Rosses - Passion or Socialism Answer Here

Name: Claudia Nye

Claudia asked LHL, why does Lancashire have the red rose has its emblem and

not the white rose and was the colour chosen because it represents passion or


Funnily enough we have had this type of question several times before and in

part this reveals how people are influenced by the importance of symbols in

identification and also how these symbols are, in turn, of great importance.

Firstly, we can rule out any form of socialist influence. The choice of red rose to

represent the House of Lancaster dates back to the 14 th century, several

centuries prior to the Levellers, Robert Owen and Karl Marx. Claudia’s second

inclination is perceptive enough to suggest that passion may have been one of

the reasons for the choice of rose colour. From the early medieval period

onwards, rose colours were thought to represent certain qualities. Red roses

represented and represent still today, romance, love, beauty and perfection.

Orange roses represent life, energy, passion and excitement. Yellow roses

symbolize friendship, joy and gladness. White roses come with a variety of

meanings, including purity, innocence, grace and humility. Because these

flowers have long been popular for weddings, they have also come to

represent new beginnings and pink roses are given to express admiration of

someone’s refinement or femininity.

However, from a historical perspective, the House of Lancaster got its emblem

– the red rose from the badge of Edward I of England, which was originally a

gold rose. It was adopted in the 14th century by Edmund, the son of Henry III.

The species of rose that Edmund chose was believed to be Rosa Gallica. It was

then adopted by the subsequent earls of Lancaster. The red rose being adopted

as a heraldic badge by John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340–1399) third

surviving son of King Edward III of England and father of King Henry IV, the first

Lancastrian king, who seized the throne from his first cousin King Richard II.

The actual choice of a red rose by John of Gaunt 1 st Duke of Lancaster is open to

speculation but assumption (the evil of all historians) would lead us to reason

that the earlier influence of heraldic family choices and the importance of the

meaning of colours influenced John to his choice of colour. Interestingly, roses

became the symbols of the House of Lancaster and the House of York, but

neither Houses displayed them as their sole ‘signatures’ during the Roses War.

Over the border in Yorkshire, the White Rose of York (Latinised as rosa alba,

blazoned as a rose argent) was also adopted as an heraldic badge of the royal

House of York. The white rose was adopted as a symbol also in the 14th

century, when it was introduced by Edmund of Langley, the first Duke of York

and founder of the House of York, a dynasty related to the Plantagenet kings.

White was the colour of purity and virginity, so it had religious connotations

and no doubt would have been part of Edmund’s raison d’etre. Interestingly,

the white rose came to prominence again during the Seven Years War, when

the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry fought at the Battle of Minden, August

1, 1759, in Prussia. Here the troops picked white roses from bushes on the

battlefields as a tribute to their fallen comrades, and wore them in their


The start of the bitter rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York can be

traced back to 1399. This is when Henry Bolingbroke, the then Duke of

Lancaster overthrew his cousin King Richard II and claimed the throne. Over the

following years three Lancastrian kings held the English throne, these were

Henry Bolingbroke who became Henry IV (1399-1413). He was followed by his

son Henry V (1413-1422) who was in turn followed by his son Henry VI (1422-

1461). The subsequent war of the roses lasted for decades and saw the deaths

of many thousands of people.

The War of the Roses was brought to an end with the death of King Richard III

at the Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485. Richard was the leader of the House of

York and was slain on the battlefield by the forces of Henry Tudor, the leader of

the Lancaster faction. Henry VII then claimed the throne for himself. Knowing

that his claim on the throne was not as solid as it could have been, he wisely

made Elizabeth of York his wife and closed the chapter on the roses rivalry.

The Red Rose is the prime symbol for the House of Lancaster, immortalised in

Shakespeare’s verse "In the battle for England's head/York was white,

Lancaster red". John of Gaunt would have been influenced to choose a red rose

partly because of its symbolic connections to love and perfection and partly

because the rose as a heraldic flower had long been part of the royal armoury

of England royalty.

Am not sure if that helps any Claudia but we rather think red is soooo much

better than white or what?

Put kettle on mum!

Peter John Fyles

Subject: War of the roses

Message: As a tango dancer from Buenos Aires, I’d like to know the significance of the choice of the colour red for the rose of Lancashire (anything to do with socialism or passion or both?)

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