Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Act of Accord

First of all, an apology to Elizabeth. I tried to publish your comment, but somehow the system lost it. If you want to make your point again, please do, and I will have another go at making it visible.

On 25 October 1460 the peers, speaking through the Chancellor, George Neville (Warwick's brother if anyone is in doubt) offered a compromise. Henry was to remain King until death, unless he chose to abdicate. However, the succession would go to York.

Henry, perhaps surprisingly, accepted this arrangement. Bertram Wolffe in his Henry VI suggests that the King may have been influenced by the Legate, Coppini. On the other hand he may simply have been influenced by his own taste for peace and a quiet life.

York and Edward, Earl of March renewed their oaths of allegiance and Henry bound himself by indenture to keep the arrangement. The succession statute of 1406 was repealed and York was endowed with the titles and inheritance of the heir and protected by the treason statute. Royal officers were commanded to give York the same obedience as Henry himself, and York effectively became Protector.

There was one very large and very obvious fly in this ointment. The same Act that gave lands and titles to York took them away from Prince Edward of Lancaster, and his mother and the many important peers who supported her were not willing to accept that, law or no law. The moment they resisted York they were technically rebels, but what choice did they have? No specific provision had been made for Prince Edward, not even the right to inherit the duchy of Lancaster. The Queen and her supporters faced political oblivion at best - it was inevitable that they would fight.

5 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

My guess is that Henry VI accepted the settlement out of fear, as Gregory's Chronicle states. Even if he didn't actually fear for his life, he would have been under enormous psychological pressure, especially in the wake of Northampton.

Elizabeth said...

I forgot most of what I had said, but I was mostly curious about what the significance was of the Duke of York bearing of Langley's arms rather than Clarence. I don't fully understand the "rules" of arms and such, but I know that they are important. Thanks!

Brian said...

Susan - I don't think Henry had much cause for concern. The Parliament had proved itself loyal to him as an individual and York could not persuade them to make him king. Arguably Henry was now in greater danger, as York had a positive motive to kill him, though of course he was sworn not to do so.

Of course Henry may have perceived he was in mortal danger, whether he was or not. Although saintly types tend not to worry to much about dying per se, more about dying in a state of grace.

Elizabeth, the argument would be that York was deriving his claim from Lionel of Clarence but had always used the arms of Edmund of Langley. Langley's claim was inferior to that of the Lancaster line, at least in hereditary terms. Of course if York HAD used the Clarence arms it would have been tantamount to a claim to the throne, and thus dangerous. It's quite understandable he didn't!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for explaining that! I know I'm making swooping assumptions here, but I just get the sense that though the Duke of York threw in his lot to be king, he always tread pretty lightly in doing so, much unlike Warwick (again making assumptions) who seemed to bulldoze his way into things. Since both met unfortunate ends and never realized their goal, it's hard to argue who made the correct moves. Very interesting to read the 'nitty-gritty' details of their political maneuver-ings.

Ragged Staff said...

The relevant passages in the Rolls of Parliament are very interesting. It's worth taking a look, if you can access them (available on the internet, but not free). York knocked down each of the points made in objection to his claim and it does look like the solution was a compromise, mainly in the hope that it would all go away and none of them would have to worry about it anymore.