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The Lancastrian Period when three King Henry's ruled over troubled times.

The Lancastrian Period 1399 - 1471

Find out more about the Lancastrian Period in Britain by using a combination of the timeline and synopsis below as well as our posts. Find new intriguing connections using our themed history pages. Explore the world of science, the arts, church, government or law. Discover more about the tumultuous period of Lancastrian Britain.

YearEventNarrative
1399Henry IV crownedHenry Bolingbroke son of John of Gaunt (fourth son of Edward III) and Blanche of Lancaster. Henry came to the English throne by force. He made his cousin Richard ll, abdicate, imprisoned him and then seized the crown himself. This started a dispute between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
1400Richard II diedRichard died in captivity quite possibly he starved to death.
1400 - 1409Owain Glyn Dwr leads Welsh revolt against the EnglishOwain Glyn Dwr had served in Richard II's army in the 1380s and it may even have been loyalty to the deposed king that encouraged him to lead a revolt against Henry IV.
1401Statute 'De Heritico Comburendo'Fear of home grown Lollard heresy. Many Lollards saved themselves from death by recanting their opinions. Henry Prince of Wales personally supervized the burning of the Lollards.
1402Death of the Duke of YorkEdward III’s son Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, died. His son Edward inherited the title Duke of York.
1403Percy family rebellionThe Percy family supported Henry in the other throw of Richard and he paid them well but not well enough. They turned their backs on him and backed Mortimer. Mortimer (1376-1413) was the uncle of Richard II’s legitimate heir, the earl of March (d. 1428). He had been captured by the French-backed Welsh rebel Owen Glendower (c. 1359-1416) and persuaded to make common cause against Henry. The Percys dispatched an army to join Glendower, but it was intercepted en route by royalist forces under Henry IV and his son, Prince Hal (1387-1422, later Henry V). On July 21, 1403, the armies clashed in the Battle of Shrewsbury. The Percys were defeated before Glendower could reinforce them.
1405Execution of the Archbishop of YorkThe Earl of Nottingham rebels, his chief supporter was Scrope Archbishop of York. The rebellion was easily suppressed and a summary trial was held without evidence heard and both men were executed. The Pope feebly remonstrated but Henry took no notice such was the decline in the church since Becket's day.
1406Pressure from parliamentKing Henry was repeatedly asking for taxes from the Commons and they in turn used their power over taxes to cticize him and those around him. In 1406 they persuaded the king to sign a petition of 31 articles which bound him to consult a council who in turn were controlled by regulations imposed by parliament before any decisions were taken.
1408Rebellion of NorthumberlandThe last of the baronial revolts until the War of the Roses. Northumberland was put down and slain at Bramham Moor.
1408King Henry IV falls illFor the last 5 yrs of his reign the king's illness prevents him from carrying out his duties.
1411Suggestion that the Prince of Wales should become king.The Prince in 1412 has to deny he was plotting to seize the crown.
1413Death of King Henry IVHis son Henry will become King Henry V.
1413Sir John OldcastleSir John Oldcastle a man of great wealth and learning was the leading Lollard in England. King Henry V put him on trial and he was condemned to burn but he escaped from the Tower and was determined to raise a revolt against the king.
1414Lollard rebellionThe Lollards were followers of the church reformer John Wyclif. They were tolerated under King Richard II but were persecuted under King Henry IV. The 1414 rebellion of Lollard knights, led by Sir John Oldcastle, was easily suppressed by Henry V.
1414Council of ConstanceThe Council of Constance proclaimed the superiority of councils over popes. It operated as a convention of 'nations' the English, French, German and Italian, with one vote each in decisions.
1414Oldcastle's plotOldcastle plotted to kill the king during his Christmas holiday at Eltham. The king heard about the plot and moved to London. In January 1414 the rebels prepared to strike and gathered in St Giles Fields near Charing Cross but the king met them with a strong force. Oldcastle and others escaped but 37 were hanged. Oldcastle survived for 4 yrs but was captured eventually.
1415Act merging titles of Duchy of Lancaster with the crownAn act was passed that declared that the lands and titles of the Duchy of Lancaster should be merged with the crown
1415Southampton PlotThe Southampton Plot was intended to overthrow King Henry V as he disembarked for France and replace him with Edmund Mortimer, heir to Richard II. He acted swiftly and had the perpetrators put on trial and executed. This quick action on his behalf secured him as monarch.
1415Battle of AgincourtIn a claim to the French throne King Henry V landed in Normandy and besieged the port of Harfleur. The French gathered an army to oppose him at Agincourt but thanks to the skill of his long bow archers Henry defeated them.
1417Oldcastle's deathOldcastle was executed at Smithfield London. His revolt never succeeded and Lollardy did not gain hold in England.
1420Treaty of TroyesThe treaty drawn up and sealed in Troyes Cathedral. The french king Charles VI was forced to disinherit his own son the Dauphin in favour of his daughter Catherine who married King Henry V. Henry was declared heir to the kingdom of France.
1421Dauphin's armies attack the EnglishHenry returned to England to crown his Queen and the Dauphin attacked the English army. The Duke of Clarence, Henry's brother pursued the enemy into Anjou and the French won a battle at Bauge. The Duke of Clarence was killed.
1422Death of King Henry VHenry had returned to France but he was exhausted and his early death was unexpected.
1422Regents Bedford and GloucesterThe early death at 36 years left his son Henry at about 1 yr old heir to both kingdoms. King Henry V decreed that his brother, John, Duke of Bedford, should be regent of France and his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester should be regent of England.
1428Siege of OrleansBedford was under pressure from the the French Charles son of Charles VI who claimed the French crown. The Earl of Salisbury argued that Bedford must strike at the heart of the usurpers stronghold and attacked at Orleans. Salisbury was killed and Lord Suffolk was left to face a French army led by Joan of Arc.
1429Relief of OrleansWith the Maid, Joan of Arc at its head the French army stormed Orleans and entered the city. The English retreated.
1431Death of Joan of ArcThe Burgundians captured Joan and sold her to the English. Bedford was determined on her death, proclaiming her to be a witch. After a long trial before a court of inquisition she was declared as a witch and handed her over to the Earl of Warwick who had her burnt to death at Rouen.
1435Burgundy changes sidesThe defection of Burgundy who now throw their weight behind Charles means England are losing the fight for France. A treaty is signed between the French and Burgundians at Arras.
1435Death of BedfordThe Duke of Bedford died a few days after the signing of the treaty at Arras.
1435 - 1455Period of retreat abroad and controversy at home.The financial situation in England was worsening putting pressure on the English skirmishes in France. The struggle of rival lords after Bedford's death caused problems.
1437Henry VI attained his majorityHenry made free with grants of lands, office and fees. He elbowed out the Duke of Gloucester and put his own friends such as the Earl of Suffolk who had great influence over the king.
1445Truce with FranceThe Earl of Suffolk negotiates a truce with France.
1445King Henry VI marriageA marriage between Henry and Margaret of Anjou, neice to Charles VII at the price of surrender of Maine to the french king.
1447Death of the Duke of GloucesterThe new Queen sided with Suffolk and Beaufort who accused the Gloucester with treason. He was charged at Bury and died in prison.
1450Loss of NormandyThe financial situation in England meant large armies could not be mustered. The french had superior arms and Normandy was lost.
1450Murder of SuffolkSuffolk was blamed for the loss of Normandy. He was impeached by parliament and condemned for treason. He fled across the channel but his ship was boarded by unknown murderers who beheaded him. The king was distraught but failed to find the murderers.
1450Cades rebellionJack Cade led a rebellion whose objective was to correct public abuses and remove evil councellors. The rebels entered London and in the fighting that ensued many of Suffolk's friends were killed but the revolt failed and Cade was arrested and executed.
1453Gascony lostThe rich province of Gascony was lost only Calais remains.
1453End of the Hundred Years WarThe long war with France begun by King Edward III has come to the end.
1453Madness of King Henry VIThe king could not speak or move and the Duke of York was appointed Protector of the Realm.
1453Birth of the Prince of WalesThe son of the king deprived the Duke of York of his hope of succeeding his cousin on the throne.
1454Recovery of the kingThe king recovers his reason and dismissed York. The Queen sees the threat and the two sides prepare for battle.
1455Battle of St AlbansThe first battle of the War of the Roses York is victorious but the king suffers from madness again and York is made protector again but after 3 yrs the king recovers and the queen is determined he will not usurp her son and he is sent packing. The Yorkists take up arms again but flee into exile when they are out armed.
1455 - 1461The fall of the House of LancasterIt began with the appeal to arms made by the Duke of York. Henry VI was a weak ruler dominated by his favourites so as a result poor governance of the country. Stakes were high and the noblemen were reluctant to fight. Only small numbers of lorded families engaged and yet many of them felt alienated. The Duke of York was seen as their chance to be rid of the king.
1459Parliament of DevilsThis parliament was packed with Lancastrians and condemned York, Salisbury and Warwick by an Act of Attainder which declared them guilty without a trial and sentenced them to lose their lives and estates.
1460The exiles invade EnglandAt Northampton Warwick beat a Lancastrian army and captured the kIng. Aparliament was called to recognize Yorks claim to the throne. They knew the Queen would never allow this to happen and so it proved.
1460Battle of WakefieldDuke Richard and Salisbury were slain. The Queen was victorious, she turned south towards Warwick and at St Albans fought a second battle where she defeated Warwick and recaptured the King.
1461Battle of Mortimer's CrossYorks eldest son Edward won a battle against the Welsh Lancastrians. He executed his prisoners including Owen Tudor. He joined Warwick marched on London and Edward was proclaimed King.
1461King Edward IVEdward Earl of March was proclaimed King. So ended the House of Lancaster.
1461Battle of TowtonEdward marched north to confront the Queen and defeated her at the Battle of Towton. The King and Queen and their son fled to Scotland. Warwick the kingmaker brought huge influence to the wealthy young King.
1464King Edward's marriageThe King married Elizabeth Woodville much to the anger of Warwick.
1464Last rally of the Lancastrians. Battle of hexham.The Queen twice invaded Northumberland but Warwick defeated them.
1465King Henry VI capturedKing Henry a fugitive in the north was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1469Rebellion of Warwick and ClarenceEdward's brother Clarence and the Warwick plotted against the King and found support among some powerful people including the Nevilles. The King was captured.
1470Warwick releases the KingThe King turned on Warwick and Clarence and had them declared traitors. They fled into exile.
1471Return of King Henry VIWarwick invaded England, Edward fled to France and Warwick released King Henry VI but the new regime was fragile and it lasted a year when King Edward IV returned.

 

The story of the House of Lancaster begins in the reign of King Richard II who came to the throne in 1377. He was the grandson of King Edward III  and he was only ten years old. The power and influence of his uncle John of Gaunt was coming to an end but even though he was excluded from the new government he did his best to guide and advice his young nephew. It was a bleak outlook for the new reign of King Richard II and war with France and the problems with those who would divide the church would be an ongoing problem through Richard's reign and into the period known as the House of Lancaster.

John of Gaunt died in 1399 and with his death came the realization that the wealth and power of Gaunt had given King Richard great advantage. The tumultuous years of the King Richard II were nearing their end however Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt was not like his father and had the greater claim to the throne. Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster was banished and Richard seized the entire estates of Lancaster. It was an unwise move and when he went to manage a crisis in Ireland Henry Bolingbroke grabbed his opportunity to claim the throne.The success of the Duke of Lancaster in overthrowing his cousin would put the Lancasters in power for the next six decades. Henry Bolingbroke became King Henry IV with his son Henry V succeeding him and eventually due to Henry V's untimely death his son of just 9 months becoming Henry VI.

King Henry V

King Henry V

These were turbulent and tangled times for the Plantagenets, fighting and plotting within their own house and pitching son, grand-sons and daughters against one another. The essence of the strife that led to the period we know as the 'War of the Roses' would come out of essentially a family feud. Ultimately the relative upstart Tudors with a tenuous royal claim to the throne would triumph but as we shall see the path was far from a smooth and untroubled one for England and all its population.

Tudor Period

War of the Roses

Time and again in the British Monarchy the failure of Kings to survive long enough to ensure the succession of their sons was secure  and stable causes unrest, and civil war. The Lancastrians initially seized the Crown of England by deposing Richard II, son of the Black prince and then entered into conflict with the House of York, another branch of the feuding Plantagenets, or at least we believed them to be previously?. More of that later. What of the events that shape the House of Lancaster and its three direct Kings Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI?

Marriage of Henry V