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

By Paul Murray Kendall | Go to book overview

1
The Mayor: At Home

AT six o'clock on a summer morning, church bells sounded the beginning of a town day. The doors of the Gildhall were thrown open. Preceded by the Serjeant-at-the-Mace bearing the gilded symbol of authority and by other officers, a ceremonious figure, respectfully saluted by early risers, made his way towards the church. Clad in scarlet and fur with a thick silver chain about his shoulders and a high furred hat on his head, he surveyed the awakening town with a ruler's eye. After he had lent his presence to the early Mass of market-day, his retinue reassembled about him, and he proceeded to the market-place to see that his constables were on the watch for 'fraudulent sellers of victuals'. Then, joined by other figures in scarlet cloaks, he returned to the Gildhall for a meeting of his council. In the person of the mayor, the town had once again asserted its dignity and recommenced its communal lite.

This mercer or draper or grocer, serving his one-year turn as chief magistrate, better represents the spirit of the age, in many ways, than a lord or even an ambitious squire like John Paston. The reign of Edward IV has some claim to be called the golden age of the mayor.

Not until the fifteenth century did most of the chief towns, having won their struggles with local lords or ecclesiastics, secure from the king a charter of liberties including the right to organize themselves as counties. By the time of Edward IV they had won sufficient wealth and power to exert pressure upon the changing shape of English life; and, under the king, the mayor governed his municipality no less authoritatively and a great deal more tightly

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • Principal Persons 15
  • Prologue - The Times 21
  • 1 - The Mayor 51
  • 1 - The Mayor: at Home 53
  • 2 - The Mayor: Abroad 88
  • 3 - Rebel Against the Mayor 117
  • 4 - The Lord Mayor of London 134
  • II - Other Important People 159
  • 5 - The King and the Royal Household 161
  • 6 - Lords and Gentry 194
  • 7 - Churchmen and the Church 244
  • 8 - Merchants, Pirates, Aliens and Lawyers 281
  • III - The Household 329
  • 9 - The Fabric of Life 331
  • 10 - The Marriage Hunt 364
  • II - Wives 401
  • 12 - Children 434
  • Epilogue 463
  • Bibliography 505
  • Index 515
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