1497, Cornwall and the Wars of the Roses


By Ian Arthurson, published 1st December 1997

Ian Arthurson reasseses the Cornish rising of 1497 on its 500th anniversary. On the 400th anniversary of this rebellion there was a good deal of agreement about the Wars of the Roses: ‘The slaughter of people was greater than in any former war on English soil ... The standard of morality could not well have been lower ... Lust, cruelty and dishonesty were paraded before the eyes of the people.’1 By 1981 this was no longer believed: ‘England was a society organised for peace, and ... the most peaceful country in Europe.’2 K.B. McFarlane had shown that the nobility had not been wiped out by the wars. Others, earlier, demonstrated that while the elite was caught up in civil war the rest of the people stood aside.3

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