Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Buckingham’s Revolt (1483)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: The House of York vs. the House of Lancaster
DECLARATION: No formal declaration
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: An episode in the continuing struggle, called the War of the Roses, between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, two families of English royalty battling for the throne
OUTCOME: The throne passed to Henry VII.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS: Totals unknown; contemporary correspondence mentions 20,000 led by Richard converging on London.
CASUALTIES: Totals unknown. Little fighting occurred.
TREATIES: No formal treaties

The WARS OF THE ROSES (1455–1485) that gripped England for three decades were a sanguinary affair between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians that saw the crown pass back and forth between the two houses. The final phase of the war began in 1483 with the death of Edward IV (1442–83) and preparations for the ascension of his 12- year-old son, Edward V (1470–83) in April. Two months later a rebellion of nobles, led by Richard of Gloucester (1452–85), the brother of Edward IV and uncle of Edward V, and Henry Stafford (c. 1452–83), duke of Buckingham, placed Richard of Gloucester on the throne as Richard III.

For his support Buckingham was handsomely rewarded, but for some unknown reason he suddenly switched his loyalty. The earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor (r. 1485–1509), a Lancastrian supporter, conspired with Buckingham to rise against Richard in a coordinated rebellion in several regions of England. In October Buckingham led Lancastrian forces in Brecknock and Kent, but autumn rains kept him from uniting with supporters in the south. The rebellion quickly fell apart, and Buckingham went into hiding. He was betrayed and on November 2 arrested and executed in Salisbury for treason a short time later. Nevertheless, Henry was able to maintain Lancastrian support and two years later defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth, ending the Wars of the Roses and placing Henry on the throne as Henry VII.

Further reading: Antonia Fraser, ed., The Wars of the Roses (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); A. J. Pollard, ed., Wars of the Roses (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995); Alison Weir, Wars of the Roses (New York: Random House, 1996).

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