the Bishop is murdered. Given the intensity of events was this mob action or a convenient assassination?Formingy France
1450Insurrection in many parts of EnglandInsurrection broke out in this year in various parts of England. It was directed against the Duke of Suffolk and his supporters who were governing the country under King Henry VI.Dover Kent
1450Duke of Suffolk Impeached and Murdered/Executed. 28 JanWilliam de la Pole the Duke of Suffolk was identified as that scapegoat. He was impeached because he was suspected of being an accomplice in the murder of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester.It was a popular decision because the public felt he should shoulder the blame for a number of things including the many lands lost to the French. He had received many appointments including, the earldom of Pembroke,Lord Chamberlain, and Lord High Admiral of England, and in 1448 was created Duke of Suffolk. Suffolk was committed to the Tower and sentenced, without trial, to five years' banishment. He declared his innocence and then got on a boat at Ipswich. The Duke of Exeter, Constable of the Tower took another vessel and boarded Suffolk's ship. He ordered him to be beheaded and his body was returned to Dover and laid out on the sands.

Decimation of a generation, the relative casualties would have a profound impact on a generation. Britain would not face such a scale of loss again until WW1.

Blood ties were close, the War of the Roses was not so much an outright continuous war but a series of phases and events that would ebb and wane as one or more families and political figures fought for their own self-interests. The days of actual fighting were not as protracted as we might have thought. But the impact on the life of a nation was great. It would be a very long time until there would be any such event that would so disrupt British society and proportionally decimate the younger generations and that would be the horrors of a the WW1 (World War 1).

Out of this confusion and bitter disputes, motivated largely by self-interests, would emerge the House of Tudor but the right to be Kings of England was at least tenuous, as much as it had been with those that went before them. A convenient marriage between Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York seems to bring hostilities to an end, but for how long would that last? Was this a unique event or really just a repeat of violent wealthy families pursuing their own agendas, which had gone on from the earliest of our fledgling British Monarchs and would this be an end to the traumas such disputes created.

Look to the Tudor Dynasty and you just might think that this was the continuance of feuding that is almost inevitable when a country is ruled by a single individual and the success or failure of that king or queen as much depends on the strength of a single character? But with the arrival of the Tudors a whole new series of events transpires equally as divisive and driven by the desire for power wealth and supremacy at almost any price.

War of the Roses Timeline and Chronology with interactive map and narrative

This is a series of events that transpire with the build-up stretching as far back as 1399 and continuing to its conclusion around 1485. Many will shorten that start date back to 1450 but the importance of events before 1450 should not be underestimated. Hence we are bulding an interactive timeline and map plus family trees to help us all explore and unravel some of the intriguing connections in this complex vilent and ruthless series of events.

War of the Roses Collection

You will also find links and connections to the events explored in more detail linked to this page below. These articles aim to help extend the connections and reveal some more intriguing people, their families, roles and significance in this massive series of events. We try to identify existing physical places and map those to the events and people who participated together with the relevance across the broader sweep of our history in the 15th century and for the specific royal houses that are connected to this series of events. For more on the Plantagenets, the House of Lancaster, House of York and the emergence of the Tudors (click on the related links.

In the extraordinary evidence that has been scientifically researched by the University of Tudor we now learn that whilst the research team are more than 99.99% certain that the remains recovered in Leicester are Richard III, they have also discovered a complex issue that there is a non-paternity event (an illegitimacy) compared to the established genealogies which traverses over some 13 links. This brings into question the possibility that one or more of these factions connected to Richard’s genealogy was in fact invalid, incorrect and may have mean’t that the often cited smear of illegitimacy on a child of the royal family may well have had some substance and changed the course of history. Find out more here about Richard III’s DNA and new eveidence here and make your mind-up. Was the War of the Roses , more of what had gone before and would follow again with the Tudors whilst England suffered the rule and absolute power of an anointed monarch or was it the lesser of two evils when Civil War challenged the Monarchy and put a Commoner at the head of a nation. When would Parliament get some real diplomatic teeth and govern by consent and democracy? Who would rid us of these despotic dynastic kings?


Ancient wars Edit

War Death
range
Date Combatants Location Notes
Conquests of Cyrus the Great 100,000+ 549 BC–530 BC Persian Empire vs. various states Middle East Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle recorded by writers during this time period, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
Greco–Persian Wars 300,000+ 499 BC–449 BC Greek City-States vs. Persian Empire Greece
Samnite Wars 33,500+ 343 BC–290 BC Roman Republic vs. Samnites Italy Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle recorded by Roman writers during this time period, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
Wars of Alexander the Great 142,000+ 336 BC–323 BC Macedonian Empire and other Greek City-States vs. various states Middle East / North Africa / Central Asia / India Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle during these wars recorded by Greek writers, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
Punic Wars 1,250,000–1,850,000 264 BC–146 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Western Europe / North Africa
First Punic War 400,000+ 264 BC–241 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Southern Europe / North Africa – Part of the Punic Wars
Second Punic War 770,000+ 218 BC–201 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Western Europe / North Africa [1] – Part of the Punic Wars
Third Punic War 150,000–250,000 149 BC–146 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Tunisia – Part of the Punic Wars
Kalinga War 150,000–200,000
[ citation needed ]
262 BC–261 BC Maurya Empire vs. State of Kalinga India
Qin's Wars of Unification 700,000+ [ citation needed ] 230 BC–221 BC Qin state vs. Han, Zhao, Yan, Wei, Chu, Qi States China – Part of Warring States Period
Cimbrian War 410,000–650,000 113 BC–101 BC Roman Republic vs. Cimbri and Teutones Western Europe – Part of the Germanic Wars
Gallic Wars 1,000,000+ 58 BC–50 BC Roman Republic vs. Gallic tribes France
Iceni Revolt 150,000+ [2] 60–61 Roman Empire vs. Celtic tribes England Year is uncertain – Part of the Roman Conquest of Britain
Jewish–Roman Wars 1,270,000-2,000,000 [3] 66–136 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East/North Africa Deaths caused by Roman attempt to permanently root out Judaism included.
First Jewish–Roman War 250,000–1,100,000 [3] 66–73 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East – Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
Kitos War 440,000+ 115–117 Roman Empire vs. Jews Southern Europe / North Africa – Also known as the Second Jewish–Roman War
– Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
Bar Kokhba Revolt 580,000 132–136 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East – Also known as the Third Jewish–Roman War
– Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
Gothic War (269) 320,000+ 269 Roman Empire vs. Goths Europe Claudius II defeated the Goths, of whom 320,000 were slain. This number is from the Historia Augusta. – Part of the Germanic Wars
Probus's German War 400,000+ 277 Roman Empire vs. Germans Europe Emperor Probus informed the Senate that he had killed 400,000 Germans. From the Historia Augusta. – Part of the Germanic Wars
Gothic War (376–382) 40,000+ 376–382 Roman Empire vs. Goths Eastern Europe – Part of the Germanic Wars
Three Kingdoms War 36,000,000–40,000,000 184–280 Wei vs. Shu vs. Wu China [4] [5] – Academically, the period of the Three Kingdoms refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the conquest of the state of Wu by the Jin dynasty in 280. The earlier, "unofficial" part of the period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China.

Note 1: The geometric mean is the middle of the quoted range, taken by multiplying together the endpoints and then taking the square root.

Medieval wars Edit

Note: the identity of a single "war" cannot be reliably given in some cases, and some "wars" can be taken to last over more than a human lifetime, e.g. "Reconquista" (711–1492, 781 years) "Muslim conquests in India" (12th to 16th c., 500 years) "Crusades" (ten or more campaigns during the period 1095–1291, 196 years), "Mongol conquests" (1206–1368, 162 years), "early Muslim conquests" (622–750, 128 years), "Hundred Years' War" (1337–1453, 115 years).

Modern wars with greater than 25,000 deaths by death toll Edit

War Death
range
Date Combatants Location Notes
Italian Wars 300,000–400,000 1494–1559 Holy Roman Empire, Spain, and some Italian States vs. France, Ottoman Empire, and some Italian states Southern Europe [22] – Also known as the Great Wars of Italy
Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire 2,300,000+ 1519–1632 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Aztec Empire Mexico [22] – Part of the European colonization of the Americas, includes the cocoliztli plagues
Spanish conquest of Yucatán 1,460,000+ 1519–1595 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Mayan States North America [22] – Part of the European colonisation of the Americas, includes deaths due to European disease
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire 8,400,000+ 1533–1572 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Inca Empire Peru [22] – Part of the European colonization of the Americas, includes deaths due to European diseases
Campaigns of Suleiman the Magnificent 200,000+ 1521–1566 Ottoman Empire vs. several Balkan, African, and Arabian States Eastern Europe / Middle East / North Africa [23]
German Peasants' War 100,000+ 1524–1525 German Peasants vs. Swabian League Germany [24] – Also known as the Great Peasants War
French Wars of Religion 2,000,000–4,000,000 1562–1598 Protestants vs. France vs. Catholics France [25] – Also known as the Huguenot Wars
Eighty Years' War 600,000–700,000 1568–1648 Dutch Republic, England, Scotland, and France vs. Spanish Empire Worldwide [22] – Also known as the Dutch War of Independence
Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) 138,285+ 1585–1604 Spanish Empire and allies vs. Kingdom of England and allies Europe / Americas English
88,285 [26]
Scots/Irish
50,000
Japanese invasions of Korea 1,000,000+ 1592–1598 Kingdom of Great Joseon and Ming China vs. Japan Korea [27]
Transition from Ming to Qing 25,000,000+ 1616–1683 Qing China vs. Ming China vs. Shun dynasty China (Li Zicheng) vs. Xi dynasty China (Zhang Xianzhong vs. Kingdom of Shu (She-An Rebellion) vs. Evenk-Daur federation (Bombogor) China [28] – Also known as the Ming–Qing transition
Thirty Years' War 4,000,000–12,000,000 1618–1648 Pro-Habsburg states vs. Anti-Habsburg states Europe [29]
Franco-Spanish War (1635–59) 200,000+ 1635–1659 France and Allies vs. Spain and Allies Western Europe [23] [30]
Wars of the Three Kingdoms 876,000+ 1639–1651 Royalists vs. Covenanters vs.Union of the Irish vs. Scottish Protestants vs. Parliamentarians British Isles [31] [32] [33] – Also known as the British Civil Wars
English Civil War 356,000–735,000 1642–1651 Royalists vs. Parliamentarians England [34] – Part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Mughal–Maratha Wars 5,000,000+ 1658-1707 Maratha empire vs. Mughal Empire India-Bangladesh [35] [36]
Franco-Dutch War 220,000+ 1672–1678 France and allies vs. Dutch Republic and allies Western Europe [23] – Also known as the Dutch War
Great Turkish War 380,000+ 1683–1699 Ottoman Empire vs. European Holy League Eastern Europe [23] – Also known as the War of the Holy League
Great Northern War 350,000+ 1700–1721 Russia and allies vs. Swedish Empire Eastern Europe Sweden, the Swedish Baltic provinces, and Finland, together, with a population of only 2.5 million, lost some 350,000 dead during the war from all causes. [37]
War of the Spanish Succession 400,000–1,250,000 1701–1714 Grand Alliance vs. Bourbon Alliance Europe / Americas [23]
Maratha expeditions in Bengal 400,000+ 1741–1751 Maratha Empire vs. Nawab of Bengal India [38] [39]
Seven Years' War 868,000–1,400,000 1756–1763 Great Britain and allies vs. France and Allies Worldwide [40] [41]
Sino-Burmese War (1765–69) 70,000+ 1765–1769 Burma vs. Qing China Southeast Asia – Also known as the Qing invasions of Burma
Tây Sơn rebellion 1,200,000–2,000,000+ 1771–1802 Tây Sơn rebels then dynasty (British supports) and Chinese pirates vs Nguyễn lords, Trịnh lords, Lê dynasty of Vietnam Siam Qing dynasty of China Kingdom of Vientiane French army. Southeast Asia
American Revolutionary War 37,324+ 1775–1783 United States and allies vs. British Empire and German Mercenaries Worldwide 37,324 battle dead, all sides, all theaters. [23] [42] [43] [44] [45] – Also known as the American War of Independence
French campaign in Egypt and Syria 65,000+ 1798–1801 France vs. Ottoman Empire and Great Britain Middle East / North Africa [23]
Saint-Domingue expedition 135,000+ 1802–1803 France vs. Haiti and UK Haiti [30]
Napoleonic Wars 3,500,000–7,000,000 1803–1815 Coalition powers vs. French empire and allies Worldwide See: Napoleonic Wars casualties
French invasion of Russia 540,000+ 1812 French Empire vs. Russia Russia [23] – Part of the Napoleonic Wars
Spanish American Wars of Independence 600,000+ 1808–1833 Spain and Portugal vs. American Independentists Americas [46]
Venezuelan War of Independence 228,000+ 1810–1823 Spain vs. Venezuelan states Venezuela – Part of Spanish American Wars of Independence
Mfecane 1,500,000–2,000,000 1815–1840 Ethnic communities in south Africa Southern Africa [47]
Carlist Wars 200,000+ 1820–1876 Carlist Insurgents vs. Spain Spain [46]
Greek War of Independence 170,000+ 1821–1831 Greek Revolutionaries vs. Ottoman Empire Greece The war started between Greek Revolutionaries and the Ottoman Empire. The Greeks were later assisted by Russia, Great Britain, and France. The war led to the formation of modern Greece.
French conquest of Algeria 480,000–1,000,000 1830–1903 France vs. Algerian resistance Algeria The war started between France and the Deylik of Algiers, which was an Ottoman vassal, but after the early capitulation of the Deylik, resistance was led by different groups.
Taiping Rebellion 20,000,000–70,000,000 1850–1864 Qing China vs. Taiping Heavenly Kingdom China [48] [49] [50] – Also known as the Taiping Civil War
Crimean War 356,000–410,000 1853–1856 Ottoman Empire and allies vs. Russia Crimean Peninsula One of the first wider uses of rifles
Miao Rebellion 4,900,000 1854-1873 Qing China vs. Miao China Also known as the Qian rebellion
Punti–Hakka Clan Wars 500,000-1,000,000+ 1855-1868 Hakka vs. Punti China
Panthay Rebellion 890,000–1,000,000 1856–1873 Qing China vs. Hui China – Also known as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion
Indian Rebellion of 1857 800,000–1,000,000 1857–1858 Sepoy Mutineers vs. British East India Company India [51] – Also known as the Sepoy Mutiny or the Indian First War of Independence
American Civil War 650,000–1,000,000 1861–1865 Union States vs. Confederate States USA [52] [53] [54]
Dungan Revolt 8,000,000–20,000,000 1862–1877 Qing China vs. Hui vs. Kashgaria China – Also known as the Tongzhi Hui Revolt
French intervention in Mexico 49,287+ 1862–1867 Mexican Republicans vs. France and Mexican Empire Mexico [30]
Paraguayan War 300,000–1,200,000 1864–1870 Triple alliance vs. Paraguay South America [55] – Also known as the War of the Triple Alliance
Ten Years' War 241,000+ 1868–1878 Spain vs. Cuba Cuba [30] – Also known as the Great War
Conquest of the Desert 30,000–35,000 1870s–1884 Argentina vs. Mapuche people Patagonia
Aceh War 97,000–107,000 1873–1914 Kingdom of the Netherlands vs. Aceh Sultanate Indonesia [56] – Also known as the Infidel War
First Sino–Japanese War 48,311+ 1894–1895 Qing China vs. Japan East Asia A large factor in the weakening of Qing China.
Cuban War of Independence 362,000+ 1895–1898 USA and Cuba vs. Spain Cuba [30]
Thousand Days' War 120,000+ 1899–1902 Colombian Conservatives vs. Colombian Liberals Colombia [57]
South African War (Second Boer War) 73,000–90,000 1899-1902 United Kingdom and allies vs. South African Republic and Orange Free State South Africa [58]
Philippine–American War 234,000+ 1899–1912 Philippines vs. USA Philippines [59] – Also known as the Philippine War
Mexican Revolution 500,000–2,000,000 1910–1920 Revolutionary Forces vs. Anti-Revolutionary Forces Mexico [60]
Balkan Wars 140,000+ 1912–1913 see Balkan wars Balkan Peninsula The war restricted Ottoman control in Europe to territories around Istanbul
World War I 16,000,000–40,000,000+ (the higher estimate also includes the first victims of the related Spanish flu epidemic who died by the end of 1918. Neither includes the subsequent Russian Civil War) 1914–1918 Allied Powers vs. Central Powers Worldwide [23] – Also known as the Great War
Russian Civil War 5,000,000–9,000,000 1917–1922 Red army and allies vs. White army and allies Russia [61]
Kurdish separatism in Iran 15,000-58,000 1918–present Qajar dynasty vs. Shekak (tribe) Iran [62]
Iraqi–Kurdish conflict 138,800–320,100 1918–2003 Kurdistan/Iraqi Kurdistan and allies vs. Iraq and allies Iraq [63] [64]
Kurdish rebellions in Turkey 100,000+ 1921–present Turkey vs. Kurdish people Middle East
Second Italo-Senussi War 40,000+ 1923–1932 Italy vs. Senussi Order Libya
Chinese Civil War 8,000,000– 11,692,000 1927–1949 ROC vs. PRC China [65]
Chaco War 85,000–130,000 1932–1935 Bolivia vs. Paraguay Gran Chaco
Second Italo-Ethiopian War 278,000+ 1935–1936 Ethiopian Empire vs. Italy Ethiopia According to Italian government statistics, the Italians suffered 1,148 KIA, 125 DOW, and 31 MIA. [66] According to the Ethiopian government, at least 275,000 Ethiopians died in the brief war. [66] [67] – Also known as the Second Italo–Abyssinian War
Spanish Civil War 500,000–1,000,000 1936–1939 Nationalists vs. Republicans Spain [30]
Second Sino-Japanese War 20,000,000–25,000,000 1937–1945 Republic of China and allies vs. Japan China [68] – Part of World War II
World War II 56,125,000–85,000,000 1939–1945 Allied powers vs. Axis Powers Worldwide [23] – Largest and deadliest war in history
Winter War 153,736–194,837 1939–1940 Finland vs. Soviet Union Finland – Part of World War II
Greco-Italian War 27,000+ 1940–1941 Greece vs. Italy Southeast Europe – Part of World War II
Continuation War 387,300+ 1941–1944 Finland and Germany vs. Soviet Union Northern Europe – Part of World War II
Soviet–Japanese War 33,420–95,768 1945 Soviet Union and Mongolia vs. Japan Manchuria – Part of World War II
First Indochina War 400,000+ 1946–1954 France vs. Việt Minh, Lao Assara, and Khmer Issarak Southeast Asia – Also known as the Indochina War
Greek Civil War 158,000+ 1946–1949 Greek Government army vs. DSE Greece [69] [70] [71] [72]
Malagasy Uprising 11,342–89,000 1947–1948 France vs. Malagasy Insurgents Madagascar [73] [74]
Kashmir Conflict 80,000–110,000 1947–present India vs. Pakistan North India / Pakistan
La Violencia 192,700–194,700 1948–1958 Colombian Conservative Party vs. Colombian Liberal Party Colombia
Internal conflict in Myanmar 130,000–250,000 1948–present Myanmar vs. Burmese Insurgent Groups Myanmar [75]
Arab–Israeli conflict 116,074+ 1948–present Arab Countries vs. Israel Middle East [76]
Indian annexation of Hyderabad 29,000–242,000 1948 Dominion of India vs. Hyderabad India – Also known as Operation Polo
Korean War 1,500,000–4,500,000 1950–1953 South Korea and allies vs. North Korea and allies Korea [77]
Algerian War 400,000–1,500,000 1954–1962 Algeria vs. France Algeria [78] – Also known as the Algerian War of Independence
Ethnic conflict in Nagaland 34,000+ 1954–present India and Myanmar vs. Naga People Northeast India [79]
Vietnam War 1,300,000–4,300,000 1955–1975 South Vietnam and allies vs. North Vietnam and allies Vietnam [80] [81] [82] – Also known as the Second Indochina War - Includes deaths in Cambodia and Laos
First Sudanese Civil War 500,000+ 1955–1972 Sudan vs. South Sudanese Rebels Sudan
Congo Crisis 100,000+ 1960–1965 DRC, USA, and Belgium vs. Simba and Kwilu Rebels Congo [83]
Angolan War of Independence 83,000–103,000 1961–1974 Angola vs. Portugal and South Africa Angola
North Yemen Civil War 100,000–200,000 1962–1970 Kingdom of Yemen and Saudi Arabia vs. Yemen Arab Republic and United Arab Republic Yemen [84]
Mozambican War of Independence 63,500–88,500 1964–1974 FRELIMO vs. Portugal Mozambique [85]
Insurgency in Northeast India 25,000+ 1964–present India and allies vs. Insurgent Groups Northeast India [75]
Colombian conflict 220,000+ 1964–present Colombia and allies vs. Far Left guerillas and Far Right paramilitares Colombia [86]
Nigerian Civil War 1,000,000–3,000,000 1967–1970 Nigeria vs. Biafra Nigeria – Also known as the Biafran War
Moro Conflict 120,000+ 1969–2019 Philippines vs. Jihadist Groups vs. Bangsamoro Philippines [87]
Communist rebellion in the Philippines 30,000–43,000 1969–present Philippines vs. Communist Party of the Philippines Philippines [88]
Bangladesh Liberation War 300,000–3,000,000+ 1971 India and Bangladesh vs. Pakistan Bangladesh [89] – Also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence
Ethiopian Civil War 500,000–1,500,000 1974–1991 Derg, PEDR, and Cuba vs. Anti-Communist rebel groups Ethiopia
Angolan Civil War 504,158+ 1975–2002 MPLA vs. UNITA Angola
Lebanese Civil War 120,000–150,000 1975–1990 various groups Lebanon
Insurgency in Laos 100,000+ 1975–2007 Laos and Vietnam vs. "Secret army" and Hmong people Laos [90]
War in Afghanistan 1,240,000–2,000,000 1978–present see War in Afghanistan Afghanistan [91]
Kurdish–Turkish conflict 45,000+ 1978–present Turkey vs. KCK Middle East [92] – Part of the Kurdish rebellions in Turkey
Soviet–Afghan War 600,000–2,000,000 1979–1989 Soviet Union and Afghanistan vs. Insurgent groups Afghanistan [93] [94] [95] – Part of War in Afghanistan
Salvadoran Civil War 70,000–80,000 1979-1992 El Salvador vs. FMLN El Salvador [96] [97]
Iran–Iraq War 289,000–1,100,000 1980–1988 Iran and allies vs. Iraq and allies Middle East
Internal conflict in Peru 70,000+ 1980–present Peru vs. PCP-SL and MRTA Peru [98]
Ugandan Bush War 100,000–500,000 1981–1986 ULNF and Tanzania vs. National Resistance Army Uganda [99] [100] – Also known as the Luwero War
Second Sudanese Civil War 1,000,000–2,000,000 1983–2005 Sudan vs. South Sudanese rebels Sudan
Sri Lankan Civil War 80,000–100,000 1983–2009 Sri Lanka vs. Tamil Tigers Sri Lanka [101]
Somali Civil War 300,000–500,000 1986–present Varying Somali governments vs. insurgent groups Somalia [102] [103]
Lord's Resistance Army insurgency 100,000–500,000 1987–present Lord's Resistance Army vs. Central African states Central Africa [104]
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict 38,000+ 1988–present Artsakh and Armenia vs. Azerbaijan and allies Caucasus region – Also known as the Artsakh Liberation War
Gulf War 25,500–40,500 1990–1991 Iraq vs. Coalition Forces Iraq – Also known as the First Iraq War
Algerian Civil War 44,000–200,000 1991–2002 Algeria vs. FIS loyalists vs. GIA Algeria [105]
Bosnian War 97,000–105,000 1991–1995 Bosnia and Herzegovinian governments and allies vs. Republika Srpska and allies Bosnia
1991 Iraqi Civil War 85,000–235,000 1991 Iraq vs various rebels Iraq [106] [107] [108] – Also known as the Sha'aban Intifada
Sierra Leone Civil War 50,000–300,000 1991–2002 see Sierra Leone Civil War Sierra Leone
Burundian Civil War 300,000+ 1993–2005 Burundi vs. Hutu rebels vs. Tutsi rebels Burundi [109]
Rwandan genocide 800,000 April–July 1994 Hutu people vs. Tutsi Rebels Rwanda [110]
First Congo War 250,000–800,000 1996–1997 Zaire and allies vs. AFDL and allies Congo
Second Congo War 2,500,000–5,400,000 1998–2003 See Second Congo War Central Africa [111] [112] [113] [114] – Also known as the Great War of Africa
Ituri conflict 60,000+ 1999–2003 Lendu Tribe vs. Hemu Tribe and allies Congo [115] – Part of the Second Congo War
War on Terror 272,000–1,260,000 2001–present Anti-Terrorist Forces vs. Terrorist groups Worldwide [116] [117] [118] [119] – Also known as the Global War on Terrorism
War in Afghanistan (2001–present) 47,000–62,000 2001–present see War in Afghanistan (2001–present) Afghanistan [117] – Part of the War on Terror and War in Afghanistan
Iraq War 405,000–654,965 2003–2011 See Iraq War Iraq [118] [119] [117] – Also known as the Second Gulf War

Modern wars with fewer than 25,000 deaths by death toll Edit

  • 22,000+ – Dominican Restoration War – One estimate placed total Spanish deaths from all causes at 18,000. The fatal losses among the Dominican insurgents were estimated at 4,000. (1863–1865) [30]
  • 22,211 – Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995) [124]
  • 21,000+ – Six-Day War (1967) [125]
  • 20,000+ – Yaqui Wars (1533–1929) [23]
  • 20,000+ – War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720) [30]
  • 20,000+ – Ragamuffin War (1835–1845) [126]
  • 20,000+ – Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912) [23]
  • 19,619+ – Rhodesian Bush War (1964–1979)
  • 19,000+ – Mexican–American War (1846–1848) [23]
  • 18,069–20,069 – First Opium War (1839–1842) [127]
  • 17,294+ – 1940–44 insurgency in Chechnya (1940–1944)
  • 17,200+ – First Anglo-Afghan War (1939–1942) [128]
  • 16,765–17,065 – Balochistan conflict (1948–present) [129][130][131]
  • 16,000+ – War of the Pacific (1879–1883)
  • 16,000+ – Nepalese Civil War (1996–2006)
  • 16,000+ – Spanish–American War (1898) [23]
  • 15,200–15,300 – Peasants' War (1798) – Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
  • 15,000+ – Nigerian Sharia conflict (2009–present) [132][133][134]
  • 14,460–14,922 – South African Border War (1966–1990)
  • 14,077–22,077 – Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960)
  • 13,929+ – Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997–1999)[103]
  • 13,812+ – Naxalite-Maoist insurgency (1967–present) [135][136]
  • 13,100–34,000 – Kurdish separatism in Iran (1918–present) [125]
  • 13,073–26,373 – 1948 Arab–Israeli War (1948–1949) [137]
  • 11,500–12,843 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 – Part of the Bangladesh Liberation War
  • 10,000+ – Assam separatist movements (1979–present)
  • 10,000+ – Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) [138]
  • 10,000+ – War in Donbas[139]– Part of theRussian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present)
  • 10,000+ – Rwandan Civil War (1990–1994)
  • 10,000+ – First Italo-Ethiopian War (1894–1896) [23]
  • 10,000+ – Second Melillan campaign (1909) [23]
  • 10,000+ – Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–60)[23]
  • 10,000+ – Spanish conquest of Tripoli (1510) [140]
  • 9,400+ – Libyan Civil War (2011) (2011) [141]
  • 8,136+ – Iraqi insurgency (2011–2013)[142]
  • 7,500–21,741 – War of 1812 (1812–1815) [23][143]
  • 7,400–16,200 – Yemeni Civil War (2015–present) (2015–present)
  • 7,050+ - Portuguese conquest of Goa (1510) [144]
  • 7,104+ – Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 (1947–1949) [145]
  • 7,000+ – Chadian Civil War (2005–10) (2005–2010) [146]
  • 6,800–13,459 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 (1965)
  • 6,859+ – 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict(2020–present)
  • 5,641–6,991 - Opposition–ISIL conflict during the Syrian Civil War ( 2014–present )
  • 6,543+ – South Thailand insurgency (2004–present) [147]
  • 6,295+ – Central African Republic conflict (2012–present)
  • 5,641+ – Sudanese nomadic conflicts (2009–present) [148][149]
  • 5,100+ – Gaza–Israel conflict (2006–present) – Part of the Arab–Israeli conflict
  • 5,000+ – Casamance conflict (1982–2014) [150]
  • 5,000+ – Chilean Civil War of 1891 (1891) [151]
  • 5,000+ - Cuban Revolution (1959) [152]
  • 4,715+ – Libyan Civil War (2014–present) (2014–present)
  • 4,000–10,000 – Conflict in the Niger Delta (2004–present) [153]
  • 3,699+ – Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen (1992–present) [103]
  • 3,552+ – First Schleswig War (1848–1852)
  • 3,529+ – The Northern Ireland Troubles (1966–1998) [154]
  • 3,366+ – Insurgency in the North Caucasus (2009–2017) [155]
  • 3,270+ – Second Schleswig War (1864)
  • 3,222–3,722 – Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (1956)
  • 3,144+ – Allied Democratic Forces insurgency (1996–present)
  • 3,114+ – 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine (1947–1948) – Part of the 1948 Palestine war
  • 3,007+ – War of the Golden Stool (1900) [citation needed]
  • 3,000–6,000 – Negro Rebellion (1912) [156][157]
  • 3,000–5,000 – Croatian-Slovene Peasant Revolt (1573) [158]
  • 3,000+ – Second Ivorian Civil War (2010–2011) [159]
  • 3,000+ – Banana Wars (1914–1933) [48]
  • 2,944+ – Insurgency in the Maghreb (2004–present)
  • 2,800+ – Northern Mali conflict (2012–present)
  • 2,781+ – Iranian Revolution (1978–1979) [160]
  • 2,751+ – Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919) [161]
  • 2,557+ – Sudan internal conflict (2011–present) (2011–present) [162][163][164]
  • 2,394+ – Sinai insurgency (2011–present) [165]
  • 2,300+ – Conflict in the Niger Delta (2003–present) [166][167]
  • 2,221–2,406 – 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict (2014) – Part of the Gaza–Israel conflict
  • 2,150+ – Persian Expedition of 1796 (1796)
  • 2,096+ – Aden Emergency (1963–1967)
  • 2,054+ – South Yemen insurgency (2009–2015)

Charts and graphs Edit

  1. ^ White, Matthew. "Atrocity statistics from the Roman Era". Necrometrics.
  2. ^
  3. "Body Count of the Roman Empire".
  4. ^ ab
  5. "The Jewish Roman Wars". www.jewishwikipedia.info . Retrieved 2020-07-28 .
  6. ^
  7. Robert B. Marks (2011). China: Its Environment and History (World Social Change). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN978-1442212756 .
  8. ^
  9. Graziella Caselli (2005). Demography – Analysis and Synthesis: A Treatise in Population. Academic Press. ISBN012765660X .
  10. ^
  11. Aletheia (1897). The Rationalist's Manual.
  12. ^
  13. Book of Sui. 636.
  14. ^
  15. White, Matthew. "Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
  16. ^
  17. "귀주대첩 [네이버 지식백과] 귀주대첩 [龜州大捷] (두산백과)". Naver . Retrieved 4 July 2013 .
  18. ^Chapuis 1995, p. 77 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFChapuis1995 (help)
  19. ^Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian《長編》卷三百上載出師兵員“死者二十萬”,“上曰:「朝廷以交址犯順,故興師討罪,郭逵不能剪滅,垂成而還。今廣源瘴癘之地,我得之未為利,彼失之未為害,一夫不獲,朕尚閔之,况十死五六邪?」又安南之師,死者二十萬,朝廷當任其咎。《續資治通鑑長編·卷三百》”。 《越史略》載廣西被殺者“無慮十萬”。 《玉海》卷一九三上稱“兵夫三十萬人冒暑涉瘴地,死者過半”。
  20. ^ Robertson, John M., "A Short History of Christianity" (1902) p.278. Cited by White
  21. ^
  22. White, Matthew. "Crusades (1095-1291)". Necrometrics.
  23. ^
  24. "Massacre of the Pure". Time. April 28, 1961.
  25. ^
  26. McEvedy, Colin Jones, Richard M. (1978). Atlas of World Population History. New York, NY: Puffin. p. 172. ISBN9780140510768 .
  27. ^ Ping-ti Ho, "An Estimate of the Total Population of Sung-Chin China", in Études Song, Series 1, No 1, (1970) pp. 33–53.
  28. ^
  29. White, Matthew. "Mongol Conquests". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
  30. ^
  31. White, Matthew. "Twentieth Century Atlas – Historical Body Count". Necrometrics.
  32. ^
  33. White, Matthew. "Timur Lenk (1369–1405)". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
  34. ^
  35. White, Matthew. "Miscellaneous Oriental Atrocities". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
  36. ^
  37. "War Statistics – Death Tolls, Length, and More". Archived from the original on 10 March 2017.
  38. ^ abcde
  39. "Victimario Histórico Militar".
  40. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrs
  41. Nash (1976). Darkest Hours. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN9781590775264 .
  42. ^
  43. White, Matthew. "Peasants' War, Germany (1524-25)". Necrometrics.
  44. ^
  45. Knecht, Robert J. (2002). The French Religious Wars 1562–1598. Osprey Publishing. pp. 91. ISBN9781841763958 .
  46. ^
  47. Carlton, Charles (2011-11-22). This Seat of Mars: War and the British Isles, 1485-1746. ISBN978-0300180886 .
  48. ^
  49. Jones, Geo H. (1899). "The Japanese Invasion of Korea — 1592" (PDF) . The China Review. 23 (5): 234. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-04-23 . Retrieved 2018-05-13 . Thus ended for a time one of the bloodiest wars in history. During the two years and more the loss of life was frightful nothing remains upon which to base a reliable estimate, but the War Monument at Kiuto, and the accounts of such battles as Kyong-chu, Choung-chu, Haing chu, the Im Chiu River, Pyongyang, Yenan, the massacre at Söul, Ulsan and Chiu-chu, and fifty other engagements would make a million lives a conservative estimate.
  50. ^ McFarlane, Alan: The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap, Blackwell 2003, 0-631-18117-2, 978-0-631-18117-0 – cited by White
  51. ^
  52. White, Matthew. "The Thirty Years War (1618-48)". Necrometrics.
  53. ^ abcdefgh
  54. Clodfelter, M (2017). Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492-2015, 4th ed. McFarland.
  55. ^Carlton 2002, p. 211.
  56. ^Carlton 2002, p. 212.
  57. ^Carlton 2002, p. 213.
  58. ^
  59. Bardon, Jonathan (31 October 2008). "The Curse of Cromwell". A History of Ireland in 250 Episodes – Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Irish History. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. p. 0. ISBN9780717157549 . Archived from the original on 2012-01-06.
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  61. Matthew White (2011). Atrocitology: Humanity's 100 Deadliest Achievements. Canongate Books. p. 113. ISBN9780857861252 .
  62. ^ Matthew White (2011), Aurangzeb - in Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History, W.W. Norton & Co., 978-0393081923
  63. ^
  64. White, Matthew. "Northern War (1700-21)". Necrometrics.
  65. ^
  66. P. J. Marshall (2006). Bengal: The British Bridgehead: Eastern India 1740-1828. Cambridge University Press. p. 73. ISBN9780521028226 .
  67. ^
  68. Kirti N. Chaudhuri (2006). The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company: 1660-1760. Cambridge University Press. p. 253. ISBN9780521031592 .
  69. ^ Clodfelter, cited by White
  70. ^ Urlanis, cited by White
  71. ^
  72. Peckham, Howard H., ed. (1974). The Toll of Independence: Engagements and Battle Casualties of the American Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  73. ^
  74. Dawson, Warrington. "The 2112 Frenchmen who died in the United States from 1777 to 1783 while fighting for the American Independence". Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. Journal de la societe des Americanistes. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017 . Retrieved 4 June 2017 .
  75. ^
  76. "Spanish casualties in The American Revolutionary war". Necrometrics.
  77. ^Annual Register, 1783 (1785), pp. 199–200.
  78. ^ ab
  79. "Victimario Histórico Militar".
  80. ^
  81. "Shaka: Zulu Chieftain". HistoryNet.com. June 12, 2006.
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  83. Gruhl, Werner (2007). Imperial Japan's World War Two: 1931 - 1945. Transaction Publishers. p. 181. ISBN9780765803528 .
  84. ^
  85. Cao, Shuji (2001). Zhongguo Renkou Shi [A History of China's Population] (in Chinese). Shanghai: Fudan Daxue Chubanshe. pp. 455, 509.
  86. ^ Hans Bielenstein. Chinese historical demography A.D. 2-1982. Östasiatiska museet. p 17
  87. ^
  88. Ramesh, Randeep (24 August 2007). "India's secret history: 'A holocaust, one where millions disappeared. ' ". The Guardian.
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    (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Penguin Books. 1101544643. pp. 832. (see also: 2016 update)
  • Levy, Jack S. (1983). War in the Modern Great Power System: 1495-1975. University Press of Kentucky, USA. 081316365X.

140 ms 7.7% recursiveClone 140 ms 7.7% Scribunto_LuaSandboxCallback::getExpandedArgument 100 ms 5.5% type 100 ms 5.5% Scribunto_LuaSandboxCallback::find 80 ms 4.4% dataWrapper 60 ms 3.3% gsub 40 ms 2.2% [others] 380 ms 20.9% Number of Wikibase entities loaded: 0/400 -->


How did it Begin?

Both houses could trace their lineage to the sons of Edward III who was king until 1377. It is a complex family tree to say the least but it basically meant that both houses could stake a legitimate claim to the throne. That being said, the House of York had a much stronger claim. Although the War of the Roses didn&rsquot start until 1455, it could be argued that the events of 1399 paved the way.

In this year, King Richard II was usurped by Henry Bolingbroke, the Duke of Lancaster who was to become Henry IV. Henry was Richard&rsquos cousin and returned from exile to take the crown. It is likely that Richard died in captivity the following year. Henry was succeeded by his son, Henry V who died in 1422. His heir was Henry VI who was an infant and Richard, Duke of York, could challenge the Lancastrian right to the throne as the Yorkist had a much stronger claim. I hope this is somewhat clear!

Instead, York became Lieutenant in France in 1436 where he was charged with dealing with England&rsquos main enemy at that time. Henry VI&rsquos conquests in France were unsustainable in their existing form he either needed further conquests to force the French to become subordinates or give up territory to gain a negotiated settlement so the house of cards was always destined to fall. For his part, York had to pay money out of his own pocket to continue the campaign in France. He did this willingly but was outraged when he replaced as Lieutenant in France by Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset.

Things began to unravel for the English in France and York blamed Somerset for the collapse including the losses of Gascony and Bordeaux in 1451. He decided to arrest Somerset. While York did this partly because of Somerset&rsquos dismal efforts in France, he was more concerned with the fact that Somerset could replace him as Henry VI&rsquos heir. At that time, Henry had no children (his son Edward, Prince of Wales wasn&rsquot born until 1453) so York made a play to become recognised as the rightful heir. In 1452, he marched to London only to find the city gates barred. At Dartford, York was forced to come to an agreement with Henry as his army was outnumbered. The king proceeded to punish those who had sided with York at Dartford.

In 1453, English forces were driven from France after defeat at the Battle of Castillon. Henry had a mental breakdown at this point and though the cause was unknown, the loss of France was perhaps a factor. He was unable to speak and completely unresponsive and in 1454, York was named Protector of the Realm. A number of disputes occurred between the most powerful lords in England and York used his authority to help his family and friends while placing Somerset in prison.

However, Henry VI regained his senses either in late December 1454 or early January 1455 and released Somerset from captivity. York lost the Captaincy of Calais and his title of Protector soon after. He was infuriated and gathered his forces and open fighting was to begin in May 1455


Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Great Richard III Debate and Competition

The Result is in - the History of England listeners have spoken!

And if you care to listen - here's both the result read by the History of England's chief returning officer, and the prize draw and winners!

Something of a surprise if I say so myself, but congratulations to Richard.

The Prize draw 

Remember that everyone who 'liked' the History of England page and voted can win an  original  Edward IV Halfpenny and a replica Richard III gold Angel plus 2 consolation prizes for losers - some original medieval cut coins.


Wars of the Roses - HISTORY

By William F. Floyd, Jr.

The men of Bridport on the coast of southwestern England kept extra weapons on hand to deal with the raids endemic during the Hundred Years War that preceded the Wars of the Roses. Just four years after the last great battle of the Hundred Years’ War was fought at Castillon, a muster was held at Bridport at the outset of the Wars of the Roses during which the town’s four principal officials, two constables and two bailiffs, assessed the equipment of individuals who presented themselves for inspection for wartime duty. One commoner in particular stood out from the rest for he had brought enough to equip himself and others. Besides two helmets and two padded jacks, he had three bows and sheaves, two poleaxes, two glaives, and two daggers. This man, unlike many others, would not be subjected to the requirements others would have to meet if they were short of the required equipment. If that were the case, they would be told to acquire the additional equipment within a fortnight or pay a fine.

The three wars that constituted the Wars of the Roses had periods of peace that separated them. The name of the wars derived from the badges used by the two cadet branches of the Plantagenet dynasty: the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. Supporters of the two branches shed a large amount of blood in a contest for control of the English crown.

Both houses laid claim to the throne as descendants of the sons of Edward III. The Lancastrians had been on the throne since 1399 and may have remained there indefinitely were it not for the anarchy through- out the kingdom that began in the middle of the 15th century. When Henry V died in 1422, the country endured the fractious minority of Henry VI during which England was managed by the king’s council, a predominately aristocratic body.

Longbowmen engage each other in a period image of the Wars of the Roses. Since both the Lancastrians and the Yorkists had longbowmen, neither side gained a clear advantage from their use.

The arrangement was not maintained without trouble. The council soon became a battleground for those attempting to gain power. Great magnates with private armies controlled the English countryside. Lawlessness became rampant, and the people began to be overtaxed.

When King Henry VI lapsed into insanity in 1453, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, was installed as protector of the realm. When Henry recovered from his illness in 1455, he re-established authority, forcing York to take up arms for self-protection. Queen Margaret, who controlled her weak and mentally unstable husband, subsequently drove York from the royal court. In response, York rebelled against Henry VI.

Armed conflict broke out at St. Albans on May 22, 1455. The Lancastrians eventually killed York, who was slain in the Battle of Wakefield in West Yorkshire on December 30, 1460. His eldest son, Edward, 4th Duke of York, however, vanquished the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton fought March 29, 1461. After the battle, the victorious duke became King Edward IV.

The second war lasted from 1469 to 1471 and its events centered on the expulsion from power of Edward IV by a military coup led by his former ally Richard, Earl of Warwick. Warwick was slain in the Battle of Barnet in 1471. The third war involved Edward’s brother Richard Plantagenet, who usurped the crown in the wake of Edward’s death in 1483. That conflict ended with the victory of Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, over King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The 15th century brought major tactical changes and advances in metallurgy and armor that had a profound influence on the types of weapons deployed on the battlefields of the Wars of the Roses. The vulnerability of French heavy cavalry to the English longbow in famous battles of the Hundred Years War, such as Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, proved that armored cavalry was highly vulnerable to missile fire by highly skilled bowmen. For their part, the English knights and men-at-arms had fought on foot throughout the Hundred Years’ War, and this preference for fighting dis- mounted continued into the Wars of the Roses. Indeed, the English proved that the most effec- tive way to do battle was with dismounted infantry supported by archers armed with the devastating longbow. Typically, the wealthy knights were clad in suits of armor, men-at- arms were clad partially in armor, and levies wore leather jerkins or padded jacks.

Plate Armor

Another seminal change that differentiated warfare in the 15th century from the previous one was the refinement of plate armor. The renowned armor craftsmen of northern Italy and Germany had the requisite metallurgical skills to fashion magnificent suits of armor from steel. By the time of the Wars of the Roses, knights and men-at-arms who could afford these suits went into battle encased from head to foot in plate armor. Plate armor negated the need for shields but required offensive weapons that could punch through or tear the armor of the wealthier combatants.

The English longbow, which most likely was an outgrowth of the ordinary wooden bow, played a substantially less important role in the Wars of the Roses, not only because there was no enemy cavalry to decimate, but also because the use of fluted plate armor for the most part negated the effect of arrows. Other forms of protection, such as leather jerkins or padded jacks, blunted the effect of the arrows. It was common for the archers to duel with each other at the outset of a battle and then fall back to a supporting position. Moreover, since both sides had longbowmen during the Wars of the Roses, neither side gained a clear advantage from their use.

A flanged mace delivered greater force than the sword. It would have been highly useful in combat against a knight clad in plate armor.

The longbow consisted of a six-foot bow usually crafted from a single piece of yew. The longbow projected arrows up to 820 feet by elasticity in the form of a spring. As the bow was drawn, energy was transformed into kinetic energy as the string was released, thus transferring energy to the arrow. A typical longbow archer carried from 60 to 72 arrows at the time of battle. A skilled English longbowmen could fire 10 to 12 arrows a minute. Archers would place their arrows either point down in the ground in front of them or through their belt to grasp them for firing in battle.

In one noteworthy instance, the use of longbows did not cancel each other out in battle. At the Battle of Towton on March 29, 1461, Yorkist and Lancastrian archers engaged in an archery duel at the outset of the battle. Because the wind was at their backs, the Yorkists won the contest. Yorkist archers shot approximately 750,000 arrows in less than 10 minutes, resulting in the death or wounding of hundreds of Lancastrian troops. In this way, the Yorkist archers succeeded admirably in softening the opposing ranks before foot soldiers on both sides clashed.

The Lance

The primary weapon of the period for cavalry remained the lance. The word “lance” is a catchall term for a variety of different pole weapons based on the spear. The name is derived from “lancea,” a Roman auxiliaries’ javelin. The lance was designed for mounted troops. Medieval guilds manufactured both the heavy lance and the light lance. They usually were a solid shaft made of ash, cedar, or poplar.

The heavy lance was 10 to 12 feet in length and was used more or less as a shock weapon. Before tactics changed in the 15th century, the purpose of the heavy lance had been to enable charging cavalry to break the enemy’s front line.

A hand guard was added to the heavy lance in the 14th century. The most effective way to use a heavy lance was to hold it 30 degrees away from the centerline of the horse on either side of the neck. Two versions, one light and one heavy, were available to the mounted man-at-arms.

The light lance ranged from six to 10 feet in length and had a narrower diameter than the heavy lance. Unlike the heavy lance, the light lance was designed to be either thrown like a javelin or stabbed like a spear using an overhanded thrust.

Dismounted men-at-arms during the Wars of the Roses used powerful staff weapons such as the poleaxe and mace for battering their armored opponents during dismounted combat. They also employed thrusting and stabbing weapons such as the sword and rondel. Local levies primarily used the billhook.

The billhook was a variation of a common agricultural tool used for cutting woody material. It consisted of a hooked metal blade which was sharpened on the inner curve and mounted on a wooden shaft. The six-foot-long English version of the billhook was a combination of a broad, curved knife and an axe. The length of the blade range from eight to 10 inches, and the staff ranged from six to eight inches.

The “bill,” as it was sometimes called, was a versatile close contact weapon that gave the foot soldier the ability to reach and engage a cavalryman. Using the hook, a foot soldier could hook a cavalryman and pull him to the ground. A blow from a billhook blade could inflict serious injury even to a knight protected by armor.

German peasants fight with a wide variety of staff weapons derived from agricultural tools. In England, the most ubiquitous of these was the billhook, which had a hooked metal blade that was sharpened on the inner curve.

The Poleaxe

The poleaxe was a brutal assault weapon that was used with regularity on the 15th century battlefield, rather than sporadically as it had been used in the previous century. The poleaxe provided a way to offset the advantages afforded by fluted plate armor. Requiring strength and two hands to wield in battle, poleaxes were swung in a cleaving motion like the battle axes used by Normans and Vikings in previous centuries.

A poleaxe consisted of a wooden staff up to six feet in length topped with a heavy, razor-sharp curved blade on one side, a claw-like point on the other, and a sharp spike at the top. Alternate versions had a hammer on the front end and a sharp hook on the back end. The poleaxe was intended to deliver a bone-crushing blow and also to cut through plate armor, depending on which feature of the weapon was used. Whether a knight or man-at-arms used a poleaxe against an armored or unarmored opponent, the result could be lethal. The thick blade was capable of severing limbs and the sharp point that capped the poleaxe was useful for puncturing armor.

The Mace

A mace was a weapon with a heavy head that might also have flanged or knobbed additions on the end of the handle. The mace generated far greater force than a sword when swung. The weapon could be mounted on either a long shaft measuring up to five feet or on a short shaft measuring one foot in length. The mace was an armor-fighting weapon designed for close combat that could be used by a man-at-arms fighting on foot or on horseback.

A major advantage of the mace was that it was cheap and easy to make, which made it more numerous on the battlefield. Its primary use was for bludgeoning an opponent, and it was particularly effective against an enemy wearing plate armor. The flanged mace in particular was designed to penetrate armor.

The Flail and Halberd

The flail, which is sometimes referred to as a mace and chain or a ball and chain, was similar to the mace. It featured a chain or strap so it could be swung with great force. In previous centuries when soldiers used shields, a soldier who was skilled with a flail could wrap the chain around an enemy’s shield and pull it away.

Another staff weapon used during the Wars of the Roses was the halberd. Halberds sported a spiked axe head on a staff of similar length to the billhook. The foot soldier wielding a halberd swung at his opponent as he would a two-handed axe. Yet another staff weapon was the glaive, which featured a slender axe-like blade attached to a six-foot pole. Some versions of the glaive had a small hook on the reverse side used to unhorse cavalrymen.

The Sword and Rondel Dagger

For close-quarter combat, the 15th-century man-at-arms carried a sword designed either for cutting or thrusting. Many sword designs of this period originated from those developed during the Viking and migration periods dating back to the type of iron swords wielded by pre-historic Celts. Length was the most critical factor in how a sword would be used in combat. Single-handed swords were usually 2.5 feet long, and double-handed swords were usually 3.5 feet long. Men-at-arms usually wore their sword in a scabbard on one side and a rondel dagger on the other side.

In some cases, a knight would be considered “undressed” without his sword even when not in armor. Swords normally weighed only two or three pounds. A sword that was too heavy could not move fast enough to precisely strike a moving opponent and would not be controllable once it began to swing. During their manufacture, swords were carefully balanced, according to the purpose for which they were designed. Swords intended for thrusting had long, narrow blades and long hilts.

The rondel dagger takes its name from the cylindrical hand guard and disc-shaped pommel and cross-guard that were equal in size. The weapon was introduced at the turn of the 14th century, and its forerunner was the knightly dagger of the two previous centuries. The rondel dagger might be, for example, 25 inches long with a 10-inch handle and a 15- inch blade. Rondel dagger handles usually were made of wood plated with metal or of metal, although wood, horn, and bone models existed, too.

Rondel daggers were not meant for slashing. They featured a slender, triangular blade made of steel with a tapering point. The rondel dagger allowed the user to deliver a fatal wound to an incapacitated or pinned knight. To finish off an adversary with a fatal puncture wound, the rondel dagger was thrust through a seam or joint in a suit of armor or even through the eye slit in a helmet.

The “Hand-Gonne”

Hand-held firearms were introduced in the 15th century, although they were crude and inaccurate and for the most part ineffective. These “hand-gonnes” consisted of a short tube mounted on a stick.

The gunpowder was ignited with a hot coal or a piece of slow match. Typically, a two-man team operated a 15th-century handgun. One man aimed the weapon and the other applied the ignition. Hand-held firearms were not refined until the following century.

A soldier fires a so-called hand-gonne consisting of a short tube mounted on a stick. He ignited the gunpowder through a touchhole using a hot coal or piece of slow match.

Even though the Wars of the Roses lasted for three decades, pitched battles were infrequent. When fighting did take place, however, it was extremely brutal. For example, it is estimated that the combined casualties of approximately 28,000 from the Battle of Towton constituted one percent of the total population of England at the time.

The Wars of the Roses are remembered for the large number of high-born males who were killed in battle or later executed. With the exception of crude gunpowder weapons and the longbow, combat was conducted at close quarters. In order to kill or wound an oppo- nent with one of the hand-held weapons of the day, an attacker had to be as close as two to three feet to inflict a lethal blow. Unless a fighter was wearing heavy armor, one blow or stab from a poleaxe or sword could prove fatal or at the very least disable an enemy fighter.

The number of participants involved in any given battle during the Wars of the Roses is dif- ficult to determine, and casualties are even harder to ascertain. Battles tended to be blood- ier just by the violent nature of the combat. Defeated armies rarely retreated in any orga- nized manner, making retreating troops an easy target for enemy cavalry.

The Wars of the Roses marked the beginning of the end for medieval warfare. Great changes were afoot, particularly in regard to gunpow- der. The introduction of effective cannons made stone castles obsolete. Likewise, the introduction of hand-held firearms eventually made edged weapons obsolete


The Wars of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower

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 struggle to rule on behalf of an unfit king was one of the surface reasons for the outbreak of thirty years of warfare that we now call the Wars of the Roses, fought between the Houses of York (white rose) and Lancaster (red rose). In reality, these squabbles were an indication of the lawlessness that ran rampant in the land. More squalid than romantic, the Wars of the Roses decimated both houses in an interminably long, bloody struggle for the throne. The rose symbols that we name the wars after were not in general use during the conflict. The House of Lancaster did not even adopt the red rose as its official symbol until the next century.

Edward IV
Henry VI was eventually forced to abdicate in 1461 and died ten years later in prison, possibly murdered. In his place ruled Edward IV of the house of York who managed to get his dubious claim to the throne legitimized by Parliament. Edward was the first king to address the House of Commons, but his reign is notable mostly for the continuing saga of the wars with the House of Lancaster and unsuccessful wars in France. When Edward died in 1483 his son, Edward V, aged twelve, followed him. In light of his youth Edward's uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, acted as regent.

The Princes in The Tower
Traditional history, written by later Tudor historians seeking to legitimize their masters' past, has painted Richard as the archetypal wicked uncle. The truth may not be so clear cut. Some things are known, or assumed, to be true. Edward and his younger brother were put in the Tower of London, ostensibly for their own protection.

Richard had the "Princes in the Tower" declared illegitimate, which may possibly have been true. He then got himself declared king. He may have been in the right, and certainly England needed a strong and able king. But he was undone when the princes disappeared and were rumoured to have been murdered by his orders.

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.

The Battle of Bosworth Field
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.


5 Myths about the Wars of the Roses

In a sense, the Wars of the Roses began with the usurpation of the throne by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399. Lancastrian legitimacy was always actively contested, except perhaps for a brief period during the reign of Henry V (1413-1422).

2. England was at war for 30 years

The Wars were not a unified conflict lasting three decades, but rather a series of short campaigns or miniwars separated by years of peace. There were three major eruptions of sustained violence: 1455-1464, 1469-1471, and 1483-1487.

3. Richard III was a baddie

Richard III was cast as the villain in Tudor propaganda, most obviously in Shakespeare’s portrayal, but his monarchy was in the forwardlooking Yorkist mould, and his more ruthless actions were dictated by the political exigencies of the time.

4. The Wars were fought between Yorkshire and Lancashire

The division of the country did not correspond to the names of the opposing factions. The Lancastrians were powerful in the north and west, the Yorkists in London, the Midlands, and the south. To some degree, the division more closely mirrored that of the Civil War of 1642-1646.

5. ‘The Wars of the Roses’

Calling the succession of 15th-century dynastic conflicts ‘the Wars of the Roses’ was an invention of Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century, and Shakespeare is responsible for the roses: in Henry VI, rival nobles pick red and white roses. The Yorkists did use the white rose, but as one of many badges, and the Lancastrians did not use a red rose at all until very late on.


Watch the video: Britains Bloody Crown: The Mad King Ep 1 of 4 Wars of the Roses Documentary. Timeline