The mother of King Richard the Third was a beautiful, and, in many respects, anoble-minded woman, though she lived in very rude, turbulent, and trying times.She was born, so to speak, into one of the most widely-extended, the most bitter,and the most fatal of the family quarrels which have darkened the annals of thegreat in the whole history of mankind, namely, that long-protracted and bittercontest which was waged for so many years between the two great branches of thefamily of Edward the Third-the houses of York and Lancaster-for the possessionof the kingdom of England. This dreadful quarrel lasted for more than a hundredyears. It led to wars and commotions, to the sacking and burning of towns, to theravaging of fruitful countries, and to atrocious deeds of violence of every sort,almost without number. The internal peace of hundreds of thousands of families allover the land was destroyed by it for many generations. Husbands were alienatedfrom wives, and parents from children by it. Murders and assassinationsinnumerable grew out of it. And what was it all about? you will ask. It arose from thefact that the descendants of a certain king had married and intermarried amongeach other in such a complicated manner that for several generations nobody couldtell which of two different lines of candidates was fairly entitled to the throne. Thequestion was settled at last by a prince who inherited the claim on one sidemarrying a princess who was the heir on the other. Thus the conflicting interests ofthe two houses were combined, and the quarrel was ended.But, while the question was pending, it kept the country in a state of perpetualcommotion, with feuds, and quarrels, and combats innumerable, and all the othercountless and indescribable horrors of civil war.The two branches of the royal family which were engaged in this quarrel werecalled the houses of York and Lancaster, from the fact that those were the titles ofthe fathers and heads of the two lines respectively. The Lancaster party were thedescendants of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and the York party were thesuccessors and heirs of his brother Edmund, Duke of York. These men were bothsons of Edward the Third, the King of England who reigned immediately beforeRichard the Second. A full account of the family is given in our history of Richardthe Second. Of course, they being brothers, their children were cousins, and theyought to have lived together in peace and harmony. And then, besides being relatedto each other through their fathers, the two branches of the family intermarriedtogether, so as to make the relationships in the following generations so close andso complicated that it was almost impossible to disentangle them. In reading thehistory of those times, we find dukes or princes fighting each other in the field, orlaying plans to assassinate each other, or striving to see which should make theother a captive, and shut him up in a dungeon for the rest of his days; and yet theseenemies, so exasperated and implacable, are very near relations-cousins, perhaps,if the relationship is reckoned in one way, and uncle and nephew if it is reckoned inanother. During the period of this struggle, all the great personages of the court,and all, or nearly all, the private families of the kingdom, and all the towns and thevillages, were divided and distracted by the dreadful feud.