Lecture 4: From Henry IV to Henry VII-

Lecture 4: From Henry IV to Henry VII--Wrapping up the Medieval Period
I. Introductory comments—We're going to spend the first part of class going over the two
paper assignments which you should now have in front of you. These will also be
posted on the class website, so if you misplace it, you can get it there.
II. The YORKISTS and the Lancastrians—were two groups who bitterly dealt with the
problems of legitimate succession to the English throne. In part, the dispute between
these two royal lines dealt with who was closes in blood relation to inherit. On the one
hand, Henry VI was descended from John of Gaunt who was Edward III 4th son, by John
of Gaunt's 1st wife. Richard, Duke of York, was descended on his father's side from
Edward III's 5th son, but on his mother's side by Edward III's 3rd son. So technically, the
Yorkists had a greater claim to the English throne than the Lancastrians.
III. The Wars of the Roses—the dispute escalated to war between the two houses. It
was described alternately as "The Wars between the Royal Houses of York and
Lancaster" and the "Wars of the Roses" (the symbols of each house).
A. The Yorkists and Lancastrians--disputed claims—Henry Tudor, as we will see,
was part of the Lancastrian line. The War began technically in 1455 and ended
technically in 1471. But the problem of disputed succession remained. In 1471,
the Wars were considered over when Edward IV finally wrested control from
Henry VI. The Yorkists seemed to have won the war. However, almost
immediately, fighting from within the Yorkist camp began.
B. The Horrors of Richard III (see the great film, Looking for Richard starring Al
Pacino [video #10124])—When Edward IV died, his brother Richard, usurped the
throne almost immediately from Edward's two young sons (Edward V was 12
years old). He murdered his brother's two sons so that he could rule. We do not
have physical evidence that he killed them but in July, when they disappeared he
claimed the throne in the name of preserving the royal line. But really Richard
undermined the Yorkist position from within because he started killing people
who did not agree with him or who threatened his tenuous position. Many
Yorkists began fearing for their lives and their land, and some plotted to get
Henry Tudor—a Lancastrian—on the throne instead.
IV. Henry Tudor's heritage
A. his claim to the throne—Henry's claim to the throne was quite tenuous. His
grandfather the Welshman Owen Tudor, married the widow of Henry V,
Catherine. His mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the great-granddaughter of King
Edward III's son John of Gaunt (which makes her his great great
Granddaughter). His children and progeny were legitimized (she was his
mistress and only married him later it seems), but Parliament tried to nullify any
claims their progeny might have to the throne. So again, his claim was fairly
B. Disputes against that claim, and ousting him from England—So, while there
could be disputes against his claim to the throne, and we'll talk more about that
next time, he eventually emerged as the most plausible successor to the throne.
He was threatened in the 1470s at the end of the Wars of the Roses, so he went
first to Brittany and then to France.
V. The Battle at Bosworth Field and the beginning of the Tudor Dynasty
A. Garnering support
B. Choosing Peace over War
VI. Concluding Comments