The Wars of the Roses (1455–1485) were a power struggle between two families, the royal houses of Lancaster and York who were both descended from Edward III and had rival claims to the throne. The wars’ name has been romantical­ly attributed to a meeting of the two factions in a garden one day. When the Yorkist leader picked a white rose as his emblem, the Lancastria­n leader plucked a red rose as his. The other nobles present followed suit, picking a white or red rose to show their allegiance. In reality, the scene probably never happened, and was invented by Shakespear­e, who included it in his play Henry VI, Part 1. The Wars of the Roses were not so called until much later, when the 18th-century novelist Sir Walter Scott gave them their romantic name.

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