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Former Chief Justice of the King's Bench Sir John Fortescue (c.1395-c.1477) was a key Lancastrian figure. In the first half of the 1470s he presented the Yorkist King Edward IV with his work, The Governance of England. Many scholars have analysed this work as part of the so-called 'English tradition' of constitutional and political theory and as representative of the age of the Wars of the Roses. Only rarely did they contextualize the Governance within the framework of parliamentary politics. As shown in this article, Fortescue in the Governance was both warning the Yorkist regime against dangers to its legitimacy and offering means of resolving these dangers. In all of these concerns Fortescue was in tune with parliamentary politics, where similar concerns were manifest. One of the means through which Fortescue was offering to alleviate the danger of imminent corruption of the constitutional regime in England was through his own legal prestige.

Keywords: Edward IV; Fifteenth Century; Governance of England; Legitimacy; Parliament; Sir John Fortescue; Wars of the Roses

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Box 571035, ICC 600, Dept. of History, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, Email:

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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