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Wars of the Roses English

Wars of The Roses English

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Historical Overview Section

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1485) were a series of civil wars fought over the throne of England between adherents of the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Both houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house, tracing descent from King Edward III. The recently released The Road to Bosworth Field: A New History of the Wars of the Roses: The Struggle Between Lancaster and York 1400-1487 gives a good overview of the war and its origins.

The Wars of the Roses are generally accepted to have been fought in several spasmodic episodes between 1455 and 1487 (although there was related fighting both before and after this period.) The war ended with the victory of the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, who founded the House of Tudor which subsequently ruled England and Wales for 116 years.

The wars were fought largely by the landed aristocracy and armies of feudal retainers, with some foreign mercenaries. Support for each house largely depended upon dynastic factors, such as blood relationships, marriages within the nobility, and the grants or confiscations of feudal titles and lands. The unofficial system of livery and maintenance, by which powerful nobles would offer protection to followers who would sport their colours and badges (livery), and controlled large numbers of paid men-at-arms (maintenance) was one of the by-products of the breakdown of royal authority which preceded - and partly caused the wars. In this period of increased factionalism, the trditional feudal relationships whereby service to a lord was given in return for title to lands and the gift of offices remained important, but this duty of service evolved into support of a faction, rather than to an individual who in turn owed fealty to the king.

Given the conflicting loyalties of blood, marriage and ambition, it was not uncommon for nobles to switch sides and several battles were decided by treachery. The armies consisted of nobles' contingents of men-at-arms, with companies of archers and foot-soldiers (such as billmen). There were also sometimes contingents of foreign mercenaries, armed with cannon or handguns. The horsemen were generally restricted to "prickers" and "scourers"; i.e. scouting and foraging parties. Most armies fought entirely on foot. In several cases, the magnates dismounted and fought among the common foot-soldiers, to inspire them and to dispel the notion that in the case of defeat they might be ransomed while the common soldiers, being of little value, faced death.

The relatively small First Battle of St Albans on May 22, 1455 was the first open conflict of the civil war, and led to the Yorkists taking a dominant role in English politics, however the underlying issue of whether the Duke of York, or King Henry's infant son Edward, would succeed to the throne remained. Queen Margaret refused to accept any solution that would disinherit her son, and it became clear that she would only tolerate the situation for as long as the Duke of York and his allies retained the military ascendancy.

On September 23, 1459, at the Battle of Blore Heath in Staffordshire, a large Lancastrian armyclashed with a Yorkist force under the Earl of Salisbury, and then shortly afterwards two combined Yorkist armies confronted the much larger Lancastrian force at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, but a Yorkish defection to the Lancastrians led to the Yorkists fleeing the field. The Lancastrians (Margarets faction) were back in total control, however the Yorkists then began to launch raids on the English coast from Calais in 1459–60, adding to the sense of chaos and disorder. In 1460 they launched an invasion of England in Kent and London, and marched north. Henry led an army south to meet them while Margaret remained in the north with Prince Edward. At the Battle of Northampton on 10 July, the Yorkist army under the Earl of Warwick defeated the Lancastrians, aided by treachery in the king's ranks. The end result was that a deal was struck in October 1460 with the Act of Accord, which recognised York as Henry's successor, disinheriting Henry's six year old son, Edward.

Queen Margaret and many Lancastrian nobles now gathered armies in the north of England, and the Duke of York attacked them unwisely over Christmas 1460 on the 30 December at the Battle of Wakefield - resulting in a complete Lancastrian victory. Richard of York was slain in the battle, and both Salisbury and York's 17-year-old second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were captured and executed. 18-year-old Edward, York's eldest son, then took up leadership of the Yorkist cause and with an army from the pro-Yorkist Marches (the border area between England and Wales) defeated a Lancastrian army from Wales at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire.

Margaret then came down from Scotland (where she had a holiday flat overlooking the Clyde, just yards from the Glasgow Rangers ground) and outwitted the Yorkists at the Second Battle of St Albans, giving the Lancastrians another decisive victory and frightening the life out of the people of London, who proclaimed the Yorkist heir Edward to be the rightful King. Edward and his mate Warwick marched north, gathering a large army as they went, and met an equally impressive Lancastrian army at Towton. The Battle of Towton, near York, was the biggest battle of the Wars of the Roses. An estimated 40,000—80,000 men took part, with over 20,000 men being killed during (and after) the battle, an enormous number for the time and the greatest recorded single day's loss of life on English soil. Edward and his army won a decisive victory and the Lancastrians were routed, with most of their leaders slain. Edward ended up being acclaimed King.

Despite being greatly helped by the powerful nobleman Warwick, Edward as king did much to irritate him, and eventually by 1469 Warwick had formed an alliance with Edward's jealous and treacherous brother Clarence, raising an army which defeated the king's forces at the Battle of Edgecote Moor and leading to a real messy time all over the country as people started fighting simply for the love of it. Both Warwick and Edward took turns at fleeing the country and having the upper hand, but it all went pear-shaped for Warwick when he tried to concoct an unlikley deal to invade the Later Burgundian? country! This really irritated Charles the Bold, and he helped Edward raise an army which met Warwick's men at the Battle of Barnet in thick fog, leading to Warwick's men attacking each other by mistake. It was believed by all that they had been betrayed, and Warwick's army fled. Warwick was cut down trying to reach his horse.

Margaret and her son Edward hadn't gone away, and had landed in the West Country only a few days before the Battle of Barnet. Rather than return to France, Margaret sought to join the Lancastrian supporters in Wales and marched to cross the Severn but was thwarted when the city of Gloucester refused her passage across the river. Her army, commanded by the fourth successive Duke of Somerset, was brought to battle and destroyed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

This shoudl have been the end of it, however when King Edward died suddenly in 1483, political and dynastic turmoil erupted again. Richard succeeded as the Yorkist King, but Henry Tudor (related to someone royal, well, if you squinted at the geneology hard enough) was the main man for the Lancastrians. Henry Tudor landed in Pembrokeshire in the summer of 1485 and, gathering supporters on his march through Wales, defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard was slain during the battle, supposedly by the Welsh man-at-arms Rhys ap Thomas with a blow to the head from his poleaxe. (Rhys was knighted three days later by Henry VII).

Henry having been acclaimed King Henry VII, then strengthened his position by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and the best surviving Yorkist claimant. He thus reunited the two royal houses, merging the rival symbols of the red and white roses into the new emblem of the red and white Tudor Rose. Henry shored up his position by executing all other possible claimants whenever any excuse was offered, a very sensible strategy which his son, Henry VIII, continued.

Tips on Using Longbow Armies

  • Your aim with this army is to shoot as much as possible. Make sure you get your long range shot and 2 more at short range.
  • LBw to the front in 8’s, with small 4s of billmen set 4-5" back from the LB line give rear support with limited risk. And can often get back any victorious Kn who do break through. Armoured ones are good enough.
  • Units of 6 LB are slightly more manoeuvrable, but they suffer as only 1 base out of 3 shoots from a rear rank. Never forget that your billmen and men at arms can interpenetrate your LB.
  • Adding a General when charged means for the Longbow men the rerolls on both shooting and melee dice will make the difference. If you are charged by knights and LBw can disrupt them by shooting you should win the impact with 12 dice vs 6. If not, you still have a decent chance to bounce knights even without stakes.
  • Stakes are a beginners safety net, but they makes you immobile. Make sure the longbow men are drilled and have a commander with them when you want to emplace the stakes (Assuming you don't do so until the enemy mounted are in bow - and hence probably charge - range)! Lack of them can lead to some nervous moments if your LB are charged by mounted in the open, but a General with rear support should address that just as well. Stakes are expensive for what you get - remember foot ignore them as well. Stakes make you near invincible vs Knights & mounted - but everyone knows that and so only a knave or a varlet will attack you while on a horse when you are carrying them.
  • The dismounted knights act as bastions of strength between the longbow units, spreading casualties over more units, and even if you lose at impact they can mean that you've got a better chance of winning in melee.
  • If you are disrupted by charging knights after melee they won't bounce, so you'll have a chance to slog it out in a long combat, which is going to be tough.
  • The best way to beat knights is to kill an element so they take (if they're run in 4's) -1 on CT’s for 25% losses, and this stands for every test. With 10-12 dice at Impact (including shooting) and a general in the front rank you'll likely get 3-4 hits, which means even if the knights win, they lose a base a 1 or maybe a 2, which is a very bad thing for them.
  • At 800 pts use three/4 generals IC/FC, +TCs. For 600 pts use two generals, TC/FC, TC
  • Even though the LB are swordsmen, they don’t want to be in combat – they can win most shooting battles anyway, at far less risk to themselves.
  • Try to get as much Uneven and Rough down as you can, as LB move through it normally but Knights and HF don't like it

Allied Contingents

  • Scots, Later Medieval (Britain) : Any Storm of Arrows 22 12-32 Offensive Spears. One-dimensional… and for Lancastrians only

User-contributed links about this army:

Tournament Results for this army

9 / 12 War of the Roses ( Tudor) Leeds Doubles 2008 (SoA)
19 / 62 War of the Roses English Britcon 2008 15mm (open)
3 / 41 Wars of the Roses (Lancastrian) BHGS Challenge 2008 (open)
2 / 41 Wars of the Roses (Yorkist Pretender) BHGS Challenge 2008 (open)
29 / 41 Wars of the Roses (Yorkist) BHGS Challenge 2008 (open)
14 / 20 Wars of the Roses English Warfare 2008 15mm (S&S, SoA, EE)
23 / 27 WOR English Britcon 2007 15mm (open)

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures suitable for Late Medieval Armies

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Image Image Image Image Image Image
  • Essex Miniatures - vast range of generic medieval figures
  • Donnington C15 Europe Range, 36-strong WOTR range, & new 100YW range launched 2009
  • Museum Miniatures 100YW & WOTR ranges with nice generic mounted and dismounted knights
  • Black Hat Miniatures (previously Gladiator Games) 40+ Medievals, 18 WOTR, plus Feudal/Crusade ranges
  • Corvus Belli 30 or so figures in a well-regarded 100YW range

  • Old Glory 15's , large number of medieval figures
  • Minifigs 2 large and separate 100YW Crecy & Agincourt ranges, plus large WOTR selection
  • Irregular Miniatures 60 medievals in a range spanning East/West Europe from Late Feudal to C15
  • Lancashire Games Around 30 generic & English medievals
  • QRF models * 20 WOTR figure codes in the Feudal Castings range, plus some additional figures in the LAN early renaissance range (e.g. Low Countries Pikemen). Welsh & Irish ranges cover all of the other bases.
  • Tin Soldier 40 C14 & C15 medievals, including Swiss and equipment
  • Battle Line Miniatures (NZ) 60 generic Medievals, some noted for WOTR
  • Vexilia Extensive Mirliton & Venexia Italian/Burgundian Wars ranges for C15 armies
  • Isarus - sold by 15mm.co.uk 70 codes in their C11-C15 Medus ranges
  • AlainTouller Figurines A dedicated Spanish/Almughavar late medieval range
  • Gallia 21 Late Medievals (a little small)

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
Julian Lopez almost-made-it-to-the-top at Britcon 2009 War of the Roses Yorkist:

  • IC + 2 TCs
  • 4 BGs of 8 Town and County Longbowmen Undrilled, protected, poor, longbow, swordsmen
  • 2 BGs of 8 Retinue Longbowmen Drilled, protected, average, longbow, swordsmen
  • 2 BGs of 6 Retinue Longbowmen Drilled, protected, average, longbow, swordsmen
  • 2 BGs of 4 Retinue billmen Drilled, armoured, average, heavy weapon
  • 2 BGs of 4 Retinue billmen Drilled, armoured, superior, heavy weapon
  • 1 BG of 4 Mercenary handgunners Drilled, protected, average, firearm

Julian says..."..don't let anyone tell you poor troops are no good in a competition. My poor longbowmen overall turned out to be very stalwart yeomen indeed and probably routed more enemy BGs than the Retinue archers with their fancy manoeuvering. Based on this experience, next year I will probably use HYW (Britain) with all 52 poor archers. They'll be no stopping me then..."

WOTR Yorkists used by Nik Gaukroger at the 2009 IWF

  • IC
  • 2 x TC
  • 4 x 6 retinue longbowmen
  • 1 x 8 retinue longbowmen
  • 2 x 4 Armoured Superior retinue billmen
  • 1 x 6 Armoured Superior retinue billmen
  • 1 x 4 Heavily Armoured Superior retinue billmen
  • 1 x 2 household knights
  • 2 x 4 Average northern spearmen
  • 1 x 4 handgunners
  • NB no stakes for the longbowmen as they are for nancy boys ;-)


800 AP Yorkist Pretender List used by Adrian Steer at Warfare 2008

  • 4x8 LF avg jav
  • 3x8 LB swds UD avg
  • 1x4 HF HA HW S D
  • 2x8 PIke D avg
  • 2x6 arm HF S HW D
  • 1x4 Cav L/swds avg
  • 1 FC, 2 TC



Lancastrian 800 AP List

  • 4 TCs
  • 8 Dismounted men-at-arms & retinue billmen (armored superior)
  • 4 Dismounted men-at-arms & retinue billmen (armored superior)
  • 4 Dismounted men-at-arms & retinue billmen (armored superior)
  • 4 Dismounted men-at-arms & retinue billmen (armored superior)
  • 4 Dismounted men-at-arms & retinue billmen (armored superior)
  • 8 Retinue longbowmen + stakes
  • 8 Retinue longbowmen + stakes
  • 8 Retinue longbowmen + stakes
  • 4 Mounted men-at-arms
  • 6 Irish Kerns


Name of Army / Date

  • Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
  • This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
  • For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
  • with troop desctiptions on each line, for example
  • 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
  • 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
  • Dont forget to include your Generals !!!

Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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Created by admin. Last Modification: Wednesday 31 of August, 2011 22:04:33 BST by admin. (Version 28)
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