The War Of The Roses

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Edward IV's leading captains for his 1475 expedition to France had the following retinues:

Duke of Clarence

10 knights 1,000 archers

Duke of Gloucester

10 knights 1,000 archers

Duke of Norfolk

2 knights 300 archers

Duke of Suffolk

2 knights 300 archers

Duke of Buckingham

4 knights 400 archers

This contract system still existed in the mid-15th century, and the end of the Hundred Years' War in 1453 flooded England with large numbers of men who had no trade other than that of soldier. Returning to England, these men now assumed the aspect of mercenaries, unemployed and troublesome. Bored and hungry, they eagerly sought employment with the great barons. Such large private armies were extremely dangerous to the king. Lacking a standing army of his own, he could now only control unruly or even disloyal barons by using the private armies of those barons who remained loyal. Of course, loyal barons were rewarded with valuable offices and vast estates – which enabled them to hire even larger armies until, as with Warwick, they became powerful enough to attempt the overthrow of their benefactor.

This weakness in the royal authority led to corruption in high offices, and especially in the judiciary system. Whenever the interests of a landowner were involved in a legal case, rival bodies of armed men, wearing the liveries and badges of the lords who maintained them, would ride into the county town and bribe or intimidate judge and jury.

During the regency of Henry VI's reign the legal system finally collapsed, and the barons began to resolve their quarrels over land and inheritances by making war against each other: might was right, and it became commonplace for heiresses to be abducted, minor lords to be imprisoned or even murdered, and for 'evidence' to be procured by bribery or threat.

Since justice was no longer obtainable by fair means, many of the yeoman farmers and smaller landowners of the lesser gentry now turned to the barons for their personal protection and for the protection of their lands and rights. This led to the polarization, which is such a feature of the Wars of the Roses.

The yeomen and lesser gentry entered into another form of contract, known as 'livery and maintenance', whereby they undertook to wear the baron's livery – i.e. a tunic in his colors and bearing his household badge – and to fight for him in times of need. In return they received his protection whenever they needed it.

From the above can be seen that an 'army' of the Wars of the Roses might consist of a magnate's personal or household troops (or bodyguard – usually of knights, sergeants and archers), plus his tenants, together with paid mercenaries or contract troops – both English and foreign specialists such as gunners and hand gunners – and 'livery and maintenance' men who were unpaid but who had a personal stake in the fighting.

The only forces under the king's personal command were his bodyguard of knights and sergeants and the large, professional body of men who formed the royal garrison at Calais. Edward IV also had a permanent bodyguard of archers, and one of Henry VII's first actions on seizing the throne was to found the Yeomen of the Guard, a body of some 2,000 archers under a captain. These first saw active service in 1486, when they were used in the suppression of northern rebels.

Finally, in times of great need, the king might also use Commissions of Array to call out the local militia. In theory the king's officials chose the best-armed men from each village and town to serve the king for up to 40 days, the men's provisions being provided by their community. In practice, the king's authority was frequently misused, and great landowners often sent letters to the lesser landowners and councils of towns where they had influence, reminding those in authority of past favors and hinting at benefits yet to come.

An example is given in the contemporary Stonor letters and papers for the Oxfordshire half-hundred of Ewelme, which provided from its 17 villages a total of 85 soldiers, 17 of whom were archers. Eweime itself produced six men: 'Richard Slythurst, a harness [i.e. armored] and able to do the king service with his bow. Thomas Staunton [the constable], John Hoime, whole harness and both able to do the king service with a bill. John Tanner, a harness and able to do the king service with a bill. John Pallying, a harness and not able to wear it [presumably it did not fit him]. Roger Smith, no harness, an able man and a good archer'. Other men without harness are described as 'able with a staff.

Реферат опубликован: 16/05/2009