The Wars of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses was an english civil war between the House of Lancaster and the

House of York. The red rose represented the House of York while the white one

represented the House of Lancaster. They fought over the throne of England from 1455-1485. 

In 1442 Henry VI became King of England and France at just 9 months old. He went on to marry Margaret of Anjou who was a frenchwoman who was very smart. However, Henry was a weak ruler and many people plotted behind his back. 

Tax was a large sum for peasants to pay so the peasants in Kent started to revolt led by Jack Cade and presented Henry with a set of demands called ‘Complaint of the Poor Commons of Kent’ but he didn’t agree and this brought back Richard, Duke of York. He was the great-grandson of King Edward III and had a strong claim to the throne. Henry defeated the rebellion and forgave all those who were participants except for Cade. Henry thought Richard was behind the uprising and so 30 years of war began. 

In 1542, Richard returned to England and wanted to remove the King of England’s corrupt advisors such as the Duke of Somerset. Richard marched to London and demanded the Duke be removed. However, Henry suddenly fell ill and lost consciousness and he was unable to reign. Richard became Lord Protector while Henry was unconscious and imprisoned the Duke in the Tower of London. Henry’s wife,Margaret had given birth to Edward of Lancaster and this made Richard’s claim to the throne weaker.

In February 1455, Henry woke up and removed Richard and reinstated the Duke. On May 22, 1455, Richard of York, with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, marched against Henry at St. Albans. After failed negotiations, a battle began and left Somerset dead and Henry wounded. The Yorks took Henry prisoner and Richard became Lord Protector again. Queen Margaret and her young son, fearful for their lives, went into exile.

As Richard maintained a shaky hold on England, Margaret worked behind the scenes to restore Henry to the throne, and uphold her son’s place as his rightful heir. Fearing his days were numbered, Richard formed an army commanded by Lord Salisbury. Salisbury’s army fought Margaret’s large and well-equipped army, commanded by Lord Audley, at Blore Heath on September 23, 1459 in Staffordshire. Though outnumbered two to one, the Yorks soundly defeated the Lancastrians.

The Battle of Ludford Bridge was not waged with ammunition, but was a battle of wills and courage. By autumn of 1459, Henry and his queen had once again mustered a significant army, which now included many York deserters. Richard of York, Salisbury, Warwick and their forces withdrew to Ludlow Bridge near Ludford, Shropshire to stand against Henry and his men. On the night of October 12, many Yorks defected and their leaders fled; Richard himself fled back to Ireland.

 In June of 1460, Richard’s ally Warwick entered London with thousands of men. As they advanced on Henry’s army in Northampton, victory seemed unlikely. One of Henry’s Lancastrian commanders betrayed himt and allowed Warwick’s men access to Henry’s camp. The Yorks easily won the battle and captured King Henry as Margaret fled once again. With Henry under his control, Richard again announced himself and his heirs Henry’s successors. Henry agreed so long as he’d keep the crown until his death. Their agreement was passed by the English Parliament and called the Act of Accord. The ambitious Queen Margaret raised another army to rise against the Yorks. Richard set out with his forces to defeat Margaret’s army and settle the matter of succession once and for all. Richard was killed; his severed head was put on display wearing a paper crown. Richard’s son Edward, Earl of March, succeeded his father. He also took over where Richard left off against the Lancastrians.

In March of 1461, Edward confronted the Lancastrian army in a snowstorm in the middle of a field near Towton, North Yorkshire. It’s believed over 50,000 men engaged in brutal fighting and around 28,000 died. The Battle of Towton was the bloodiest one-day battle in England’s history. The Yorks emerged victorious and Henry, Margaret and their son fled to Scotland leaving Edward King of England. Edward IV may have gained the throne, but he’d underestimated Queen Margaret’s  ambition. With the help of the French, she defeated Edward and restored her husband to the throne in October 1470.

Edward went into hiding but he mustered an army and won York victories at the Battle of Barnett and the Battle of Tewksbury. At Tewskbury, Henry and Margaret’s only son was killed and the royal couple were captured and held in the Tower of London; the throne of England reverted back to Edward. On May 21, 1471,  King Henry VI died, supposedly of sadness, although some historians believe Edward had him murdered. Queen Margaret was eventually released and made her way back to Anjou in France, where she died in 1482.

King Edward IV died in 1483 and was succeeded by his young son Edward V. Richard III, the ambitious brother of Edward IV, became his Lord Protector—but he plotted to have Edward V and his younger brother declared illegitimate. The power-hungry Richard succeeded in his plot and was crowned in July 1483. 

To eliminate any threats to his throne, Richard III had his young nephews held in the Tower of London, supposedly for their protection. When both boys—now famous as the Princes in the Tower—vanished and Richard was accused of ordering them murdered, the king quickly lost favour of the english people.

As Richard’s right to the throne became small, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor—with the help of France and many nobles—staked his claim to the crown. He met Richard on the battlefield at Bosworth on August 22, 1485 After fighting, Richard III was killed. Legend has it his crown was placed on Henry’s head at the very spot where Richard fell. Henry was declared King Henry VII.

After his official coronation, Henry married Elizabeth of York to reconcile the long-feuding Lancaster and York houses. This union ended the Wars of the Roses and gave rise to the Tudor Dynasty.

By: Henna Nabi




Thomas Wolsey was a significant individual during the reign of Henry VIII. He owned many

titles including cardinal, statesman, Lord Chancellor and eventually Papal Legate which made

 him heavily involved with the King’s affairs. Unlike his father, Henry showed little interest

in finance and the everyday running of the country and this brought about the need for

men like Wolsey to fulfil these duties.

Thomas Wolsey was the man who presided over Henry’s government and he introduced both legal and financial reforms. Some of these reforms such as the Court of Chancery were considered successful whereas others like the Amicable Grant in 1525 can be considered a major failure. Under his domestic policy, Wolsey introduced some legal reforms. The Court of Chancery was formed which allowed Wolsey to preside over common financial problems about enclosure, contracts and wills. This court encouraged civil law rather than common law. Although it was wildly popular with the lower-class members of society, the nobility thought he was wasting time and money on minor cases. Due to its popularity, this court was often slow and there were not enough available. The reformed Star Chamber was used by Wolsey to ensure fair justice amongst the nobles who were abusing their power. This once again made him unpopular with the nobility as they saw it as a direct attack on them.

Wolsey also introduced reforms to the Church. To raise revenue to fund Henry’s foreign policy, Wolsey ordered the dissolution of 20 monasteries. Monasteries at the time were often criticised for being corrupt and anti-clericalism introduced the need for reform. Wolsey used this to emphasise the importance of education by setting up the Cardinal College and he increased the discipline of monks in the remaining monasteries. Although it would appear that as Papal Legate, Wolsey had great control over the Church, his failure to secure the annulment raises speculation as to exactly how much influence he had on the Church. 

In 1522, Wolsey organised a national survey to see how much tax the population were able to pay. This was the first national survey since the Domesday Survey. He did raise some money due to forced payments however it was still insufficient to fund Henry’s expensive desire; a war with France. Wolsey decided to introduce a subsidy in 1523 that was a grant issued by parliament to the sovereign the state needs. Wolsey changed the idea of tax being imposed due to the ownership of land and property to taxes now being based on income. This way, Wolsey was able to gain extraordinary revenue for the war in France however it was still not enough so Wolsey decided to place a tax on Church which allowed him to make up the shortfall. In 1525 the Amicable Grant was a failure and contributed to his downfall. Wolsey proposed taxation outside of parliament without their consent. This was a failure as many refused to pay the tax leading to uprisings across the country and him becoming very unpopular with both: Parliament and the public.


The most significant factor contributing to his downfall was Wolsey’s failure to obtain the annulment to end the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. After setting eyes on Anne Boleyn, Henry wanted to divorce Catherine and tried multiple ways to do so. As Papal Legate, Henry expected Wolsey to gain the annulment from the Pope however this proved difficult for Wolsey as Catherine’s refusal to cooperate made things harder. Wolsey thought that by prolonging this process, Henry would eventually call off the need for divorce as his infatuation with Anne would dissolve. As time went on, Anne noticed his ulterior motives and began to grow impatient and developed a resentment towards Wolsey. Therefore the fall of Wolsey was a result from a multitude of reasons: from the failure of the Amicable Grant to the unpopularity with the nobles - his decline was inevitable. However, the most prominent factor was his failure to secure the annulment, which provoked the Boleyn faction eventually making Henry recognise Wolsey’s incompetence as Papal Legate and thus his removal from power.

By: Deepa Patel


Watergate Scandal


The Break-In:
In 1972, in the USA, Richard Nixon was running for reelection as President: however, due to divided public opinion on the Vietnam War that was still occuring, he needed to enforce a stronger and stricter impression on his country to remain in office. However, he seemed to take this mindset too far when, in May 1972, some members of Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President (or CREEP as some were eager to call it after the revelations of the scandal) were seen to be breaking in to the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate building, stealing secret documents as well as bugging phone lines in the headquarters. Due to the wiretaps not working, the burglars had to return to the Watergate office to replace them with functional ones, but, when they did so, a guard noticed tape placed all over the door locks to the building. Luckily, he managed to alert security and catch all of the burglars in the act. When a Washington Post reporter, Alfred Cohen, reported on the break-in, he stated that he saw ‘almost $2,300 dollars in cash...two cameras...35mm film...a short-wave receiver that could pick up police calls...and a walkie-talkie’ among other items.

What was the break-in for?
It seems unclear what the break-in was truly for, but there have been popular theories surrounding it. One such example is that Lawrence O’Brien (the man whose room the burglars were trying to bug before they got caught) knew about Nixon’s deals with Howard Hughes, a powerful billionaire tycoon. Hughes apparently gave Nixon $100,000 (adjusted for inflation, that would be around $650,000 today) which went towards his house in Florida. If O’Brien had that information on paper, then it could have threatened Nixon’s presidency and reputation, perhaps explaining why the burglars had cameras and were trying to steal papers. 

The Investigation:
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were two of the main individuals that strove to unearth the truth behind the Watergate scandal. Both worked for the Washington Post at the time, so endeavoured to carry out investigative reporting around the ordeal: quickly, they discovered that one of the arrested burglars, James McCord, was linked to the security to the Republican Party Committee through a job contract. This led them to connect the break-in to some of the ‘plumbers’ in the White House - individuals whose job it was to bury any stories/events that could erupt into scandals if not controlled properly - like Howard Hunt. Another revelation was uncovered by the duo when they saw that a large, $25,000 cheque had been given to another of the co-conspirators of the robbery, Bernard Barker, that was originally meant for the Nixon Re-election campaign. However, links to the highest powers in the US hadn’t been truly uncovered yet, so in November 1972, Nixon was re-elected in a landslide victory.

The Burglars’ Trial:
Tried by John Sirica and a grand jury in January 1973, four of the burglars plus Howard Hunt plead guilty, with both G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord both found guilty following the trial. After his sentence, McCord sent a worried letter to Sirica saying that he ‘feared retaliation’ if he said anything more about the break-in: this showed Sirica and his temporary investigative committee that the scandal reached higher than just the burglars and co-conspirators already tried. Later, Louis Patrick Gray confessed to have given one of his co-workers, John Dean, files related to the break-in, and testified that Dean had ‘probably lied’ when questioned by inspectors about it. Then, Gray resigned after knowledge that Dean had told him to destroy possibly incriminating files that belonged to Hunt. Finally, Dean, now under pressure to talk, cooperated with the inspectors, telling them that the President had ordered this break-in to happen in the first place.

Impeding the Investigations:
The White House tried many times to prevent the investigations from happening, in fear of public reaction and trust in the Presidential system, especially after Nixon’s landslide victory and his claims that he had ‘nothing to do’ with the burglary. Firstly, Nixon tried to get the CIA to stop the FBI from investigating the burglary, to no avail. Many bribes were given to co-conspirators as well as those in the White House, like Dean, who were meeting face-to-face with inspectors.  After more revelations were uncovered, Dean and Hunt were both asked to stay silent for huge amounts of money - $75,000 was given to Hunt.

The Tapes:
A first for Presidencies, Nixon’s term was - excepting his other residences and White House bedroom - all taped. This provided the investigators with the perfect evidence to see if Nixon did cooperate before, during and after the break-in. However, the White House stood in their way, impeding the release of the tapes for as long as they could, before it took an entirely unanimous ruling from the US Supreme Court to have the tapes for legal and just purposes. Nixon even abused his presidential power to have Archibald Cox, who ordered the tapes be brought to court, to be fired, but his attorney general, Eliot Richardson refused and resigned instead. The acting attorney general, William Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned. It took until the third replacement for Richardson for Cox to be fired. This came to be known as the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’. 
The tapes included recordings of the now infamous ‘smoking gun’ recording that detailed Nixon’s discussions about how to get the CIA to stop FBI investigations. Moreover, other pieces of incriminating evidence included was a gap in the tape that was found to be personally erased by Nixon, despite Rose Mary Woods’ attempts to claim it was her who destroyed that piece of tape: her circumstances proved enough to rule out her cooperation.

Nixon’s Sentence and the Aftermath:
The court ruled to have articles of impeachment placed upon Nixon, forcing him out of the President’s seat. They charged him with conspiring to ‘cover-up the Watergate investigation’ as well as ‘abusing his Presidential power’ for his own gains and ‘refusing to comply’ with the court orders (or subpoenas) demanded of him. Nixon’s co-conspirators in the White House were also sentenced to serve time in prison for their actions. To avoid being impeached, Nixon resigned and stepped down from being President on the 8th of August 1974.
The entire scandal had tainted US politics since, with people now constantly questioning the actions of those in power to try and avoid the same crimes committed in the past: a new level of scrutiny from parts of the public and press have become the norm, mainly because of the Watergate break-in.

By: Beau Waddell

Kaiser Wilhelm II


Wilhelm II was the German Kaiser and King of Prussia from 1888 to 1918,and is one

of the most recognisable figures of World War One.

Kaiser Wilhelm II was born in Potsdam,Germany, on January 27, 1859;to Prince Frederick

Wilhelm of Prussia and Princess Victoria( Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter), and that made

him Queen Victoria’s first grandchild,and a cousin to King George V. 

Wilhelm had two turning points in his childhood;the first being his traumatic birth.Kaiser Wilhelm II had a permanently damaged left arm,due to a complication during his delivery. This left him unable to use it for ordinary tasks.

The other shaping event in Wilhelm’s childhood was a political one;the formation of the German Empire under the rule of Prussia in 1871;now ,a twelve year old wasn’t only 2nd in line for the throne of Prussia,but also 2nd in line to be an emperor,and filled with nationlistic enthusiasm.

The Kaiser’s parents had a significant influence on his behaviour.His father: honourable,intelligent,and considerate,who’s fatal flaw was the lack of will and stamina that was crucial for a leader.His mother: serious and purposeful;but also passionate and stubborn.She also tried to instill liberal 19th century views. And so as a result,Wilhelm acquired traits from both,and he also obtained a quick temper and impulsive personality. He was also arrogant,greedy and power hungry.Despite his complicated relationship with his mother,she still left a lasting mark on him ,Wilhelm was never able to shake off the respect he had for liberal habits and views.Being the tough warrior-king didn’t come easily to Wilhelm,but he still felt this was the role he had to play,and that lead him to overdoing it.

In 1881,Wilhlem married Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein,who he would later have seven children with.

Frederick Wilhelm became Kaiser on March 1 1888,but only reigned for several months,due to terminal throat cancer.And so ,at the age of 29, Wilhelm succeeded his father on June 15th 1888..Wilhelm had grown an interest in social issues, such as the treatment of mine workers, as they had a strike 1889.In council Bismarck and the Kaiser often clashed; as Wilhelm’s lean towards the social side didn’t mix well with Bismarck’s agenda to make anti-socialist laws permanent.And so,Wilhem broke with Otto von Bismarck - the “Iron Chancellor” who had been dominating German politics since the 1860s - in 1890.But Wilhelm dropped all plans of helping workers after he ran into court opposition.The Kaiser set out on his ‘New Course’ ,where he appointed chancellors who were higher-level civil servants, instead of statesmen.

During Wilhelm’s reign, Germany saw a rise in economic and military power,but Wilhelm also overestimated his political judgement,and his constant want to enlarge Germany’s navy brought France and Britain closer together,and further isolated Germany.He also encouraged the development of the arts and sciences,and wanted to improve Germany’s social welfare and standards in schools.Tensions with Britain rose after the Kaiser congratulated Paul Kruger,president of the South African Republic,on his success on defeating the British troops that tried to raid South African territory.

Germany significantly expanded their navy from 1898 onwards.This was one of the steps of the new 1897 policy ‘Weltpolitik’, which had a goal of turning Germany into a world power,by building an overseas empire,and growing its world trade and naval power,this pleased Wilhem as he was determined to make Germany a world power. Wilhelm contributed to Germany’s pre war expansion mostly by creating a navy to rival Britain’s;but he always denied the blatant competing with Britain domination of the seas.The kaiser supported his chief admiral, Alfred von Tirpitz, and his plans that Germany could gain political power over Britain if they stationed fleets in the North Sea.Overall,the Kaiser was adamant on achieving world power,and he knew that expanding Germany’s navy was essential for it.

Germany had experienced rapid industrialization during the second half of the 19th century,and by 1900, Germany had the largest industrial economy in Europe.BY 1910,60% of Germans lived in towns and cities,the population of Berlin Doubled from the times between 1875 and 1910,and major cities were emerging like Munich,Essen and Kiel.Also by 1910,there were 48 cities with a populace over 100,000-in 1875,there were only 8.

These industrial and demographic changes also led to social changes in Germany.There were 10.86 million industrial workers in Germany by 1910,also making it the biggest single group in society.These workers didn’t have the best living or working conditions,and because all adult males could vote,the industrial workers had a significant influence on politics.Most of their support leaned to the left,towards the SPD, the German Social Democratic Party.This party grew rapidly in popularity and became the largest party in the Reichstag by 1912.The rise of the SPD worried the Kaiser and other members of the government.Bismarck had introduced many liberal reform laws during the 1880s and pushed laws that weakened socialist .Several attempts were made to replicate this,but none were approved by the Reichstag.The SPD worked on passing social reforms that bettered conditions for the industrial workers: 
1891- the Social Law banned Sunday working and employment of under 13s
1900- the time accident insurance could be claimed for was increased
1901-industrial arbitration courts were introduced to settle disputes between employees and workers
1903- health insurance was extended and further restrictions were placed against child labour


After the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate after the SPD gave him an ultimatum, he went into exile in the Netherlands, and he died on June 4 1941.

By: Sophie Lea