The Wars of the Roses

The long reign of Edward III is often regarded as a golden one in England's history. During his 50-year reign (1327-77), any damage the nation suffered during the rule of Edward II was largely repaired and the significant progress began by his paternal grandfather Edward I regained its earlier momentum.

Nevertheless, with exceptional longevity came other problems. The early death of the heir to the throne, Edward, the Black Prince, saw the throne fall to his young son, crowned Richard II. Richard was grossly unprepared for the throne he had not expected to inherit for several decades. As a result, the young king soon found himself at the centre of a power struggle between his paternal uncles: the sons of Edward III. After more than twenty years on the throne, this culminated in his overthrow, and the ascension of his cousin, Henry IV.

While the past fifty years had been defined by progress at home and war abroad, now the opposite was coming true. The early death of Henry IV's son, Henry V, fresh from his conquests in France, saw the throne pass to another heir who came to the throne several decades too early, plunging England into a period of intense civil war: The Wars of the Roses.