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War of the Roses
Royal Family Squabble touches Berkshire

Red Rose of Lancaster & White Rose of York - © Nash Ford Publishing
  • King Henry VI was born at Windsor Castle in Medieval times. He was a weak king who liked to pray a lot. He set up colleges at both Eton and Cambridge.
  • He and his cousin, the Duke of York, argued about who should be King. King Henry sometimes went mad for long periods. He was locked up in Windsor Castle and the Duke of York had to rule the country for him.
  • The friends of these two men wore coloured roses to show who they supported. Red for King Henry & the 'Lancastrians'. White for the Duke of York & the 'Yorkists'.
  • The war that broke out between them, in 1455, was called the ‘War of the Roses’.
  • There were battles all over the country and many soldiers were killed, but they didn’t affect ordinary people very much.
  • However, soldiers were sent to Newbury to find supporters of the Duke of York. Several of the townspeople were hung, drawn and quartered!
  • The two sides also took to poisoning each other. Queen Margaret was at Abingdon Abbey with her friend, the Earl of Devon in 1458. He suddenly dropped dead after a big meal!
  • The powerful Earl of Warwick, from Bisham 'Abbey' Manor, helped the Duke of York. When the Duke was killed, his son, Edward, carried on the war. The Earl helped him too.
  • The Earl of Warwick had Edward crowned as King Edward IV, but he tried to rule without the Earl's help.
  • King Edward went off and married a poor girl in secret, when the Earl had wanted him to marry a French Princess. He told everyone about his new wife at a gathering in Reading Abbey.
  • Eventually, after the Earl died, King Edward ruled alone.
  • The nearest battle to Berkshire was at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. Edward marched his soldiers from Windsor and through Berkshire to get there. They stopped over night at Abingdon.
  • It was a great victory for Edward. Queen Margaret was imprisoned at Windsor Castle, then the Tower of London and finally at Wallingford Castle.
  • Old King Henry was put in the Tower of London. He died there soon afterwards. People said he had been stabbed to death by King Edward’s brother, Richard.
  • Because of his good works, people thought King Henry was a saint. He was buried at Chertsey Abbey in Surrey.
  • So many pilgrims visited his grave that King Richard III later had his body dug up and moved to the more important church of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The dagger that stabbed him was kept as a holy relic at Caversham 'Priory'.


    © Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved.