Did the Tudors invent the Wars of the Roses?

It was in Henry VII's interests to propagate the concept of a titanic clash of dynasties in the 15th century – and for 500 years we've bought the lie, according to Dan Jones...

An illustration of Elizabeth of York and Henry VII.

This article was first published in the October 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

On an early spring day in 1592, The Rose – a theatre in the London suburb of Southwark – filled with one of the largest crowds seen that year. The men and women who crossed London Bridge and scurried into the theatre from the dirty streets lined with brothels and bear pits had come to see Harey the vjth, performed by Lord Strange’s Men. Today we call it Henry VI, Part I, by William Shakespeare.

Harey the vjth was a hot ticket. Its exciting storyline – noble intrigue and monarchy in peril – echoed the uncertain spirit of the 1590s. Its battle scenes made full use of the Rose’s wide stage, thrilling the audience with melées and slaughter, explosions and duels. It was tender, too: Lord Strange’s actors could move theatregoers to tears.

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