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Kings and Queens

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Henry 4th 1399-1413 (Aged 32 when crowned) House of Lancaster

The first Lancastrian King with dubious claims to the throne, some 8th in line, who  took the throne by force from Richard.

Henry previously known as Bolingbroke after Bolingbroke Castle where he was born and then later the Duke of Lancaster, was the same age as his predecessor and cousin Richard who Henry murdered by starvation. This haunted him throughout his reign both through guilt and through the many English enemies he made by taking the crown by military force. Richard had been the eldest son of the Black Prince who himself was the eldest son of Edward 3rd. Bolingbroke or Henry 4th was only the eldest surviving son of John of Gaunt who had been Edward 3rd ‘s third son. A third man or actually a boy was Edmund Mortimer, the 5th Earl of March, was next in line after Richard being the great grand son of Lionel, Edward 3rd ‘s second son.

This level of rivalry caused some huge problems but fortunately for England, Henry had all the characteristics required for a successful Medieval King, decisiveness, intelligence and military acumen. Shakespeare writing some 150 years later dramatized his reign by majoring on the conspiracies against him. Shakespeare described the period as “a scrambling and unquiet time.” And when Henry died suffering terribly from an itching disease probably eczema or leprosy and dreaming he was in Jerusalem, Shakespeare gave him the death line “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. 

Henry Bolingbroke married at 13 the English born Mary aged 10 and they produced their first son Edward when she was only 12. Edward died after 4 days. Her next child Henry who became King Henry 5th was born when she was 17.  

Chronological events

1367 Henry born, he is intelligent and learns Latin and French. He is also athletic and vigorous.

1377 Henry’s cousin Richard becomes King of England. Henry and Richard are both aged 10. Henry’s father, John of Gaunt acts as uncle-regent to Richard and includes his son Henry in the regents ruling committee. Henry and Richard hate each other from then on. Henry is eventually banished from England by Richard and when he reaches majority Richard takes much of Henry’s property.

1390 Henry aged 23 travels to Lithuania and fights with the Teutonic Knights against the Lithuanians and the Poles.

1392 He takes a personal pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he meets many country leaders en-route.

1399 Henry returns to England and seizes the English throne. Rebellion by the Earls who supported King Richard quashed by Henry. All the leaders are executed.

1400 Henry murders ex King Richard at Pontefract Castle. His skeletal starved body is shown in public in London to prove him dead.

Scotland takes opportunity to attack the north of England but repelled by Henry.

Owen Glendower (Owain Glyn Dwr) based in North East Wales rebels and calls himself the Prince of Wales. Glendower with Scottish and French support and his friend Percy the Duke of Northumberland aims to kick the English out of Wales and extend Wales to include Liverpool and Manchester.

Glendower takes Mortimer hostage and calls for a ransom which Henry quite understandably refuses to pay. Remember Mortimer was actually a rightful heir to the throne.

1401 Lollards suppressed by Archbishop Arundel. Henry introduces “Burning at the Stake” for Heretics. (The first time this word is used)

1402 Scotland invades Northumbria (in the north of England, loot and pillage and retreat to Scotland with cartloads of booty. Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, chases the Scots and routs them at the battle of Homildon Hill. (A few miles south east of Berwick on Tweed). Many Scottish nobles taken prisoner.

The King in the mean time receives a state visit from Constantinople almost 1000 miles away by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel 2nd pleading for support to fight the Islamist terror at that time, the Ottomans who have finally surrounded Constantinople.

Henry along with other European Kings and the Pope are not supportive and Constantinople falls to the Muslims some 50 years later. (1453)

1403 Percy, the Earl of Northumberland and his son Henry (called Hotspur) rebel against Henry the King of England. 

Reasons:

  • Henry refuses to pay £20,000 to Percy being his dues for having an army to control the boarder with Scotland.

  • Henry takes the ransom from the Scottish prisoners captured by Percy.

  • Henry refuses to pay the ransom for Sir Edmund Mortimer captured by Glendower.

Percy joins forces with Glendower and Mortimer. Hotspur travelling south to meet up with Glendower is cut off by Henry and killed. Percy pays a fine to the King and is pardoned. Mortimer is taken prisoner.

1405 Percy Earl of Northumberland joins with men under Archbishop Scrope and Thomas Mobray in an attempt to free Mortimer and put him on the throne. Henry captures and executes Scrope and Mobray and Northumberland flees to Scotland.

1408 Percy Northumberland with a new army comes back into England but Henry men kill him at the battle of Bramham moor near Tadcaster.

1413 Henry dies and is succeeded by his second son Henry 5th.  

Note

1407 France under the mad and incompetent Charles 6th falls into civil war.

1411 and 1412 Henry 4th King of England cannot resist sending forces into France to capitalise on the situation but his forces are too small as the King is almost broke following his civil wars. He certainly was in no position to help in the fight against the Islamic Ottomans. 

1400 Geoffrey Chaucer 1342-1400 dies.

It was Chaucer not Shakespeare (1564-1616) who established the English Language of today with a dialect ffom southern England that spread to the rest of the country. He was the first serious writer to use English rather than Latin or French. Chaucer was a poet much influenced by the likes of the Italian Dante (1265-1321) and who was financially supported by both Richard 2nd and Henry 4th even though much of what he wrote was pornographic by today’s standards. For example a treatise on the best method of cleaning one’s bottom after a visit to the toilet. His solution was to use a swan’s neck! (His works of this type are only available from places like the Bodleian Library in Oxford England.) His best known work is the Canterbury Tales commenced in 1387 which describes the sexual and other antics of the pilgrims as they travel from London to the holy town of Canterbury. His spelling is very different from today hence students of his books tend to be over 16 or actually at university when after a few weeks reading his works becomes easily comprehensible and pleasurable.    
  

Henry 5th 1413-1422 (25 when crowned)

Henry was and is still, thanks to Shakespeare, the best known and most popular of all English Kings. Before being crowned he was very much a lad about town with dubious older friends like Sir John Falstaff, plus many rogues and thieves and almost certainly many female lovers. After his coronation he dropped all his drinking mates and girl friends and became a model medieval King. Perhaps he is best remembered for his victory against the French at the Battle of Agincourt where 8,000 Englishmen mainly of peasant stock but lethally trained to use the English Long Bow, annihilated a French army of 50,000 men. On returning to England he became the most popular King of all time being greeted and congratulated by locals who rushed into the sea to carry him shoulder high onto dry land. The party continued all the way to London where on Blackheath he was greeted by the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Aldermen, Archbishops and Bishops.

He was made heir to the throne of France ahead of the French Kings eldest son the Dauphin but unfortunately died before he could be crowned. Perhaps he never would have been, because of a certain young French girl called Joan of Arc.  See Henry 6th. 

Chronological events

1413 Henry Crowned

Lollards rebel (Religious movement started in Oxford by John Wycliffe 1329-84 as the forerunner of Protestantism). Ruthlessly put down by Henry. Leader Lord Cobham captured in 1417 and burnt at the stake.

1415 Edmund Mortimer 5th Earl of March, the rightful heir to the throne and his supporters plan to overthrow Henry but the plot is leaked and Henry kills Mortimer’s supporters. June 1415

1415 August, Henry restarts the 100 years war with France because French king, Charles 6th is weak, perhaps even mentally sick and under pressure from two rival families based in Orleans and Dijon, Burgundy. Henry’s Barons who have been resting for a few years need no persuasions to start a fight in an attempt to get their French lands back. Henry sails from Portsmouth to the Normandy beaches and captures the costal town of Harfleur after a siege of five weeks.  The English army moves up the coast to Calais to rest but are followed by a huge French force of some 50,000 men who have set out from Paris. They meet at Agincourt in October. The English with only 8,000 men. The English win this most famous of battles due to their mastery with their Long Bow. 10 arrows a minute, range certainly 500 yards, pulling stain 180lbs. The battle lasted just three hours, 10,000 French killed, 15,000 taken prisoner. Henry returns to London a hero and an English national hero at that. He has finally thrown off the Plantagenet image of being partly French. 

1415-20 The final 4 year phase of this middle section of the 100 years war shows no more glamorous  Agincourt style victories, just a hard military slog against well defended French towns. However with the capture of Rouen and then the whole of Normandy in 1419 Henry could dictate his terms and in 1420 he enters Paris in triumph. Henry is given the position of Regent of France and heir to the French throne on the death of Charles 6th and returns to England with Charles’ glamorous 19 year old daughter Catherine as his bride along with her dowry of 2 million French crowns. Within the year they have produced a son to become Henry 6th.

Disaster strikes, Henry dies of dysentery in 1422 just one month before the death of the French King. Henry’s son Henry 6th becomes King of England and France but he is only 9 months old and the wars with France are set to continue. 

The Tudor connection

After the death of Henry 5th his young and glamorous French widow starts sleeping with one of the gentlemen of the royal household a certain Welshman called Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwr or in English Owen Tudor. They produced three sons all of which by virtue of Catherine’s marriage to Henry 5th were heirs to the throne of England. The second son Edmund Tudor lived long enough to father the boy Henry Tudor who became Henry 7th. There is no record of a marriage between Queen Catherine and Owen Tudor.  

Henry 6th 1422-1461 (Aged 9 months when crowned)

On his fathers untimely death aged only 34, Henry 6th at 9 months old inherited both the throne of England and France. The French north of Orleans, in the south west around Bordeaux and east around Dijon (Burgundy) were initially quite happy to be ruled from England as their own King was so stupid even though due to the English King being only a baby their actual ruler was an English regent, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. However national French pride was restored by a French peasant girl called Joan of Arc who as a mere teenager led a French Army to victory over the English and to recover all occupied French land other than Calais. That was the end of the 100 years war with the English confined to ruling only England and Wales.

The story in England was almost as bad. Henry’s grand father Henry 4th had taken the English throne by force from the rightful heir Richard 2nd so Henry 6th had at least two other lines of the family all descended from Edward 3rd who thought they should be King. Henry was totally unsuitable ever to be king, much better a monk as he was extremely pious, mainly interested in art and education. During his reign he sanctioned the building of both Eton boys school and Kings Collage Cambridge. For some time only Eton boys went to Kings Collage.

Henry also suffered from mental breakdowns and so both during his minority and his adult depressions the country was ruled by a Regent, initially the Duke of Gloucester and later Richard Duke of York father of Edward. 

In 1461 Henry 6th at 49 was eventually murdered by Edward who became Edward 4th at 19 years old.

The period around 1450 saw great changes throughout Europe.

  • England lost its influence in France.

  • France re-emerged as a contiguous country under Charles 7th who was in fact the uncle of England’s Henry 6th

  • In 1453 the Muslim Ottomans finally took the last remaining strong hold of eastern Christianity, Constantinople. The Orthodox  Eastern Christian church fled to Russia. There was no Crusade to get Constantinople back let alone Jerusalem as the European kings were too exhausted fighting each other.

  • In 1438 the little known German princes called the Habsburgs centred in Vienna (modern day capital of Austria) took over the role of Holy Roman Emperor under their Albert 2nd. Following the role of the first Emperor Charlemagne, they were faced with keeping the powerful and well organised Islamic Ottomans out of Europe. Their efforts were to be diluted with the splits in Christian Church between the Roman Pope and the German Lutherans and other powerful protestants including of course the English and the Orthodox Christians now centred in Moscow.

  • Islamic domination of the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, The Balkans, Greece and the Mediterranean Sea forced the Europeans to think about finding other routes to the East to buy silks and spices. The Portuguese were the first, through the enthusiasm of Henry the Navigator (Grandson of John of Gaunt). Henry’s Algarve based school of navigation gave sailors the confidence to sail the Atlantic seas which eventually led to the discovery and colonization of the Americas and round Africa to India Indonesia and China.

Chronological events in Henry 6th reign:

1421 Henry 6th born

1422 Henry crowned King of England at 9 months old on the death of his father Henry 5th.

1422 Henry becomes King of France on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles 6th King of France. 

Recommencement of 100 Years War with France; Final phase.

English King Henry one year old!

1422 Duke of Bedford as Regent re-commences the 100 years war with France. Bedford’s brother the Duke of Gloucester is made Protector of England. Note both Dukes were uncles being sons of Henry 4th.

1423 John, Duke of Bedford, strengthens his stranglehold of France by marrying the sister of the ruler of Burgundy. (Territory round Dijon France then as now famous for red wines.)

1428 Siege of Orleans. The English needed to take the town of Orleans in central France to finally secure control of the whole country but in 1429 to the surprise of both France and England a young French girl called Joan of  Arc turns up leading an army of 6000 Frenchmen who are convinced they can liberate France through the religious faith of Joan. Joan and her men break the siege of Orleans. Now the French will do anything for their wonder girl and the English are terrified thinking she must be a witch. Almost immediately Joan’s men capture England’s leading general, Talbot thought to be the best military tactician of the period.

The 100 years war is effectively over and the English are never again to try and regain their lost French lands. Actually the war lasted on and off another 20 years.

1430 Joan of Ark is captured by the Duke of Burgundy’s men and she is sold to the English who in keeping with the times, thinking she is a witch burn her at the stake at Rouen.

1435 King Henry 6th is still only 14 and worse he has shown no interest in warfare. And worse still his two uncles who are running the country are quarrelling. Bedford dies and the English leaders the Duke of Gloucester is for war and Cardinal Beaufort for peace. This, in the absence of a strong king, is the final nail in the coffin for the English in France.

1445 King Henry now 24 is married to the vibrant Margaret of Anjou and part of the deal, arranged by William de la Pole, is that England give up their rule of both Anjou and Maine.  The English nobles are furious.

1450 The English lose Normandy the birthplace of English claims to French territory from 400 years previously.

1453 The English lose Gascony/Aqutaine which they had ruled continuously for 300 years.

The final battle of the 100 years war takes place at Chatillon with the final defeat for the totally demoralised English who are left just with Calais.

End of 100 Years War

1453 Henry 6th is now 32 and miraculously produces a son. (Perhaps it is not his as his ability to have normal sex is in question). Henry has a major mental breakdown, is incapable of ruling and by 1455 the power battle for the English throne called the  

The Wars of the Roses now begin

Edward 4th

1461 Edward-see below, a “Yorkist” heir to the throne, is proclaimed King as Edward 4th after a 7 year struggle where the Lancastrian side is largely organised by Henry’s competent wife French Queen Margaret.

1463 Queen Margaret and her son Edward aged 10 flee to the sanctuary of France.

1465 Henry 6th is captured and put in the Tower of London. For the last 4 years he has been wandering as a hermit through Scotland and northern England still suffering mentally.

Henry 6th restored

1470 Edward looses the support of the powerful Earl of Warwick and a still bemused or perhaps a mad Henry is restored to the throne for 7 months until Edward regroups and defeats the armies led by both Margaret and Warwick.

Edward 4th is King once again.

1471 Henry is taken back to the Tower and murdered.  

Notes on The Wars of the Roses. 1455-1485

In essence the Wars of the Roses a private battle between two branches of  the Plantagenet dynasty for the throne of England because: 

  • Henry 6th being a weak King is not the least bit interested in ruling the country.

  • Edward 3rd who died 80 years previously in 1377 producing 3 strong sons who themselves each sired families who were potential heirs to the English throne creating rivalries lasting for over 100 years.

These were, in order of birth hence rights to the throne.

  • The Black Prince, whose son became Richard 2nd.

  • John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose son Henry Bolingbroke seized the throne from Richard and became Henry 4th.

  • Edmund, Duke of York whose great-grandson Edward 4th seized the throne from Henry 6th.

A sub division of the Lancastrian line was also important commenced by Lancastrian Henry 5th’s widow Queen Catherine who mothered the Tudor line by sleeping with Welshman Owen Tudor and conveniently producing a healthy son who became Henry 7th. There is no record of a marriage.   

However back to 1450 when the weak Lancastrian Henry 6th was king, the much more robust Yorkist contenders were the brothers who became Edward 4th and Richard 3rd, being descendents  of  Edmund Duke of York. 
 

Edward 4th 1461-1470 and 1471-1483 (18 when crowned)

See also above in the reign of Henry 6th. 

Edward, born in Rouen France was the son of Richard Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer, distant cousins being both directly related to Edward 3rd. Edward had a brother who became King Richard 3rd.

Edward’s father, Richard Earl of Cambridge called himself Richard Plantagenet, the first to use this name after Henry 2nd ‘s nickname, to emphasize his direct rights to the throne in the Wars of the Roses.

Edward, initially with the help of his father, took the throne by force but this turned out to be a blessing as he restored the authority of the throne after the chaotic years of Henry  6th together with the re-establishment of the countries finances.

Note the two periods of his reign being a reflection that after 9 years in office Henry 6th ‘s supporters regained the throne.

Edward married, in secret, a commoner and widow, the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 when he was 21 and they produce 10 children including the two “Princes of the Tower” who are murdered, probably by Edward’s brother Richard to clear the way for him to become Richard 3rd.

Unfortunately Edward died when only 40 years old but is remembered for:

  • Supporting the introduction and development of printing in England.

  • Enlarging Windsor Castle and re-building Eltham Palace.

  • His handsome looks, kindness to his royal staff, persuasive speeches and adroit improvement of the countries finances.

  • His many mistresses including the lovely Elizabeths, Shore and Lucy, plus his 10 legitimate children.

  • His eldest two sons who were murdered in the Tower of London also his eldest daughter Elizabeth of York who was married to Henry 7th to combine the Yorkists with the Lancastrians. 

Chronological summary 

1442 Edward born in Rouen France

1455 Wars of the Roses begins. The leader of the Yorkist side is Richard Duke of York, father of Edward 4th. The chief Lancastrian “General” was John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. The Lancastrian King Henry 6th was 34 years old but was not a military leader.

Battle of St Albans: Somerset was killed and the King was taken prisoner; Yorkists victorious.

1459 Battle of Bloreheath, Yorkists again victorious.

1460 Battle of Northampton. Yorkists under the Earl of Warwick victorious. King again taken prisoner and Margaret, the Queen, with their son, flees to Scotland.

Richard Duke of York claims the throne for the first time but agrees to a compromise suggested by the House of Lords.

  • King Henry should retain the crown for life.

  • On his death the crown should pass to the Duke of York then his son Edward.

  • That the Duke of York should immediately be made Prince of Wales and rule the country.

Queen Margaret voices her opposition to this arrangement.

Note; the Duke of York had more right to the throne than Henry 6th as York is descended from the 2nd son of Edward 3rd, Lionel and Henry only from the 3rd son, John of Gaunt.

Battle of Wakefield (Yorkshire); The Royalists Lancastrians who are victorious, capture Duke of York and behead him.

1461 Battle of Mortimer’s Cross (Wales). Edward aged 19, son of the Duke of York is victorious and takes Owen Tudor prisoner and beheads him. (Remember Owen Tudor is the boy friend/lover of Henry 5th widow and father of the first Tudor king Henry 7th.

Battle of St Albans is a victory for the Lancastrian Royalists who are supported by the Queen and a rabble army. However the gates of London are shut to this mob even though they are Royalists.

Battle of Towton (Yorkshire). Edward claims a decisive victory over the earl of Somerset in the bloodiest battle of the war and is crowned King.

1461 June, Edward crowned King at Westminster Abbey.

Edward immediately sets about removing any remaining pockets of Lancastrian power. In this he is supported by the Earl of Warwick

1464 Edward is a notorious womanizer persuading many a pretty girl to sleep with him. One beautiful lady refuses unless he marries her. Her name is Elizabeth Woodville and they are secretly married. (This is highly unusual for English Kings of any period who usually marry for political gain.) Unfortunately the powerful Earl of Warwick had his own royal princess lined up to marry Edward and when he hears of Elizabeth Woodville he withdraws all support for the king.

(Note Warwick or Richard Neville was the nephew of Richard Duke of York and cousin of Edward 4th hence he was a natural member of the ruling council. Also he was immensely wealthy not only in his own right but also because of his arranged marriage to Anne daughter of the previous Earl of Warwick. Richard  Neville was also nicknamed the King Maker.)

Warwick transfers his support to the Lancastrians and drums up support from both Edward’s brother Clarence, Louis 11th King of France and the powerful Margaret of Anjou (Henry 6th wife)

1470 With this formidable support Warwick returns to England and Edward flees to Flanders then under the control of his French ally and brother in law, the Duke of Burgundy. Henry 6th and wife Margaret are restored to the English throne.

1471 Edward returns to England with sufficient support (this time his younger brother Clarence swaps sides and joins Edward and his youngest brother Richard) to defeat the armies of Warwick and kills Warwick himself at the Battle of Barnet.

Later Edward mops up the remaining Lancaster armies under the command of Queen Margaret at the Battle of Tewksbury, she flees and her son and Lancastrian heir  to the throne, Prince Edward is killed.

Edward is restored to the throne and with his wife Elizabeth Woodville produce their first of 10 children and heir to the Yorkist throne also a Prince Edward.

Edward arranges for the capture of Henry 6th, his incasteration in the Tower of London  and his subsequent murder.  

1472-75 War resumes against France. Edward persuades his brother in law the Duke of Burgundy together with those old Dukedoms of England, Brittany and Aragon to join him in bringing down the French King. Edward assembles an English army of 10,000 men and sets sail for Calais but his French partners fail to turn up. Nevertheless French King Louis 11th is so frightened that Edward extracts a peace treaty with him whereby Louis pays him, the cost of  the war, a yearly pension and 50,000 crowns as a ransom for Queen Margaret widow of Henry 6th. (Remember Margaret was the daughter of the Duke of Anjou (France). 

1475 The King and his brothers quarrel. The middle brother George, the duke of Clarence is married to the daughter of the late duke of Warwick, Isabel Neville and expects to inherit the huge estates and income which go with them. This causes trouble between the younger and always loyal brother Richard and George which is settled by Parliament. George is not happy and retires in a huff from the court.

Edward also does not trust his brother George duke of Clarence and accuses him of treason. George ends up in the Tower were he mysteriously dies, drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine. 

1483 The French King renegades on his treaty with Edward who prepares for an invasion but dies suddenly probably through excesses of food, wine and sex. 

His eldest son Edward aged 12 inherits the throne.

[1476 With the support of the King, William Caxton sets op the first printing press in England close by the royal dwellings at Westminster London.] 
 

Edward 5th and Richard 3rd.

Edward aged 12 “ruled” only 2 months and Richard, his uncle, only 2 years

Edward from April to June 1483

Richard from 1483-1485 

This short period in English History is not reliably documented as many writers including Shakespeare chose to paint Richard as the most evil of Kings and ugly to boot. Almost certainly he ordered the murders of his nephews the 12 year old King Edward together with his younger brother not to mention Richard’s own elder brother and heir to the throne the Duke of Clarence. All three murders took place in the Tower of London. There are no reliable portraits of Richard to confirm the theory he was a hunchback. Indeed, more likely contemporary  pictures were altered during the Tudor period to give him his alleged deformities. Before Richard became king he was a valuable supporter of his eldest brother Edward 4th, and based in York, very competent at the head of an army and an excellent, popular and powerful ruler of all of England north of the Humber.

King Edward 5th was the eldest son of Edward 4th and hence the rightful heir to the throne but as his father had died young when Edward was only 12 and it would have been quite normal for Richard, his uncle to rule and act as protector. Richard simply chose to murder his nephew and claim the throne for himself. He also claimed that Edward 5th was illegitimate as his over sexed elder brother had been betrothed to another woman when he secretly married Edward 5th ‘s mother. Plenty of scope for intrigue!

Probable because Richard had usurped the throne his rivals had considerable support, one being the Welshman Henry Tudor of illegitimate Lancastrian linage. Henry’s Lancastrian army defeated  Richard’s Yorkist supporters in a final showdown at the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard the last Plantagenet was killed and Henry as Henry 7th became the first Tudor king.  

The Princes in the Tower

This is the title given to the two brothers who were locked up in the Tower of London by Richard. The Elder boy was in fact the 12 year old King Edward 5th who Richard had kidnapped on his way to London to be crowned King. The other was his younger brother also called Richard (Duke of York) who his uncle  had persuaded his mother to  send to the Tower for his own protection. Richard Duke of York was obviously second in line to the throne. Both needed to be “done away with” before Uncle  Richard could inherit the  throne.

The two boys simply disappeared and nobody who valued their lives dared to ask Richard what had become of them.

About 150 years later some children’s bones were discovered but technology was not then available to provide the conclusive evidence for who they were.

During the 1930’s the bones were examined again and were dated as far as was then  possible to the late 1480’s. Now with established  DNA and Radio Carbon Dating it would be possible to establish who they were beyond any reasonable doubt but the Church will not allow it! 

Chronological summary 

1452 Richard born, the youngest son of Richard Plantagenet. Richard Plantagenet was the great grand son of Edward 3rd via his son Edmund, Duke of York. Richard’s mother, Anne Mortimer was also directly descended from Edward 3rd via Edward 3rd ‘s second son Lionel.

Richard Plantagenet’s other children were;

Edward 4th born in 1442

George, duke of Clarence born 1449

1453 Current King, Henry 6th suffers a mental breakdown and Richard’s father the Duke of York steps into the vacuum and acts as “Protector”. Richard is one year old and his brother Edward is eleven.

1461 Richard’s eldest brother Edward is proclaimed King of England at 19.

1464 Edward, a notorious lecher marries Elizabeth Woodville as the only way of getting her in bed. But was he already betrothed to another woman so any child of Edward and Elizabeth would be illegitimate?  This marriage also causes the powerful Earl of Warwick to remove his military support for Edward.

1469 Richard at 17, on behalf of Edward leads an army into Wales to suppress an uprising.

1470 Henry 6th is restored King for a few months and Edward 4th retreats to France with his brother Richard where they gather supporters and defeat Henry’s supporters, his formidable wife Margaret and one of England’s most powerful men the Earl of Warwick who now supports Henry.

Richard is 18.

1471 King Edward authorises the murder of old King Henry 6th who has been imprisoned in the Tower.

1477 Richard other brother Clarence is accused of treason because of his association with Warwick and is murdered in the Tower on the instructions of Edward.

Richard is 25 and is acting as Edward’s lieutenant defending the north of England where he rules justly and becomes a popular leader almost as a King of the North.

1482 Richard attacks Scotland, retakes Berwick and storms Edinburgh.

1483 King Edward 4th dies prematurely at 41 years old from an excess of wine women and song and is succeeded by his 12 year old son Edward 5th for whom Richard would naturally become Protector. However Richard decides that ruling as King is a better option and kidnaps young Edward at Stoney Stratford  on his way to London for his coronation and imprisons him in the Tower of London. Richard then persuades Edward 4th ‘s wife who has been hiding in Westminster Abbey to send her other son to the Tower for safe keeping! Both princes of the Tower are never seen again almost certainly murdered on Richard’s instruction.

Richard then claims the crown as Richard 3rd and rules superbly!

1484 Richard continues with his attempted extermination of any potential threat to his kingship and seeks to murder the remaining threat of Henry Tudor who promptly flees to Brittany France. 

1485 Henry Tudor returns to England with French military support via his home country of Wales. He lands in the natural harbour of Milford Haven in the extreme south west of the country and gathering supporters he makes his way the Richard’s stronghold at Nottingham Castle. The decisive battle takes place just a few miles south at Bosworth in August 1485 where Richard is deserted by his key ally Lord Stanley who changed sides giving the initiative to Henry. Richard is killed fighting bravely at the head of his army and Stanley takes the opportunity to place the King’s crown on the head of Henry Tudor. 

This is the final chapter of;

  • The Plantagenet Dynasty

  • The Wars of the Roses

  • The Middle Ages

  • The Medieval Period and the commencement of the Renaissance.

World Wide this period saw

  • The effective elimination of Christian influence in the two main theological centres of Constantinople (Istanbul) and their protectorate Jerusalem, by Islamist forces.