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What were the key events that led to the War of the Roses occurring in England during the 15th century? Was there any particular event that was the tipping point?

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One of the events that led to the War(s) of the Roses was the birth of a son, Edward, Prince of Wales, to (Lancastrian) King Henry VI, and his Queen, Margaret of Anjou, in 1453.

Prior to that time, Richard, Duke of York (a cousin) had been next in line to the throne, and therefore had no incentive to fight. The birth of Henry's son "disinherited" him. Which is why he rebelled in 1455 and helped start the War of the Roses. The events referred to by the Honorable Rose occurred in 1460, during the war itself, but had no bearing on the cause.

  • Did he have any justification for claiming the throne? From what you say, it seems that there is no ambiguity in the succession rule in this case. – Louis Rhys Feb 6 '13 at 16:46
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    The king tended to go bonkers every so often. – Oldcat Nov 21 '14 at 20:14
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    @TheHonRose: "1460 Parliament made York Protector of the Realm, Prince of Wales and Henry's successor, effectively disenheriting Edward, Henry's son." That was about seven years after the birth of Edward, and five years after the (1455) start of the War of the Roses. So it was a "feature" of the war, not a cause. – Tom Au May 8 '16 at 23:07
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    @TomAu But to say that the birth of a single heir (who could die at any minute) was the proximate cause of the wars is far too simplistic. – TheHonRose May 9 '16 at 1:32
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    @TomAu True, but if Edward of Westminster had died - perfectly likely - Margaret would have had no bargaining chip. And your ignoring Henry's continual devaluing of York's long and fairly impressive service, the military reverses in France, and the consequent presence of large numbers of unemployed soldiers in England, which made war - not inevitable, but more likely. – TheHonRose May 9 '16 at 10:25

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