Main content

The Wars of the Roses

Melvyn Bragg discusses the 15th century wars between the royal Houses of Lancaster and York. Do they represent the breakdown of the feudal system or has the political instability been overstated?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Wars of the Roses which have been the scene for many a historical skirmish over the ages: The period in the fifteenth century when the House of Lancaster and the House of York were continually at odds is described by Shakespeare, in the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III as a time of enormous moral, military and political turmoil - the quintessential civil war; but twentieth century historians like K.B. Macfarlane argued the political instability is wildly overstated and there were no Wars of the Roses at all. Opposing this position are the many Tudor historians who like to claim that the Wars of the Roses represent the final breakdown of the feudal system and lead directly to the Tudor Era and the birth of the modern age.With Dr Helen Castor, Fellow and Director of Studies in History, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; Professor Colin Richmond, Emeritus Professor of History, Keele University; Dr Steven Gunn is a Tudor historian and Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Merton College, Oxford.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 18 May 2000 21:30

Broadcasts

Featured in...

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

If you’re new to In Our Time, this is a good place to start.

The Matter of the North

Melvyn Bragg explores the pivotal role of England's north in shaping modern Britain.

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Arts and Ideas podcast

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.

Podcast