Richard III, Northern Affinity of
- In the autumn of 1483, many gentlemen of the southern and western shires joined BUCKINGHAM’S REBELLION, an ultimately unsuccessful effort to overthrow RICHARD III in favor of Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond (see Henry VII, King of England). Because most of these rebels either joined Richmond in exile in BRITTANY or were henceforth denied public employment by Richard, the king had few politically reliable men to whom he could entrust important military and administrative posts in southern and southwestern England. This lack of southern support left Richard heavily dependent on his northern RETAINERS and servants, men who had helped him govern the north in the 1470s when he was duke of Gloucester. By intruding members of his northern AFFINITY into positions of power and influence in the south, Richard may have further alienated the southern GENTRY and thereby increased the political instability that fostered renewal of the WARS OF THE ROSES.The PARLIAMENT of January 1484 passed bills of ATTAINDER against 104 persons who had been implicated in the recent uprising. Although one-third of these men were eventually pardoned and restored to their estates, the continuing threat of an invasion by Richmond meant most of them could no longer be trusted to hold official positions in their counties. Within weeks of the end of the rebellion, northerners entered the southern counties as commissioners charged with arresting rebels and seizing their lands and property. Before the end of November, Richard signaled his unwillingness to trust the southern gentry by appointing numerous northerners to offices in the southern shires, such as Edward Redman of Yorkshire, who became sheriff of Somerset and Devon; John Musgrave of Cumberland, who became sheriff of Wiltshire; and Robert BRACKENBURY of Durham, who became sheriff of Kent. When the redistribution of forfeited lands began after the parliamentary session, northerners reaped rich rewards, especially in the southwestern counties. Sir Richard RATCLIFFE, one of the king’s most loyal northern supporters, as well as two prominent members of the northern PEERAGE, Thomas STANLEY, Lord Stanley, and Henry PERCY, fourth earl of Northumberland, received extensive estates in Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, and Cornwall. Other northern men were named to southern commissions of the peace and to other local offices, thus giving them administrative control of areas in which they and their families were otherwise unknown.These appointments intruded outsiders into tight-knit shire communities that consisted of long-established gentry families who were linked by blood, marriage, history, and a set of shared interests. Strongly parochial and resentful of outside interference, southern and southwestern gentry families looked upon the northerners suddenly thrust into authority over them almost as foreign occupiers who had seized the offices and influence that they believed were theirs by right. As the writer of the CROYLAND CHRONICLE lamented, Richard III distributed southern lands and offices “among his northern adherents, whom he planted . . . throughout his dominions, to the disgrace and loudly expressed sorrow of all the people of the south, who daily longed . . . for the . . . return of their ancient rulers, rather than the present tyranny of these people” (Ross, p. 123). Although the Croyland chronicler was notoriously distrustful of northerners and may therefore have exaggerated the extent of northern intrusion into the south, the appointments clearly hurt Richard’s standing in southern England, especially when combined with the growing rumors that he had ordered the deaths of his nephews, EDWARD V and Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York. At the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in 1485, many leaders of the southern gentry fought for Richmond, and almost none for Richard III.Further Reading: Dockray, Keith,“The Political Legacy of Richard III in Northern England,” in Ralph A. Griffiths and James Sherborne, eds., Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), pp. 205–227; Horrox, Rosemary, Richard III: A Study in Service (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Ross, Charles, Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).
Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. John A.Wagner. 2001.
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