Women’s Experiences During the Wars of the Roses
By Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven
Bachelor’s Thesis Utah State University, 2012
Abstract: This paper will discuss the lived experiences of women of the English nobility and gentry during the period between 1450 and 1485, which covers the end of the Hundred Year’s War to the end of the Wars of the Roses. It will focus on the vulnerabilities associated with various stages of life of a medieval woman, including childhood, marriage, childbearing, and widowhood, as well as the added vulnerabilities associated with political affiliations at the time of civil war.
A woman’s experience in medieval England was highly dependent upon her social status, marital status, husband’s political affiliations, and her legal rights. These factors also affect our modern perception as women as victims of the Wars of the Roses.
As this conflict was mostly a war of the nobility and since the majority of the records of women that exist from this era only detail the experiences of noble women, the existing information about women during the Wars of the Roses is primarily about those in the upper ranks of society. It is this record of the elite that will serve as the topic of my essay.