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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fun Facts about the WOTR

Campaigns were usually short and battle decisive, as armies attempted to win before their opponent could grow stronger. Foreign forces frequently contributed to victories.

Propaganda and public opinion were important throughout the wars in securing victory and support in battle. Royal proclamations like the one used by Richard III to discredit Henry Tudor as a bastard were effective and public executions served as sobering warnings against rebellion. Politics were seen as dangerous and betrayal was often the only way for treasonous men to redeem themselves.

Londoners were notorious for showing their opposition to invading powers by violent protests.

Battles were fought with everything from pole axes to cannon. Soldiers typically supplied themselves and looting was frequent after battles. Although the winning armies were typically paid, the defeated were left to slink away penniless in order to avoid accusations of treason. Wars were usually paid for in credit, not by taxes.

If defeated kings and nobles were not executed, they were “attainted,” or declared to have treasonous blood inherited by their descendants, and had to forfeit their property. Many families were disinherited this way, which often left noble widows impoverished.

While commoners who died in battle were typically buried in mass graves, nobles were given honorable services that cost as much as holding a parliament in some cases. Even Richard III was reinterred after his corpse was initially buried in a ditch.

Women could also be attainted of treason, like Queen Margaret of Anjou and Margaret Beaufort. Anne Neville was supposedly employed in Clarence's in his kitchens to prevent her remarrying, and even Elizabeth, Edward IV’s wife, was confined to a nunnery by Henry VII for alleged involvement in a conspiracy against him.

Once he was crowned a king could not resign or abdicate the thrown, even when he lost his kingdom. When a new king took the thrown, government personal often changed as well.

Henry VII actually declared the beginning of his reign a day before Bosworth so that he could attaint Richard and his supporters.

The 15th century saw massive innovations in weapons and warfare. The knight was transformed into the cavalry soldier, with more functional armor. The fifteenth century saw the introduction of the Swiss pike, the mobile cannon and, most importantly, gunpowder and small firearms, though archers remained some of the most important forces.

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