An alternative view is that a white rose was originally a badge of the Mortimer family whose member Anne married Edmund’s younger son Richard.
Their son, also Richard, third Duke of York and father of Edward IV, claimed the throne through his Mortimer descent and therefore naturally displayed their white rose in opposition to the Lancastrian Henry VI, who bore a red rose.
However it should be borne in mind that The ‘House of York’ was a line of aristocracy, which, whilst owning estates in the county, was based, not in York, but mainly in the south of England and Wales.
During the civil war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster there were few ‘Yorkists’ in York, in fact, major Yorkshire land-owners were prominent supporters of the House of Lancaster!
By the 18 century however there is an account of an event whose exact nature is a little shadowy but which has certainly inspired at least, a trenchant mythology that may have helped to develop the association of the white rose with the county. Thorp, who, in 1932 wrote “I have not seen any contemporaneous account of the battle which mentions the incident nor can I discover that prior to 1860 roses were worn by the Minden regiments on the anniversary of the battle.” He goes on to say “…nowhere can I find mention of roses until some years after the centenary of Minden the celebration of which was clouded by the aftermath of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny.” The Yorkshire Ridings Society itself on its website writes “250 years ago, on the 1st August 1759, soldiers of the 51st Regiment of Foot, a Yorkshire Regiment, took part in the battle of Minden…
Sources report that at the Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759, Yorkshiremen of the 51st Regiment of Foot picked white roses from bushes near to the battlefields and wore them on their clothing. Audax however, has written of this incident; in his work ‘Badge backings and special embellishments of the British Army’ published in the 1990s, he quotes one Major C. Reports of the battle mention that the British Soldiers picked roses and wore them on their uniforms, possibly in memory of their fallen comrades.
It bears a white rose which has long been associated with the county.
The white rose, also known as the “rose alba” or “rose argent”, was originally the symbol of the House of York and is believed to have originated with the first Duke of York, Edmund of Langley in the fourteenth century, who founded the House of York as a cadet branch of the then ruling House of Plantagenet.The rose carried religious connotations, its white colour symbolising innocence and purity.It was accordingly also held to evoke the Virgin Mary, who was referred to as the “Mystical Rose of Heaven”.Some accounts describe this as an act of tribute to their fallen comrades after the battle, placing the flowers in their coats, although an alternative theory is that the flowers were plucked and worn during the advance as an act of bravado, placing them in the head-dress. News was in black and white in those days so the colour of the roses is not known.”, Minden Day, a celebrated British military victory is commemorated by Yorkshire regiments with the wearing of white roses.Whatever the precise circumstance were, events do indicate a developing association between the white rose of the House of York and the county of York, which reached its full development in the nineteenth century.The term ‘Wars of the Roses’ is believed to have been first used in the novel”Anne of Geierstein” by Walter Scott in 1829 who likely coined the term from the fictional scene in William Shakespeare’s play Henry VI Part 1, where the opposing sides pick their different-coloured roses at the Temple Church.