The Tudor rose (sometimes called the Union rose) is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the Tudor dynasty.
When Henry VII took the crown of England from Richard III in battle (1485), he brought about the end of the Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster (which used the badge of a red rose) and the House of York (which used a white-rose badge).
Henry's father was Edmund Tudor from the House of Richmond, and his mother was Margaret Beaufort from the House of Lancaster; in January 1486 he married Elizabeth of York to bring all factions together. (In battle, Richard III fought under the banner of the boar, and Henry under the banner of the dragon of his native Wales.) The white rose/red rose idea was a Tudor invention.
The historian Thomas Penn writes:
The "Lancastrian" red rose was an emblem that barely existed before Henry VII. Lancastrian kings used the rose sporadically, but when they did it was often gold rather than red; Henry VI, the king who presided over the country's descent into civil war, preferred his badge of the antelope. Contemporaries certainly did not refer to the traumatic civil conflict of the 15th century as the "Wars of the Roses". For the best part of a quarter-century, from 1461 to 1485, there was only one royal rose, and it was white: the badge of Edward IV. The roses were actually created after the war by Henry VII.
On his marriage, Henry VII adopted the Tudor rose badge conjoining the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. The Tudor rose is occasionally seen divided in quarters (heraldically as "quartered") and vertically (in heraldic terms per pale) red and white. More often, the Tudor rose is depicted as a double rose, white over red and is always described, heraldically, as "proper".
During his reign, Henry VIII had the "Round Table" at Winchester Castle – then believed to be genuine – repainted. The new paint scheme included a Tudor rose in the centre.
The Tudor rose badge might be slipped and crowned, that is, shown as a cutting with a stem and leaves beneath a crown; this badge appears in Nicholas Hilliard's "Pelican Portrait" of Elizabeth I and is now the Royal Floral emblem of England.
The Tudor rose might also be dimidiated (cut in half and combined with half another emblem) to form a compound badge. The Westminster Tournament Roll includes a badge of Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon with a slipped Tudor rose conjoined with Catherine's personal badge, the pomegranate; their daughter Mary I bore the same badge. James I of England and VI of Scotland used a badge of a Tudor rose dimidiated with a thistle and surmounted by a royal crown.
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