ASSESS THE REASONS FOR THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE LANCASTRIANS AND THE YORKISTS IN THE PERIOD FROM 1450 – 1461
The 1450’s were years of much hostility between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. This essay will discuss the reasons for the dispute, most importantly, the weakness of the monarch. However there were other significant factors to consider, including the growing power of the nobility, local feuds between the nobility, defeat in France, the weak financial situation of the crown and the role of Margret of Anjou.
The weakness of the king, Henry the sixth, played the major role in the breakdown of the relationships between the nobility. A mediaeval king was expected to be great warrior, a firm but fair leader and to have a charismatic character. Henry was none of these things, preferring poetry to the perils of court. The king’s craving for favourites, for example the Duke of Somerset, alienated the gentry outside his ‘inner circle’, in particular the Duke of York and, later on, the Earl of Warwick. This lead Warwick to collaborate with York and, in turn, to side against the Lancastrians. Henry’s inability to regulate the behaviour of rival families led to an intensification of local feuds. A Percy attack on a Neville (Warwick) wedding in August 1453, led to the two power houses separating into two armed camps in the north, by October of the same year. Henry’s absolute unfitness to rule was consolidated when he recovered from a mental breakdown in December 1454, led directly to the battle of St. Albans.
On the other hand, there is evidence that the support for the king was still strong, indicating that the nobility were content with his leadership; at the battle of Dartford, 1452 the majority of the aristocracy remained loyal to the king. Parliament granted Henry taxes in 1453 for a new war campaign. Another relevant detail is that if the king had no support, he would have been deposed far earlier, probably in 1450 or 1460. However ultimately, the powerlessness of the monarch led to the fragility of the alliances between the king’s most influential advisors. This makes it the most important factor for the cause of the early wars of the roses.
The ever increasing influence of the king’s powerful subjects, most obviously the Duke of York, also contributed to the growing tension in the years form 1450-61. York’s appetite for power and desire to be recognised as the Heir to Henry’s crown, had many consequential effects on the delicate political situation. It increased Margaret’s fear that York would either take her son’s crown or kill him and because of the queen’s influence over her husband, this led Richard to become further isolated. Furthermore, York frequently took his authority too far; for example, when he returned from Ireland in September 1450, his…