Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship

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Henry VI (1422-1461) was one of the most spectacularly inadequate kings of England, and his reign dissolved into the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses. Yet he held on to his throne for 39 years and, for almost 30 of them, without much difficulty. What was the nature of Henry's inadequacy, and why did it have such ambivalent and complicated results? This book looks intensively at the political system itself, rather than at individuals, their personalities and patronage networks, and thus offers the first truly structured narrative of the reign..
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Watts' book offers a great deal, not least in terms of his clarification of the values, norms, and expectations of politics in late medieval England.... " Michael J. Bennett, Albion

"This study takes a respectable place in the recent and admirable literature that reappraises 15th-century England." Choice

"...by far the most substantial and sustained case for the new constitutional history." American Historical Review

"...Watts has written a convincing argument.... The book, ...will engender much debate on this maligned monarch. For this, Watts has made a notable contribution to fifteenth-century English historical studies." Ronald Edward Zupko, The Historian

"The book...will engender much debate on this maligned monarch. ...a notable contribution to fifteenth-century English historical studies." Ronald Edward Zupko, The Historian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521420396
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 420
  • Sales rank: 1,041,291
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

John Watts

Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, John Watts was the oldest of eight children. He and his young brothers, Christopher and Patrick, formed a dance team named The Robot Brothers that appeared on TV’s The Gong Show on three different occasions, winning each time. In 1980, the group appeared on The Tonight Show as one of the first African American dance groups to perform on the show. Later he owned a number of businesses including the Club Casanova nightclub in Marina Del Rey and a home health care agency in Los Angeles, becoming the first black owner of such an institution.

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Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
1 Introduction: ideas and politics in fifteenth-century history 1
2 The conceptual framework 13
The norms of kingship in the later middle ages 16
The ideological impact of the civil wars 39
The political ideas of the nobility 51
3 Government 81
National government 82
Local government 91
4 Features of Henry VI's polity 102
The problem of the king's personality 103
The minority and its legacy 111
5 The years of transition, 1435-1445 123
The changing forms of government 124
The formation of a royal regime 151
Authority and politics, 1439-1445 180
Conclusion 195
6 The rule of the court, 1445-1450 205
The workings of the 'personal rule' 206
Suffolk and the household 216
Suffolk's policy and the nobility, 1445-1448 221
The decline and fall of Suffolk's regime, 1448-1450 240
Conclusion 251
7 The search for authority, 1450-1461 260
York and the common voice, 1450-1452 266
Somerset and the restoration of government, 1450-1453 282
The demise of the king, 1453-1456 298
The rule of the lords in the 1450s 323
The anarchy, 1456-1459 331
The common weal and the crown, 1459-1461 350
8 Conclusion 363
Bibliography 367
Index 386
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