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Source Exercise 4: The Wars of the Roses 6

Mancini is drawing a contrast between the virtues of Edward IV and the villainy of his brother Richard of Gloucester in seizing the throne from Edward’s son. Richard justified his move by blackening Edward IV’s character and accusing Edward IV of promiscuity; he further claimed that Edward V was illegitimate. It therefore made sense for Mancini, who clearly knew far more about Edward than he did about Richard, to present Edward in a very positive light but surrounded by more manipulative people, including his brother Richard and the queen. As a foreigner in England himself, Mancini could be expected to approve of Edward’s welcoming approach to them, which thus gives the impression that if Edward was at fault, it was because he was naturally trusting. The last sentence in this extract shows Mancini justifying Edward’s conduct in the light of some of the criticism that was directed at him.


Richard III

These two sources deal with King Richard III.

Generations of historians have speculated about the personality and motives of Richard III (1483-5). Richard, duke of Gloucester had been a loyal servant of his brother Edward IV, helping him to re-establish his power in the North of England after the disruption of 1469-71. Yet on Edward’s sudden death in 1483 at the age of 41, Richard seized the king’s two sons and had himself appointed Protector. He then had the queen’s brother, Anthony Lord Rivers and Lord Hastings, who had been Edward IV’s right-hand man with responsibility for the Midlands, arrested and executed. Richard next declared that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had been invalid and that therefore Edward IV’s sons were illegitimate. Finally Richard set himself up as king.

Initially, Richard’s coup was successful, perhaps because he appeared to guarantee continuity and good govenment, in contrast with the sort of self-interested grab for power the Woodvilles might have made. However, it soon became clear that the new king could only rule with the support of his supporters in the North. He had to deal with a major revolt by his former supporter, the Duke of Buckingham. Finally, in 1485, he was overthrown in an invasion led by Henry Tudor, the last and almost forgotten Lancastrian claimant to the throne, and supported both by the few remaining partisans of Henry VI and the former associates of Edward IV.

This source dates from early in Richard III’s reign. Read it through carefully and then try to answer the questions using only the internal evidence of the source.

Source 4

I trust to God ye shall hear some tidings in haste that I shall be an Englishman and no more Welsh, sit hoc clam omnes [‘but mum’s the word’]. The King of Scots hath sent a courteous and a wise letter to the king for peace, but I trowe ye shall understand they shall have a sit-up or ever the king depart from York. They lie still at the siege of Dunbar, but I trust to God it shall be kept from them. I trust to God soon – by Michaelmas [29 September] the king shall be at London. He contents the people where he goes best that ever did prince, for many a poor man that hath suffered wrong many days have been relieved and helped by him and his commands now in his progress. And in many great cities and towns were great sums of money give him, which all he hath refused. On my troth I liked never the conditions of any prince so well as his: God hath sent him to us for the weal of us all.

Printed in Alison Hanham, Richard III and his early historians, 1483-1535 (Oxford, 1975), p. 50.


Questions

F) Using the evidence of the source, suggest answers to the following:

  • What sort of source does this seem to be from? A history? A letter? An official report?
  • Might the writer be Welsh or English?
  • Whom might the writer be addressing? A family member? A colleague?

 

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