ABSTRACT

It was more than two years after Towton before the Lancastrians were able to mount a sustained threat to Edward IV’s rule – but it was not for want of trying. Many Englishmen continued to resent what they considered to be Edward’s usurpation of the crown and his followers’ usurpations of estates and offices. In the early 1460s there were frequent Lancastrian attempts to seize castles and towns, particularly on the fringes of the realm, which they hoped would be a prelude to rallying regional and foreign support. Fugitive Lancastrians vigorously intrigued and attacked. Henry himself appeared incongruously as a leader of Border raiding parties. But unlike the Yorkists, the Lancastrians did not succeed in mobilizing an effective domestic insurrection. This may have been partly because some of their leading magnates had died in the Towton campaign and others had been cut off from their areas of territorial influence. Moreover, the Lancastrian leadership apparently failed to copy the Yorkist device of stimulating domestic rebellion by playing on popular grievances. It was to be Warwick who revived this against Edward in 1469, and thenceforward the manifesto airing complaints and promising reform was to be a standard item in rebel baggage. Perhaps the Lancastrian leaders preferred to maintain an inflexibly legitimist stance, considering populist rhetoric, such as Warwick and his allies had directed against them, demeaning. Instead they set store by the need for foreign support – an emphasis most probably reflecting the convictions of Margaret of Anjou, shared at least to some extent by her principal councillors, such as Somerset, Hungerford and Whittingham. By involving foreign help in the wars on an unprecedented scale, Margaret handed the Yorkists effective propaganda material. Since the fourteenth century, the English had become accustomed to royal calls to prepare defences against the intended malice of foreign invaders. In 1485 Richard III was to proclaim that Henry Tudor plotted to allow foreigners to despoil crown 56and realm. Leaders of invading foreigners in 1487 and 1496 – Lincoln and Warbeck – showed awareness of the need to reassure subjects and protect them against their troops.