Maintenance and the War of the Roses

The Wars of the Roses were no clear-cut dynastic conflict, but rather a series of struggles between the magnates of the age and the retinues they maintained by Alan Rogers. Anthony Pollard offered his own separate historiographical analysis in 2010.

In recent years, there has been a considerable revival of interest in the history of fifteenth-century England. It is no longer be the neglected chapter that it used to be; a good deal of work is being done to elucidate the problems of this troubled period, and among them is the nature of the struggles of the middle of the century that have usually been called the Wars of the Roses.

Although it is now generally agreed that the term Wars of the Roses is misleading, that there was no clear-cut struggle between two coherent and consistent parties, there is no agreement yet as to what should replace the traditional version by the Tudor chroniclers of a bitter feud over the crown of England between legitimists and usurpers. Some historians, it is true, assert that there was little widespread disturbance within the realm; but most writers are agreed that there was a period of extensive civil war and disorder over much of the kingdom, certainly from 1450 to 1485 and, on a lesser scale, for many years on either side of these dates. It is clear that there was a bitter struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York, and that from late in 1460 at least it was aimed at the succession to the throne. But the dynastic issue was not the most important aspect of the struggle; by 1460 much of the fighting already lay in the past; and after 1461, although a small legitimist party was created, most of the disturbances had the nature of victors falling out over the spoils. The Yorkist Warwick quarrelled with the Greys and the Woodvilles, not because they were former Lancastrians, but precisely because they were from 1464 such prominent Yorkists. There was nothing in the quarrels after 1461 similar to the problem of the Jacobite movement.

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