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Wars of the Roses 1455-1508

The Wars of the Roses were fought between the Royal dynasties called Lancaster and York and have nothing to do with rivalry between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The weak and insane Henry VI was challenged and defeated by the 'Yorkist' Edward , who was victorious at Towton near York in 1461. Henry VI and his Queen, Margaret, were exiled and although Margaret managed to capture Alnwick, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh Castle she lost three battles in Northumberland. Her only hope came when the power ful Richard Neville of Middleham switched his allegiance to the Lancastrians but the Yorkists remained in power until the reign of Henry Tudor in 1485.

1460 December 21 - BATTLE OF WAKEFIELD (Near Wakefield)

Richard, Duke of York, is defeated and killed by Lancastrian forces near Wakefield. He takes refuge in nearby Sandal castle but is killed when he finally emerges. Yorkist support will now focus on Richard's son Edward.

December 30, 1460 - DUKE'S HEAD DISPLAYED (York)

The head of Richard, Duke of York, is displayed on Micklegate Bar, with a paper crown as a sign of mockery.

March 29, 1461 - EDWARD IV VICTORIOUS (Yorkshire)

Yorkists are victorious in a heavy snowstorm at the Battle of Towton. Edward of York is crowned Edward IV. Lancastrian supporter Earl Henry Percy is among those killed. The Lancastrian castle at Alnwick is acquired by John Neville, brother of Warwick.

October 25, 1462 - LANCASTRIANS CAPTURE CASTLES(Northumberland)

After a long siege, Margaret of Anjou, queen of the deposed Henry IV, captures Bamburgh and Alnwick Castle with the support of the French and Scots.

January 1463 - NEVILLE ATTACKS ALNWICK (Alnwick)

Richard Neville of Middleham Castle besieges the Lancastrians in Alnwick Castle until they eventually retreat despite their Scottish reinforcements.

April 3, 1463 - ROSES BATTLE AT HEXHAM (Hexham)

The first Battle of Hexham takes place between Yorkists under John Neville and the Lancastrian supporters of Margaret. Ralph Percy, owner of Bamburgh, switches allegiance to the Lancastrians who are defeated and flee to Scotland.

1464 April 25- BATTLE AT HEDGELEY MOOR (Northumberland)

A Roses battle takes place at Hedgeley Moor near Wooler. The Yorkist John Neville is attacked by Lancastrians who include Ralph Percy and Sir Ralph Grey. Neville is victorious.

May 5, 1464 - Another BATTLE AT HEXHAM (Hexham)

Second War of the Roses battle at Hexham. The Lancastrians under Margaret are defeated again by Neville.

May 1464 - NORTHUMBERLAND'S LANCASTRIAN CASTLES SURRENDER (Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Alnwick)

The Lancastrian- held castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Alnwick surrender to King Edward VI.

May 27, 1464 - NEVILLE APPOINTED EARL (York)

John Neville, Lord Montagu, is appointed as Earl of Northumberland.

July 1464 - SCOTS RETREAT FROM NORHAM (Northumberland)

James III of Scotland retreats from Norham- on- Tweed after the arrival of John Neville and Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick. James had invaded England to support the Lancastrians.

1465 - HENRY CAPTURED (Lancashire)

Exiled King Henry IV is captured at Clitheroe by the Yorkists.

1465 - FUTURE KING LIVES IN WENSLEYDALE (Middleham Castle, Wensleydale)

Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), lives at Middleham Castle. It is the home of Richard Neville who is known as "Warwick the Kingmaker". Richard's brother George has just been appointed Archbishop of York.


Richard Neville falls out with Edward IV over foreign policy and switches to the Lancastrian side. The king dismisses Richard's brother George Neville as Archbishop of York.

1469 August - EDWARD IV IMPRISONED (Middleham, Wensleydale)

The king is imprisoned at Middleham Castle by Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick. He was captured by Richard's brother George, the former Archbishop, in Northamptonshire. In September, Edward is thought to have escaped from captivity but he may have be en released by Richard Neville.


Richard "the Kingmaker" Neville is killed fighting King Edward IV at the Battle of Barnet. The former King Henry VI is killed during imprisonment in the Tower of London.

1477 - RICHARD GAINS BARNEY (Barnard Castle)

Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), takes possession of Barnard Castle, one of his favourite residences.

August 24, 1482 - RICHARD TAKES BERWICK (Northumberland)

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, takes Berwick from the Scots.It has remained in English hands ever since.


Edward IV dies and is succeeded by his son Edward V. The young Edward is never crowned but is imprisoned in the Tower of London by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who himself takes over the throne as Richard III. The two princes are never seen again.

April 9, 1484 - KING'S SON DIES (North Yorkshire)

Richard III's only son dies at Middleham.


Richard III has set up a northern council at Sandal under his nephew John de la Pole, the Earl of Lincoln.

August 22, 1485 - HENRY TUDOR IS KING (Leicestershire)

Richard III is killed at The Battle of Bosworth Field and the victorious Welshman Henry Tywdr (Tudor) is crowned Henry VII, King of England .

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