house of York

house of York

York, house of, royal house of England, deriving its name from the creation of Edmund of Langley, fifth son of Edward III, as duke of York in 1385. The claims to the throne of Edmund's grandson, Richard, duke of York, in opposition to Henry VI of the house of Lancaster (see Lancaster, house of), resulted in the Wars of the Roses (see Roses, Wars of the), so called because the badge of the house of York was a white rose, and a red rose was later attributed to the house of Lancaster. Richard's claim to the throne came not only from direct male descent from Edmund, but also through his mother Anne Mortimer, great-granddaughter of Lionel, duke of Clarence, who was the third son of Edward III. The royal members of the house of York were Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III. The marriage of the Lancastrian Henry VII to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV, united the houses of York and Lancaster. Henry was the first of the Tudor kings.
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three of whom became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III.

Descent from Edward III

Edmund of Langley had two sons, Edward, and Richard of Conisburgh. Edward succeeded to the dukedom in 1402, but was killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, with no issue. His younger brother married Anne de Mortimer, a great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of Edward III. Anne was also heiress to the earldom of March, following the death of her brother Edmund, 5th Earl in 1425. Edmund was the son of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, who had been named heir presumptive of Richard II, prior to the usurpation of the House of Lancaster, in the person of Henry Bolingbroke, in 1399.

Richard of Conisburgh was executed following his involvement in the Southampton Plot to depose Henry V of England in favour of the Earl of March. The dukedom of York therefore passed to his son, Richard Plantagenet. Through his mother, Richard Plantagenet also inherited the lands of the earldom of March, as well as the Mortimer claim to the throne.

Wars of the Roses

Despite his elevated status, Richard Plantagenet was denied a position in government by the advisers of the weak Henry VI, particularly John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and the queen consort, Margaret of Anjou. Although he served as Protector of the Realm during Henry VI's period of incapacity in 1453-54, his reforms were reversed by Somerset's party once the king had recovered.

The Wars of the Roses began the following year, with the First Battle of St Albans. Initially, Richard aimed only to purge his Lancastrian political opponents from positions of influence over the king. It was not until October 1460 that he claimed the throne for the House of York. In that year the Yorkists had captured the king at the battle of Northampton, but victory was shortlived. Richard and his second son Edmund were killed at the battle of Wakefield on December 30.

Richard's claim to the throne was inherited by his son Edward. With the support of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ("The Kingmaker"), Edward, already showing great promise as a leader of men, defeated the Lancastrians in a succession of battles. While Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were campaigning in the north, Warwick gained control of the capital and had Edward declared king in London in 1461. Edward strengthened his claim with a decisive victory at the Battle of Towton in the same year, in the course of which the Lancastrian army was virtually wiped out.

Reigns of the Yorkist Kings

The early reign of Edward IV was marred by Lancastrian plotting and uprisings in favour of Henry VI. Warwick himself changed sides, and supported Margaret of Anjou and the king's jealous brother George, Duke of Clarence in briefly restoring Henry in 1470-71. However, Edward regained his throne, and the house of Lancaster was all but wiped out with the last male, Henry VI himself, murdered in the Tower of London in 1471.

On Edward's death in 1483, the crown passed to his twelve year-old son Edward. Edward IV's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester was appointed Protector, and escorted the young king, and his brother Richard, to the Tower of London. The famous Princes in the Tower were never seen again. Parliament declared, in the document Titulus Regius, that the two boys were illegitimate, on the grounds that Edward IV's marriage was invalid, and as such Richard was heir to the throne. He was crowned Richard III in July 1483.

Defeat of the House of York

Richard III had many enemies, chiefly the Lancastrian sympathisers, who now rallied behind Henry Tudor, the House of Tudor being closely linked with the House of Lancaster. A coup attempt failed in late 1483, but in 1485 Richard met Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth Field. During the battle, some of Richard's important supporters switched sides or withheld their retainers from the field. Richard himself was killed, the last Plantagenet king and the last king of England to die in battle.

Henry Tudor declared himself king, took Elizabeth of York, eldest child of Edward IV, as his wife, symbolically uniting the surviving houses of York and Lancaster, and acceded to the throne as Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty which reigned until 1603. The de la Pole family were thereafter acknowledged as the legitimate Yorkist claimants. After Richard de la Pole died at the Battle of Pavia, the sole vestige of the Yorkist dynasty came in the form of Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury. Her descendant, Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, featured in the documentary Britain's Real Monarch, is considered by some to be the modern "Heads of the House of York", while Francis Melfort William Fitzherbert, 15th Baron Stafford is a strong contender.


The symbol of the House of York was a white rose, still used as the badge of Yorkshire and Jacobitism. The rivalry between York and Lancaster, in the modern form of the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, has continued into the present day on a more friendly basis.

Headship of the House

For a complete list, from 1385 to the modern day see; Heads of the House of York

Yorkist—Dukes of York

| Edmund of Langley
(House of York founder)
1385–1402 || || 5 June 1341
Kings Langley
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault|| Isabella of Castile
3 children

Joan de Holland
no children ||1 August 1402
Kings Langley
age 61 |- | Edward of Norwich
1402–1415 || || 1373
son of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile||never married||25 October 1415
age 42 |- | Richard Plantagenet
1415–1460 || || 21 September 1411
son of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Anne de Mortimer||Cecily Neville
13 children||30 December 1460
age 42 |- | Edward Plantagenet
1460–1461 || || 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville||Elizabeth Woodville
1 May 1464
10 children||9 April 1483
age 40 |- |} Edward Plantagenet became king Edward IV of England in 1461, as thus the title Duke of York was merged with the Crown of England. The only ruler who did not hold that title was Edward V of England. His brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, held the title.

Yorkist—Kings of England

| Edward IV
4 March 1461
3 October 1470

11 April
1471–1483 || || 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville || Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
10 children || 9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
age 40 |- | Edward V
9 April25 June 1483 || || 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville || unmarried || c. 1483
age about 12 (traditionally: murdered) |- | Richard III
26 June
1483–1485 || || 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville || Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son || 22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
age 32 (killed in battle) |}


See also

External links

  • - Official British Crown Overview of the Plantagenet Line
  • - Official British Crown Overview of Yorkists
  • Plantagenet Family Tree from Official British Crown Site

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