The European Context of the Wars

  • A. J. Pollard
Part of the British History in Perspective book series (BHP)


The Wars of the Roses were part of a common north-western European phenomenon of internal political conflict and civil war in the second half of the fifteenth century. The kingdoms of the Atlantic seaboard were all part of an interlocking cultural, commercial and political network, which meant that what happened in one had important repercussions for the others. Thus events in England were watched closely on the continent, and vice versa. Spies and embassies reported continually on what was happening in each other’s affairs. Rulers in one country plotted endlessly to foment trouble to their own advantage in another. England’s weakness provided opportunities for her neighbours to profit at her expense. At the same time, English rulers sought to exploit divisions within neighbouring countries for their own advantage and looked abroad for alliances to strengthen their hands in their own internal rivalries. International relations were extremely volatile. The civil wars which engulfed England, France, Scotland, the Netherlands and spain were all at critical moments intensified by foreign intervention; they were part of an interlinked chain of civil wars in north-western Europe.1


European Context Fifteenth Century Factional Rivalry Foreign Intervention Great Subject 
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© A. J. Pollard 2001

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