The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

Excerpt

The object of this book is not to analyse but to recapture a part of the past. I have aimed at recreating the Yorkist Age as it was lived; and I have therefore avoided, when I could, dealing with pots and pans and concepts and constitution and government and economic change and religious attitudes, and have tried to show people using and acting out and responding to and being moved by these things and institutions and forces. My purpose has been to catch people in action, as wide a variety of people as the sources offered, exhibiting the diversity of human behaviour that makes up the texture of daily life.

Isolating a segment of time from the mesh of history is, admittedly, to deal in metaphor, not Truth. Yet, I believe that this figure of speech, The Yorkist Age, has more than a pale paper- existence, that it represents conditions of life in the fifteenth century differing from the medieval past as from the Tudor future--in sum, I have tried to demonstrate that the metaphor is apt and useful.

Like all historical writing, this is essentially an exercise of the imagination, for the imagination is a combining and associative faculty. As the novelist works imaginatively from the data of his experience, the historian works imaginatively from the more inert and 'outside' data of evidences preserved from the fangs of time. Documents cannot be strung together to make a history any more than personal anecdotes can be strung together to make a novel. The living tissue of Edward IV's day cannot be revived by a calendar of information. The goal of recapturing the fifteenth century is almost bound to result in a list of facts connected by 'craftily qualified' generalizations. The historian can only try to achieve his fifteenth century, hoping that it bears some resemblance to the vanished actuality.

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