The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic wars fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York (whose heraldic symbols were the 'red' and the 'white' rose, respectively) for the throne of England. They were fought in several sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1485, although there was related fighting both before and after this period. The final victory went to a relatively remote Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king Richard III and married Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York to unite the two houses. The House of Tudor subsequently ruled England and Wales for 117 years. Henry of Bolingbroke had established the House of Lancaster on the throne in 1399 when he deposed his cousin Richard II and was crowned as Henry IV. Bolingbroke's son Henry V maintained the family's hold on the crown, but when Henry V died, his heir was the infant Henry VI.
Contributions by Adamov, Ralphspikyhair, and Melchoir.