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The rise of England as a European power involved various strategies including use of religion, marriages, and weapons in war. In other cases, kings emphasized on trade, learning, and explorations. This document details the emergence of several kings of England and the strategies they used to conquer other empires. Kings also had various means of retaining power to protect their territories. This in turn facilitated the rise of England as a European power as discussed below.

The War of the Roses (1455-1487)

The War of the Roses as discussed in history books compounded continuous battles that supporters of the House of Lancaster (Lancastrians) and the House of York (Yorkists) engaged in (Markham, 1983). The representation of the Yorkists by a white rose and the Lancastrians by a red rose led to the emergence of the name “War of the Roses” (Markham, 1983).

The dominant noble families inclined to any of the houses and fought in various Civil Wars, which culminated to the victory of Lancastrians and crowning of Henry Tudor as King (Markham, 1983).

Background information: War of the Roses

The reign of Edward III and power struggles between his sons after his death is considered the primary cause of Wars of the Roses (Markham, 1983). The four eldest sons of King Edward included the Black Prince (heir apparent), Lionel of Antwerp (Duke of Clarence), John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) and Edmund of Langley (Duke of York) (Starkey, 2003).

After King Edward III’s death in 1377, his grandson Richard II became king arising from the fact that his eldest son had died from plague in1376. Richard II was hardly ten years old and therefore his uncle John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) took over to rule the country (Markham, 1983). Richard grew older and became rebellious to his uncle’s rule.

The death of John of Gaunt in 1399 brought forth a new dimension into the country’s rule. This is because after his uncle’s death, Richard II forcefully took the land owned by his uncle. However, John of Gaunt’s son Henry prepared an army, which saw the surrender of Richard. Consequently, Henry crowned himself Henry IV and took over the throne.

This saw the establishment of the reign of the Lancastrian as Kings. Soon after, Richard was imprisoned in Pontefract castle where he met his mysterious death in February 1400 (Starkey, 2003).

Since Henry IV was not the rightful heir to the throne after the death of Richard II, he faced numerous setbacks. Arguably, Edmund Earl of March the great grandson of Lionel Duke of Clarence was the rightful heir to the throne (Starkey, 2003). Fortunately, Henry was able to consolidate his position on the throne. As such, when he died in 1413, his son Henry V succeeded him without setbacks (Starkey, 2003).

Henry V was a strong leader. He won the Battle of Agincourt in1415 among the numerous battles that he won (John, 2007). He also conquered Normandy and Rouen for England. He married the daughter of the King of France. Because of his premature death in 1422, his son Henry VI was crowned the king of England and France (John, 2007).

At his father’s death, Henry VI was hardly four months and therefore his uncle ruled the two countries on his behalf (John, 2007). The French monarchy was restored after Joan of Arc raised military in opposition to the English. Henry married Margaret of Anjou and as he became older, it was evident that he was going to be a weak (Markham, 1983).

Consequently, the Yorkists planned to take over the thrown from him. He condoned corruption and the country went broke despite of the high level of taxation. In his reign, trade declined while great Lords interfered with the judicial system and Parliamentary elections (Markham, 1983). Unrests were common and in 1450, there was a revolt in London headed by Jack Cade. Citizens laid their hopes on the duke of York to instigate change (Markham, 1983).

On 22 May 1455, the first battle of the Wars of the Roses occurred at St Albans (Markham, 1983). Richard, the Duke of York led the Yorkists to defeat the king’s army with ease. Subsequently, Henry VI was captured and imprisoned.

Richard of York was made protector of England after Henry suffered a bout of insanity from 1455 to February 1456 (Hawes, 2009). After his recovery, his wife Margret advised him to reverse many of the decisions made by the Yorkists. The decisions included the appointment of Warwick’s as the captain of Calais that was reverted back to Henry Beaufort the new III Duke of Somerset (Markham, 1983).

Lancastrians were ordered by Margaret to attack Salisbury at Blore Heath on September 1459. They lost to the Yorkists. Henry and Margaret later confronted York, Warwick and Salisbury with a force of 30,000 in the battle of Ludford Bridge on October 1459 (Markham, 1983). Calais men defected to the Henry’s side. The Yorkists dissolved and fled.

Warwick fled to the South East and ended up in Sandwich. Here, he raised an army of 25000 people (Markham, 1983). With this, he confronted Henry’s army at the battle of Northampton on July 1460. Yorkists won because the commander in charge of Henry’s front line betrayed him and joined the Yorkists.

In addition, Buckingham, John Talbot V Earl of Shrewsbury, Beaumont, and Egremont were killed (Horrox, 1989). However, York on return from Ireland claimed the throne. In1460, the parliament passed an Act of Accord that left Henry as King, but York’s heirs would be Henry’s successor (Horrox, 1989).

Margaret was infuriated by the decision to deny her son (Edward) the right to the throne. On this account, she decided to form another Lancastrian army. Jasper Tudor organized an army in Wales, Holland, and Somerset in the West Country while Percy, III Earl of Northumberland with John Clifford rose in the north (Markham, 1983).

The combined total of forces was 15000 men (Horrox, 1989). York heard about Margaret’s location in Pontefract and decided to go to his castle at Sandal south of Wakefield. York infuriated by breaking of Christmas peace, marched out of his castle but he was ambushed in the Battle of Wakefield. York and Salisbury’s son Thomas Neville were murdered (Horrox, 1989).

On the other hand, York’s son was in Pembroke and Wiltshire where he had been sent. He won the battle of Mortimer’s Cross on 2 February 1461. Margaret’s forces at the second battle of St. Albans intercepted Warwick on 17 February 1461, as he left London to meet with March (Horrox, 1989). The Lancastrians won prompting Warwick to flee with the remainder of his soldiers.

Norfolk Warwick and his uncle Lord Fauconberg formed forces in the south East, Midlands, and West Country. They combined forces with the rest of the Yorkists army led by Richard’s son Edward, the Earl of March. In the Battle of Ferrybridge, on 28 March 1461, Lord Fauconberg was killed (Horrox, 1989). The two armies met again in the battle of Towton the following day. Lancastrians lost and most of their noble men were killed (Markham, 1983).

Edward was crowned the king on 28 June1461 and Warwick was reinstated as the Captain of England (Hawes, 2009). Edward and Warwick fell out over issues relating to foreign policies. Edward lost in the battle of Edgecote Moor on 26 July 1469 and was imprisoned at Warwick castle. Later, Edward fled to the protection of his friend Duke of Burgundy. He later won in the Battle of ‘Lose-Coat’ Field on 12 March 1470 after gathering support from Charolais, Duke of Burgundy (Markham, 1983).

Warwick and Clarence sought refuge in France where they met Henry’s wife, Margaret. King Louis provided them with funds, forces and sixty ships for battle (Hawes, 2009). In exchange, Henry VI was reinstated as king. Henry VI regained the throne in 1470 and was crowned king on 13 October 1470 (Hawes, 2009).

Under Warwick’s rule, an alliance between England and France proposed an invasion of Burgundy. Charolais, Duke of Burgundy facilitated Edward with provision like ships, manpower, and funds to invade England. The sail was on 11 March 1471 (Hawes, 2009). Edward used his wit to gain public confidence and raised his forces even more.

Edward went to London where his supporters accepted him back. He defeated Henry in the Battle of Tewkesbury and was crowned king as Edward IV (Hawes, 2009). He set out for Warwick. In the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471, the Lancastrians were defeated and Warwick was killed (Hawes, 2009).

Through Edward’s order, Henry was killed in May 1471 (Hawes, 2009). Edward IV remained in power until 1483 when he died suddenly from chill and soon the country went back to mayhem again (Hawes, 2009). Queen Margaret of Anjou the wife of Henry VI sought refuge to Wales with her son. Jaspar Tudor who was Henry’s half brother accepted them (Hawes, 2009).

After the death of Edward IV, his two sons Edward and Richard were too young to rule (Hawes, 2009). Thus, their uncle Richard Duke of Gloucester took over the leadership of England. The two princes mysteriously disappeared in 1483 from the Tower of London where they had been taken (Horrox, 1989).

It is alleged that their uncle killed them. Richard was subsequently crowned Richard III on 6 July 1483 (Horrox, 1989). Richard III’s position in the throne faced numerous hitches especially from Henry Tudor. This was the grandson of Owen Tudor the second husband to Henry V’s wife Katherine of Valois (Williams, 1996).

Henry Tudor prepared an invasion with the support of Charles III the King of France. On 7 August 1485, a 3000 force landed in Wales and kept adding more on their walk (Hawes, 2009). A Lancastrian army that was raised by Henry Tudor in the battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485 defeated the Yorkists (Hawes, 2009). Despite the fact that Henry had a less force of about 6000 men, he defeated Richard who had 10000 men and was a more experienced commander in the field (Gravett, 1999).

Richard III was killed in the battle and Henry found his crown on the battlefield (Gravett, 1999). Henry placed the crown on his head and he was crowned king on 30 October 1485 (Gravett, 1999). The following year, he married Elizabeth of York (the daughter of Edward IV) uniting the two houses of Lancaster and York (Gravett, 1999). This union put to an end to the War of Roses.

In summary, the War of Roses started with irreversible disagreements between the ruling Houses of Lancaster (Lancastrian) and York (Yorkists). It was referred to as the War of Roses because a red rose represented the Lancastrians while a white rose represented the Yorkists (Gravett, 1999).

Yorkists (Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III) reigned. However, Henry Tudor defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth field and crowned himself Henry VII (Gravett, 1999). This marked the beginning of new royal dynasty. His marriage to a York’s daughter brought to an end the Wars of the Roses (Chrimes, 1972). He later gained the trust of his subjects when he overcame a claimant at the Battle of Stoke Field on 16 June 1487.

The Rebirth of Tudor and the Tudor Dynasty

During this era, King Henry VII overcame adversaries to his new dynasty and promoted noble writs and commissions. The era was characterized by political and social strengthening. In this era, there was increase in births and businesses thrived (Gravett, 1999). Tudor cared for the people and their welfare was his main interest. He endeavored to stop wars and foreign conflicts (Chrimes, 1972). This marked the beginning of social change.

The royal couple had eight children though only four survived. They were two boys (Arthur and Henry) and two girls (Margaret and Mary) (Kilkenny, 2007). Margaret wedded King James IV of Scotland fostering a peaceful coalition (Gravett, 1999).

During the reign of Henry VII, John Cabot made a major discovery. He discovered the New World in 1494 (Busch, 1895). However, John Cabot discovered that he was likely to lose his right to the great discovery since Spanish examination tried to supersede him with Christopher Columbus. Thus, he sought to obtain Royal Charter for his discovery, which was granted by the king in 1496 (Kilkenny, 2007).

In order to promote the union between Spain and England, the oldest son of King Henry and Catherine of Aragon were affianced (Kilkenny, 2007). Catherine and Prince Arthur were married in November 1501 (Kilkenny, 2007). Prince Arthur died five months later of a mysterious disease while his mother Elizabeth died 10 months later in childbirth at 37 years of age (Kilkenny, 2007). Catherine should have returned to Spain but she did not. She was ordered to stay to be engaged to Henry, a younger brother of Arthur (John, 2007).

The marriage of Catherine to the king of England would promote obedience to the Papal Bull of Borgia that had been proclaimed in England in 1494 (John, 2007). She would also see to it that England would not conflict with Spain over the ownership of the New World (Mattingly, 1941).

King Henry and his son Henry were opposed to a re-marriage of Henry to Catherine. This is because the death of Arthur was seen as a bad omen (Mattingly, 1941). In addition, Isabella of Castile died in 1504 worsening the matters (Mattingly, 1941). Catherine started planning to go back to Spain.

However, the arrival of a Franciscan called Fry Diego Fernandez altered everything. He is believed to have poisoned the king in order to maintain the alliance of Spain and England through the marriage of Catherine to Henry (Mattingly, 1941). The king died at an early age of 52 in 1509 (Kilkenny, 2007). Soon after his death, Henry became king and revoked all the policies of his father. Indeed, he executed his father’s advisers at the Tower. He was crowned king on 24 June 1509 (Kilkenny, 2007).

During the reign of Henry VIII, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses meant to start blessed Reformation to the church door in 1517 (Kilkenny, 2007). Henry immediately opposed the Reformation. Unlike his father, Henry VIII cared little about the people who liked partying. He admired beautiful girls (Kilkenny, 2007).

Consequently, he had met Anne Boleyn and because Catherine could not produce a male heir, he wanted to divorce her and marry Anne. The divorce would break the alliance between England and Spain and had therefore to be stopped. The Pope postponed until the king became impatient with Rome and declared himself Supreme Head of the church (Kilkenny, 2007). Later, he proclaimed himself pope of England. Subsequently, Henry married Anne on 25 January 1533 (Starkey, 2003).

The break between England and Rome made reformation in England a reality. Queen Anne reigned for 1000 days between 1533 and 1536 (Starkey, 2003). She made strong enemies among the Roman Catholics since she favored reformation (Kilkenny, 2007). She had many miscarriages but nonetheless, she had one surviving daughter later to become Queen Elizabeth I. she ended up becoming England’s greatest queen.

Bloody Mary reigned only for 5 years (1553-1558) and these were the bloodiest years in the history of England (Kilkenny, 2007). Due to refusal to convert to catholic, over 500 people were burned and they included Archbishop Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Bishop Rochester among others (Warnicke, 1989). Bloody Mary married Philip II of Spain but died childless after failing to produce an heir (John, 2007).

Gloriana the virgin Queen Elizabeth became queen on 17 November 1558 and reigned for 45 years (Kilkenny, 2007). During this period, both Spain and England were engaged in great efforts for world domination. It is during her reign that pope Pius excommunicated her in 1570. During this period also, Sir France Drake discovered California and the Spanish Amanda was defeated (Kilkenny, 2007). Queen Elizabeth paid for the creation of the Gaelic tongue, in Ireland (Olden, 1892).

In conclusion, the Tudor dynasty ended with the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 and James IV of Scotland became James I of England (Kilkenny, 2007). He witnessed completion of the translation of the bible in 1611and was referred to as the Authorized or the King James Version (Kilkenny, 2007).

The Pilgrim father formed the first colony in the new world in 1620 that later grew to be the United States of Cabotia (Kilkenny, 2007). The Stuart Dynasty ended in 1688 and thereafter in 1694, the Bank of England was fully fledged and this gave English government authority over bankers and moneychangers (Kilkenny, 2007).

Reference List

Chrimes, S. B. (1972). Henry VII. California: University of California Press.

Gravett, C. (1999). Bosworth 1485: last Charge of the Plantagenets. Oxford: Osprey.

Hawes, P. (2009). Wars of the Roses: Lancaster Vs York. Rule book. New York: Z-Man Games, Inc.

Horrox, R. (1989). Richard III. A study of Service. Cambridge.: Cambridge University Press.

John, C. (2007). The Tudor Monarchy. Retrieved from

Kilkenny, N. (2007). Life and Times of King Henry VII and VIII. Retrieved from

Markham, R. (1983). Henry V: Four Battles from the Hundred Years War. Cambria, CA: 3W. Game.

Mattingly, G. (1941). Catherine of Aragon. New York: Vintage books.

Olden, T. (1892). History of the Church of Ireland. London: Welles, Gardener, Darton and Co.

Starkey, D. (2003). Six Wives: the Queens of Henry VIII. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Williams, D.T. (1996). The Battle of Bosworth field: 22nd August 1485. Leicester, UK: Bosworth Publications-Leicestershire County Council.


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