Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Wars of the Roses

"...The Queen's dress was black, without any adornment except a gold coronel of an inch in breadth, restraining her long black tresses, of which advancing years, and misfortunes, had partly altered.  There was placed within the circlet a black plume with a red rose, the last of the season, which the good father who kept the garden had presented to her that morning, as the badge of her husband's house..."

The quote above is from Walter Scott's "Anne of Geierstein".  The wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, which took place between 1455 - 1487, may have come down to us by a different name, if it were not for this novel.  Though set in central Europe (esp. Switzerland), rather than England,  Scott's use of the rose device fed familiarity of this episode in English history.  Time-wise, the novel is set after the Battle of Tewkesbury, which was a victory for Yorkist forces. 

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, was killed in one of the earlier battles; Wakefield.  On December 30, 1460, York and his forces left their stronghold of Sandal Castle to attack Lancastrian forces who had taken the city of York.  Richard died during the fight, and his head was later displayed by the Lancastrians on a spike over Micklegate Bar at York.

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