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Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:25 pm
by battle metal
Hello all,

I was wondering where to start investigating whether or not members of a specific German house (von Thüngen) fought in the wars of the roses. Also, if there is no way to find out, how plausible it would be to assume they did, without specific evidence for or to the contrary? I understand there were a fair few continental mercenary troops involved in the conflict, and the family has a fairly strong military tradition going way back before the wars.

I ask out of curiosity, as my grandmother (a von Thüngen herself) had the idea that it could be cool for me to fight wearing my ancestral colours, however not at the expense of authenticity, so I would like to do some research first. Any pointers as to where to start or ideas you guys have would be great, thank you

Re: Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:14 pm
I'll ask Sapper at our end (SCUM/Free Company) - our source for German Mercenary stuff, though I doubt if there are any muster lists.... I suspect it will be more of a case of establishing at your/the German end whether there is documentation/a tradition indicating that your ancestors listed/marched with a particular mercenary leader, and then trying to find out if that commander sought employment over here, rather than hoping to find the family name on a roll somewhere UK-side...

Re: Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:15 pm
by Colin Middleton
Remember that most of the mercenaries used in the Wars of the Roses were from England, Scotland, France, Burgundy and the Low Countries. Basically, why march half-way across Europe to fight in some backwater island, when there are plenty of wars at home.

Also, I was under the impressing that mercenaries weren't that common in England, especially during the Wars of the Roses when available cash was limited.


Re: Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 9:12 pm
Given that mercenaries will follow the money (hence English mercenaries in 14thC Italy, Spain, Turkey and North Africa, Scandinavians & Saxons in Constantinople earlier, Spanish in 15thC Scotland, Genoese, Scots and Irish all over the place etc.) I see no economic reason why mercenaries from Germany wouldn't do the same, but, as Colin indicates, while there are mentions of mercenaries from all of the places he mentions in England, as far as I'm aware specifically "German/Almain" mercenaries only start cropping up in source material re. England/Ireland in any numbers from the 1470s...

However, maybe we may need to remember that "nationality" as we think of it is still (relatively) fluid at this period - and not necessarily based on ethnicity/language, so that being a "Burgundian" mercenary (i.e. raised in "Burgundy") could, at various times, include what 19th/20thC bods might at various times call Flemings, Walloons, Dutch, Luxembourgian, Germans and several varieties of "French"...?

As to the economics: I get the impression that a number of specialist continental 15thC mercenaries (as opposed to cheaper, more local ones) over here were "presents" from continental powers playing their own game/helping to stir the pot/maintain English instability by lending support to pretenders, rather than English nobs shelling out, but I could be wrong......

@ battle metal : Re. the von Thüngens specifically: Are they originally from Bavaria..?

PS: Update (courtesy of Sapper) As above, plus Warwick had some Germans at 2nd St. Albans, apparently. Also; Bavaria was a mercenary recruiting ground.. But S's opinion is most of those fought for Hungary (yet another Black Legion)

Re: Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:54 am
by battle metal
Thanks for the information guys, really useful and interesting stuff. In response to your question on location, it's more the Wurzburg area: slap-bang between Nuremburg and Frankfurt, so a little north-west of Bavaria.

Also, a tid-bit of information which Im not certain bears relevance or not: the family in question were Reichsgrafen, barons vassalised immediately under the holy Roman emperor. I don't know if that would have any effect on the plausibility of fighting in a foreign war, though my research does show a tendency for individuals to fight abroad and for pay. Eventually, the mercantile tradition even advanced to banditry in some branches

Re: Wars of the Roses: Evidence for a German house?

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 6:02 am
by behanner
So the other guys explained why it would be highly unlikely such a person to be a mercenary in the WOR is extremely unlikely. The campaigns are relatively short and generally not well planned, so even if there was an opportunity by the time the news reached Bavaria and were able get up there and cross the Channel the opportunity would likely be over.

So lets put a real possibility on the table. By this time in European history gentleman have started traveling around basically for the purpose of seeing the world. And we happen to know that several visited England in this period and left accounts of their travels. Most notably Leo Rozmital and his companions but also Nicolas von Poppelau. Rozmital and his companions certainly had their armour with them as they jousted in several places and were forced to wear it in parts of Spain for their own protection while traveling. More than likely there are plenty other examples that haven't come to light due to not having left as much information about themselves. Although some serious research may shed quite a bit of light on them.
So the second question becomes would there be any possibility that they would fight in such a battle. Probably the closest person we can point to in this regard is Juan de Salazar. Who was a representative of Maximilian probably working out details of intervention in Brittany. He accompanied Richard III to Bosworth and after the defeat returned to the continent.

So what your talking about probably didn't happen but it certainly isn't like a kilt wearing Turk with a katana being a pirate on the channel. People at the time probably would not have seen it as being any more exceptional than events we know occurred.