The War of the Roses was the struggle in the 15th century between the House of Lancaster (symbolized by the red rose) and the House of York (white rose) for control of the English throne. For all of the first half of the century, the House of Lancaster controlled the throne. During the temporary insanity of Henry VI in 1453-1454, the Duke of York became protector of the realm. When Henry recoveed, he dismissed the duke, whose followers then took to arms and defeated Henry at St Albans on May 22, 1455. Richard again became protector and was again dismissed in 1456.
Warfare broke out again with alternating fortunes. The Yorkists won at Bloreheath in 1459, but then lost to Henry VI at Ludlow.
In July, 1460, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick captured Henry at the battle of Northampton. However, the Lancastrians defeated the Yorkists at Wakefield on December 31, 1460, killing the duke of York and the earl of Salisbury. Queen Margaret defeated Warwick in 1461, but was driven back. Edward IV became king and defeated the Lancastrians at Towton.
After the death of Edward IV, Henry VI was briefly restored but died in 1471. He was followed by Edward V and Richard II, Edward's uncle. The War of the Roses ended with the Battle of Bosworth Field.