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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

Wars of the Roses, 1437 - 1487

This course will examine the series of civil wars and dynastic changes that took place in England during the second half of the fifteenth century known as The Wars of the Roses.

Battle of Bosworth Field
Battle of Bosworth Field

The course will analyse the long and short-term causes of the wars such as the consequences of the usurpation of the Lancastrian dynasty in 1399 and the impact that the end of the Hundred Years War with France had on English domestic politics. After examining the disastrous rule of Henry VI, the course will move on to look at reigns of Edward IV, his ill-fated son, Edward V and finally, Richard III. As well as considering the actions of these kings, the course will study the motives of key protagonists such as Richard, Duke of York, Queen Margaret of Anjou, Warwick ‘the Kingmaker' and Henry Tudor.

Besides taking a chronological approach to the wars the course will also provide the opportunity to examine key issues surrounding the topic such as the nature of authority and structures of political life in late medieval England; the level of disruption caused to the social and economic life of the kingdom by the wars; the military dimension to the conflict; and the rise in aristocratic violence and lawlessness.

This course will draw upon sources produced at the time such as the Paston letters to illuminate one of the most unstable periods in medieval English history.

Date: Tuesday evenings 7-9pm, starting 31st January 2012
Duration: 12 meetings

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