Introduction: Anyone who has struggled to follow the argument at the beginning of Shakespeare's Henry V or the plot of the next four history plays can tell you that the royal family tree of fifteenth-century England is impossible to follow -- from its gnarled roots to its many intertwined branches.
The equally confusing period called the Wars of the Roses (from about 1450 to 1487) takes its name from the dynastic struggles of two factions of the family -- the Yorkists, whose emblem was a white rose, and the Lancastrians, who later became associated with the red rose.
This magnificent genealogy of the first Yorkist king, Edward IV (1442-1483) was probably created to celebrate his accession to the throne in 1461 after defeating the forces of Henry VI in battle, and is as much a propaganda tool as a commemorative document. In it, the supporters of Edward IV harness legend, prophecy, superstition, words, and visual images to offer a compelling propaganda statement to an increasingly literate public.
The manuscript is on display as part of the Leaves of Gold exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Frist Gallery, Nashville, in 2001-2002.