The above is taken from my website, you can read about this battle in context here:
On this day in 1455, following their exclusion from court, Richard Duke of York, along with Richard Neville Earl of Warwick, assembled their forces in the north and marched south to confront the Lancastrian King Henry VI at St Albans.
The roller coaster ride continued and the tension mounted but eventually it all came to blows at St Albans, considered by some, to be the first battle of the civil war. In a battle that lasted just one hour, a number of notable Lancastrian nobles including, Henry Percy, Thomas Clifford, and Thomas Vaughan’s patron, Edmund Beaufort were killed. After the battle Henry VI was captured, York assured Henry of his loyalty and along with Warwick accompanied the king to London. Just under two months later, at the beginning of July the king opened Parliament and following that Henry, along with Margaret and their son were moved to Hertford Castle. That November saw the Duke of York appointed as Protector for a second time, and just like the first protectorate it was short, it ended in the last week of February 1456, but York remained an important member of the Royal Council. Three very trouble years ensued and the end of which the Duke of York, with Richard Neville as his enforcer, would make his play for the crown of England.
The above is taken from my website, you can read about this battle in context here:
Elizabeth of York, later Duchess of Suffolk was born on the 22nd April in 1444 at Rouen Normandy. She was the second daughter of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville and the sister of both Richard III and Edward IV.
Elizabeth was born in France at the time when Henry VI was playing yo-yo with her father's career - the time between Henry appointing the Duke of York as Lieutenant of France and the death of John Beaufort the Duke of Somerset in the May of 1444.
Elizabeth marriage to John de la Pole was thought to have been arranged by de la Poles mother Alice, it took place three years after the first Battle of St Albans at a time that is often considered the beginning of the Wars of the Roses.
At the time of John de la Pole becoming Duke of Suffolk his family was one of the least wealthy titled families in the country -, although if his marriage to Margaret Beaufort (John Beaufort's daughter) had not been annulled John's life may have been a different one altogether. The fifteen-hundred pounds that Elizabeth brought to the marriage was not a patch on what Margaret would have brought, made little difference to his finances.
Although this marriage allied de la Pole to the Yorkist party he is noted as having not shown any true support for either side. However, in 1461 he had made his decision, fighting for the Yorkist at the second Battle of St Albans and at Towton.
Elizabeth assumed the title of Duchess of Suffolk in the May of 1450 when John became Duke of Suffolk following the murder of his father William de la Pole. Elizabeth gave birth to eleven children, she would outlive eight of them. The three son who did survive their mother were Edmund, William and Richard, all would suffer due to the Yorkist blood that ran through their veins.
Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk died in 1503/4 and is buried at Wingfield Church in Suffolk, alongside her husband.
Andrew Trollope, was not only a turncoat but a boastful show off to boot, he said before being knighted by Edward of Lancaster after the Second Battle of St Albans:
" My lord, I have not deserved it, for I slew but fifteen men. I stood still in one place and they came to me,
but they bode still with me"
The reason Trollope was standing still was because he had injured his foot by stepping back on a caltrop, a weapon a bit like the barb on barbed wire, during the battle.
Talk about blowing your own trumpet?
Henry of Richmond, later Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle to Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor on the 28th January in 1457.
In 1455, at the age of just twelve years old Henry's mother, a wealthy heiress had married Edmund Tudor, the son of a commoner who managed to climb into the bed of a queen of England.
Margaret was soon pregnant and when Henry was born it was into country that was divided by conflict and civil war.
Margaret Beaufort was just a child herself and Henry's birth did irreparable damage, this could account for the fact that she never gave birth again, however she turned out to be an influential and dominant figure throughout Henry's life. Margaret was also aware of her son's vulnerability and because of this sent him into the care of his uncle, Jasper Tudor. Following the Battle of Tewkesbury in the May of 1471 Jasper and Henry fled to Brittany and then finally into France. Henry spent, in total, fourteen years of his life in exile.
His return to England in 1485 has been much written about, and most of you will know that he was aided at the Battle of Bosworth by Thomas Stanley, his mother's husband whose family famously watched deciding at the last moment to take the side of the Lancastrian's against Richard III's Yorkist forces.
Henry of Richmond became king of England on the 22nd August in 1485
I, of course, am a Ricardian and see Henry as a usurper, whose claim to the throne is a tenuous one, to say the least, however, Richard and Henry's stories are real and to understand Henry, Richard and the Wars of the Roses it is always best to read widely with the aim to gain an understanding of both sides of story, therefore I add this paragraph taken from the Henry Tudor Society about Henry.
"He is a king often accused of being parsimonious, miserly, ruthless, severe and avaricious to the extreme, cold to his wife and cruel to friend and foe alike. The study of Henry’s life, from his beginnings through to the exile, and from his early reign to the tragic end, put forward a different man. It is this man, the real Henry, not the mythical Henry, that we aim to bring to the fore. A man who had an astounding tenacity to survive, to cling to his throne and to pass his crown to his son in a peaceful manner, something which eluded several monarchs before him."
Here a link to the Henry Tudor Society -
23rd January 1484: Richard III's only Parliament opened at Westminster.
"Be it remembered that on Friday, 23 January in the first year of the reign of King Richard the third since the conquest, that is, on the first day of parliament, with the lord king sitting on the royal throne in the Painted Chamber within his palace of Westminster, then being present many lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons of the realm of England, assembled at the aforesaid parliament at the king's command, the venerable father John, bishop of Lincoln, chancellor of England memorably declared and announced the reasons for summoning the aforesaid parliament, taking as his theme: 'In the body there are many limbs, but not all have the same function.'
On the 30th December in 1460 after the Battle of Wakefield, Edmund Earl of Rutland, son of Richard Duke of York was executed in an act of revenge.
The most common story told is that Edmund was captured as he fled the battlefield, but the quality of his armour was noticed by Lancastrian John Clifford who asked him his name. At that point, it seems, Clifford was unaware who Rutland was and was possibly thinking along the lines of a ransom, but a priest going by the name of Aspell shouted: "spare him for he is the Prince's son." And thus Rutland's fate was sealed.
It was then that John Clifford saw an opportunity to avenge his father's death, his father Thomas Clifford died in the first battle of St Albans in 1455. For Clifford, the "sight of any of the House of York was fury to torment his soul."
It is John Leland, the 16th century antiquary, who first mentions that it was Clifford who murdered the seventeen-year-old Edmund, William of Worcester in his Annales Rerum Anglicarum writes "and in the flight after the battle, Lord Clifford killed Edmund Earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York, on the bridge at Wakefield." but its Shakespeare who puts the following words into Clifford's mouth.
"Thy father slew mine; and so will I do thee and all thy kin."
The violence and family feuds did not end with the death of Edmund.
Interesting, the word feud in English and in Latin means the threat to take revenge and these acts of vengeance were often the result of a long standing feud, and you will get no bigger than the ill feeling between York and Lancaster.
Vengeance, in what ever time period, is one of the worst of human traits, but it is an intriguing one none the less.
There is a little more on the act of revenge in my blog which can be accessed here:
Catherine of Valois, the youngest daughter of King Charles VI of France and King Henry V, the eldest son of Henry IV were married in the June of 1420. Eighteen months later, on the 6th of December 1421 St Nicholas's Day, Catherine gave birth to Henry of Windsor, a second joyous event of 1421 that had followed her coronation in Westminster Abbey the previous February.
Henry's arrival in the world was assisted by the presence of 'Our Lords foreskin' a relic known as the Silver Jewel that was brought over from France in time for his birth at Windsor Castle. The heir to the throne was born while his father was in France besieging the town of Meaux and it was there that Henry V heard of the arrival of his son. A story originating from the Tudor period suggests that Henry considered having his son born at Windsor was a bad omen, and indeed it seems that he was right to be concerned, for the hero of Agincourt was dead at the age of 36 the following August. Henry V's death from dysentery left his baby son to succeed to the English throne at just nine months old, the poor child would inherit the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI only two months later.
Henry V's last will and testament was thought lost but it turned up in 1978 at Eton College. In this document Henry had instructed that his younger brother Humphrey of Gloucester should be the baby's principal guardian and his uncle Thomas Beaufort was to have governance of the 'child's person.' Henry other brother, John, Duke of Bedford was instructed by Henry on his deathbed with the charge of the new kings French domain, however as history tells us there would be trouble ahead!
Henry, as we all know, turned out to be a shy, quiet and passive boy who disliked warfare and violence and who eventually succumbed to mental illness the poor soul would be completely unaware of all that was going on around him, he would be unable to stand, walk or move without help and in 1454 when he was presented with his newborn son all he managed was to raise and lower his eyes.
Henry VI was not suited for kingship and it has been suggested that he was not suited for marriage either. I think that he was just not a match for a strong and aggressive woman as his queen Margaret of Anjou most certainly was, we can only wonder what would have happened if he had been matched with a less fiery mate, one who was more in tune with him and prepared to listen to reason. But as we known that was not the case.
King Henry VI's first reign over England lasted from 1422 until 1461 and his second, after his restoration, from 1470 to 1471. Henry VI's time as monarch saw an England under a weak rule and this would bring about the period known as the Wars of the Roses and from mothers liaison, with the son of a Welsh publican, the mighty Tudor dynasty would spring.
On this day in 1460, the death of one of my all time heroes, Richard, Duke of York.
In the afternoon of the 30th December 1460, the Battle of Wakefield took place, this battle brought an end to the lives of Richard, Duke of York and his second eldest son Edmund, Earl of Rutland.
In the October of 1460, the Act of Accord acknowledged Richard, Duke of York, as the heir to Henry VI and effectively disinherited Henry's son Edward. It was hoped that this agreement would put an end to the political tension that had caused so much trouble in previous years, but it was not to be. The Act of Accord naturally left the Lancastrian's foaming at the mouth, many were angry that the act had swept the rules of primogeniture under the carpet, a rule that had protected the rights of the noble family for decades, without which there would be chaos.
Many Lancastrian's rallied to the cause resulting in a number of revolts occurring in the country with Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, at its helm. The first serious clash happened in Yorkshire, just over two months after the Act of Accord was signed, as Margaret had headed to Wales, Richard, Duke of York, now heir apparent made his way towards Sandal Castle to meet the forces of the opposing army on the fields you see in the above images, even though York's force outnumbered the Lancastian's by two to one the battle went the the way of Lancaster.
Richard Duke of York died among his men that day at Wakefield, a noble but untimely death you could say, his second son, Edmund Earl of Rutland died that day too only his death was taken in vengeance.
David Hume in his History of England writes of York's death
"The Duke himself was killed and beheaded, and when his body was found among the slain, the head was cut off by Margaret's orders and fixed on the gates of York, with a paper crown upon it, in derision of his pretended title.'
As the country woke to welcome in the new year, the residence of the City of York rose to find the Duke of York’s head had been placed on a pike at the very top of Micklegate Bar. In a pitiless act of humiliation it was plain to see what Margaret of Anjou was saying when she ordered a paper crown placed on his head.
For a number of years, depending on who was on the throne at the time, England had been on good terms with either France or Burgundy, using this to his advantage Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick proposed to the council that a peace treaty be signed with Louis XI of France. Also, some members of the council had agreed with Warwick’s suggestion that it was high time Edward IV was married. Louis thought so too, an English alliance with France was far better for him than a Burgundian alliance, eventually, Warwick succumbed to a bit of flattery and bribery and put it to Edward that Bona of Savoy would be a perfect match.
In the September of 1464 Edward IV made a surprise announcement during a discussion of this subject, and to the amazement of many, Edward indicated that the idea of marriages was indeed a good one, he never batted an eyelid at the suggestion of a French bride, even though he himself favoured Burgundy. After a long silence, he finally relayed the fact that he had already made his choice and in fact, he had already married one Elizabeth Grey, a member of the lowly Woodville family of Northamptonshire.
Edward had succumbed to lust and not with a weak, mild-mannered virgin either, but with a strong-willed widow with two young sons, and with eight siblings to boot! Edward had undertaken all this without the knowledge of Richard Neville, the one man who was so instrumental in bringing him to the throne.
For Warwick Edward’s news was shattering, he had already pledged Edward in marriage to the sister of the queen of France. Edward's irresponsible behaviour humiliated Warwick and ruined his plans, his prestige both home and abroad was in tatters, and to say that Warwick was enraged would be an understatement, the dagger of betrayal had cut too deep and it was a wound that would never heal. By 1469 he had turned his coat and had gone over to the Lancastrians, by 1470 he had restored Henry VI to the throne.
Richard Neville was born on the 22nd November in 1428 into a world that shaped him. It was full of powerful characters, in his early life there was his father Ralph Neville and uncle Richard, Duke of York and later there were Charles, the Duke of Burgundy and Louis XI King of France. At some point in his life Warwick had decided to either to outshine or eclipse them all, but in doing so he became overly ambitious, somewhat erratic and most certainly selfish, and yet he was quite remarkable - he was a king maker! Author Micheal Hicks calls him "the very model of medieval nobility" however Paul Kendall calls him a "gigantic failure."
Would I be accused of sitting on the fence if I said he was both? The mind boggles at the thought of what might have been if he had stayed onside in 1469, certainly the Lancastrian cause would have been weaker without him. Richard Neville thought he could rule without a crown, it didn't take him long to come to the conclusion that if he couldn't 'wear' Edward's then he'd wear another. To Richard Neville there was nothing that was beyond his grasp, nothing that could not be overcome yet for someone so brilliant he never considered failure, he never saw himself teetering at the top of a slippery slope that leads to an abyss.
Richard Neville should not bare the total weight of responsibility for the events of 1464 to 1469 Edward's behaviour was reprehensible and unforgivable! Yes, Edward IV was a popular king, he was affable, intelligent, an outstanding military leader, but he was a fool, he was also ruthless, vengeful and totally irresponsible. With one swish of the bed sheets, (two as it turns out) Edward undermined everything his father had worked so hard to achieve, not only shortening the life of his brother but that of the Plantagenet dynasty itself.
To end, the words of Philippe de Commynes apply quite nicely here I think.
Now you see the deaths of so many great men in so little time, men who have worked so hard to grow great and to win glory
and have suffered so much from passions and cares and shortened their lives, and perchance their souls will pay for it.
The last week in November of 1503 saw the death of Margaret of York, the daughter of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville.
In 1465, after the death of his second wife Isabel of Bourbon, Charles the Bold was in need of a new wife. This time the Yorkists were in a far better position than they had been in 1454, now an English marriage was possible. In 1467 Margaret became the wife of Charles, the newly created Duke of Burgundy.
It was as the Duchess of Burgundy that Margaret is mostly remembered and in this position she was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with especially following the unexpected death of her brother Edward IV in 1483 and again two years later after the death of her last remaining brother Richard III when he died facing the forces of Henry of Richmond in 1485. Margaret did everything she could to prevent Henry Tudor's reign running smoothly, including supporting Perkin Warbeck's claim to the English throne.
Interestingly, Margaret and Warbeck both died on the same day, the 23rd November.