Friday, 28 September 2018

Wars of the Roses Livery Colours Database

Fri 22 January, 2021
This post has been extensively revised with the offer of a bespoke database search service.  To simplify things I've add some headings:

Original Introduction
I've put together this database to address one of history's mysteries.

It is well known that during the War of the Roses great Lords maintained their own troops or retinues. They would identify one another by wearing their Lord's livery colours, one of their badges or both. So far so good. The mystery arises because reliable information about the livery colours used is scarce.

There's always Pat McGill's book "Standards, Badges & Livery Colours of the Wars of the Roses" and the sets of livery flags, both from Freezywater, but there's not that much more. In contrast there's a lot of information about heraldic flags from the period.

Online Database
As a wargamer liveries are important. They are a ready way of identifying units on the tabletop via flags or jackets in the livery colours. So to tackle the mystery I created a database and decided to be fairly relaxed as to the source of the information. So far I've combined two sources resulting in a database of 88 livery colours.

Search the Livery Colours Database.

The data can be searched using the filter icon in the menu bar above the spreadsheet itself. I've already found searching by livery colour really useful.

There's also a war record for each person taken from the data used to create the Poleaxed War of the Roses Sourcebooks. This should help if you are researching a particular battle or looking for people who changed sides.

Quick Search
If you are just looking for one or two items then try this quick reference view of the database. Unfortunately this table can't be sorted or filtered.  However all the text is searchable using Ctrl-F on most browsers.

Bespoke Search
Searching the database can be a little tedious so I created a version that can be searched by loyalty, battle honours and both livery colours.

The bad news is; it doesn't work well online.  To get around this I've decided to run searches for people.

Request a livery search (form)

Just complete the online form and I will send you the results in a pdf. For example you can request a search for a particular battle, one side of a battle or all the gules (red) liveries.  This way you can keep your research in one document.   Here's an example to download.

Multiple requests are welcome; up to a point.  Please don't abuse my good nature by requesting too many at once.  I will put multiple requests in one pdf for convenience.

For those of a technical bent the issue arises because multiple users are sharing one document.  So If one user selects something their choice will be seen immediately by all other users.  This makes searching and printing the results quite a challenge when there are multiple simultaneous users online.

Data Sources
Most of the data came from the Freezywater database and the remainder was identified in November 2020 as coming from a Hobilar article written by Barry Slemmings.

After contacting Barry to confirm this, he identified a few errors in the linked page and the database has been corrected: the sons of York were listed as "Murrey & Azure" this has been corrected to "Azure & Murrey".

If you know of any other sources please post a link in the comments.


  1. The source of the data not from the Freezywater database has been identified. It came from a Hobilar article written by Barry Slemmings.

    As a result a few errors have been corrected: the sons of York were listed as "Murrey & Azure" this has been changed to "Azure & Murrey".

  2. I have created a searchable version of the database. It is searchable by loyalty, battle and both livery colours. The bad news is it doesn't work without editing privileges.

    While I think about how best to deal with this, if you would like a specific search get in touch and I'll send you the results (somehow).

  3. I have partially solved the problem of database searches. I've created an online form so you can request specific searches. I will then run them and send them to you by email.

    I've also significantly revised the post and, as it is getting a bit long, I've added some headings and links to improve navigation.

  4. Updated the "Bespoke Search" section to explain why searching isn't reliable using Google Docs.


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