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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 October 2019

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Summary

The eight chronicles edited here are the principal surviving historical narratives of the Wars of the Roses written in English by men who lived during those wars. They are complemented by a number of other important chronicles – some written in English or Latin by Englishmen with a broader or longer view of history extending to matters (often civic or ecclesiastical) somewhat to the side of the Yorkist-Lancastrian conflict or to events that preceded or followed it; some written in Latin or French by foreign observers for foreign readers; and some written retrospectively from a sixteenth-century perspective. And there are, of course, thousands of other texts – letters, charters, acts of parliament, registers, treaties, household accounts, and memoranda – that continue to flesh out historians’ understanding of the period. But these chronicles are the best accounts by commoners (and one duke) written for their fellow Englishmen with a usually narrow, often exclusive, focus on the battles and politics of the Wars of the Roses.

Five of these chronicles recount in detail particular events of limited duration: battles, in The First Battle of St Albans (21–23 May 1455) and The Siege of Bamburgh Castle (June–July 1464); campaigns, in The Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire (March 1470) and The History of the Arrival of King Edward IV (March–May 1471); and negotiations in The Manner and Guiding of the Earl of Warwick (22–30 July 1470). The remaining three describe the development of the larger conflict over extended periods: The Continuation of Gregory's Chronicle (1450–69), Howard's Chronicle (1461–70), and Warkworth's Chronicle (1461–74).

It is obvious from this list that only the first half of the Wars of the Roses period, traditionally 1455–85, is covered by these chronicles. That may perhaps be explained by the period of relative peace that followed Edward's crushing victories at Barnet and Tewkesbury and the consequent deaths of Henry VI and his son, Edward of Westminster. By the end of May 1471, it must have looked to these mainly Yorkist chroniclers as if the conflict was permanently resolved. What followed was more than a decade of dynastic calm, punctuated by the adventures of the die-hard Lancastrian John de Vere and by a few months of phony war in France.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Dan Embree, M. Teresa Tavormina
  • Book: The Contemporary English Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses
  • Online publication: 17 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787444607.002
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Dan Embree, M. Teresa Tavormina
  • Book: The Contemporary English Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses
  • Online publication: 17 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787444607.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Dan Embree, M. Teresa Tavormina
  • Book: The Contemporary English Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses
  • Online publication: 17 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787444607.002
Available formats
×