1. Dynastic - a fight for titles
2. Economic and financial - a crisis in the nobility
3. Defeat in the 100 Years War
4. Long term - a shift in the balance of power causing lawlessness and disorder 5. Short term - the personal failings of Henry VI
(1-3 are largely dismissed by Historians in the twentieth century but may still have a part to play)
|Long Term |Short Term |Immediate | |Rooted in the development and |Based on recent events |A Trigger for Civil War | |structure of English society | | | |Made events possible |Made events likely |Made events unavoidable | |Due to Impact of Bastard |Due to economic and financial |Due to clash of personalities | |Feudalism |pressures on English landholders | | |Derived from changes in the |Derived from the Hundred years |Characters - Henry VI, | |balance of power between the |war |Queen Margaret of Anjou | |king and his lords | |And principal subjects. |
Long Term Causes of the First Wars
Bastard Feudalism and dynastic legitimacy have been seen as the fundamental cause(s) - the government of England being paralysed by the overgrown power of the insubordinate nobility or “overmighty subjects” Development of Bastard Feudalism stemming from the reign of Edward III, resulted in the collapse of central control according to some historians (Storey 1966). Outbreak of civil war in 1459 and the Lancastrian regime was derived from a deep-rooted malaise in society produced by 2 elements:- 1. long term shift in prestige, authority and power between king and his greater subjects 2. role of bastard feudalism
Both are inter-linked.
1.England in the fourteenth century was remarkably centralised as a result of a conscious policy pursued by English kings, but this was resisted by their subjects. Financially the Crown was relatively poorly endowed and from the fourteenth century it had been established that the consent of parliament was needed to raise taxes (the status and prestige of the kings greater subjects was enhanced by the hereditary peerage of the House of Lords), so Kings depended on consent. Thus, the king had to rule through his greater subjects, who effectively ruled in the localities. Edward I was largely successful but under his son, Edward II conflict with the baronage intensified. Edward III created an upper nobility (many of whom were part of the royal family) [need to see family tree]. This policy was later to prove damaging to the crown as it surrendered elements of judicial, territorial and military power to the magnates (some of whom had the additional bonus of royal blood). It created potentially overmighty subjects who could threaten the Crown. But, according to K.B.McFarlane, “only an undermighty ruler had anything to fear from overmighty subjects.” The power and authority of the crown depended upon the personal qualities of the monarch. Edward III was a hard act to follow. Richard II tried to revert to a more autocratic rule (where the mighty subjects were less involved in government) but this led him into conflict with powerful lords and eventually he was deposed. Henry IV was the usurper but had sufficient strength...