The University of Western Australia
This article explores an aspect of the propaganda wars that were conducted between the Lancastrian and Yorkist sides during the series of conflicts historians refer to as the Wars of the Roses. I argue that by the end of the 1450s, the Lancastrians had abandoned the pursuit of the popular voice (“the commons”, “the people”), instead treating this group with suspicion and disdain, expressed primarily through documents such as the Somnium Vigilantis and George Ashby’s Active Policy of a Prince. This article examines how the Lancastrians may have had populist leanings at the start of their rule, the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V, but moved away from such an approach, starting with the Jack Cade rebellion, and the various Yorkist uprisings of the 1450s. The composition of this group, “the people”, will also be examined, with the question being raised as to who they might have been, and why their support became a necessary part of the Wars of the Roses.