Sunday, 22 February 2015

Wars of the Roses

This week I began a six week online course - England in the time of Richard III - prepared by the University of Leicester and put on line by FutureLearn. During the first week we looked at the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles that took place between 1455 and 1487. The first battles occurred between 1455 and 1464, the second series between 1469 and 1471 while the two final battles occurred in 1485 and 1487.

There are many websites that help to portray the story of this civil war in England between the Lancastrian and Yorkist kings of England and their supporters.

A good starting point is The Wars of the Roses - a website that includes maps and timelines showing the battles and the relevant events in the history of this period. Clicking the links provides summary information about each battle.

Four of the major battles were:
Blore Heath in 1459
Towton in 1461
Tewkesbury in 1471
Bosworth 1485

The battle at Towton resulted in the most deaths in any of the battles. A three minute video, providing a brief summary of the battle, located on the front page of the Towton Battlefield website is recommended viewing.
BBC - Bradford Uni unravels Roses battle puzzle

Re-enactment societies commemorate some of these battles including the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. Living history groups:
The Wars of the Roses Federation
Towton Battlefield Society
Les Routiers de Rouen
Buckingham's Retinue

Other websites include:
Richard III Society
British Archaeology - The big dig: Discovering Bosworth
Time Team Special (2011) - Wars of the Roses: Relocating the field of the Battle of Bosworth (video)

The Guardian (20 February 2010) - Silver badge and lead shot pinpoint the Battle of Bosworth
York Boar badge as worn by the supporters of Richard III- (video)

The Official Website of the British Monarchy - provides short biographies of British royalty

The letters of the Paston Family of Norwich are a rich resource when studying 15th century history. The letters are available online via the Project Gutenberg website. The book, Blood and Roses, by Helen Castor uses the letters to describe life in 15th century England. See also BBC History: Paston family letters.

Other resources:
National Archives
British History Online - catalogue
National Heritage List for England lists many surviving medieval buildings

The other topics in this online course include Peasants and farmers. Books, literacy and printing, Death and commemoration, Food and The road from Bosworth, including Richard III's reinterment.

This is only one of many online courses on a wide variety of topics, not just history, available on the FutureLearn website - worth having a look at if you have some free time.

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