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Justifications of Yorkist actions, 1459, by the Earl of Warwick

In the immediate aftermath of the battle of Blore Heath the Earl of Warwick issued a series of articles that justified the actions of the Yorkist lords. Politically it was an incredibly tense time and a justification of arraying forces and Yorkist policies was required. The clash at Blore Heath had precipitated parliamentary sessions. The party loyal to the Queen and duke of Somerset had already been making moves to limit or stop the actions of the duke of York and earls of Salisbury and Warwick. The clash at Blore Heath made parliamentary action more likely, and the level of risk that had led to the Yorkists gathering their retainers had simply increased.

The Earl of Warwick on Yorkist Intentions

Conscious of the mixed feelings about the government and the actions of the Lancastrian lords, Warwick chose to remind the populace of the Yorkists good intentions and the wrongs that were being done in the King’s name. From the introduction to the Chronicles of the White Rose of York:

Warwick justified the steps taken by the confederates in the following Articles, which he dispersed on his March.

I. That the Commonweal and good politic laws had been piteously overturned.
II. That the crown property had been outrageously spoiled and robbed.
III. That sufficient was scarcely left for the sustentation of the royal household.
IV. That the merchants and people had, by illegal novelties, suffered great extortions, without payment, from the Ministers of the King’s household.
V. That the Government permitted great and abominable murders, robberies, perjuries and extortions ; and favoured and cherished instead of punishing them.
VI. That the King from his own blessed conversation, and noble disposition, graciously applied himself to the commonweal; but that certain persons, from their covetousness, and (in order) that they might rule, had hidden all these evils from him.

Harleian MS 543, cited in the introduction to the Chronicles of the White Rose of York.

Painting by Henry Tresham representing Warwick's alleged vow prior to the Battle of Towton
Painting by Henry Tresham representing Warwick’s alleged vow prior to the Battle of Towton

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