In Dan Jones’s book on the Wars of the Roses, there is this interesting passage on Benedictines in the fifteenth century:
Katherine de la Pole, abbess of Barking, had every reason to be pleased with the religious house over which she ruled. The elegant, richly furnished buildings of the abbey, set around the large double-fronted church of St. Mary and St. Ethelburga, enclosed one of the wealthiest and most prestigious nunneries in England, home to around thirty ladies in holy orders, served by a large staff of male servants and priests. Wealthy daughters and widows from the titled aristocracy and upper gentry came to Barking to retire from the world as inmates, where they followed the Benedictine Rule in a life of prayer, charity, high-born company and scholarship. Good connections had, over the years, brought Barking money, property, honor and fame: Katherine – who as abbess held the same privileged rank as a male baron – controlled thirteen manors and lands in several different counties, besides the hundreds of acres that surrounded Barking itself. [page 67]
Fascinating, but what is the connection to the Wars of the Roses? In 1437, Barking Abbey became the home of two boys, Edmund and Jasper Tudor. Edmund would later become the father of Henry Tudor, who would reign as Henry VII, bringing the Wars of the Roses to an end.