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house of York


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15th‐cent.

royal dynasty. Historians from the Tudor period onward viewed the Wars of the Roses as a dynastic contest between the houses of Lancaster and York. This interpretation appears in the papal dispensation for the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, in 1486.

The title was first created in 1385 for Edmund of Langley duke of York, 4th surviving son of Edward III, and descended to his son Edward, duke of York in 1402. His heir was Richard of York, son of his brother Richard of Conisborough. A hereditary right to the throne by York was inferior to that of the Lancastrians descended from John of Gaunt, Edward III's third son to reach maturity. In 1460 Richard claimed the crown as heir to Lionel, Edward's second surviving son. By this date there had been intermittent hostilities since 1455, and this was the second time victory in battle by York and his allies had won control of Henry VI's government. After York's death in 1460, his friends recognized his son as King Edward IV. His claim was confirmed by battles in 1461 and again in 1471, when the main Lancastrian dynasty was extinguished.

The Yorkist monarchy was destroyed by Richard III's usurpation. Courtiers of Edward, believing Richard had murdered Edward's sons Edward V and Richard, agreed to accept Henry Tudor as king if he married their sister. Lancastrian recovery was achieved at Bosworth in 1485.

Subjects: British History.


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