King Henry VI (reigned 1422-61, 1470-1471) became king when he was only nine month old. While he was young, Henry’s uncles ruled on his behalf. When he grew up his uncles and cousins argued with him about the best way to rule England. War broke out. Henry found himself fighting his cousin Edward of York who thought that he would be a better king than Henry.
Coin from the reign of Henry VI.
In 1461 Henry VI was captured and imprisoned. Edward of York declared himself king and was crowned Edward IV. Henry’s wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou, continued fighting on Henry’s behalf and in 1471 Henry managed to get the crown back. Edward did not give up and there was a big battle in which the only son of Henry and Margaret was killed. Edward of York regained the throne. Henry was taken to the Tower of London where he died two weeks later.
Henry VI looking out from a castle.
Edward IV (reigned 1461-1470, 1471-1483) was a member of the House of York. During the first ten years of his reign there were many attempts to put Henry VI back on the throne. This treasure (known as the Fishpool Hoard) contains 1,237 coins, four rings, four pieces of jewellery and two lengths of chain. It was possibly buried around 1464, during a rebellion against Edward led by supporters of Henry VI. When Edward IV died his young son became the next king.
Coins from the Fishpool Hoard.
Edward V (reigned 1483) was 12 years old when he became king. In April 1485 he travelled to London for his coronation. This never took place and two months later his uncle Richard put Edward, and his younger brother Richard, in the Tower of London. Richard declared himself king. The young brothers were never seen again. Many people thought that their uncle, now king Richard III, arranged for them to be killed, but nobody knows for sure what happened.
Tower of London.
Richard III’s (reigned 1483-1485) decision to make himself king was not popular with everybody. In 1483 his former friend the Duke of Buckingham and Richard’s distant cousin Henry Tudor tried to take power. Richard defeated the rebels and Buckingham was executed. In 1485 Henry Tudor tried again at the Battle of Bosworth. Richard was killed in the battle and Henry declared himself the new king.
Illustration to 'Richard III' in Harding's 'Shakespeare Illustrated' (1793).
Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509) was a member of the House of Lancaster. He married Edward IV’s eldest daughter Elizabeth of York. This marriage united the houses of Lancaster and York and founded the Tudor dynasty. During Henry’s early reign there were revolts by people pretending they were Edward V or his brother Richard. Henry was followed by his second son who ruled as Henry VIII.
Vase depicting Henry VII.
The symbol for the Tudor family was the Tudor Rose. The Tudor rose had a layer of red petals and a layer of white petals. This was to show that the Tudor family had ended the Wars of the Roses and united the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. On this pendant Henry VIII’s daughter Queen Elizabeth I is shown surrounded by the red rose of Lancaster, the white rose of York and the combined Tudor Rose.
Gold pendant depicting Elizabeth I.