The outbreak of the Wars of the Roses (Croyland Chronicle)

In these recent times sprang up between our lord, king
Henry the Sixth and Eichard, the most illustrious duke of
York, those dissensions, never sufficiently to be regretted, and
never henceforth to be allayed: dissensions indeed, which
were only to be atoned for by the deaths of nearly all the
nobles of the realm. For there were certain persons enjoying
the royal intimacy, who were rivals of the said duke, and who
brought serious accusations against him of treason, and made
him to stink in the king*s nostrils even unto the death ; as
they insisted that he was endeavouring to gain the king-
dom into his own hands, and was planning how to secure the
sceptre of the realm for himself and his successors. For this
reason he was often summoned by threatening letters to ap-
pear in the royal presence, and was as often prevented by his
rivals, as he was never allowed to gain admission to the
royal presence, nor yet so much as to gain a sight of the king.


At last, a solemn oath was demanded of Viim upon the sacrament
at the altar, to the effect that, so long as he shoidd live he would
never aspire to the rule of the kingdom, nor in any way attempt
to usurp the same. “Without any ftirther delay, he was forbid-
den all intercourse with his adherents, and was most strictly
ordered not to presume publicly to go beyond his own es-
tateSy or to pass the boundaries of his castles. Upon this,
many of the nobles of the realm, who held the said duke in
some degree of honor, took it very much to heart that injuries
80 monstrous and so great should be inflicted upon an innocent
man: nay more, for want of free breathing, they were unable to
bear this state of things any longer, but determined to watch
for an opportunity to inflict due vengeance for their malice
upon their malignant rivals ; in case they could And any means
of removing them from the side of the king, in whose pre-
sence they were in continual attendance.

In the meantime, you might plainly perceive public and
intestine broils fermenting among the princes and nobles of the
realm, so much so, that in the words of the Gospel,** ” Brother
was divided against brother and lather against father ;” one
party adhering to the king, while the other, being attached to
the said duke by blood or by ties of duty, sided with him.
And not only among princes and people had such a spirit of,
contention arisen, but even in every society, whether chapter,
college, or convent, had this unhappy plague of division eltect-
ed an entrance ; so much so, that brother could hardly with
any degree of security admit brother into his confidence, or
friend a friend, nor could any one reveal the secrets of his con-
science without giving offence. The consequence was, that,
fr^m and after this period of time, the combatants on both
sides, uniting their respective forces together, attacked each
other whenever they happened to meet, and, quite in accordanco
-with the doubtful issue of warfare, now the one and now the
other, for the moment gained the victory, while fortune was
continually shifting her position. In the meantime, however,
the slaughter of men was immense; for besides the dukes,
earls, barons, and distinguished warriors who were cruelly
slain, multitudes almost innumerable of the common people
died of their wounds. Such was the state of the kingdom for
nearly ten years.

From the Croyland (Crowland) Chronicle

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