PoliticsSource Material

Loveday, 25th March 1458

A Loveday Parade took place at St. Paul’s on 25th March 1458. It had been arranged as an attempt to reconcile the feuding parties. Prior to the Loveday a series of agreements had been drawn up which compensated the Lancastrian nobles for their losses at the First Battle of St. Albans. Collectively the legal agreements and the public show of reconciliation were intended to draw a line under the issues that the rival Lords had with each other. Whilst the Loveday had good intentions, it did little to solve the underlying problems that caused a rift between senior magnates. 

Oure Soueraigne lord kyng, god kepe alwey..And the bisshop of Wynchestre, Chanceller of Anglond, And other that han labured to this loue-day.

London, British Library, Cotton Vespasian B.16(Pref. MS).  Cited in Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries, ed. R. H. Robbins (1959)

Loveday, March 1458

The Loveday Parade of March 1458 used a popular form of arbitration. Lovedays were used as a means of bringing conflicting parties together. The idea was to find common ground and make public promises before god to adhere to agreements that were made. It allowed a great deal of theatre if desired. Where members of the upper nobility and Royal family were involved the opportunity was there for pageantry and propaganda, with the parade itself simply formalising agreements that had been made behind closed doors.


That was what happened with the march 1458 Loveday Parade. The arbitration between the parties focussed on a number of issues. First, the First Battle of St. Albans. Lancastrian nobles had been killed. The arbitration required the Duke of York, and Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, to pay for a Chantry Chapel and prayers in perpetuity. Second, the consequences of the Percy-Neville clashes in the North. Clashes had been violent and men killed. The arbitration required bonds for good behaviour. Third, wider use of arms by the nobility. The senior magnates had been using a show of force on a reasonably regular basis. All of the senior magnates, and a Dowager Duchess and a Dowager Countess, were held in bonds of recognizes.


The arbitration intended to satisfy the complaints of all parties. It was then publicly celebrated in the Loveday Parade. This parade had pairs of Lords, one from each faction, parading alongside each other into St. Paul’s. The Duke of Somerset and Earl of Salisbury led the procession. They were followed by the Duke of Exeter and Earl of Warwick. King Henry VI walked alone, a sign that he had no equals. Behind him followed Queen Margaret with the Duke of York. Other nobles then followed.

Loveday’s in Medieval England.

Loveday’s were reasonably common. They are referred to in texts written in the 14th century onwards. Famed literary figures from the later middle ages have made reference to Loveday parade. So too has Parliament, regarding a similar scenario that took place in 1411:

Chaucer noted Lovedays in the prologue and internal text of the Canterbury Tales:

In louedayes ther koude he muchel helpe, For ther he was nat lyk a cloystrer..But he was lyk a maister or a pope.

(c1387-95) Chaucer CT.Prol. (Manly-RickertThe Text of the Canterbury Tales …, eds. J. M. Manly and E. Rickert (1940).vol. 3, pp. 3-37.

Lovedays had also been used at Parliamentary level in the past. The Parliamentary Roll of 1411 notes:

To the whiche Loveday shulde have comen the same parties, ich on with certein nombre.

The Parliamentary Rolls of Medieval England 1275-1504, ed. C. Given-Wilson, P. Brand, A. Curry, et al. (Leicester, c2005)

That Parliamentary intervention was also in relation to men raising arms.

Robert Tirwhit..dyd assemble greet noumbre of men armed..to lygge in awayte for the same Lord the Roos..agayn the fourme of a Loveday taken bytwen the same parties by William Gascoigne, Chief Justice.

The Parliamentary Rolls of Medieval England 1275-1504, ed. C. Given-Wilson, P. Brand, A. Curry, et al. (Leicester, c2005)

Illustration of the Old St. Paul's, where the Loveday of 1458 took place
Illustration of the Old St. Paul’s

Contemporary ballad about the Loveday at St. Paul’s

Wisdom and wealth, with all pleasance
May rightful reign, and prosperity;
For love hath underlaid wrathful remaunce.
Rejoice England ! our Lords accorded he!
In York, in Somerset, as I understand.
In Warwick also, is love and charity;
In Salisbury eke, and in Northumberland,
That every man may rejoice. Concord and Unity!

Egremont and Clifford, with other aforesaid.
Be set in the same opinion.
In every quarter love is thus laid;
Grace and Wisdom have thus the dominion!
Awake! wealth! and walk in this region.
Round about in town and city.
And thank them that brought it to this conclusion.
Rejoice! England! to Concord and Unity!

At Paul’s in London, with great renown.
On our Ladyday in Lent, this peace was wrought.
The King, the Queen, with Lords many one
To worship that Virgin as they ought.
Went in procession and spared right nought
In sight of all the commonality.
In token that love was in heart and thought,
Rejoice! England! to Concord and Unity!

The Provenance of the Ballad

The provenance of this ballad is a little unclear. It is cited in a number of books but so far I have been unable to verify who the poet was. It is quoted in the Chronicles of the White Rose of York which says it is contemporary. Walter Thornbury cites it in his ‘London Old and New‘. Both of these books are collections compiled in the 19th century by antiquarians. The verse continues to be quoted as being contemporary, for example HistoryHit use it on their post about the Loveday parade.

Meaning of the Loveday Ballad

The final verse is the most commonly shared element of the poem. It succinctly sums up the Loveday. At St, Paul’s Cathedral on 25th March 1458 a Loveday aiming at peace was conducted. The King, Queen and other lords attended. The mention of the Virgin is significant, it reiterates that the undertakings being made in the Loveday were made in a church, and ‘in the sight of all the commonality’. This means that the procession was a public one and the commons of London would be fully aware that the lords had made their promises before god. The poet finishes by reminding the reader/ listener that the aim was to use the loveday to confirm and celebrate the newfound unity.

Less well known are the earlier verses. Each of the three verses ends with the same line about unity, showing its importance. These verses identify some of the lords who were present and suggests the pairing of nobles in the procession: incorrectly, the actual pairings on entry into the church had Salisbury paired with Somerset at the head of the procession; Warwick with Exeter, the King alone, and the Duke of York with the Queen

Loveday 1458: Further Reading

Bennett, Josephine Waters. “The Mediaeval Loveday.” Speculum, vol. 33, no. 3, [Medieval Academy of America, Cambridge University Press, University of Chicago Press], 1958, pp. 351–70, https://doi.org/10.2307/2851449.

Fazzi, Cindy. MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION IN THE MIDDLE AGESENGLAND 1154 TO 1558“. . Dispute Resolution Journal; New York Vol. 68, Iss. 2, (May-Jul 2013) Proquest https://www.proquest.com/docview/1553751957

Hicks, Michael. Reconciling Disputes: The Evidence of the Proofs of Age 1360-1447. Inquisitions Post Mortem, Mapping the Medieval Countryside: Properties, People and Places. https://inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk/blog/reconciling-disputes-the-evidence-of-the-proofs-of-age-1360-1447/

Roebuck, Derek. “Mediation and arbitration in the middle ages : England 1154-1558.” (2013).

Thornbury, Walter . ‘St Paul’s: To the Great Fire’, in Old and New London: Volume 1 (London, 1878), pp. 234-248. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1/pp234-248 

Image Credit

Old St. Pauls, from Walter Thornbury, ‘St Paul’s: To the Great Fire’, in Old and New London: Volume 1 (London, 1878), pp. 234-248. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1/pp234-248. .


Leave a Reply