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Return of the Lancastrians
Led by Richard Earl of Salisbury the Yorkists in the north mobilised an army and headed south to meet the Duke of York at Ludlow. Salisbury was intercepted by a Lancastrian army led by Lord Audley on September 23rd 1459 at Blore Heath in Shropshire. The Lancastrians were the first to attack but their first and second cavalry charges were repulsed and when the Lancastrian foot soldiers were also repulsed they turned and fled. In the battle Audley was killed and although two of Salisbury's sons were captured they were quickly released. The Yorkists had won this battle.
But the Yorkist control was soon to come crashing down. The Earl of Warwick with a force from Calais reached Ludlow and the combined army of the Yorkists attacked the King's army at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow on October 12th 1459. The men from Calais refused to fight their king and a weakened Yorkist army was defeated. Richard Duke of York and his younger son escaped and fled to Ireland while Salisbury, Warwick and Edward of March (later Edward IV) fled to Calais.
The Yorkists' banishment did not last long and an army led by the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick landed on the south coast in June of 1460 at Sandwich. With them was the young Earl of March who would become the future king of England Edward IV. After securing Kent the Yorkists marched on London where the gates were opened and they were welcomed.
The King is captured
The Lancastrians's Court was in Coventry at the time of the Yorkist rebels entering London. When news reached them the Lancastrians moved south to Northampton to meet the rebels. The Yorkists led by the Earl of Warwick wanted to talk but the Lancastrians led by the Duke of Buckingham wanted to fight. Although the Lancastrians had less men than the Yorkists, they did have control of a stronger position. The Yorkists managed to defeat the Lancastrians due to a section of the Lancastrian army led by Lord Grey of Ruthin moving away allowing the Yorkists through. Orders were given that the King and ordinary men should be spared, while the knights and lords should be killed. When the fighting was over the casualties were light, but the Lancastrian leaders, Buckingham, Shrewsbury and Egremont were dead and the King was captured.
Queen Margaret escaped capture and fled to Wales where she plotted her revenge.
The Duke of York claims the throne
In October 1460 Richard, Duke of York, returned from Ireland and claimed the English throne. But the nobles refused to accept his claim while King Henry was still alive. It was decided to allow Henry to remain king but after his death the Duke of York or one of his heirs would take the English throne.
Attack from the North
Queen Margaret had not wasted much time and had regrouped her forces with support from men in the north of England. Her army began attacking Yorkist controlled lands. The Duke of York took an army north to stop the Queen's progress but underestimated how much support she had. At the battle of Wakefield on December 30th 1460 the Lancastrian army defeated the Yorkists and the Duke of York along with his second son, Edmund the Earl of Rutland, were killed.
Queen Margaret continued her progress south and at the Second Battle of St. Albans on February 17 1461 the Yorkist army, led by the Earl of Warwick, was split in two and sections of the Yorkists defected to the Queen's side. The Yorkists were defeated and Warwick escaped. The King, who had been travelling with the Yorkists, was freed and he was reunited with his wife and son.
Edward, Earl of March, proclaimed King
Although King Henry was free the inhabitants of London refused the Lancastrians entrance to the city. They were concerned by reports they had heard that the Lancastrian army had pillaged St. Albans after the battle and did not want that to happen to London. Instead, on February 27th, the Londoners opened the gates to the Yorkists. In early March Edward Earl of March and Richard Earl of Warwick entered London. Edward, being the son of the late Duke of York and having a claim to the throne, was proclaimed King of England as Edward IV.
The end of this phase of the Wars of the Roses is marked by the Battle of Towton on March 29 1461. Edward took an army north to deal with the Lancastrians and they met at Towton in Yorkshire. The battle is supposed to be the bloodiest battle fourght on English soil and was a major victory for the Yorkists. After the battle King Henry and the Queen retreated further north capturing some Northumbrian castles. But after a series of smaller battles over the next three years the Yorkists forced the remaining Lancastrians into exile.
Battles of the War of the Roses (Phase 2)
|1459 - September||Blore Heath||Yorkist victory|
|1459 - October||Lufdord Bridge||Lancastrian victory|
|1460 - July||Northampton||Yorkist victory|
|1460 - December||Wakefield||Lancastrian victory|
|1461 - February||Mortimer's Cross||Yorkist victory|
|1461 - February||St. Albans||Lancastrian victory|
|1461 - March||Towton||Yorkist victory|
Map - Major battles of the War of the Roses
Event Participants and Locations
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Last Middle Ages
Early Modern Period
Event Participants and Locations