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• Page 1 Introduction & Origins •  2 Origins continued •  3 The Battle and After •  4 Duke of York's Monument •  5 Warwick The Kingmaker •  6 The Plantagenets 

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Origins of The Wars of The Roses (continued from page 1)

Click to enlarge. Henry VI suffered his first bout of madness, which seemed to paralyse him, after the release of Richard Plantagenet.

The Duke of York was made Protector of England to act during the king's incapacity. In September 1453, the Protector had his arch enemy, Edmund Beaufort the Duke of Somerset, charged with treason for his pitiful management of the war in France. Beaufort was sent off to languish in the Tower of London. There followed a series of skirmishes between rival nobles with Richard Plantagenet using his position as Protector to help his own family and his supporters, such as Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and his son Richard, Earl of Warwick, who had a score to settle with the Percy family, the Earls of Northumberland.

Henry VI recovered in January 1455 and resumed control once again. Edmund Beaufort was released from the Tower and formed an alliance with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Lord Clifford of Craven against Richard Plantagenet, Salisbury and Warwick.

Edmund Beaufort, Henry Percy and Lord Clifford would become known as the Lancastrians - Henry VI being of the House of Lancaster.

Somerset, Warwick and Richard Plantagenet would become known as the Yorkists.

On 21st May 1455, the Duke of York was summoned to attend, alone, a council meeting at Leicester. Suspecting that all was not well, the Yorkists gathered a force to confront the king. The Lancastrians - Somerset and the king assembled a force and a battle followed at St Albans. The Lancastrians were defeated, Henry Percy, Edmund Beaufort and Lord Clifford were slain and the king captured. The king was once again being protected by the Yorkists, but the king declared himself fit to rule in February 1456.

Henry VI was heavily influenced by his wife, Margaret of Anjou, and she would continue to be a prominent figure in the war between the rival houses. The Yorkists were stripped of their offices of state and so they retreated to their estates to marshal their forces and plot their next moves. Meanwhile, Margaret arranged for another council meeting to be held, this time at Coventry in June 1459. All of the realm's great nobles were summoned to attend with the exception of the Yorkists, who were to be charged with treason.

The Yorkists planned to assemble their forces at Ludlow and, despite several attempts at interception by the Lancastrians, most notably at Blore Heath on 23rd September in which the Yorkists were victors, they managed to rendezvous at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow. However, some of Warwick's men deserted to the Lancastrians and the Yorkists were left in disarray. The Duke of York and his son, Edmund, fled to Ireland; Richard, Earl of Warwick, Salisbury and Edward the Earl of March fled to Calais. The Yorkists were subsequently declared to be traitors by Parliament in November 1459 and things looked bleak indeed for the House of York.

Richard, Earl of Warwick was a seaman as well as a soldier, and he soon started preying on shipping as well as planning the Yorkist revival. Warwick met with the Duke of York in Ireland in March 1460. During his absence, Calais withstood a siege by Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (he was the son of the slain Edmund). Warwick returned to Calais in May 1460 and the next phase of the war was about to commence.


Sword and helmet bannerOn 10th July 1460, the Yorkist and Lancastrian forces again joined battle. The Yorkists were victorious and Henry VI was captured. Following this, York attempted to seize the crown but he overplayed his hand as there was no popular support for this - Henry VI was the anointed lawful king still, despite his weak rule.

The Earl of Warwick was himself angry with the Duke and they exchanged harsh words. Following this, York and Warwick worked at establishing the Duke of York's claim to the throne by lawful means.

On 24th October 1460, Parliament passed the Act of Accord which decreed that Henry VI would remain king but on his death, the crown would pass to the Duke of York and his heirs. However, this just served to stoke up the conflict again.

continued on page 3 /..


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