In 1453, the 100 Years’ War was lost: swarms of demobbed soldiers, and underemployed knights flooded back into England. The weakling King Henry VI descended into insanity and paralysis. Rival noble factions, headed by the Houses of York and Lancaster, were daggers drawn over the royal succession. Over the following thirty years, the advantage veered, with many of the leading protagonists slain in battle: the Duke of York at Wakefield (1460), and the vacillating (and by then) Lancastrian leader Earl of Warwick ‘the King-maker’ at Tewkesbury (1471). The Prince of Wales also fell at Tewkesbury, and King Henry VI, the last Lancastrian ruler of England, was murdered soon afterwards. Henry Tudor emerged to seize the throne from the Yorkist usurper, Richard III, who had violently seized the throne from his brother’s heir, the 12-year-old Edward V. Henry Tudor’s famous victory at Bosworth Field (1485), demolished the remaining Yorkists and the rebellion of the Yorkist pretender Lambert Simnel was crushed at Stoke Field in 1487.
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