Lancastrians and Yorkists: Instability, chaos and the outbreak of the ‘Wars of the Roses’

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Over six weeks, we will discover 15th century England and the roots of instability which started with the deposition and murder of Richard II. We will investigate the life of Henry Bolingbroke who seized the throne as Henry IV. We will explore the Lancastrian wars in France under the leadership of Henry V, including the successful siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt and uncover whether Henry V truly deserves the description of ‘the greatest man that ever ruled England’. Finally, we will cover the disastrous reign of Henry VI, the outbreak of factional fighting and civil war.

The course will cover:
The Peasants Revolt and its aftermath.
The reign of Richard II, his favourites, the Lords Appellant and the ‘Merciless Parliament’.
The deposition of Richard II and the coronation of Henry IV.
The reign of Henry IV, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’ , the founder of the House of Lancaster.
The rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr; Mortimer, Scrope and the Tripartite Indenture.
Henry V, war with France and the claim to the French crown.
Henry V, Charles VI of France and the Treaty of Troyes.
The reign of Henry VI – marriage to Margaret of Anjou – instability, chaos and the outbreak of civil war.

We will explore this political and military history of England with contemporary written sources and with reference to the art and architecture which defines each reign. We will assess different interpretations by historians and refer to Shakespeare’s reasons for his own interpretation of events in his historical plays

Course Details

This course finished on 07 February 2024