A central feature of this study has been the thesis that there were two Wars of the Roses of contrasting characters: the wars between Lancaster and York of 1459–71 and the wars between York and Tudor of 1483–87. The second of these wars were much as recent historians have described the Wars as a whole: a sporadic succession of executions, rebellions and occasional battles. The first, however, involved two separate phases of sustained fighting and complete disruption of normal political life. By any reckoning, in terms of the scale, length and degree of involvement of the political nation, they were major civil wars. In so far as it is possible to trace deep-rooted causes relating to developments in government and society stretching back for a century, these lay in the broader changes in society which increased the expectations of monarchy. The significance of these changes as long-term causes will remain controversial. It was not bastard feudalism and the retaining of baronial armies as such which led inevitably to the Wars of the Roses. Bastard feudalism was but a form of the customary working of patronage in a patriarchal society. It did not spawn hordes of retainers with nothing to do but brawl and fight each other. The question facing historians remains whether the Crown brought its subjects into a constructive partnership in the later middle ages as a response to the expansion of the demands placed upon it, or whether, in order to win support for its ambitions in France, it conceded authority and power.
KeywordsSixteenth Century Patriarchal Society English History Contrasting Character Civil Order
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