An historiographical landscape of the late fifteenth century: The metamorphic era of medieval England and its transformation into the age of the English Renaissance

Date
1994-05
Authors
Paddack, Cordelia
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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to examine current historiographical literature to determine if scholars should re-establish an earlier date for the beginning of English Renaissance by giving credit where credit is deserved, to the Yorkist Kings and their fellow countryman, William Caxton. With the end of the reign of Richard III in 1485, the Yorkists' claim to the throne, as well as the dynasty ended in defeat on the field of battle. After the Battle of Bosworth Field, historians wrote the history of that period, and they wrote as the victors, the survivors of battle. These historians were strongly influenced by the Tudor government in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, and more recent research seems to indicate that their writings do not portray accurately the picture of that period. Much has been written concerning this period of English history, but most of the information, though concerned with change in England, does not label the era as a "Renaissance." Historians have written about the sensationalism of the era, describing particularly the events surrounding the rumors and allegations that Richard III murdered his nephews. More information has been written on him than any other English monarch, and he has always been portrayed as somewhat of a "monster." The Wars of the Roses encouraged this uncivilized image with more death and destruction within England. The research for this project was approached from a historical perspective. Materials were gathered from local as well as university libraries. One library in particular that has an extensive collection on England during the fifteenth century was the William A. Blakley Library on the University of Dallas Campus, Irving, Texas. Information was gathered on the three royal families of the era, the House of Lancaster in the middle of the century, the House of York in the latter part of the century. A look was also taken at society as a whole under the reigns of each, for society and the royal house were closely intertwined if not synonymous with each other. This research indicates that a new era was beginning in England and evolving ever so slowly, but leading the country into modern times.

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Keywords
Social sciences, English history, European history, Middle Ages
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