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The History of the Wars of the

Roses




 
 

Henry A. (Harry) Payne: Choosing the Red and White Roses in the Temple Garden, 1910

Of all the incidents that are associated with particular places, none stands out more vividly than the scene told by Shakespeare, of the first beginning to the Wars of the Roses in the Temple Garden. Richard Plantagenet, with the Earls of Somerset, Suffolk, and Warwick, Vernon, and a lawyer, enter the Temple Garden ("Henry VI." Pt. I. Act 2, sc. iv.). Suffolk. Within the Temple Hall we were too loud; The garden here is more convenient. Plantagenet. Then say at once if I maintained the truth, Or else was wrangling Somerset in the error ? The direct answer being evaded, Plantagenet continues- Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak, In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts; Let him that is a true-born gentleman, And stands upon the honour of his birth, If he suppose that I have pleaded truth, From off this brier pluck a white rose with me. Somerset. Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer, But dare maintain the party of the truth, Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me. Warwick. I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet. Suffolk. I pluck this red rose with young Somerset. Vernon. I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here, Giving my verdict on the white rose side. Lawyer (to Somerset) ... The argument you held was wrong in you, In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too. Plan. Now, Somerset, where is your argument ? Som. Here, in my scabbard, meditating that Shall dye your white rose in a bloody red. Plan. Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset ? Som. Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet ? Plan. Ay, sharp and piercing to maintain his truth; Whiles thy consuming canker eats his falsehood. Som. Well, I'll find friends to wear my bleeding roses, That shall maintain what I have said is true. Warwick. And here I prophesy this brawl to-day, Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden, Shall send between the red rose and the white A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

 
*

Since Shakespeare’s day, popular perception of the Wars of the Roses has been confused by the propaganda of partisan supporters of the White or the Red, or by those who see the whole affair as a minor dynastic squabble. It is true that their significance in the history of the art or practice of warfare is small. And while the Wars were not the general bloodbath Shakespeare described for the Elizabethan stage, the royal house of Plantagenet was wiped out...along with other noble dynasties beside. Modern historical research, however, has shown that the era was no better nor worse than those that came before and after.



 


THE DYNASTIC BACKGROUND TO THE WARS OF THE ROSES

Edward III had seven sons. Of those who survived infancy the four eldest were: his heir - Edward (the Black Prince), Lionel (Duke of Clarence), John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster), and Edmund Langley (Duke of York). As the Black Prince predeceased his father by a year, it was his son who eventually succeeded to the throne in 1377, becoming Richard II.

 

Richard's reign witnessed both peasant revolts and aristocratic conspiracies. Successive disputes with the nobility eventually led to his downfall. In 1399, Richard's cousin Henry Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt (Edward III's third son), usurped the throne, had Richard executed and founded the ruling dynasty of Lancaster as Henry IV.

 

Henry's claim to the throne rested on his being the next surviving male heir. Unfortunately for him, there was a rival claim through the line of Philippa, daughter of Edward III's second son - the Duke of Clarence. Philippa had married Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, by whom she had a son; thus founding the claim of the House of Mortimer.

 

In 1425, Richard Duke of York, the grandson of Edmund Langley (Edward III's fourth son) was to inherit the Mortimer claim through his maternal uncle. He was to prove a formidable rival to his distant cousin, the weak-minded Henry VI of the House of Lancaster who alienated the Duke by borrowing vast sums of money he never repaid.

War of the Roses - Alpha Gameplay

by Mitch on September 9, 2012 0 Comments

Simon and Lewis look at an early version of the newest in Paradox's great mounted hack-and-slash series

PC Game - War of the Roses

by Mitch on July 30, 2012 0 Comments

War of the Roses is a melee-focused action game that has armored knights clanging swords during the titular battle between House Lancaster and House York. At least, that's what we think. We, unlike the other games, didn't actually get a chance to see War of the Roses in action, what with it only having just been announced a couple of days ago here at Gamescom. But we did get a chance to talk about it with Paradox and developer Fatshark. It was interesting to hear the number of comparisons drawn between this medieval action game and modern first- and third-person shooters. The aim is to create a visceral, action-heavy melee game with an extensive progression system; it's sort of the Call of Duty of medieval times. Senior producer Gordon Van Dyke (he of Battlefield 1943 fame) also expressed a desire to adapt a third-person camera similar to Gears of War--one that adapts quickly and effortlessly to a player's speed of movement and chosen attack. Having not seen the game in action, we can't really comment on much else, other than the fact that the War of the Roses seems like a great setting for an action game. Hopefully, we'll be able to see this one soon.

LINK

Sir Thomas Malory, (c. 1416–1471)

by Mitch on July 21, 2012 1 Comment

The life and career of Sir Thomas Malory, the author of Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur), one of the greatest literary works of medieval England, illustrates how the quarrel between the houses of LANCASTER and YORK forced even politically insignificant members of the English GENTRY to choose sides.

 

Because little is known about the writer of Le Morte d’Arthur, historians have debated which of several fifteenth-century Thomas Malorys was the author. The most likely candidate is Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, a Warwickshire knight whose sketchily preserved life best fits the few facts definitely known about the Arthurian writer. In the concluding paragraphs of Le Morte d’Arthur, the author stated that the book was completed in the ninth year of EDWARD IV by “Sir Thomas Malory, knight,” and also requested his readers to pray “that God will send me good deliverance” (Malory, p. 750). The writer was thus an imprisoned knight who finished his work between 4 March 1469 and 3 March 1470.

 

Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel was knighted about 1441, and served in PARLIAMENT in 1445 and again in 1449. Malory’s life in the 1440s was unexceptional, but he spent most of the 1450s in various LONDON jails. His imprisonment was the result of a crime spree that began in January 1450 when Malory reportedly lay in ambush, with armed men, to murder Humphrey STAFFORD, duke of Buckingham. In May and again in August, Malory was charged with rape and extortion. In June 1451, Malory and a band of accomplices were accused of stealing livestock, and, in July, Malory and his confederates threatened a house of Warwickshire monks, an action that led to the issuance of orders for his arrest. On 20 July, while Buckingham and a party of sixty men searched for him, Malory and his accomplices vandalized the duke’s deer park at Caludon.

 

Because such violent crimes conflict with the chivalric values enunciated in Le Morte d’Arthur, the authorship of the Newbold Revel Malory has been disputed. However, the charges against him may have had more to do with local political rivalries than with outright criminality. Malory’s transgressions, which probably originated in a private quarrel with Buckingham, soon entangled Malory in the national political struggle. After Malory’s capture in July 1451, the Lancastrian government imprisoned him without trial through the mid-1450s. Because the Lancastrians seemed intent on keeping him confined, and because he had shown himself capable of raising and leading large numbers of men, Malory probably attracted the attention of the Yorkists, who in the late 1450s were seeking any possible supporters. In 1457, after being temporarily released on bail through the good offices of the Yorkist lord, William NEVILLE, Lord Fauconberg, Malory likely became an adherent of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, Fauconberg’s nephew and Buckingham’s chief rival in Warwickshire. In early 1462, Malory used Edward IV’s general pardon to win his release and wipe out all charges against him. In late 1462, Malory participated in Edward’s campaign against the Lancastrian-held castles in northern England.

 

Although no legal records confirm the statement in Le Morte d’Arthur that he wrote while a prisoner, Malory was one of only fifteen people excluded by name from a general pardon issued by Edward IV in July 1468. This exclusion raises the likelihood that Malory was arrested by the Yorkist government some time in 1468 and remained in confinement until the restoration of HENRY VI in October 1470, over six months after the stated completion of Le Morte d’Arthur. Although the reasons for Malory’s imprisonment are unclear, the probability is that he was somehow involved in a shadowy Lancastrian conspiracy known as the CORNELIUS PLOT, which came to light in June 1468. Many of the men excluded from the pardon with Malory were Lancastrians implicated in the plot. According to his tombstone in Greyfriars Church in London, Malory died on 14 March 1471, only a month before the restoration of Edward IV would likely have again jeopardized his freedom.

 

Further Reading: Field, P. J.C., The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory (Cambridge:D. S. Brewer, 1993); Malory, Sir Thomas, Le Morte d’Arthur, edited by R. M. Lumiansky (London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1982).

Cornelius Plot (1468)

by Mitch on July 21, 2012 0 Comments

Uncovered in June 1468, the Cornelius plot was a shadowy Lancastrian conspiracy that sought to persuade former supporters of HENRYVI to again become active in his cause.

 

The plot came to light when EDWARD IV’s agents in Kent arrested a shoemaker named John Cornelius, who was caught carrying letters from Lancastrian exiles in FRANCE to secret Lancastrian sympathizers in England. Cornelius was brought before Edward IV, who committed the courier to the TOWER OF LONDON and authorized the use of torture to extract from the prisoner the names of the intended letter recipients. This authorization reveals how nervous the government was at the time about Lancastrian activities, for the Cornelius case is the only example of officially sanctioned torture in England before the time of Henry VIII.

 

Before succumbing to his harsh treatment, Cornelius implicated several people, including John Hawkins, a servant of John WENLOCK, Lord Wenlock, a former Lancastrian then serving Edward IV as a trusted diplomat. Hawkins, who in his turn implicated several others, was executed, but any suspicions about Wenlock were suppressed so that he could conduct the king’s sister, MARGARET OF YORK, to BURGUNDY for her wedding to Duke CHARLES. Unhappy with the Burgundian alliance that the marriage cemented, Wenlock later abandoned Edward and supported Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, in securing the restoration of Henry VI.

 

Several other persons implicated by Cornelius and Hawkins were arrested, including the LONDON merchant Sir Thomas COOK and, most likely, Sir Thomas MALORY, the author of Le Morte d’Arthur, who was specifically exempted from a 1468 pardon along with several other men known to have been involved in the Cornelius enterprise. The first of several Lancastrian plots uncovered in 1468, the Cornelius conspiracy revealed a rising dissatisfaction with Edward IV and his government, which helped sweep the king from his throne in 1470.

 

Further Reading: Field, P. J.C., The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1993); Hicks, Michael, “The Case of Sir Thomas Cook, 1468,” in Richard III and His Rivals: Magnates and Their Motives in the Wars of the Roses (London: Hambledon Press, 1991); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).

TudorsOnFilm

by Mitch on July 10, 2012 0 Comments

Welcome to TudorsOnFilm, an interactive website for The Tudors on Film and Televison (from McFarland Books 2012), co-authored by Sue Parrill and William B. Robison, with information about and links to other projects by the authors. Pre-order information below!

 

THE BOOK

The Tudors on Film and Television is both a comprehensive filmography and a historical analysis of Tudor films that provides basic information about production, participants, plot, and provenance for every item included, as well as assessing the aesthetic qualities, historicity, cultural significance, and potential usefulness in the classroom of each. The authors have attempted to list and discuss, to the extent information is available, all films—fiction or non-fiction—which treat the Tudor monarchs and their times. Read more . . . 

THE WEBSITE

This website will allow the authors to supplement the material in this book with information about hitherto undiscovered films made through the end of 2011, additional details that may come to light about the films included here, the recovery of films currently believed no longer extant, and new online entries about films made in and after 2012. We also welcome discussion, so please join us. Read more . . . 

PUBLICATION DATE

McFarland has set a publication date of December 31, 2012. Ergo . . .

CHRISTMAS AND . . . 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he is just waiting for your letter asking for a copy of The Tudors on Film and Television. Oh, and it would make a great gift for all of the Tudor-lovers on your Christmas list. And all of the people who should be Tudor-lovers. In other words, everybody. Also an excellent choice for Hannukah, Kwanzaa, anniversaires, birthdays, graduations, and other gift-giving occasions. And if you are really feeling generous or just need more than one present for the same person, don't forget the other fine books featured on the About Sue Parrill page and the About Bill Robison page. You can even hire Bill Robison to present an illustrated lecture about the history of Christmas or a whole selection of other delightful historical topics listed on the Fabulous Lectures page.

PRE-ORDER IT HERE!

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