Home Biography Books Characters History Medallion

Renee Duke: History

15th-Century England (Setting for The Disappearing Rose)

The Wars of the Roses. From 1327 to 1377, England was ruled by King Edward III. Edward III had numerous children, and almost a century later, different branches of his family started to fight over the crown. Since the badge of one branch, the House of Lancaster, was a red rose, and the badge of the other, the House of York, a white rose, this dispute is now called the Wars of the Roses. At the time, it was simply a civil war.

The House of Lancaster usurped the throne in 1399, and in 1453 Lancastrian king Henry IV became mentally ill. A cousin, Richard, Duke of York was named Lord Protector and he wasn't keen to give up the position when Henry regained his sanity. 1455 saw the start of a series of battles, some of which the Lancastrians won, and some of which the Yorkists won. When the Duke of York was killed in 1460, his oldest son, Edward, Earl of March took up the Yorkist cause, and eventually became King Edward IV, father of the two Princes in the Tower.

The older prince was only twelve when Edward IV died on April 9 1483. Young Edward's maternal relatives (the Woodville family) had long been at odds with his paternal uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and there were also concerns that the Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor, would make a bid for the crown. Such political instability made the lords of the realm nervous, so when questions arose over the legitimacy of Edward IV's children, they chose to depose Edward and give the throne to Richard of Gloucester. Richard III was crowned on July 6 1483, and set out on a royal progress. Two years later he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, and the crown assumed by Henry Tudor, who reigned as Henry VII and founded the Tudor dynasty. By then the boy king, Edward V, and his younger brother had vanished. How and when, and upon whose orders, is still a mystery.

**Rose Pictures copyright of Richard H. Fay

Victorian England (Setting for The Mud Rose)

By the time Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, the industrial revolution had caused many people to move out of the rural areas of Great Britain and settle in its big cities. Child labour had been a fact of life for centuries, but in this era it hit new heights. Instead of working on farms or in home based family businesses, children as young as four were put to work in factories and mines with long hours and dangerous working conditions. The pittance they earned contributed to a poor family's income, so many parents did not welcome laws regarding child labour and compulsory schooling.

These were not, however, strictly enforced. The only schooling some children received was from ragged schools that could be attended in the evening before going home after a day's work. A lot of children didn't even have homes. Orphaned or abandoned, they earned money for food in any way they could and slept in doorways and hay carts. In the mid-1880s, social reform groups tried to help such children by taking them into care and training them for trade jobs, agricultural work, and domestic service. Many were shipped to countries like Canada and Australia, where it was believed they would have a better life. As with all such schemes, some did, and some did not.

Pre-WW II/WW II Germany (Setting for The Tangled Rose)

Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazi Party) came to power in Germany in January, 1933. Though most of the German people initially welcomed this, they gradually came to realize that they had elected a dictator, as every aspect of their lives was soon under government control. Determined to produce a 'Master Race' the Nazis exterminated anyone who fell physically or mentally short of their Nordic ideal. They also persecuted people they considered racially inferior, such as Jews and Gypsies, and anyone who opposed their rule. Nor were they content to confine their activities to Germany, and when Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, countries that had military agreements with Poland had no choice but to declare war, a war that would go on until May 7th, 1945, when Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied Forces' headquarters in Reims, France.