We know that the Magnates and peerage made some cutbacks and prettified fewer of their residences - but what of the Gentry, who by and large would have 1 or 2 manors? And the peasantry and their yardland?
After a period of grace, the 15th Century posed serious challenges for Magnates and the rural economy - prices fell, wages rose, Magnates had to cancel parties. But every cloud has its silvery lining; and trouble for some was opportunity for others - the new Farmers.
A rest from politics. The population of England remained stagnant or falling throughout 15th century. But that didn't meant there was no opportunity for towns or for commerce. You just had to look for it a bit harder.
Edward's troubles were not over with the victory at Barnet. He still faced two more invasions - the Queen and Prince, and Fauconberg in the South East. It was the final showdown between Lancaster and York.
In 1470, Henry VIth was released by Warwick from the Tower, and re-established as the rightful king of England. The Usurper Edward IV was banished forever. Sadly for the Lancastrians, Edward IV was determined to reclaim the throne when he landed at Ravenspur in 1471.
The Campaign of 1471
Here are some handy maps to help you navigate through the events of the year. They constitute plot spoilers, though!
In 1470 the spin of the wheel of fortune was dizzying. Warwick had won, lost, won...where it ended nobody knew. But the most extraordinary thing of all was an alliance to be made, with the help of Warwick's 14 year old daughter, Anne.
If you look RIGHT....you will see a new set of pages on the website called Regnal Lists. So now you have Regnal lists like the one below for all the periods up to the current day./ So you can see not only the dates of English kings and queens, but also the leaders in other countries - France and Scotland are the most convenient, but the odd Pope or Duke pops up every now and again.
So there you go ...and here's the latest!
In 1468, Warwick had a decision to make - as he himself said, 'It is a matter of being either Master or Varlet'.
George Neville, Archbishop of York, 1432-1476
George had chosen the church as his career, in time-honoured fashion. The suspicion is that being a Neville had a good deal more to do with his elevation to his appointments as Bishop of Exeter and then Archbishopric of York than either his saintliness or his learning and erudition. As far as saintliness is concerned, that’s probably fair do’s, but learning he clearly had some. But such learning as he had was accompanied by a remarkably large dose of grandeur and magnificence. So he had been through the University of Oxford, and he had done most of the presentations and arguments required of him. But as he’d studied, he’d been fast tracked, while he maintained magnificent rooms in Balliol College; his graduation was marked by a feast so splendid that they’d had to relax the rules of the university to allow it. It was a love of splendour and display that had all the hallmarks of his aristocratic background. But nonetheless he was a man of considerable talent and competence. He might have been largely an absentee Bishop of Exeter, but he governed effectively through subordinates; as Chancellor for three years he was efficient and competent until removed by Edward. He impressed even his Italian peers with the sophistication of his learning and rhetoric and diplomatic talents. George Neville was a talented, silver tongued example of the aristocratic churchman, and that meant he was a leader of the church – but still in every way a player in national politics and a Neville through and through.
George, Duke of Clarence, 1449-1478
Clarence is 19 where we are now in 1468. He’d been welcomed into the royal household by his brother, made Duke of Clarence, and been given lands in the West country, in Staffordshire near the welsh borders. He was also a man with talent; smooth, elegantly attractive, sharp witted and clever in his speech. The Italian humanist and scholar Dominic Mancini visited England, and along with describing Edward’s philanderings, described Clarence as:
possessed of such mastery of popular eloquence that nothing upon which he set his heart seemed difficult for him to achieve
And there’s evidence of this talent when he could bring himself to apply it, evidence of a competent landowner and magnate, managing his tenants and subordinates.
But Clarence’s talents led him into all the wrong areas. There’s an element of the Humphrey Duke of Gloucester about Clarence; as the king’s eldest brother, he was at the moment also his heir, and he expected this to give him special privileges in the running of the realm and influence over his brother. He was dazzled by his own importance and magnificence; he ran an absolutely stonkingly large household, a kind of alternative court at his castle of Tutbury in Staffordshire, which cost £4,500 a year to run, an extraordinary sum, a house of 400 souls, bigger than the royal household. He was in love with himself, willful and un self-disciplined, shallow and spoiled. His talents led him only to pursue his own self interest, and with apparently no moral compass politics meant for him scheming, plotting and power broking rather than any responsibility of leadership and loyalty. Worse for Clarence was that though on the face of it Edward was generous to his brother and welcomed him into the royal household, there was a reluctance and caution about Edward’s attitude to Clarence that is entirely absent from Edward’s attitude to his youngest brother, Richard of Gloucester; somehow Clarence was treated at arm’s length, was never quite given the responsibility that his status would seem to demand. Edward was no fool; Edward had an idea of his brother’s essential unreliability.
John Neville, Earl of Northumberland and Marquis of Montague, 1431-1471
George and Warwick’s other brother, John Neville, looked as though he might make different choices. John Neville had been a rock for Edward’s first years; firmly holding the north against all comers, supressing the Lancastrian revolts and Scottish invasions, hero of the battle of Hedgley Moor and Hexham. Edward had rewarded him handsomely; now Earl of Northumberland, he’d been given many of the old Percy estates, as Henry Percy languished in the Tower of London for his family’s support for the Lancastrians. John Neville was as concerned as any magnate to grow his power and lands and influence – but loyalty to the throne seemed to be paying dividends, and whether his brothers could persuade him otherwise was open to question – with him, Warwick’s chances would be greatly improved, without them they’d be seriously weakened
The first three years of Edward's reign were spent dealing stamping on the fires of the Lancastrian resistance. But then, he found time for something much more controversial than dis-embowelling, and he found it under an oak tree.
In the aftermath of Towton, Edward started his work to restore a broad based regime - crushing the recalcitrant, welcoming the turncoats, re-establishing royal justice. He also had a party. Margaret meanwhile traveled to build support for another return.
In 1461 the Queen failed to seize London,and retreated to the north. Warwick and Edward walked through London's empty gates and then chased north for the largest, and bloodiest battle of English soil.
The Yorkists left in groups; Norfolk left to raise an army in East Anglia; then Warwick on 7th March 1461, to sweep by the West Midlands to raise his tenants as he went. Next Fauconberg with the footsoldiers and last Edward on 13th March. By the time they reached the castle at Pontefract they were re-united, except for Norfolk, who was a day behind.
The Yorkists had to cross the River Aire at Ferrybridge, but were attacked by Clifford and his troop of 500, the 'Flower of Craven', reivers from the borders. Fauconberg outflanked Clifford by crossing upstream at Castleford, catching and slaughtering Clifford and his men just a few miles from Somerset and his main Lancastrian army. Edmund of Rutland had been avenged.
Now that the river crossing had been forced, Edward was able to march up onto the way to York, where near Towton he came face t face with Somerset and the Lancastrians, while Margaret and the king waited anxiously in York
It was Palm Sunday - 29th March 1461.
Famously, Towton was the biggest and bloodiest battle fought on British soil. And it was a long, hard fought slog. During the fight, Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk arrived with his 5,000 men to attack the Lancastrian flank - even that did not turn the tide. But eventually the Lancastrians broke and fled, to be slaughtered in their thousands. Margaret and Henry fled York just ahead of the victorious new king - Edward IVth.
You can find out more at the Towton Battlefield Society; including a complete list of all the nobility we know were there!
Since I did the original post below, everyone got so enthusiastic that I've updated them a bit. The MOST exciting thing, probably the most exciting moment of my life so far, was that I learned when I hit CNTRL+ALT+& followed by A or AE I can produce a real Æsc. I had to go for a cold shower immediately. So now the chart has the Æsc rather than some poxy dipstick, dipthong thing. Secondly, I have now included the mythical antecedents to the historical kings - like Woden, but where we know it, the person each people talked about as their ancestor - the Mercians, for example, thought of themselves as the Icelingas, the people of Icel; the East Anglians though of themselves as the Wuffingas. After Wuffa, whom they thought was a hero. The Saxons thought he was a bit of a dog...(boom,tish!). And then finally I have added some continental types - the Franks mainly, but also the Bishops of Rome.
So there you go - hope they are even better.
"There I was lying in bed at 2.15am, not able to get to sleep because the bodyclock was messed up. As I lay there I said to myself, 'wouldn't it be brilliant to have a list of all the kings of the AS kingdoms so you could see at one glance who each of them was dealing with ant any one time?'
'Go back to sleep you dipstick', myself replied, 'you've got work in the morning'.
But it was just too tempting an idea, so this is the result. I think it's make a nice wall chart for the loo. Or keep it by the bed for when you read to read to get to sleep. Or frame it and put it in the sitting room. Whatever."
Also, since the all-encompassing one is rather difficult to read, I've split them up a bit further down.
After the victory at Northampton and the Act of Accord, it looked as though all Richard of York had to do was wait or the crown to be his. But in the north and west, the Lancastrian opposition was growing.
Just to help you follow all the wandering around, here are 3 maps which give you an idea of the what goes on in the fights and struggles of this episode.
While Queen Margaret fled to Scotland to arrange a deal with Mary of Guelders, Lancastrian supporters were ordered to gather at Hull. The Yorkists split up - Warwick stayed in London, Edward Earl of March was sent to the West to deal with Jasper Tudor, and Salisbury and York went to the north. On 30th December, York and Salisbury met Somerset in Battle outside their castle of Sandal, and the result was a crushing defeat. Reputedly, as York was captured the Lancastrians in the battle:
...stood him [York ] on a little anthill and placed on his head, as if a crown, a vile garland made of reeds, just as the Jews did to the Lord, and bent the knee to him, saying in jest, 'Hail King, without rule. Hail King, without ancestry, Hail leader and prince, with almost no subjects or possessions'. And having said this and various other shameful and dishonourable things to him, at last they cut off his head.
Certainly the heads of York and Salisbury found themselves pinned to Micklegate Bar in York when Queen Margaret arrived from Scotland, with Scottish troops and a treaty with Scotland - support at the price of the fortresses of Roxborough and Berwick.
There was better news for the Yorkists in the West. The Earl of Wiltshire with troops from his Irish estates joined with Jasper
Tudor, and together they marched towards Hereford, intending to meet with the Queen as she marched south to London. Edward of March had started towards London to join with Warwick when he'd heard of the defeat at Wakefield; but instead turned north to head off Tudor and Wiltshire. His victory at Mortimer;s Cross gave the Yorkists hope, and established Edward's reputation as a warrior and commander. Edward turned to march east to London.
Margaret, Somerset, the Lancastrian lords and the Scottish troops burned and ravaged their way south. Their reputation went before them, and the brutality of the army did the Lancastrian cause great damage. Warwick gathered a fresh army, with loans from the City of London, and Burgundian handgunners; Edward was far away, but with the Duke of Norfolk, Baron Montagu and Earl of Suffolk, Warwick's army took up a defensive, fortified position in St Albans, blocking the roads southwards.
Battle was joined late on the 17th February - Edward was till far away in the Cotswolds. During 16th and 17th, Somerset had swung his army westwards, and as the entered St Albans on Warwick's left flank. In the confusion of trying to adjust, Warwick's army was routed. Warwick managed to pull together a remnant of his army, and marched west to find Edward, who had reached the Cotswolds. Margaret and the Prince Edward found Henry sitting under a tree laughing and singing. Margaret prepared to march on London and reclaim the government of England
Warwick swashed and buckled his way up and down the channel until the Yorkists were ready to invade England again. But on his return from Ireland with horns and trumpets blowing, Richard of York had a shock for his allies.
Here was revenge for the house of Lancaster. At the parliament, the Yorkist lords were attainted - that is they were guilty of treachery, and their lives were forfeit. But a Bill of Attainder was much worse than that, because it struck at what was really important to your 15th century magnate - his family. Because the Bill of Attainder also stripped all members of the family of their riches, including any heirs. It was in effect wiping the family from the face of history.
Warwick, Salisbury and the earl of March (the future king Edward) landed in Kent in June 1460, and quickly marched north to London - where they were welcomed. Warwick and March led the army as quickly as they could towards the royal court at Coventry. Buckingham and the Queen were caught hopping - but constructed strong defensive works on the banks of the river Nene at Northampton. The Lancastrians may have numbered 5,000, and the Yorkists 10,000.
The result was a complete rout for the Yorkists - because one of the Lancastrian commanders, Grey of Ruthin, deserted to the Yorkists. Buckingham, Egrement (one of the Percies!) and Shrewsbury all lost their lives and king Henry was captured - laughing and singing in his tent.
Richard landed at Chester on 8th September - and grandly made his way south with a great fuss, his sword carried before him - like a king. Parliament was assembled. The Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede records what happened:
…the Duke of York, with the pomp of a great following, arrived in no small exultation of spirit; for he came with horns and trumpets and men at arms, and very many other servants. And entering the palace there, he marched straight through the great hall until he came to that solemn room where the king was accustomed to hold parliament with his commons. And when he arrived there, he advanced with determined step until he reached the royal throne, and there he laid his hand on the cushion…like a man about to take possession of his right, and kept his hand there for a short while. At last, drawing it back, he turned his face towards the people, and standing still under the cloth of state, he looked attentively at the gazing assembly.
In fact, Richard's actions shocked and horrified Lancastrians, neutrals and Warwick and Salisbury. But a deal was worked out - Henry would reign, but York and his heirs would succeed him. Whether or not Margaret of Anjou would agree was another matter.
I found it rather difficult to cover the critical events and battles around Formigny and Casttillon in quite the same depth as I covered Agincourt, Crecy and Poitiers. Obviously, I should be more objective.
But Carl Rylett of the History of Europe - Key Battles podcast is made of sterner stuff, so here he is. If you want to know more about Carl's podcast, check him out on iTunes or hop along to his website here.
There's a fascinating article by Leslie et al. and map created by a research project funded by the Wellcome trust. It's all about creating a genetic map of the British Isles, to challenge or maybe confirm all those stories we have in the British Isles about where we come from.
It's always a little dangerous of course to pick up an article from the paper, since I can't claim to have a proper handle on the intricacies of the research but it's definitely worth a read. The thing is that it seems to chime with so much of our received history; as well as providing a few insights.
And then Stuart, a History of England listener, and clearly a man with a brain has also done some work looking at the data, and representing some of it much more clearly. The image allows you to see more of the detailed European origins data collected correlated with the British data.
The broad conclusions seem to be that:
There's more detail below if you want to read on - and of course nothing beats going to the original paper! The conclusions lifted from the paper with some comments from me...
So that's interesting. It confirms the idea of the Anglo saxon invasions, but also debunks the idea that the invaders wiped out the British population. Some of the variation about what percentage comes from how you interpret the DEN18 and FRA17 data; it could be that these are influenced by the data about saxon migrants - and if so the percentage of Saxon migrants would be much higher, up to 50%. I was tempted to think that FRA17 could be something to do with the Normans, but apparently this is a genetic marker very widespread in Britain (except Wales), and very early - so more likely to be from early Anglo Saxon markers. There is no significant, distinctive marker from the Norman invasions.
The Orkneys sound worth more than a few studies of their own! on a sort of cross roads for travellers and invaders from Scandinavia.
I'd seen an earlier study that did show groups that seemed to correspond with Bede's divisions. No longer it seems! And you'll notice there's no room in this for the Jutes!
The Norman invasions of southern wales from the 11th century?
The original article is attached here, with some helpful highlights for key bits from Stuart!
The History of England and the Anglo Saxon England podcasts have joined a network - called Agora. It's early days, but we are a marketplace of like minded, independent podcasters, who want to work together to create and share new ideas, and introduce listeners to new podcasts. We even have a website - Agorapodcastnetwork; and a Facebook site. So all come along and see what we've got.
Each month or so we'll probably pick one of our number to tell you more about. This month's podcast is The History of China podcast, by Chris Stewart - click on the link to see the website and find out more. Chris is essentially working through the entire history of China chronologically - 5,000 years in 30 minute chunks! An amazing story of course, so go and have a look and, I'm sure Chris would love to hear what you think. Unless you don't like it of course.
Hello everyone. I hope that Christmas shaped up as well as you hoped...everything went very well here you'll be glad to know, including the addition of a good 4 lbs to date which I could ill afford anyway. Finding it increasingly difficult to get into the shed...
Anyway, since everything is more complicated with 2 podcasts, I thought I should do a schedule every quarter. And so that's exactly what I have done. Here it is. Applause, please.
Um, from now on you will see that under 'Index' on the RH side, there is 'The Latest Schedule'. I'll keep that up to date as I go. If I remember. Which I may or may not.
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 is one of the most momentous events in world history. Sure, the power of the Roman Empire had long since faded; but here at last was the end of the story that had started with Romulus and Remus on the mountainside in Latium.
In 1459 the trigger point was finally reached; after a year of phony war, both sides preparing for war, the call for a great council in 1459 proving the trigger point. By the end of 1459 the fortune of one of the two sides would lie in ruins.
Between 1457 and 1457 Warwick was in his element as Captain of Calais. He solved the problem of feeding and paying his men by frankly turning to piracy. But with his raids on Italian merchants at Tilbury docks, on a fleet of 28 Spanish ships, on a merchant of Lubeck, Warwick was playing to the xenophobia and patriotism of the London Gallery. And the gallery loved it.
"All the commons of this land had him in great praise and love…and so made his reputation as the greatest knight living"
Through 1459 both sides spoke of peace and prepared for war. When the Queen ordered Warwick, Salisbury and York to a great council, it was the end - they knew the council would not be a happy time for them. Salisbury was at Middleham in Yorkshire; York was at Ludlow on the Welsh border; Warwick at Calais. The signal came from Warwick landing in Kent, and making his way towards Wales. Salisbury came south, while the Queen charged Audley to cut Salisbury off before he could reach Ludlow and York. In this he suceeded.
The two armies faced each other on opposing ridges, with a stream between. Audley with 10,000 men and Salisbury with 5,000, neither keen to attack through the boggy ground and up the hill in the teeth of the inevitable arrow storm. Salisbury feigned a retreat - Audley fell for it and attacked. The result was a disaster for Lancaster, with Audley left dead on the field along with 2,000 others, and Salisbury free to continue to Ludlow.
At Worcester cathedral, Warwick, Salisbury and York swore to fight together and protect each other to the end. On 10th October from Ludlow, with Cecily Neville and York's family the 3 wrote a letter to the King professing their loyalty. O n 12th October the royal army appeared on the other side of the bridge that defended Ludlow - Ludford Bridge.
The royal army was enormous. on the night of 12th October, Andrew Trollope and 400 men of Calais deserted to the King's army. On the morning of the 13th, the Yorkist army found their leaders fled - York and his son Edmund of Rutland to Ireland, Warwick, Salisbury and York's eldest son and heir Edward Earl of March to North Devon, thence to Guernsey and finally to Calais. The Yorkist cause lay in ruins.
Now those of you who have been with me for a while will know that I love Alfred as a brother. He is the greatest of English heroes; a man who kept his head everyone else lost theirs; the last hope of the Anglo Saxons against the all powerful, all conquering Danes. A man who, while everything around him burned was able to think about the long term - build a vision of a united Anglo Saxon state, recognise the importance of language and learning as a tool of government and nationhood.
But there's a caveat to all of this. There were no flies on Alfred, and he was a clever bloke, make no mistake about that. The sharpest of the knives in the drawer. And quite uniquely in English history at least, Alfred controlled the message. Almost everything we know about Alfred from a written sense comes from him - he commissioned the Anglo Saxon chronicle (probably - his time anyway), and if you are a Dane or Mercian looking for even-handed balanced reporting - don't go there for it. He got his good mate Asser to write a biography of him. So you are left wondering, just slightly - can he really have been as wonderful as he seemed?
So I was interested to read that the other day, some bloke was out with his metal detector near the little town of Watlington in the shadow of the Chiltern Hills. And he struck it lucky - a hoard of mainly silver, coins and bangles, and a scrap of gold. Congratulations!
Ceolwulf, who he I hear you ask? Well, he was King of the mighty Mercians, son of King Burgred. The West Saxons and Mercians had fought together before, in 868; but Burgred had in the end fled to Rome in the face of Danish violence. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle does a hatchet job on Ceolwulf.
874: This year went the army [the Danes] from Lindsey to Repton, and there took up their winter-quarters, drove the king, Burgred, over sea, when he had reigned about two and twenty winters, and subdued all that land. He then went to Rome, and there remained to the end of his life...And the same year they gave Ceolwulf, a foolish king's thegn, the Mercian kingdom to hold; and he swore oaths to them, and gave hostages, that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it; and he would be ready with himself, and with all those that would remain with him, at the service of the army.
So Ceolwulf is just a loser then? Well, hang on a second. Ceolwulf seems to have fought the Danes with Alfred. He remains king after the victory Alfred wins and the peace with Guthrum. He fights and beats the Welsh. Ceolwulf was no push over. And then there's this coin - this is a coin that shows an alliance between two equals, Mercia and Wessex.
Could it be that poor Ceolwulf is the victim of rewritten history? Alfred didn't want the powerful, dominant Mercia back again - he wanted and Anglo Saxon Kingdom dominated by Wessex, and Ceolwulf would have been in the way. He wanted Wessex, not Mercia, to be the saviour of England. So maybe, just maybe, he had Ceolwulf written out of history.
Still, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs!
In 1455 it briefly looked as though York had won; but in fact it solved nothing - the king remained the centre of power, and the king was weak. By 1457, he had lost his status as Protector, and the Queen was effectively the new ruler of England.
The Love Day of 1458
By 1458, Queen Margaret had remove the court to Coventry and Kenilworth, centres of Lancastrian power. There she gather around a her and the king a court to her liking. Salisbury was never invited, York only twice - and then was humiliated.
But then a French fleet raided and burned Sandwich. Nothing could demonstrate ho w low England had fallen. The raid coincided with a return of the king's lucidity, and court returned to London. Henry, such as he was a force for anything, was a force for peace. His queen was ruling for the sake of a faction - the Beauforts - and king Henry could see that.
And so Henry ordered a Love Day. The idea was that all the nobility would walk together, arm in arm, through the streets of London to St Paul's Cathedral. There they would sing and pray together, and all would be well.
All happened as the King ordered. Young Somerset and Salisbury walk at the front; Warwick and Exeter walked arm in arm, the King walked in the middle and York and Margaret brought up the rear. All it achieved was to through the rivalries into clear and public relief - the Love Day solved nothing, because it could not address the basic problem of the king's weakness.