Warwick and Wavrin : two case studies on the literary background and propaganda of Anglo-Burgundian relations in the Yorkist period
This thesis is divided into two parts. The first part studies the reputation of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, in the Burgundian Low Countries from c. 1450 to 1471 as far as it can be gleaned from literary, non-archival sources. Warwick's decision to support the Lancastrian claim to the throne again in 1469, his military alliance with Louis XI of France and his seizure of power in England in 1470 made him a dangerous and fascinating figure to the subjects of the Valois dukes of Burgundy. The Anglo-French alliance that he embodied threatened the very existence of the Burgundian 'state', and particularly in the Low Countries Warwick's name was intensely feared and hated. Burgundian authors voiced this hatred each in their own way, both in prose and verse, until his death took away their fear as suddenly as it had struck. The foibles of various chroniclers are revealed by their image of the English earl, but it is interesting to see that general national or 'racial' prejudices against the English played little part in their judgment. The many poems about Warwick written at the time, both popular and 'courtly', present an interesting sample of such 'cycles' of political verse, which were not unusual at the time, triggered by events that stirred people's positive and negative emotions. In this case the poems show what, on the one hand, ordinary, literate people and, on the other, the nobility at the ducal court thought about the earl and the spectre of war and destruction that he released. The poems, too, suggest that in the Low Countries there was not much national or racial prejudice against the English. The second part of this thesis attempts to evaluate the sources and method used by Jean de Wavrin in his 'Collection of Histories of England', and at the same time establish what his feelings - and those of his friends and relations - were about England and the English. In his work, too, there is little sign of prejudice, but more importantly Wavrin's history of England is particularly interesting because of his access to otherwise unknown contemporary sources and it deserves closer study than the preliminary researches presented here. It is hoped that, at the least, the value of and the need for further and fuller analysis of all his sources and the way he used them become evident in this study. The general preliminary conclusion of this very partial study of the literary background and propaganda of Anglo-Burgundian relations in the Yorkist period is that there was much interest in English affairs at the Burgundian court and in the Low Countries, but little prejudice against the English people. Warwick was feared and hated, but not because he was an Englishman; Wavrin was interested in England, but his priority was the recording of deeds of chivalry, whatever the nationality of its exponents, for the entertainment of his peers.