Between 1450 and 1460 turbulences reached new heights or depths depending on if you were on the wrong end of the sword. These are the essential episodes.
Henry’s Health- Richard in Ascendancy
Because Henry was incapacitated a new council was formed. Suffolk had been one of those put in and out of the tower and Henry had been obliged to banish him in 1450, some folk thought this a feeble idea and executed him at sea which Henry couldn’t do much about. Thus,Somerset by himself tried to stop Richard being on the council, but failed and ended up in the Tower, Cardinal Kemp died in 1454 which no one would have worried about (apart from popes, bishops etc) had he not been Chancellor, a person who was so important kings had to listen to (or execute) them, only kings could appoint one and Henry was not able to. So, since Somerset was in the Tower Richard was made Lord Protector, but wasn’t allowed to sit on the throne.
Queen Margaret Takes Centre Stage
Margaret was intelligent, quick-witted, determined and independent; qualities in women only appreciated in places like France, Italy and Spain (and Sometimes Scotland). Richard being very English thought she should just be quiet and give birth to heirs, Margaret being Margaret thought Richard should do as he was told. They didn’t get on and this was one of the major causes of Roses, The Wars of; Richard suspecting that Margaret was actually being the king (de facto, ad hoc, etc).
Henry’s Health Improves- That of England’s Doesn’t
In 1455 Henry recovered found he was a father, said everything that Richard had done was wrong and Somerset should not be in The Tower. In this, he was supported by his wife Margaret (Queen and, Of Anjou)
At this stage it was obvious war would happen and everyone chose up sides. To make it easier, if people supported Richard, Duke of York, they were Yorkists; if people felt a king was always right and as Henry VI was of the house of Lancaster (Henry IV, of Parts I & II), they were Lancastrians. Yorkists went about telling people they should not be queasy about rebelling, because Henry IV (both parts) had tipped Richard (the II, not York, Duke of) off of the throne, and hadn’t been a proper king. (but that wasn’t Henry V’s fault-beyond reproach etc). No one actually picked flowers waved them at each other, this would have been thought frivolous.
The Wars of, Start
Not caring to be placed in a tower of any sort Richard assembled a much bigger army with a few more nobles, including the up and coming Warwick who had supported Henry VI but not Somerset, Warwick was also named Richard this appears to have no effect one way or the other. There were also Nevilles on one side and Percys on the other and was probably the reason for there being fighting. Both sides met at St Alban’s on the 22nd May 1455 for the first official battle. Somerset was killed, neither Richard was, it was a famous Yorkist Victory, after which both Richards and other nobles rushed to Henry (the VI)’s tent and pledge loyalty to him and tell him he had been rescued. Henry being confused by so many Richards he believed them. And York, Duke of was back in charge.
Margaret Strikes Back
However, Margaret was having none of this and she convinced Henry VI to act normally. In 1456 York was told he was in wrong again and could not rule as the king and queen had found a new Somerset (Duke of), who importantly was also a Henry, which balanced thing up. York (the Duke) was packed off to Ireland and the Nevilles and Percys were told if they must fight they were only allowed to due this in the Far North, where only the Scots would be inconvenienced.
In 1458 Henry (King & VI) had an idea inspired by a Bouchier (Bishop-Arch, Canterbury, of). They both thought it would be a good idea if both sides walked along arm in arm, pretending they were all friends led by the king to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This would be a ‘love day’, preceeding by 310 years events in San Francisco (which to be fair had not yet been invented). As those taking part were mostly ruthless, conniving, battle-hardened men whose capacity to bear grudges was legendary this was not a success unless you count the fact that none of the participants killed each other on that day.
Warwick & York Assemble- It Doesn’t Work
Because the French had had success as pirates along the English south coast Warwick thought he would try his hand at this, but new at the game kept attacking Spanish and Hanseatic League (Germans, mostly) ships and was commanded to explain himself to Henry (VI, not Somerset, although it might as well have been). Instead, he opted to meet up with York and his eldest son Edward (note that name for future ref). The Yorkist army was bigger than the Lancastrian when they bumped into each other at Ludford Bridge, Ludow on the 12th October 1459 and should have won, but embarrassingly for Warwick a number of his men led by Andrew Trollope (Sir) who was secretly loyal to Henry (VI) deserted. Thus Warwick (Richard) with The Yorks were obliged to flee to Wales and then to Ireland although Warwick ended up in the West Country, due to the wind.
York & Warwick Assemble-This Time It Works
Although it seemed England was now back in the Lancastrian hands Henry started acting oddly again while letting his supporters get rich and corrupt in the usual way. This made the Common People angry (again).
Regrettably, for French people living in and around Calais, this was still in English hands and both Yorkist and Lancastrians would hold it, besiege it or flee there, sometimes all three at once. In 1460 the port was held by Warwick who practiced more piracy and arranged with Richard (the York one) to land in England again at Kent with his son George who was entitled to be Salisbury, Earl of, whether Lancastrians liked it or not.
The Yorkists then marched north (to York probably), Henry VI was sort of leading a Lancastrian army, and they bumped into each other on 10th July 1460 around Northampton. It rained and made the Lancastrian cannons soggy, thus the Yorkists charged victoriously. Although several loyal nobles nobly died defending him Henry was captured again! At this juncture, once again Richard, Warwick etc swore loyalty etc unto Henry. Although thinking there might be a troubling pattern developing here Richard began to consult family trees to see if he might be able to be king; this caused concern in some Yorkist ranks as they liked having an unworldly, vague sort of monarch as long as they controlled him.
Margaret Is Not Finished Yet
This, of course, did not suit Margaret (of Anjou, Queen, sometimes King, England of), who with son Edward (not the Richard of York’s one; her own) travelled north to Scotland. At this time Scotland was being run by Queen Mary (once of, of Guelders-in the area of Netherlands-Germany-fought over a lot). Her husband James II having been blown up by one of his own cannons and her son James III being too young. If there was one thing Richard and the Yorkists did not need was two intelligent, independent, determined, able Queenish sort of women getting together. Margaret asked for an army, Mary said she could have one if she, Mary could have Berwick, Margaret didn’t feel any particular attraction for the place and agreed. Margaret’s mistake was a failure to realise that England and Scotland had been scrapping over that area for centuries and just giving it away to the Scots angered many English folk, even if they lived in the South and didn’t know where Berwick was.
A Yorkist Tragedy. Margaret as Henry V (the unromantic side of his character)
Thinking he could settle the business Richard (still of York and thinking about being a Richard III) marched north. This time the armies actually met at Wakefield on 30th December 1460. Because of treachery and the Lancastrians having Trollope (see above Ludford Bridge etc.), Richard rode in the wrong direction and he and many Yorkists were slaughtered, including his son Edmund and several nobles.
Margaret then marched south telling her scots and very northern soldiers they could plunder as much as they pleased when they reached the south, they decided anything south of Wakefield was fayre game and much harm was done to the Lancastrian cause….
Meanwhile Richard’s Son- Edward had survived and was in London scaring people about Margaret’s army, which to be fair didn’t take much doing.
The results will be looked at in the next chapter…