What Was the War of the Roses?

In the 15th century, two English families, or houses, sought to place one of their own members on the throne of England.

One of the houses, Lancaster, had a red rose on its coat of arms. The other house, York, had a white rose. So the 30-year war that followed between them became known as the “War of the Roses.”

Strangely enough, during one of the important battles of the war, the rose symbols cost one side a victory. The red rose side, the Lancastrians, saw an ally approaching on the battlefield, but they thought that the star symbol of this ally was really the white rose symbol of their enemy. The Lancastrians attacked their allies, and lost the battle.

When the war was over, the next house to rule England, Tudor, wisely put both a red and a white rose on its coat of arms!