Most people who hear or read 'War of the Roses' (while being born before 1979), probably think of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas as Oliver & Barbara Rose who beat each other up in the bitter divorce battle in the dark comedy 'The War of the Roses'. Despite I have seen the movie a while ago, I honestly cannot recall whether I liked it or not ...
Well the historical background of the expression 'Wars of the Roses' goes back to the 15th century, when the House of York and the House of Lancaster fought a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England. The period between 1453 and 1487 where Henry IV and Richard of York clashed repeatedly has been particularly hot, although York and Lancaster have always fought repeatedly in conflicts before and afterwards.
The two symbols the 'White Rose of York' and the 'Red Rose of Lancaster' are still the symbols of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Nowadays people tend to be less likely to kill each other (at least in middle Europe) and the old conflict has turned into something more symbolic and rather peaceful, namely a sports competition between York and Lancaster, which encompasses 45 different sports disciplines and takes place between the 2-4th May 2009 (the first May weekend).
Way back in 1964, a guy called Sir Charles Carter, the then Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, challenged his York counterpart, Lord James of Rusholme to a boat race. Over the years other disciplines were added to the boat race and lead to the quite popular sporting institution of the Roses.
So, what is your business with all this you might ask. Well I had the chance to take the pictures of three Athletes for the Roses promotion campaign of the Athletic Union of York University, and I think the posters and the brochure turned out quite well:
Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, March 2009.
Larger versions can be found on my Flickr account.
More information on the competition can be found at the Athletic Union of York.
In case you want to know more about the historical background I refer you once more to Encyclopedia Galactica, and Encyclopedia Movieaddictica.