In 1453, Richard, Duke of York, claimed the throne of England from his Lancastrian kinsman Henry VI, and set off a series of conflicts between rival branches of the English royal family, better known as the Wars of the Roses. Blood Roses traces the origins of this bitter rivalry all the way back to 1245 with the birth of the first Earl of Lancaster, Henry III's younger son, Edmund. Thomas, the second Earl, was the first cousin and most dangerous enemy of King Edward II, and ended up being executed after a decade and half of rivalry and conflict. Thomas's nephew Henry, the first Duke of Lancaster, was one of the great figures of the 14th century and was the father-in-law of Edward III's third son John of Gaunt, probably the most famous member of the House of Lancaster. Edward III's fourth son Edmund of Langley founded the House of York in 1385; his son Edward was killed at Agincourt in 1415 and was the uncle of Richard, duke of York. Blood Roses takes the reader through 170 years of bloody warfare and political intrigue, and sets the scene for one of the most famous conflicts in English history.