Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Of Roses and Thrones

We're off and running with history. From the Mongol Horde to the Black Plague to the French Civil War and the Hundred Years War... and now to England. The boys are loving all the wars and weapons, battles and intrigue, and - especially - artillery. Admittedly, they found it a bit incongruous that a war could be named after a flower - I mean, hello, war is manly-man territory! - but dove right into the War of the Roses, confusing as it is.

And it is confusing! Even with color-coding people to group them by "house", we had a hard time keeping track of guys with the same name. (I mean, how many Edwards does England really need?) But we battled on through.

Of course, the whole bit about the princes in the tower had them completely indignant. Some "protector" old Uncle Richard was! (The boys insisted I put the word "protector" in parentheses, fully grasping the irony.)

If you're rather bored, and would rather read this than fold your laundry, or wash your dishes (ahem), I'll throw in their summary of the Wars of the Roses.

A highly simplified summary. Highly.

The Wars of the Roses

Lancaster York

Henry the IV was a good king, who didn’t really want to be king! He more enjoyed reading the Bible and praying. He also had a problem – he went insane. His family asked the Duke of York to rule for him (Protector) until he recovered. But when Henry recovered, the Duke of York wouldn’t give up the throne, and Henry the IV had to raise an army!

Later, the Duke’s son, Edward got an army and took over the English throne, and became Edward the IV. However, he married Elizabeth Woodville, against his family’s ways. The nobles were upset and decided to get rid of Edward, Elizabeth and her family (5 brothers) and put Henry IV back on the throne!

Edward fled. He raised yet another army and took back the throne, put Henry in jail, and probably had him murdered. When Edward the IV died, his son Edward the V became king. But he was only a 12 year old boy!

His uncle, Richard, offered to “help” Edward until he was older. Richard really wanted the throne himself. He locked up Edward and his brother in the Tower of London, and then had himself crowned king – Richard III. The boys were not seen again.

Two years later, Henry Tudor gathered an army and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard was killed and Henry became King Henry the V. He married Elizabeth’s daughter, and united the two families again.

The Princes in the Tower

When King Edward IV died, he wanted his brother Richard to help young Edward rule. (This is called being a Regent, or Protector.) Young Edward’s mother, Elizabeth, didn’t want Richard – she wanted herself and her brothers to rule! So she didn’t tell Richard that Edward IV had died. She wanted to get Edward V quickly crowned, so that he could choose his own helpers – his mom! But, Richard got wind of the plan. Richard quickly came and captured Edward, claiming that he was “protecting” him. Elizabeth took little Richard (no idea of the pun here), and hid in a church, but big Richard got him anyway. Richard locked the boys in the Tower of London, and had himself crowned King Richard III. Nobody saw the boys again.

Two years later, when Henry Tudor became king, he searched the Tower of London, but there was no sign of the boys. 200 years later, in a small chest, buried in the Tower of London, people found two kid-sized skeletons. The boys were murdered, but by whom?

And then, FNAR, they decided this needed to be put to song/poetry (depending on which boy is reciting), and came up with this:

The Duke of York
Was such a dork,
He took the English throne!
But Henry the Fourth
Raised a force,
And the Duke was overthrown!

At that point, overcome with their own humor (and the imagery of referring to the toilet as a throne), all educational aspirations were abandoned, and we took a recess.

Give me laps, boys!


leah said...

We've been to the Tower of London twice- a very cool place to visit! The mythology of the ravens fascinated me (a belief from the time of Charles II) says that if the ravens ever leave the tower, England will fall. They keep seven ravens with clipped wings to ensure the ravens don't leave, lol!

Reading this makes me want to go back to London!

Julie said...

I'd forgotten you've lived in the UK!

I'll have to tell the boys about the ravens - they'll like that :0)

leah said...

London is absolutely amazing. If you ever get a chance to travel to Europe, that's one recommended destination. Westminster Abbey is just plain cool, and there is a statue of Abraham Lincoln near Parliament (that took us by surprise). Our history is so intertwined that it makes everything really interesting. Of course, we won't be back to Europe for a LONNNGGGG time, because we can't afford to go now! LOL.

Deborah said...

I hope you didn't test them on this, although their poetry is great ;o)!!