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THE BATTLE OF WAKEFIELD 1460 (Tuesday, 30th December)
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From a display board at Sandal Castle
(From a display at Sandal Castle.)
THE BATTLE OF WAKEFIELD
30th December 1460
A Yorkist Defeat in The War of the Rose
s
A victory for the House of Lancaster
Oh the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up they were up.
And when they were down they were down.
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.

~~~

It was the Yorkist defeat that some say gave rise
to the well known song mocking the Duke of York.
However, a later duke is a stronger candidate for this dubious honour.
Read more about Wakefield's rhyming heritage...

Plantagenet Coats of Arms
A setback for the House of YorkINTRODUCTION
The Battle of Wakefield, 30th December1460, was one of a series of battles between the Houses of York and Lancaster - the warring factions of the Plantagenet Dynasty. It was not a battle between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire but rather a north-south civil war type of conflict with Lancastrian support strong in the north of England and Yorkist support based in the south. The Yorkists were not universally welcomed or supported in the county of Yorkshire. At Wakefield, Richard Plantagenet the Duke of York was slain - but the ferocious warfare continued after his death.

The second Plantagenet Dynasty ruled from Richard II (accession 1377) to Richard III (death on Bosworth Field 1485). During this turbulent period the conflict that raged between the years between 1455 and 1487 marked the climax of the long and bitter struggle between the the factions that made up the Plantagenet Dynasty. The main campaigns were in 1459 - 61, 1469 - 71 and 1483 - 87, but sporadic fighting erupted frequently outside these campaigns.

The main battles included:
1455 May St Albans
1459 September Blore Heath (Newcastle under Lyme)
1460 July Northampton
1460 December Wakefield
1461 February Mortimer's Cross Ludlow
1461 February St Albans
1461 March Towton
1471 April Barnet
1471 May Tewkesbury
1485 August Bosworth

Plantagenet Coats of ArmsOrigins of The Wars of The Roses
In 1411, Richard Plantagenet was born to Richard, 5th Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer. The 5th Earl was was the son of Edmund, 1st Duke of York, who was the fourth son of Edward III.King Henry VI (1422 - 1461 & 1470 - 1471) was prone to bouts of madness, during these periods powerful nobles took advantage of the situation to further their own ambitions. These were powerful, ruthless men who were playing for high stakes. The Battle of Wakefield in 1460 was the culmination of a series of incidents, battles and maneuverings between those purporting to support the King - the House of Lancaster - and Richard Plantagenet's faction - the House of York.

Had Henry VI died before the birth of his son Edward, the Prince of Wales, then Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, would have had a very strong claim to the throne. Following the death of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (Henry VI's uncle and heir) in 1447, there was no one else who could match the Duke of York's claim to the throne.

Richard, Duke of York, was a powerful noble who played a leading role in English affairs during the Hundred Years War. In 1436, he was appointed Lieutenant of France. This appointment cost him a great deal of money - he had to finance the army from his own personal wealth. Luckily, the Duke was wealthy - he was the sole beneficiary of Edmund Mortimer, who died of the plague in 1425, and his wife, Cicely Neville, was the daughter of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland, and the sister of Richard, Earl of Salisbury. So his connections were good, his social standing, wealth and influential allies made him a formidable player in the world of politics and government.

However, Richard was not trusted by Henry VI. He was replaced as Lieutenant of France by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, in 1445. Richard was sent off to to be Lieutenant of Ireland, considered then to be as good as being exiled. Unlike Richard, who had funded the army in France himself, Henry VI provided Edmund Beaufort with funds. This did little to make Richard content with his lot.

The war in France went badly for the English, and Somerset was responsible for the loss of Rouen, an important town in the north of France. Despite this, which made Somerset unpopular in England, Somerset retained the backing of Henry VI. There was worse to come, in June 1451, Bordeaux and Gascony were lost to the French king. Whilst Henry VI was reeling from this blow, the Duke of York was quick to heap all blame upon Somerset and decided to seize control of England. After travelling from Ireland, he gathered reinforcements in North Wales and travelled to London. So, arriving at Blackheath, the Duke of York's army was in confrontation with the King's army. The Duke of York's objective was to arrest the Duke of Somerset and so ensure that Somerset did not replace him as the heir to the Throne.

Upon receipt of assurances from Henry VI that he would be able to arrest the Duke of Somerset, Richard Plantagenet entered the King's tent on 3rd March 1452. This was not a sound move as there was treachery on that day - there he found Somerset at the king's side and himself under arrest. After three months in prison, the Duke of York was released after he swore an oath of allegiance to the king and swore never again to take up arms against the king.

Following the release of Richard Plantagenet, there was relative peace in England but the loss of possessions in France continued and by 1453, nearly all had gone. The Hundred Years War was staggering to an end but the War of the Roses, which had almost started at Blackheath, was about to erupt as a bloody civil war in England.

continued on page 2 /..


WHY "WAR OF THE ROSES"?

At the time, the name "War of the Roses" was not applied to this conflict. The name is attributed to Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), some considerable time after the wars.

The use of the red rose as the Lancastrian symbol and the white rose as the emblem for the Yorkists was first mentioned in the Crowland Chronicles completed by 1486 and then used as a dramatic device introduced by William Shakespeare in his play Henry VI.

This was not a conflict between the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, although both are pleased to use their respective roses to the present day. The War was a conflict between two arms of the Plantagenet Dynasty - the House of Lancaster (Henry VI and his heirs) and the House of York (Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and his heirs).

This civil war owes it origin to the disastrous rule of the third Lancastrian King Henry VI - he was simple-minded and depended upon devious favourites and ambitious ministers. Until the early 1450s he retained some semblance of mental composure, although his rule was a disaster for England, but when he suffered a complete breakdown in 1453, he was unable to put the lid on the pot boiling over with factional rivalries amongst the great lords of the country. His Queen, Margaret of Anjou, was also a major player in the wars. She was a formidable enemy of the House of York.


PLANTAGENET LANDS IN THE MANOR OF WAKEFIELD AND THE HONOUR OF PONTEFRACT

The House of Lancaster held lands mainly in the north of England: Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northumberland.

The lands of the House of York were largely in the south: East Anglia, Kent and the Midlands. Sandal Castle and Wakefield were Yorkist possessions but they were virtually surrounded by the Honour of Pontefract belonging to the House of Lancaster.

The connection between Sandal Castle and the Yorkists starts with Edmund of Langley, Earl of Cambridge, fourth son of Edward III. On the death of John de Warrene, 8th Earl of Surrey, in 1347, Sandal Castle reverted to the Crown. Edward III granted the Manor of Wakefield, including the castle, to Edmund.

Later, when Edward III's grandson was king as Richard II, Edmund played an important role in the affairs of state. For his services, Richard II created him Duke of York in 1385. Edmund, Duke of York died in 1402 but the Manor of Wakefield remained in the House of York and Richard Plantagenet inherited it in 1415.

Although Sandal Castle remained a possession of the House of York, its importance began to diminish and it ceased to be a royal residence after the death of Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485.

Until the reign of Henry VIII, the castle was still an administrative centre but this ceased when the administration of the Manor of Wakefield was moved to Moot Hall.


England hath long been mad, and scarred herself;
The brother blindly shed the brother's blood,
The father rashly slaughtered his own son,
The son, compelled, been butcher to the sire:
All this divided York and Lancaster.

Richard III,
William Shakespeare,
(23/04/1564 - 23/04/1616)
writing in Tudor times.

Engraving by Martin Droeshout, printed in early editions of Shakespeare's work.


THE NEVILLE CONNECTION WITH SANDAL MAGNA & WAKEFIELD

OUR CHURCH HERITAGE
Those aficionados of Sunday night television may well have been enjoying The White Queen on BBC1. The series highly features the Neville family; the Duchess Cecily mother of Edward lV, her nephew Earl of Warwick “The Kingmaker”, and his daughters Isabel and Anne who married Edward’s brothers. The Neville family have two connections with our Parish. Duchess Cecily lost her husband, Richard Duke of York, her son Edmond Earl of Rutland, and her brother Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury (father of Warwick) at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.
The second connection is that a distant branch of the Neville family lived in our Parish, at Chevet Hall before the Pilkingtons. Sir John Neville inherited Chevet though his marriage to Elizabeth Bosville in 1509. He was 7th cousin once removed from Edward IV both being descended from Sir Geoffrey de Neville who lived at Raby Castle in the early 13th century.
(1)

Further to the article in last July's issue of grapevine (above) which showed how the Nevilles in the TV programme the White Queen where distantly connected to our Church. Well we have another connection to the Neville family, In the corner where the choir sings and band plays there is a remnant of the old pews that used to be in our Church. On a closer look you will notice a coat or arms. This belongs to Josceline Percy 1480-1532, son of the 4th Earl of Northumberland who married Margaret Frost of Featherstone. Josceline's great grandmother was Eleanor Neville (1397-1472) sister of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. This makes him first cousin twice removed of Edward IV and Richard III and so a distant cousin of the Nevilles of Chevet Hall.
Josceline's son Edward married Elizabeth Waterton of Walton Hall and their son Thomas was a leader in the Gunpowder Plot. He died following an altercation with Crown forces in November 1605. There are members of the Percy family living in New Zealand who claim legitimate decent from Thomas and so claim they are the true Earls of Northumberland.
(2)

Charles Elliott
From grapevine, the newsletter of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Sandal Magna,
St. Helen's, Sandal, and St. Paul's, Walton.
1. July/August 2013.
2. March 2014.

 


Reference Sources & Further Reading
Sandal Castle, The Plantagenets, The Wars of the Roses and The Battle of Wakefield


1. The London Chronicle for 1446-52.
2. The Battle of Wakefield 30th December 1460, P.A. Haigh, Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1996.
3. The Battle of Wakefield, Keith Dockray and Richard Knowles, from the The Ricardian, the Journal of the Richard III Society, June 1992. Reprinted 1999 for Wakefield Metropolitan District Council.
4. The Plantagenet Chronicles, General Editor: Elizabeth Hallam, Colour Library Books Ltd., 1995.
5. The Chronicles of The Wars of the Roses, General Editor: Elizabeth Hallam, Bramley Books, 1996.
6. From Wakefield to Towton, Philip A. Haigh. In the series: Battleground England, The Wars of the Roses. Lee Cooper, 2002.
7. The English Chronicle 1458 - 1461 (anonymous) edited in 1856 by JS Davies for the Camden Society.
8. Annales Rerum Anglicarum (anonymous Latin compilation ending in 1468).

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