Percies, Nevilles and the Wars of the Roses

Anthony Pollard explains how the rivalry of two great Northern families contributed to civil war in fifteenth-century England.

Of all the feuds that beset England in the mid-fifteenth century that between the Percy and Neville families in northern England is the most infamous. A contemporary identified it as 'the beginning of the greatest sorrows in England' and many historians since have perceived it as the critical element in converting factionalism at court into civil war in the kingdom at large. And indeed a direct link between events in Yorkshire in 1453 and 1454, the first battle of St Albans in 1455, and the battles of 1459-61 can be demonstrated. The Wars of the Roses, as they unfolded, were both a contest between the houses of Lancaster and York and a feud between the families of Percy and Neville. But in several respects the character and scale of the feud in the north has been misinterpreted and its real political significance misunderstood.

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