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House of York
Yorkshire rose.svg
White Rose of York
Country England
Parent house House of Plantagenet
Titles Duke of York, King of England
Founder Edmund of Langley
Final ruler Richard III of England
Current head Francis Fitzherbert
Founding year 1385
Ethnicity English, French, Castilian

The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented Edward's senior line, being maternal descendants of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III's second surviving son, and based on these descents they claimed the English crown.[1][2] It had a senior genetic claim to the throne of England when compared with the House of Lancaster.


Descent from Edward III

English Royalty
House of York
England Arms 1405.svg
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke
   Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke
   Constance, Countess of Gloucester
   Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
   Isabel Plantagenet, Countess of Essex
   Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke
   Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter
   Edward IV
   Edmund, Earl of Rutland
   Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk
   Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy
   George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
   Richard III
Edward IV
   Elizabeth of York, Queen of England
   Mary of York
   Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles
   Edward V
   Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke
   Anne of York, Countess of Surrey
   Catherine of York, Countess of Devon
   Bridget of York
Edward V
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
   Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
   Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick
Richard III
   Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales

Edmund of Langley had two sons, Edward, and Richard of Conisburgh. Edward succeeded to the dukedom in 1402, but was killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, with no issue. His younger brother married Anne de Mortimer, a great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of Edward III. Anne was also heiress to the earldom of March, following the death of her brother Edmund, 5th Earl in 1425. Edmund Mortimer was the son of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, who had been named heir presumptive of Richard II, prior to the usurpation of the House of Lancaster, in the person of Henry Bolingbroke, in 1399.

Richard of Conisburgh was executed following his involvement in the Southampton Plot to depose Henry V of England in favour of the Earl of March. The dukedom of York therefore passed to his son, Richard Plantagenet. Through his mother, Richard Plantagenet also inherited the lands of the earldom of March, as well as the Mortimer claim to the throne.

Wars of the Roses

Despite his elevated status, Richard Plantagenet was denied a position in government by the advisers of the weak Henry VI, particularly John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and the queen consort, Margaret of Anjou. Although he served as Protector of the Realm during Henry VI's period of incapacity in 1453-54, his reforms were reversed by Somerset's party once the king had recovered.

The Wars of the Roses began the following year, with the First Battle of St Albans. Initially, Richard aimed only to purge his Lancastrian political opponents from positions of influence over the king. It was not until October 1460 that he claimed the throne for the House of York. In that year the Yorkists had captured the king at the battle of Northampton, but victory was shortlived. Richard and his second son Edmund were killed at the battle of Wakefield on December 30.

Richard's claim to the throne was inherited by his son Edward. With the support of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ("The Kingmaker"), Edward, already showing great promise as a leader of men, defeated the Lancastrians in a succession of battles. While Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were campaigning in the north, Warwick gained control of the capital and had Edward declared king in London in 1461. Edward strengthened his claim with a decisive victory at the Battle of Towton in the same year, in the course of which the Lancastrian army was virtually wiped out.

Reigns of the Yorkist Kings

The early reign of Edward IV was marred by Lancastrian plotting and uprisings in favour of Henry VI. Warwick himself changed sides, and supported Margaret of Anjou and the king's jealous brother George, Duke of Clarence in briefly restoring Henry in 1470-71. However, Edward regained his throne, and the house of Lancaster was all but wiped out with the last male, Henry VI himself, murdered in the Tower of London in 1471.

On Edward's death in 1483, the crown passed to his twelve year-old son Edward. Edward IV's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester was appointed Protector, and escorted the young king, and his brother Richard, to the Tower of London. The famous Princes in the Tower were never seen again. Parliament declared, in the document Titulus Regius, that the two boys were illegitimate, on the grounds that Edward IV's marriage was invalid, and as such Richard was heir to the throne. He was crowned Richard III in July 1483.

Defeat of the House of York

Richard III had many enemies, chiefly the Lancastrian sympathisers, who now rallied behind Henry Tudor, the House of Tudor being closely linked with the House of Lancaster. A coup attempt failed in late 1483, but in 1485 Richard met Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth Field. During the battle, some of Richard's important supporters switched sides or withheld their retainers from the field. Richard himself was killed, the last Plantagenet king and the last king of England to die in battle.

Henry Tudor declared himself king, took Elizabeth of York, eldest child of Edward IV, as his wife, symbolically uniting the surviving houses of York and Lancaster, and acceded to the throne as Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty which reigned until 1603. The de la Pole family were sometimes suggested as heirs to the Yorkist cause, but Henry Tudor and his son Henry VIII of England efficiently suppressed all such opposition.


The symbol of the House of York was a white rose, still used as the badge of Yorkshire and Jacobitism. The rivalry between York and Lancaster, in the modern form of the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, has continued into the present day on a more friendly basis.


Yorkist—Dukes of York

Duke Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edmund of Langley
(House of York founder)
Edmund of Langley 5 June 1341
Kings Langley
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Isabella of Castile
3 children

Joan de Holland
no children
1 August 1402
Kings Langley
age 61
Edward of Norwich
Edward of Norwich 1373
son of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile
never married 25 October 1415
age 42
Richard Plantagenet
21 September 1411
son of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Anne de Mortimer
Cecily Neville
13 children
30 December 1460
age 49
Edward Plantagenet
Edward Plantagenet 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
1 May 1464
10 children
9 April 1483
age 40

Edward Plantagenet became Edward IV in 1461, thus merging the title of Duke of York in crown.

Yorkist—Kings of England

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edward IV
4 March 1461 –
3 October 1470

11 April
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[3]
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
10 children[3]
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
age 40[3]
Edward V
9 April–25 June 1483[4]
Edward V 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville[4]
unmarried c. 1483
age about 12 (traditionally: murdered)[5]
Richard III
26 June
Richard III 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[7]
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son[7]
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
age 32 (killed in battle)[7]

See also


  1. ^ Morgan, Kenneth O. (2000). The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 623. ISBN 0198226845. 
  2. ^ "House of York". Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d Edward was briefly deposed during his reign by Henry VI. " - Person Page 10164". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  4. ^ a b Edward V was deposed by Richard III, who usurped the throne on the grounds that Edward was illegitimate. "EDWARD V -". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  5. ^ " - Person Page 10165". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  6. ^ "RICHARD III -". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  7. ^ a b c " - Person Page 10163". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 

External links

This audio file was created from a revision dated 2005-05-04, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)
More spoken articles
House of York
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Preceded by
House of Lancaster
Ruling house of the Kingdom of England
Succeeded by
House of Lancaster
Ruling house of the Kingdom of England
Succeeded by
House of Tudor


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