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Started by Tadagee on Jun 26, 2019 10:29:34 PM
British Civil Wars: which side are you? Any why?

The Anarchy: Stephen or Matilda?

The Wars of the Roses: York or Lancaster?

The Civil War: Royalist or Parliamentarian?

Maverickvoice - 12 Nov 2019 14:58:29 (#134 of 153)

Italy, up until the end of the C15th, was a collection of independent states that were truly independent. Places like Florence and Milan had a meaningful independent political existence. By the end of the Italian wars, in the mid C16th, most of them emerged heavily under the influence (or directly ruled by) Spain, France or the Emperor (mainly Spain). Milan and Naples - previously major independent powers in Italy were both directly ruled by Spain as part of a Spanish Empire.

In France, the state of Burgundy disappeared and the state of France consolidated and centralised to a degree unknown in the middle ages. I would say the C15th saw the emergence of France and England as two very distinctly different centrally consolidated states - rather than a collection of lesser countries, counties, Dukedoms and vassal states that grouped together in various combinations to form either part of a Plantagenet or Valois Kingdom.

Germany is an odd case. It was both federated but "not federated" being, as it was, all part of the Empire in any case. One might view Germany as a Federated collection of states ruled by one family.

TRaney - 12 Nov 2019 15:01:55 (#135 of 153)

I know but I don't think any of that supports your contention about Henry VII. I'd say England was exceptional in the amount of unity and centralisation achieved.

Maverickvoice - 12 Nov 2019 15:58:23 (#136 of 153)

You could argue, in the case of England, two major changes occurred during the C15th and early C16th:

1) English cultural identity as Englishmen became far stronger and more clearly defined. During the medieval period the English ruling classes were closely bonded to the French (culturally). The spoke French, many had Norman names, England was often had French queens, England was part of a Plantagenet Kingdom that included parts of France (Gascony in particular). That all changed in the C15th - we became "English" in a way we had not been before. The ruling class no longer spoke French as a primary language of court, we no longer had French queens as a general rule, we no longer were part of a Franco-English Kingdom etc. We were - distinctly England. Tudor England had / evolved a very distinct English identity that Plantagenet England lacked. Ask a man in England in the 1450s what country he was from and he would probably tell you "Kent" or something like that. By the 1550s it would have been "England".

2) The power of the noble class as independent agents - able to raise large armies independent of the crown in the way that Warwick and the Percys had been able to do during the war of the roses was effectively broken during the Tudor period - a process that Henry VII largely put in place. Henry distinctly set about creating a much more centralised system of patronage so that the old ways of people owing patronage to a lord who in turn owed patronage to him was replaced by a system where he increasingly cut out the middle men and people increasingly had to rely on him for patronage. He still faced problems with rebellions of course but the old system of patronage based feudalism that had allowed people like Warwick to become as independently powerful as he became was essentially eroded. That is not to say the nobility entirely lost its power - far from it - only that Henry made sure there would never again be a Warwick. He also killed off all the potential Plantagenet claimants to make sure his dynasty's position was secure in so far as it lacked any credible Plantagenet challengers - which helped!

If Henry VI had been as ruthless as Henry VII (or Henry V) the war of the roses would never have happened of course. Henry VI's downfall was simply that he was too nice to be a C15th King. All the most successful C15th Kings in England and France tended to be, not to put too fine a point on it, either utterly ruthless (to the point of being quite brutal) like Henry V or VII or completely machiavellian like Louis XI. Maybe Charles VII of France was perhaps less brutal but certainly no less driven and intolerant of dissent and very definitely a domineering autocrat.

Arjuna - 12 Nov 2019 17:42:01 (#137 of 153)

The power of the noble class as independent agents - able to raise large armies independent of the crown in the way that Warwick and the Percys had been able to do during the war of the roses was effectively broken during the Tudor period

Some notably the Earl of Warwick (no relation) maintained navies and founded colonies. Warwick was almost maintaining an alternate foreign policy to Charles I via the Providence Island Colony. Many who were involved in that colony like Pym were instrumental in challenging royal power in 1640-42.

TRaney - 12 Nov 2019 17:43:02 (#138 of 153)

Which goes against the great centralising trend as well. Even in England.

Maverickvoice - 12 Nov 2019 18:06:45 (#139 of 153)

I think the way troops were raised for the English civil underlines just how much things had changed since the times of the war of the roses & the primary drivers of that change had been the Tudors.

In 1642 the only significant bodies of troops that either side was able to call on were the trained bands. In the war of the roses you already had in existence, some years before the outbreak of war, significant retinues of retainers (small standing armies in effect) which owed their loyalty and living primary to one of the noble magnates - such as Warwick of one of the Percys etc. They were liveried men.

The armies of the English civil was were more centrally raised and funded (either by the crown or by Parliament), initially drawn mainly from the trained bands and later supplemented by mercenaries. Many of the regiments were commanded by people of the knightly class in the English civil war (not the nobility proper), they may have contributed to the the financing of the regiments but the overall organisation was far more centralised in way that simply did not really happen in the C15th.

Henry VII greatly restricted these practices by such means as taxing the nobility based on the number of retainers and by banning livery. He in effect put a stop to the practice of individual nobles raising and maintaining permanent private standing armies in their own livery on English soil. The move to a reliance on the trained bands as England's primary army during tudor times, effectively replace the old system of relying on nobles with their own private retinues.

TRaney - 12 Nov 2019 18:12:06 (#140 of 153)

But they still managed to rebel and cut off a king's head. Something that nobles in earlier times for all their greater freedom had failed to do.

Your details are fine. What I'm objecting to is the idea that the consolidation of central power was a smooth trend, and was in line across Europe. I'd suggest there were various models and paths and outcomes, and that the strength of the centres went up and down.

Maverickvoice - 13 Jan 2020 08:24:06 (#141 of 153)

"Actually, the real reason I prefer Henry VII is I found all the whole rehabilition of Richard III thing a bit tedious, especially those twats who dug him up."

Actually the digging up of Richard III was an important piece of archaeological work.

I would agree that the Richard III lot go well over the top in their attempts to rehabilitate this guy. I have even heard some people claim Richard III had he lived would have been a "great king".

My view of the guy is simply that he was a product of his times - neither especially better or worse than many of his peers. I personally don't rate him as highly as his brother Edward IV - he was not as competent a field commander and his objection to Edward's treaty with Louis XI of France shows a lack of pragmatism.

He pretty much did murder the princes in the Tower (although I very much doubt that he personally did it himself - but I think he ordered it).

That said, the alternative would have been to, effectively, surrender to the Wydville faction.

As terrible as killing a couple of boys aged under 13 was (made worst by the fact they were family). In Richard's defence I would point out that there are double standards at work here in the popular reading of English history.

Richard III as we know got cast as villain by Shakespeare (which is, let's face it, where the common popular image of Richard III originates).

Henry V, by contrast, is bigged up by Shakespeare as the great English hero. Agincourt, of course, did the most to promote Henry V to English hero status - but it was Shakespeare who truly immortalised him.

Richard III may have killed his nephews but, if we want to talk about murdering children - the reality is that good old Henry V murdered far more. The fact that those boys were French and poor means that (in medieval and tudor terms) the didn't count. At Caen alone, Henry V personally ordered and oversaw the massacre of at least 2000 people - soldiers, civilians, men, women, children. He was recorded as riding through the streets of Caen shouting "Havoc!" to encourage his men to rape and pillage. So much for good King Harry!

Funny isn't it. How the death of two posh boys is considered such a heinous crime. But the death of countless poor foreign kids is quickly and conveniently forgotten.

Maverickvoice - 13 Jan 2020 08:51:39 (#142 of 153)

On another note I have recently been reading a book on the Italian wars (which began shortly after the War of Roses ended) and, it has to be said that the war of the Roses was a bit of a Teddy Bears picnic compared to that.

Neither the Yorkist nor Lancastrian leaders were especially bloodthirsty or badly behaved compared to the French in Italy. Ludlow gets looted a bit, St Albans gets looted a bit. There was some pillaging and looting but no massacres or large scale killing of civilians by either side. It is a wonder the English armies of both sides were as well behaved as they were!

Compare that with the French in Italy just a few decades later:

Sack of Mordano, Fivizzano & Castel Fiorentino 1494, Sack of Monte Fortino, Monte San Giovanni, Gaeta & Toscanella 1495, Sack of Rocca d'Arazzo 1499, Sack of Capua 1501, Sack of Peschiera 1509, Sack of Legnano 1510, Sack of Ravenna & Brescia 1512, Sack of Pavia 1527.

If you put the war of the roses into contemporary perspective it was a fairly civilised affair.

TRaney - 13 Jan 2020 09:46:55 (#143 of 153)

It was essentially civil war

SinnerBoy - 13 Jan 2020 09:49:50 (#144 of 153)

Funny isn't it. How the death of two posh boys is considered such a heinous crime. But the death of countless poor foreign kids is quickly and conveniently forgotten.

Still, things are so different today. Oh...........

Arjuna - 13 Jan 2020 09:50:55 (#145 of 153)

The same comparison could be made with the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War. There was a Royalist massacre at Bolton but even the New Model Army's capture of Drogheda and Wexford didn't really compare to the slaughter at Madgeburg.

ReverendBlueJeans - 13 Jan 2020 10:06:59 (#146 of 153)

First one - whatever Cadfael says

Second one - too confusing

Third one - Covenanters

Arjuna - 13 Jan 2020 10:08:27 (#147 of 153)

too confusing

just change sides a lot, nearly everyone else did.

ReverendBlueJeans - 13 Jan 2020 10:11:51 (#148 of 153)

Probably because they were confused.

Tadagee - 13 Jan 2020 12:17:35 (#149 of 153)

A big difference between The War of the Roses and those that preceded it, such as the Hundred Years War was the treatment of noble captives. Contemporary writings of events of the time were primarily interested in the rich and powerful of state and church, everyone else being a big smelly pox ridden cast of largely irrelevant extras.

A knight in full armour in battle was, while not invulnerable, a lot safer than your average man at arms. Rather than being killed, it was much more likely they would be captured after e.g. being dismounted and not being able to get up as their armour was so heavy. In the French wars a captured knight or noble had a ransom value so they were more valuable alive. As knights basically had to pay for their own kit, war was expensive. The value of a captured opponent was the accepted way of cashing in. The killing of the French captives at Agincourt caused shock as much for the financial consequences as much as for the actual killing.

The Wars of the Roses were different in that there was little interest in keeping people alive as there was far more political value in killing the opposition. It was also far more personal as revenge was heaped on revenge.

So, while the WotR are depicted as being particularly bloody (and often were, the general massacre of fleeing Lancastrian troops after Towton was very bloody indeed) they are seen as particularly vicious, this was mainly due to the numbers of nobility killed. As mentioned above, there wasn’t much in the way of massacring the general populace

Tadagee - 13 Jan 2020 12:46:43 (#150 of 153)

ps. Anyone interested in the War of the Roses should try 'The Brothers York; An English tragedy '. I'm about 100 pages in and already the best book on the period I've read.

Obviously written from a very Yorkist perspective but Edward and family were so much more interesting anyway.

Maverickvoice - 14 Jan 2020 17:48:40 (#151 of 153)

'The Brothers York; An English tragedy '

I may go for that at some point. I would love to see an in-depth up-to-date work on Margaret of Anjou at some point. I know people like Helen Maurer have publish more up-to-date stuff since 2000, but they are selective in their coverage and few and far between.

Maverickvoice - 21 Jan 2020 12:44:56 (#152 of 153)

"just change sides a lot, nearly everyone else did."

It is hard to think of too many people who did not change sides at some time or other during the wotr.

Even George of Clarence changed sides - and he was a York family member! Mind you he was so untrustworthy that even Warwick preferred to follow Margaret of Anjou rather than him. That is after being Margaret's sworn enemy for about 16 years by that time! Just how untrustworthy must George have been?!

FGBFGB - 21 Jan 2020 14:13:59 (#153 of 153)

Clarence was like Fredo Corleone. Vain, weak, useless, jealous, ambitious and faithless.

Today we'd make him PM.

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