Skip to main content

Unit information: Kingship and Crisis during the Wars of the Roses. (Level H Special Subject) in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Kingship and Crisis during the Wars of the Roses. (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37011
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Reeks
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


'Sackage, carnage and wreckage' is the 1066 & All That summary of the fifteenth century in England, and its image as an era of anarchy and bloodshed has been crystallised in the popular imagination from the history plays of William Shakespeare to Game of Thrones. However, over the last forty years, increasing interest has been taken in this 'Cinderella century' by scholars and controversy continues to rage over major issues of interpretation. This special subject will address perhaps the most vital question - that of kingship during a period of dynastic turbulence and usurpation. How was kingly authority conferred and its continued validity restated and reaffirmed in a century when every occupant of the English throne had his right to it challenged?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed:

  1. an in-depth and detailed knowledge and understanding of the Wars of the Roses and their affect on English society and politics;
  2. the ability to work at an advanced level with primary sources;
  3. the ability to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis;
  4. the ability to learn independently within a small-group context;
  5. a deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis;
  6. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points;
  7. the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to group discussion;
  8. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint;
  9. the acquisition of advanced writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching details

  • 10 x 2- hour seminars

Assessment Details

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Both the essay and exam will assess ILOs 1-9

Reading and References

Carpenter, Christine, The Wars of the Roses: politics and the constitution in England, c. 1437-1509 (Cambridge, CUP, 1997)

Cook, David R., Lancastrians and Yorkists: the Wars of the Roses (London, Longman, 1984)

Dockray, Keith, William Shakespeare, the Wars of the Roses and the Historians (Stroud, Tempus, 2002)

Kleineke, Hannes & Christian Steer (eds), The Yorkist Age (Donington, Shaun Tyas, 2013)

Pollard, A.J., Late Medieval England, 1399-1509 (Harlow, Longman, 2000)

Pollard, A.J., The Wars of the Roses (2nd edn., Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)

Watts, John, Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship (Cambridge, CUP, 1996)