The Wars of the Roses: Personalities and Politics

Ref: C3744174

Explore one of the most controversial periods in England’s history and discover the real men and women who inspired Shakespeare's history plays and "The White Queen" . This course will use art and literature as well as more traditional historical sources to bring to life the fifteenth-century world from the downfall of Richard II to the deaths of Richard III and the last Yorkist ‘pretenders’. We will explore themes including kingship, faith, witchcraft and women’s roles as we examine the political intrigues and dramatic conflicts that brought England’s Middle Ages to a close.

Course aim

To provide an introduction to the personalities and politics of the Wars of the Roses. Students will also develop skills in analysing primary and secondary source material, enabling them to develop their own conclusions about the conflict.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • It will be an advantage to have your own personal email address so that you can login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. Students need to be competent in English.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • You will develop a knowledge of the events, personalities, politics and culture of fifteenth-century England.
  • You will learn how to assess the reliability and value of primary source texts (15th/16th century) to investigate the events they describe.
  • You will learn how to use and evaluate secondary source texts (20th/21st century) to explore this subject critically.
  • You will learn how to use art and literature to develop your understanding of the period.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Reading lists will be provided for students wishing to develop their knowledge outside the classroom but this additional reading is not essential for participation.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas:
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • A useful introduction to read before the course would be D. Grummit, 'A Short Introduction to the Was of the Roses' (2012)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

The Wars of the Roses: Personalities and Politics


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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