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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Who clad their partisans in their own colours


hate. But, besides this, there

arose--awakened by these events and in a certain analogy with what happened in France--the recollection of the rights which had been set aside by the accession of the house of Lancaster. Their representative, Richard Duke of York, had hitherto kept quiet; for he was fully convinced that a right cannot perish merely because it lies dormant. Cautiously and step by step, while letting others run the first risk, he at last came forward openly with his claim to the crown. Great was the astonishment of Henry VI, who as far as his memory reached had been regarded as King, to find his right to the highest dignity doubted and denied. But such was now the case. The nation was split into two parties, one of which held fast to the monarchy established by the Parliament, while the other wished to recur to the principle of legitimate succession then violated. Not that political conviction was the leading motive for their quarrel. First of all we find that the opponents of the government--though themselves of Parliamentary views--rallied round the banners of the hitherto forgotten right of birth. Every man fought, less for the prince whose device he bore, the red or the white rose, than for his own share in the enjoyment of political power. On both sides there arose chiefs of almost independent power, who clad their partisans in their own colours, at whose call those partisans were ready any moment to take arms: they appointed the sheriffs in the counties and were lords of the land. But when
blood had once been shed, no reconciliation of the parties was possible. Ha, cried the victor to the man who begged for mercy, thy father slew mine, thou must die by my hand. In vain did men turn to the judges: for the statutes contradicted each other, and they could no longer decide where the right lay. From the Parliaments no solution of these questions could be expected; each served the victorious party, whose summons it obeyed, and condemned its opponent. As the resources on each side were tolerably equal, even the battles were not decisive: the result depended less upon real superiority than on accidental desertions or accessions, and most largely on foreign help. After the English had failed, during the antagonism of Valois and Burgundy, in establishing their supremacy on the Continent, the quarrel--quieted for a moment--which broke out again between Louis XI and Charles the Bold in the most violent manner, reacted on them with all the more vehemence. King Louis would not endure that a good understanding should exist between Edward IV and Duke Charles, to whom Edward had married his sister: he drew the man who had hitherto done the most for the Yorkist interests, the Earl of Warwick, over to his own side; and scarcely had the latter appeared in England when Edward IV was forced to fly and Henry VI was reinstated. Louis had prepared church-thanksgivings to God for having given the English a king of the blood of France and a friend to that country. But meanwhile Edward was helped by Charles the Bold, to whom he had fled, though not openly in arms, yet with ships which he hired for him, with considerable sums of money, and even with troops which he allowed to join him.[69] To these, his Flemish and Easterling troops, it was chiefly attributed that Edward gained the upper hand in the field and recovered his throne. But what a state of things was this! The glorious crown of the Plantagenets, who a little while before strove for the supremacy of the world, was now--stained with blood and powerless as it was--tossed to and fro between the rival parties.


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