Posts Tagged ‘Wars of the Roses’

29
Mar

Battle of Towton

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Battle of Towton

Towton Cross

Battle of Towton – the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil

The Battle of Towton , regarded as  “the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil”, was fought in a snow storm on Palm Sunday, 29 March 1461, between the Lancastrian forces of King Henry VI and the Yorkist forces led by Edward, Earl of March.  It has been said that 28,000 men died that day, out of 50,000 to 100,000 soldiers.  The result was a Yorkist victory and Edward became king as Edward IV.

In 1996 a mass grave of fallen soldiers was found at Towton Hall.  Their remains have been studied by the University of Bradford.

Edward IV had planned to build a memorial chapel at Towton, but it was Richard III, who put this plan into action.  The chapel was nearly finished, when he was killed at Bosworth, and the chapel had been lost.  Or so it was thought.  In October 2013 it was revealed that scientists had found strong evidence of remains of the chapel.

In 2010 fragments of hand held guns and lead shot were found at the battle site, the earliest ever to be found.

References:

Helen Cox, ‘Towton: the Battle and the Battlefield Society’, Herstory Writing & Interpretation (4 Sept 2010).  Link “Towton” on URL:  http://helencox-herstorywriting.co.uk/#/articles/4539783477  Date accessed:  19 Oct 2010

T. Sutherland & A. Schmidt,’The Towton Battlefield Archaeological Survey Project:  An Integrated Approach to Battlefield Archaeology’, Landscapes, Vol.4, Issue 2 (October 2003), pp.15-25.  Available from URL:  http://bradscholars.brad.ac.uk:8080/bitstream/handle/10454/818/Towton03-Preprint.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y  Date accessed:  30 December 2014

‘Richard III Towton chapel remains are ‘found’’, BBC News York & North Yorkshire (7 Oct 2013).  URL:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-24434795  Date accessed:  8 Oct 2013

A short description of the various battles of the Wars of the Roses can be found on the website of the Richard III Society.

Dorothea Preis

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28
Mar

Skirmish at Ferrybridge

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Skirmish at Ferrybridge

Skirmish at Ferrybridge

On 28 March 1461, a skirmish at Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire, was fought in the lead-up to the Battle of Towton.  Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (‘The Kingmaker”), received an arrow wound to the leg.  John, Lord Clifford, (believed to be responsible for the death of Edward IV’s brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland) fell on the Lancastrian side.

Traditionally the skirmishes at Ferrybridge and Dintingdale (also on 28 March 1461) and the battle of Towton were seen as three separate battles, both in space and time.  However, Tim Sutherland argues, that these were rather three interconnected conflicts. He bases his analysis on archaeological finds and a new interpretation of the sources.

Reference:

Tim Sutherland, ‘Killing Time:  Challenging the common perceptions of three medieval conflicts – Ferrybridge, Dintingdale and Towton  — ”The Largest Battle on British Soil”’, Journal of Conflict Archaeology, Vol.5 No.1 (2010). Available from URL:  http://www.towton.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/killing-time_tim_sutherland.pdf  Date accessed:  14 December 2011

A short description of the various battles of the Wars of the Roses can be found on the website of the Richard III Society.

Dorothea Preis

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12
Mar

12 MARCH 1470

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Battle of Losecoat Field, at Tickencote Warren near Empingham, Rutland.  The Yorkists were led by Edward IV against Robert Welles, 8th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, and his men who had sided with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (‘The Kingmaker’).  Fast victory for the Yorkists.   A popular myth is that as they fled, Welles’ men quickly left their coats behind to avoid identification, which gave the battle its name.

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17
Feb

Second Battle of St Albans

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Second Battle of St Albans

St Michael’s Bridge and ford (© D Preis)

Second Battle of St Albans – a Lancastrian victory

The second Battle of St Albans was fought on 17 February 1461 between the Lancastrian forces under Margaret of Anjou (Henry VI’s queen) and the Yorkist forces under Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (‘The Kingmaker”).  It was won by the Lancastrian forces.  Henry VI was reunited with his wife and son.  The Yorkists, however, won the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 and with it the crown for Edwrad IV.

The photo shows St Michael’s Bridge and ford.  Part of the Lancastrian forces led by Sir Andrew Trollope entered St Albans via this ford.  The present bridge was only built in 1765, but it is considered to be the oldest still existing bridge in Hertfordshire.

The second Battle of St Albans was fought over a larger area than the first Battle of St Albans on 22 May 1455, which was concentrated on the streets in the town centre.

The website St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society has a map showing the area covered by both battles.

A short description of the various battles of the Wars of the Roses can be found on the website of the Richard III Society.

Dorothea Preis

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2
Feb

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Battle of Mortimer’s CrossBattle of Mortimer’s Cross, Herefordshire – Edward on the way to the throne

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross was fought on 2 February 1461 in Herefordshire,  It was an important battle in the Wars of the Roses.

In the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross the Yorkists were led by 18-year-old  Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).  They intercepted a  Lancastrian forces led by Owen Tudor and his son Jasper into England.  The Lancastrians outnumbered the Yorkists considerably and were better mounted and armed.  The Yorkists were encouraged by a parhelion, a meteorological phenomenon in which three suns appear.  This is the origin of Edward’s badge ‘The Sun in Splendour’.

Unfortunately the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross is not very well documented.  The fighting must have been ferocious in adverse weather conditions in the middle of winter.

After the battle Owen Tudor was captured and executed in Hereford, along with other prisoners of rank.

To find out more:

Mortimer’s Cross, Richard III Foundation.

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, Battlefields Resource Centre.

Jennifer Young, ‘The Mortimer’s Cross Parhelion: How a Meteorological Phenomenon Changed English History’, Decoded Science (2 October 2011).  URL:  http://www.decodedscience.com/the-mortimers-cross-parhelion-how-a-meteorological-phenomenon-changed-english-history/3437  [accessed 26 January 2015]

Dorothea Preis

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30
Dec

Battle of Wakefield

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Battle of Wakefield

Battle of Wakefield

The Battle of Wakefield was fought on 30 December 1460 in West Yorkshire.  Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Edmund, Earl of Rutland, father and brother of Edward IV and Richard III, were killed.  Also killed was Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury.  Their heads were stuck on poles and displayed over Micklegate Bar, York, the Duke wearing a paper crown.

For a thorough analysis of the battle read Helen Cox, The Battle of Wakefield Revisited:  A Fresh Perspective on Richard of York’s Final Battle, December 1460. You can read more on Helen’s website here.

And for visitors we recommend:  Helen Cox, Walk Wakefield 1460:  A Visitor Guide to Battle-Related Sites

A short description of the various battles of the Wars of the Roses can be found on the website of the Richard III Society.

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3
Sep

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?Thanks to Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill the phrase “Looking for Richard” became part of our lives and enthralled us through the search, discovery and final result. Then came the pride and emotion as we witnessed the re-interment – and acknowledgement of King Richard’s life in Leicester.

But what happens if you aren’t looking for Richard and he – and some historical connections – suddenly turn up when you least expect them, usually through a brief reference is a totally unexpected book.

I changed my mind about Richard’s character at the ripe old age of ten. I’d read the junior history books, seen the Millais’ portrait of those innocent little boys and even accepted the fact that in a pantomime The Babes in the Wood (at the Bournemouth Pavilion for the Dorset Group’s info) the wicked uncle wore black and had a hunchback. Hmm.

Then my sister and I saw a production of The Black Arrow at London’s Old Vic theatre and this was the cue for a major switch. This novel is subtitled A Tale of Two Roses and is set during the Cousin’s War. The young hero, Richard Shelton fighting for the Yorkists, becomes aware of a fierce encounter taking place. One of a small group of fighters is “so active and dexterous … so desperately did he charge and scatter his opponents … but so icy was the ground, one slip and his life would be forfeit.”

Young Richard of course comes to this man’s aid, the fight is won and he is “surprised to find in one who had displayed such strength skill and energy [was] a lad no older than himself – slightly deformed, with one shoulder higher than the other … The eyes, however, were very clear and bold.”

This is his first meeting with the young Duke of Gloucester, and after more fighting, Richard is knighted by the Duke for his valour, and finally, with the Duke’s royal consent, marries his love Joanna. RLS may well have been an early Ricardian …

A few years later, when reading one of English author Angela Thirkell’s delightful novels in which she picks up the descendants and places of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, and sets them in the mid-1900s, I rejoiced to find Mrs Morland praising The Black Arrow.

“Why Stevenson thought so poorly of that book I shall never understand. All my boys loved it … And it was the only thing that made me really interested in Richard Crookback, until I read that book by that clever woman with three names, who proved that Richard didn’t murder the little Princes in the Tower and was a hero all the time and not a villain.”

Well, we all know the name of that book, don’t we? It’s probably on everyone’s bookshelves even after all the years since it was published in 1951.

Another book I loved at about the same age was Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown. Twelve-year-old Maddy, an aspiring actress, learns about a film being made about a castle near her home. The kindly Bishop who is a family friend, takes her for lunch (with meringues) to soothe her misery at being left behind while her sister and older friends start at drama academy. Afterwards they go for a walk near the castle and he tells her that the film is about the daughter of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon. He has just found some old papers that reveal that “at twelve years old away she fledde, forsook her crown but saved her hedde”. Apparently there was a plan to put her on the throne after Henry VII died, but naturally Henry VIII would have none of it.

There are some pretty valid comments about the undesirability of this particular Tudor and his propensity for an axe and a block to dispense with those he no longer needed in his life!

Richard isn’t mentioned, but I liked the Tudor reference. And, of course, our 12-year-old finds out that the daughter of Arthur is being played by a well-known and glamorous actress and chaos inevitably ensues. Now guess who plays the role at the right age …

Ricardians who are also die-hard fans of detective novels will be familiar with the Inspector Lynley novels, by the American author Elizabeth George, a self-confessed supporter of the last Plantagenet king. Her references to him in many of her books give us enormous pleasure – as does the investigation through to pages to find his name! These are some of my favourites.

The Evidence Exposed:

This is a collection of three novellas, in one of which – I Richard – an interesting theory as to what happened to the Princes and, indeed, whodunit, is presented. With Philippa Langley’s new quest to discover an answer to the age-old mystery, you could appreciate the idea.

Well-Schooled in Murder

Sergeant Barbara Havers asks Lynley why the statue of Henry VII outside a school faces north, not south, towards the school entry.

“He wants us to remember his moment of glory. So he’s looking to the north, in the direction of Bosworth Field.”

“‘Ah. Death and treachery. The end of Richard III. Why does it always slip my mind that you’re a Yorkist… Do you spit on Henry’s tomb whenever you get the chance to slip down to the Abbey?”

He smiled. “Religiously. It’s one of my rare pleasures.”

Missing Joseph:

Lynley speaks to Deborah and Simon St James about the power of tourism: “Don’t people pay to see the Queen of Scots death mask?”

“Not to mention some of the grimmer spots of the Tower London,” St James said. “The Chapel Royal, Wakefield Tower.”

“Why bother with the Crown Jewels when you can see a chopping block?” Lynley added. “Crime doesn’t pay, but death brings them running with a few quid.”

“Is this irony from the man who’s made at least five personal pilgrimages to Bosworth Field on the twenty-second of August?” Deborah asked blithely. “… where you drink from the well and swear to Richard’s ghost that you would have fought for the Yorks?”

“That’s not death,” Lynley said with some dignity, lifting his glass to salute her. “That’s history, my girl. Someone’s got to be willing to set the record straight.”

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, is a recent publication I enjoyed. Set in an old, crumbling English manor, the heroine, living a lonely life there, is convinced that one night the resident ghost is around. The sound of footsteps, drifts of perfume and so on. According to local legend this is none other than Margaret of Anjou who stayed there on her way to join young Edouard, Lancaster Prince of Wales, at Tewkesbury, unaware that his death is imminent. It seems that the author assumed her readers would know exactly who Margaret was as there is no further reference to her back story, the Cousins’ War, or the fact that her companion would have been Anne Neville , the future queen and wife of Richard III.

The uncertainly and mystery about Richard has obviously struck a chord with many authors. One of those in the Golden Age of English Crime Writing was Dorothy L. Sayers who, in Have His Carcase has her noble detective Lord Peter Wimsey on the hunt for the killer of a young man whose body was found stranded on a rock off the Cornish coast. His quest takes him to the offices of theatrical agents where the photograph of the victim reminds one agent of someone who would have made “a good Judas”. “Or a Richard III,” says the other.

Then follows an interesting discussion of the guises Richard portrays in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The man who plots, the man who flies into tempers that, according these two, are as artificial as his love-making to Anne. As he leaves, Wimsey asks the Inspector who is with him what made them think of Richard III.

“Wasn’t he the fellow who made up his mind to be a villain?” to which Lord Peter confesses that he has “something on his mind and can’t seem get it out”. A nice cue to let you read on!

A further visit to a theatrical connection occurs in one of the other-authored sequels to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In Sally Beauman’s Rebecca’s Tale we meet one of those seeking to find the secrets of Rebecca’s life, and an obscure reference leads him to the memoirs of legendary actor manager Sir Frank McKendrick, who recalls the charming young actress Isabel Devlin who had died shortly after leaving his company.

“I grieved for her. I should add that Miss Devlin’s daughter was also at this time a member of our little “band of brothers” … she was a most unusual and wicked Puck at a very early age and was of great use to us in boys’ roles. I remember her as a swaggering but subtle young Princeling to my Richard III … but we heard no more of her after her mother died.”

Unusual, wicked, swaggering and subtle could all apply to the later mistress of Manderley.

And Shakespeare’s Edward V recalls another childhood book, Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes in which young Pauline’s portrayal of the role leads her on to the fortune that helps her family.

How many other books are there to prove that their authors found him just as significant as Ricardians? Information welcome!

 

The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson, published 1888.

Three Score and Ten, by Angela Thirkell, Hamish Hamilton, 1961

Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown, Nelson, 1945

The Evidence Exposed, by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton 1999. ISBN 0 34 075 063 0

Well-Schooled in Murder, by Elizabeth George Bantam, 1990. ISBN 0 553 401 167

Missing Joseph, by Elizabeth George, Bantam, 1993. ISBN 0 553 402 382

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, Michael Joseph, 2014. ISBN 978-0-718-17928-1

Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Gollancz 1932.

Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beaumont, Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0 316 858 137

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, Dent 1936.

 

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25
Mar

25 MARCH 1458

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Events in History

‘Love Day’ at St Paul’s. An attempt at reconciliation between the opposing Yorkists and Lancastrians, loyal to Henry VI, to resolve the feud resulting from the 1st Battle of St Albans (22 May 1455).   Then, on Lady Day (25 March), the King led a “love day” procession to St. Paul’s Cathedral, with Lancastrian and Yorkist nobles following him, hand in hand, among them Richard, Duke of York, with Queen Margaret of Anjou.

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20
Sep

THE TRUTH ABOUT RICHARD III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, News from Other Organizations

This is the title of a study day arranged by the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sydney on 26 October 2013.

The study day will be presented by Yvette Debergue, who is well-known to members and friends of the NSW branch from a variety of interesting talks.  Yvette is one of the centre’s leading presenters in the area of medieval history.  The day promises an in-depth look at the life of the last Plantagenet King.

Course content:

•    The King in the Car Park
•    The Wars of the Roses
•    King Richard III
•    A Twist in the Tale

Planned Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

1.     Develop an understanding of some of the social and familial reasons for the series of dynastic wars between the houses of York and Lancaster known as the Wars of The Roses.
2.     Evaluate and analyse the various sources for Richard III and his life and times.
3.     Recognise the reasons for the different depictions of Richard III throughout the ages in literature and history.
4.    Characterise the key factors in the discovery of the gravesite of Richard III and the positive identification of the body as that of the long dead, and much maligned, last Plantagenet King.

The part on the Greyfriars Dig will be presented by Dorothea of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society, who has given talks on this topic as well as various others to a variety of organizations in the Sydney area.

To find out more about the study day, please have a look at the attached flyer provided by the Centre for Continuing Education.  20130830 The Truth About Richard III

The day will cost $145, but members of the Richard III Society, the Plantagenet Society and the Military History Society will receive a 10% discount on quoting the code YDS1013.

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18
Jul

Guest Post by Helen Cox

   Posted by: Helen Cox    in News

History Matters: Shakespearean Battles at Towton

Helen Cox, author of two excellent books on the Battle of Wakefield, here tells us about her meeting with the Bard at Towton.  We are very grateful to Helen for making this article, which was first published on her blog, Helen Rae Rants!, available to us.  You can find out more about Helen on Herstory Writing & Interpretation.

On Sunday 14th July, history was made again on the battlefield at Towton in North Yorkshire, when the world-renowned Globe Theatre company performed a Shakespearean marathon – all three parts of Henry VI, at the site where some of the action in Part III actually took place in 1461.

I went with some trepidation, I confess; Shakespeare can be hard going, so the prospect of three plays back-to-back, (starting at 12.30 and finishing at 10 pm, with an hour’s break between them), was slightly daunting. However, thanks to Nick Bagnall’s superb direction and an equally superb cast, it was a joy – beautifully interpreted, easy to follow and altogether riveting. I boggled in amazement at what they achieved with imaginative use of a very simple set; no fancy backdrops or painted scenery, just scaffolding towers and a few bits of cloth – but it became everything from the gates of Orleans to Wars of the Roses killing fields to the Tower of London, and much more besides. (You’ll find some pictures of it, and a link to BBC 1′s Breakfast News item about the plays, on the News page of Herstory Writing & Interpretation).

The way the fighting was rendered was also massively impressive. How will they recreate Towton, (a battle where more than 20,000 men are said to have died), with a cast of 14, I’d wondered beforehand. Well, now I know: with the beating of enormous drums, the clash of swords on scaffolding poles, and a handful of actors facing the audience, performing slow-motion, stylised movements with their weapons. It worked beautifully – as did the well-choreographed one-on-one fight scenes that crop up throughout.

Although all the actors were marvellous, Henry VI, played by Graham Butler, was possibly my favourite. I particularly enjoyed his appearance in Part I; as an infant or young child while much of the action takes place, he naturally does not speak; but he was a dominant, silent presence in his central tower, reacting to the dialogue, shrinking in horror from the violence, studying his book or twiddling his thumbs. It was a clever, subtle, very effective way of evoking this hapless king’s character; and sometimes very funny, as when the juvenile Henry reaches down for an important scroll, only to have it whisked away from his groping fingers. Wonderful. But Mary Doherty also played a corking Margaret of Anjou, especially in Part III when she gleefully slays Richard of York. Simon Harrison’s Richard, Duke of Gloucester was another real treat, portrayed as the classic limping, withered-armed hunchback (archaeology has proved that he wasn’t really like that, but the acting had to fit Shakespeare’s script!). And he made a delicious, gloating villain; also very funny, and (not surprising!) warmly received by a Yorkshire crowd.

The performance ended with a sprightly dance on stage and a standing ovation from the audience – and by heck, those actors had earned it. But I wasn’t sorry to go home, because Part III (featuring the Battle of Towton) had given me the heebie-jeebies. As a member of Towton Battlefield Society, I’ve studied, written about and talked about that battle ad infinitum. I’ve ‘met’ some of the battle dead – at least, their poor mutilated skeletons. And as one of the Society’s Wars of the Roses re-enactors, I’ve been on that field (the site of the Lancastrian camp, close to the location of the mass graves made famous by Channel 4′s documentary, Blood Red Roses), at all hours of the day and night. I’ve even slept there on numerous occasions, waiting, hoping, wanting to feel some frisson of atmosphere – but it never really happened until Sunday. Maybe it was listening to the hours of near-contemporary language that did it… for the first time, I felt the full horror of Towton not just intellectually but physically. Yes, it had really happened, right where we were sitting… and as the evening wore on I kept tensing, expecting a rout of exhausted Lancastrians to come panting over the hill, pursued by screaming Yorkists on horseback, cut down and hacked to pieces; expecting to see blood and body parts around my chair; becoming deeply unsettled.

So I have The Globe Theatre to thank for that – not only the most amazing day of drama I’ve ever enjoyed, but the deepest, most poignant connection with the true history I’ve ever experienced on that field. I commend it to you, if you get chance to go; the company are taking it to three more battlefield sites: Tewkesbury on 4th August, St Albans on 8th August and Barnet on 24th August. (It’s also on at various theatres round the country… but it won’t be quite the same indoors!).

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