The Wars of the Roses Part 1 on the background of a red rose

Following the death of his father, Henry V, the young Henry VI is proclaimed king but his uncles, the Dukes of Gloucester and Exeter, are the ones who hold power.

  • Swan Theatre

    Stratford-upon-Avon

    24 Sep 2021 - 1 Jan 2022

    Book Tickets
  • Running time:

    To be confirmed

Next performance:

24 September, 7:00PM

Swan Theatre
Stratford-upon-Avon

Synopsis

RIVALS FOR THE THRONE

Richard Plantagenet believes himself to have a claim to the throne and falls out with the Duke of Somerset. They ask each nobleman in the court to take either a red or white rose to show whose side they are on: white for Richard of York, red for the Duke and House of Lancaster.

MILITARY LOSSES

Meanwhile in France, Charles the Dauphin has joined forces with Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) and they begin to reclaim land from the English. The English captain Talbot, a legendary warrior who is much feared by the French, tries to unite the English troops but fails. He is deserted and dies on the battlefield because of the rivalry between York and Somerset, who both fail to send reinforcements to the English troops. Fortunes turn in favour of the English as Joan is captured and burned. A seeming truce is made between the two countries, but within England the battle between York and Lancaster still bubbles under the surface.

A ROYAL WEDDING

A marriage is to be arranged to keep the peace between England and France. The Earl of Suffolk captures a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou, and plots to marry her to Henry in order to gain more power in the court. Although Gloucester and other lords don’t think she is worthy of the king, he agrees to marry Margaret and make her Queen of England. Suffolk and Margaret develop a relationship and together plan to rule over Henry.

NOBLES UNITE

The first thing Margaret and Suffolk plan to do is remove the Duke of Gloucester, who is very popular with the people and the king. They manage to persuade the other nobles to untie behind this plan. Gloucester’s wife Eleanor has ambitions to be Queen herself and employs a man to consult a witch about her ambitions. But this man is actually in the pay of Suffolk, and Eleanor is arrested, brought to trial and banished. Gloucester resigns, allowing Henry to become king in his own right.

TREASON

Somerset returns from France with the news that all the English territories have been lost. The Duke of York and others take the opportunity to blame Gloucester, accusing him of treason. Suffolk, Margaret, York and the Bishop of Winchester agree that Gloucester should be murdered. After Gloucester’s death, the king turns against Suffolk, who is then banished and killed. Winchester dies soon after.

REBELLION

Meanwhile, there is a rebellion in Ireland and York is sent to deal with the crisis. Keen to make his own claim to the throne, York encourages a Kentish rebel, Jack Cade, to revolt in London in the hope of causing more trouble while he is away. The rebels are quickly beaten. York returns from Ireland with an army against the king. He claims his contention is only with Somerset but very quickly England is thrust into a battle for the crown between the two factions of York and Lancaster.