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Kentish Memorial, 1460

The Kentish Memorial is a series of points that were distributed in Kent in 1460. They show the reasons why the Yorkist Lords were favoured by the people of the area. In simple terms the points being made elude to to the malpractice of some nobles who falsely represent the King and do him and the commons a disservice. The Yorkist lords are not tarred with that accusation, rather they are viewed as being the liberal lords who would work for the good of all. The document is thought to have been pinned on the door of Canterbury Cathedral prior to the Yorkists landing in Kent. Support for this type of manifesto in the region contributed to many joining the Yorkists force as it marched on London. Whethempstede suggests as many as forty thousand joined the Yorkist ranks at this point, William Worcester suggests a lower but still impressive total of twenty thousand by the time the Yorkists reached Blackheath. 

Kentish Memorial, 1460

These be the Points and Causes of the gathering and assembling of us, the King’s true liegemen of Kent, the which we trust to remedy with help of him, the King, our Sovereign Lord and all the Commons of England.

1. The King, by the insatiable covetousness, malicious purpose, and false-brought-of-nought persons, daily and nightly about his Highness, is daily informed that good is evil and evil is good.

2. They say, that our Sovereign Lord is above law, and that the law was made but to his pleasure; and that he may make and break it as often as him list, without any distinction. The contrary is true. And also, that he should not have been sworn, in his coronation to keep it, which we conceive for the highest point of treason that any subject may do against his prince, to make him reign in perjury.

3. They say, how that the King should live upon his commons, so that all their bodies and goods be[en] his. The contrary is true; for then he need never to set parliament to assess any goods of them.

4. Item, they inform the King, how that the commons would first destroy the King’s friends, and after himself and then bring in the duke of York to be their King; so that by these false mens’ leasings, they made him to hate and to destroy his very friends, and love his false traitors, that call themselves his friends.

5. They say, it is a great reproach to the King to reassume what he has given away for livelihood.

6. The false traitors will suffer no man to come into the King’s presence, for no cause without he will give a bribe.

7. That the good Duke of Gloucester was impeached of treason by one false traitor alone. How soon was he murdered and never might come to his answer. And that false traitor [William de la Pole] impeached by all the commonality of England, (the which number passed a quest of 24,000) might not be suffered to die as the law would, but rather these said traitors, at the said Pole’s assent, that was as false as [missing word] would that the King should hold battle in his own realm, in the destruction of all his people, and of himself both.

8. They, whom the King will, shall be traitors, and whom he will not, shall be none.

9. The law seemeth only to do wrong.

10. That our Sovereign Lord may well understand that he hath had false counsel ; for his law is lost, his merchandize is lost; his commerce (hath) been destroyed; the sea is lost; France is lost; himself is made so poor, so that he may not pay for his meat nor drink ; he oweth more and is greater in debt than ever was King in England. This notwithstanding, yet daily these said traitors that (have) been about him, awaiting when any thing should fall, and come to him, and profit by his law, they {have) been ready enough to ask it from him.

11. They ask gentleman’s lands and goods in Kent, and call us risers and traitors, and the King’s enemies; but we shall be found his true liegemen.

12. We will that all men know, that we neither rob nor steal; but the defaults, amended we will go home. Wherefore we exhort all the King’s true liegers to help and support us.

13. We blame not all the lords about the King’s person, nor all gentlemen, nor all men of law, nor all bishops nor all priests; but only suck as may be found guilty, by a just and a true inquiry by the law.

The papers end with these words:

God be our guide And then we shall speedy Whoever says, nay!

Related Material

Complaint of the Poor Commons of Kent Рhosted on another of my sites this Manifesto was issued in 1450 as part of the revolt led by Jack Cade.

The Earl of Warwick issued a justification of the Yorkist methods and cause in 1459.

Richard Duke of York claims the throne. In stark contrast to the words of Warwick and the commons of Kent, Richard Duke of York changed the approach from stating loyalty, to claiming the throne. This resulted in the Act of Accord.

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