Left: Edward IV, c.1550.  Right: Henry VI, c.1540.

Roses are Red

An extraordinary event occurred on 28 February 1461 at St John’s Field in London – assuming the writings of an anonymous historian are to be believed in the late 15th century. An assembled crowd stood and listened to a list of crimes and misdemeanors that King Henry VI had committed against the realm.

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When asked whether Henry should remain as king, the crowd chanted ‘no’. When asked whether Edward, Earl of March, should be made king, those assembled said ‘yes’. The historian’s story may sound like direct democracy in action, but it would be anachronistic: democracy was a foreign concept in 15th-century England and Edward was no revolutionary.

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