Why London was full of rebels in 1450

The Wars Of the Roses-1450 rebellion

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Reasons for rebellion-1

  • The year before rebellion is always important as it sets a realistic scene of the current situation and thus gives possible reasons for certain outcomes
  • The year 1449 had been a terrible one for the English  
  • - The French were attacking English coastal towns and trading ships
  • - French soldiers were close to taking back all of the lands conquered by Henry V in the years 1413-22
  • In parliament, the Commons savagly criticized the Kings Chief councillor 'William De La Pole' -Duke of Suffolk claming him for all the problems that England was enduring
  • Some would say that this was a clever way of actually critcising the King without committing treason
  • The kentish men chose a captain named John Cade and also known as Jack to lead them in rebellion against the Duke of Suffolk who accoring to an English chronicler at the time, had secretly sold Normany and and other English lands to France
  • Cade was an effective leader-albeit we do not know him very well
  • he gathered several thosand followers and asked them to bring at least a bow, sword and Jack- padded jacket reinforced with metal
  • Early June the rebels camped at Blackheath, South of London
  • Kings advisors sent negotiators to Cade-then an army to frighten him
  • Cade led his men away-ambused pursuers then returned to Blackheath-South London
  • King and nobles fled to Midlands frightened of soldiers supporting the rebels
  • Bishop William of Ascough was murdered in Salisbury
  • Cade entered London early in July like a king
  • He punished any who he thought were corrupt traitors
  • Random people were looted and attacked
  • The violence led the Londoners to rebel against Cade
  • The londoners attacked Cades soldiers and closed the London gates on them
  • The rebels were pardoned and promised change
  • most went home leaving Cade and his closest supporters isolated
  • Cade attempted to escape and run away
  • He was caught by Sherrif of Kent and killed
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The spark that triggered the rebellion-2

Why did the rebellion begin when it did? In May and not in March or August?

Local reasons for rebellion:

  • The Duke of Suffolk-William De La Pole was killed on 2 May 1450
  • The people who killed him- people of Kent- were not guilty of his death
  • The people of kent did however, fear their lives in case revenge for his death wants to be taken
  • Rumour had it that there was a threat made by Lord Saye and Crowmer who were extrememly powerful
  • Therfore, it could be argued that fear of destruction is what caused rebellion
  • The rebels did not want to get rid of the King, nor did they want to get rid of the nobility
  • However, they did want the exisiting system of government to work fairly and properly
  • They accused Crowmer and Lord Saye for being at the centre of corruption among landowners and officials in Kent by:
  • Fixing Parliament elections in favour of men they wanted to elect
  • Reducing taxes paid by Lords (made up by ordianry tax payers)
  • Making money by giving out fake fines when falsely accused of crimes
  • Saye and Crowmer where both exectued by the rebels
  • Their heads were paraded on spears as proof that the corrupt will be punished
  • Many others joined the rebellion from fear of hunger and starvation
  • Farmers and clothworkers made up the majoity of the population in the South East and their incomes had fallen
  • Food prices were low so farmers were earning less for their crops
  • Cloth slaes had slumped
  • Lower incomes meant hunger and poverty
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National reasons for rebellion-3

  • As the rebellion grew, the people focused more on the national complaints rather than the local ones -they re-wrote their petitions
  • This was to widen support as more found common ground with the complaints
  • They believed their protests were for the good of the country and the King
  • They continously stressed that they wanted the king to reign like a 'royal king'
  • They decalred they would 'live and die' for the king as his loyal subjects
  • Their target was the punishment of the dead Dukes supporters, men still in power as royal councillors and in the Royal household
  • These included -Lord Saye -Dudley -Beaumont -Sudeley -Bishop of Ascough
  • Those who fell into the rebels hand were killed and those who were lucky would have had the same bloody fate if they were
  • The major charges against these 'false councillors':
  • Robbed the King and enriched themselves-taking advantage of his youth and generosity to take Royal lands and income for themselves while leaving the King impoverished
  • Hijacked the Law courts for their own benefit-itimidating or bribing judges and juries to make judjements in their favour
  • Prevented nobles closely related to the king from acting as his councillors-they were resposible for the death of the Kings uncle, the Duke of Gloucester
  • Betrayed England by losing their empire in France-All of Henry V's conquests were back in the French hands

Now think about the evidence to support such stagnant accusations agains these Lords

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Robbing the King and enriching themselves-4

  • Royal income had found itself into pockets of members of the Royal Household instead of the King's treasury
  • Henry VI gave lands to new Lords such as Saye, Sudeley-more than what matched their rank
  • This meant that income generated by the lands owned by these Lords went straight to their pockets and not to the Kings treasury
  • The Duke of Suffolk was given lands throughout the country-esp in East Anglia and the Thames Valley
  • Saye built up lands in Kent
  • Lord Beaumont built lands in Lecestershire and Lincolnshire
  • This means less income for the King as he no longer 
  • As a reult-King was too poor to pay local communities for food and drink taken for royal household and servants
  • washerwomen and stable-hands went unpaid
  • In 1448 the crown jewels had to be sold to meet royal depts
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Hijacking the law courts for their own benefit-5

  • 1448 John Pastor manor House in Nolfolk attacked in his absence by a gang of males armed with bows, spears, guns and battering rams
  • They drove out John's wife, servants and stole his property
  • He was a comparitively wealthy man but all attempts to resotre what he lost through courts failed
  • This is because they were supported by the Duke of Suffolk-William De La Pole
  • He ensured that the Judge worked in his favour
  • In Kent-Royal official collected fines that were non exisitent
  • If unpaid the victim was threatened with jail
  • The victim was thus forced to hand over their lands as they knew Lord Saye would defend them agaisnt their complaints 
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Preventing nobles closely related to the King from

  • People beleived the best qualification for being the Kings councillor was royal blood
  • Rebels accused Suffolk and other Lords such as Saye to be stopping the closely related nobles from being councillors when they themselves were not entitled as much as them
  • These closley related people were the Duke of Gloucester and York
  • Gloucester was Henry VI's uncle -The rebels believed he would have successfully protected Normany in 1447 but he was arrested and accused of treason 
  • Rumours spread that he'd been murdered on Suffolks orders
  • York was the KIngs cousin and former commander in France
  • He had been appointed lietenant of Ireland in 1447 to exile him and stop him from criticising Suffolk
  • However, there is no concrete evidence to prove this-rather, York did not appear to oppose Suffolk at all or his policies
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Betraying England by losing English Empire to Fran

  • Most serious failure of all
  • Henry V's successes had left a difficult legacy for his successors
  • Even after the death of Henry V the English led by Henry V's brother conquered more land in France
  • English soldiers settled in Normandy in the 1420's
  • Some married French girls and others took their families to live there
  • The English men survived a revival led by Joan of Arc in 1429 but war turned against them in 1435 as Burgandy abandoned England and allied with France against England
  • France was also now led effectively by their new King Charles VII
  • The English lost their morale boost from Henry VI when he rew into adulthood
  • Henry VI never led an army to France and even agreed to gve them Maine ( a piece of land) back as a sign of peace and goodwill after his marriage with Margaret of Anjou
  • Loss of Normany in 1449 came as shock for the English
  • French forces tore through a defenseless Normandy-the very core of English possessions
  • Rouen was surrendered in October 1449
  • English beaten in battle of Formigny in April 1450
  • Caen was surrendered in June 1450
  • Rebels blamed the treachery of Suffolk as he and his allies had sold Normandy to the French in return for bribes
  • Loss of France shattered national pride
  • Also had practicle effects on the South-East of England:
  • soldiers were being quartered near coast while trying to cross channel
  • Food drinks and lodging taken without payment and men crammed togethor led to petty crime 
  • Slump in cloth trade as English merchants could not longer trade with markets in Northern France-no longer in English hands
  • Increase in French attacks on English coastal lands
  • A refugee problem due to those who lived in Normandy all their life having to move back to England
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