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.
Posts Tagged ‘Yorkists’
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.”
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.
‘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.
This article is by Stephen Lark, a Ricardian friends from Ipswich, Suffolk. We thank Stephen for making it available to us. It was first published in the Journal of the American Branch of the Richard III Society, Ricardian Register, Vol.43, No.2 (June 2012).
Thomas Stafford was executed on this day in 1557.
This is the story of Richard’s controversial and, consequently, short-lived great great nephew. Genealogical tables can be included, showing his Clarence and Stafford descent, also his relationships with the Hastings family (William, Lord Hastings, and the Earls of Huntingdon).
He is of particular interest as the first proven legitimate Yorkist to initiate a rebellion against the Tudor regime and I feel passionately that he does not deserve his present relative obscurity. I shall attempt to answer some of the mysteries surrounding his life and actions.
Thomas Stafford was born between 1530 and 1533, in about 1531, according to the original DNB, or 1533 in the new edition. At this time, four of Henry VIII’s key advisers (Cromwell, More, Cranmer and the recently deceased Wolsey) all bore the forename Thomas, which may explain his parents’ choice.
His father was Henry Stafford, only son of Edward, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Eleanor Percy. His mother was Ursula Pole, only daughter of Sir Richard Pole and Lady Margaret Plantagenet (daughter of George, Duke of Clarence). Thomas’ parents married in February 1519, expecting to succeed to the Duchy but this did not happen because Edward was executed in 1521 for “treasonable utterances”.
He is supposed to have said that, were the King to die childless, he would seek the throne and to have consulted a fortune-teller about this. Burke’s says that he was executed “for his vanity and loquacity”. Shakespeare, in Henry VIII portrays him as a plotter, as did the recent ITV film.
His attainder was reversed soon afterwards and Henry was recreated Baron Stafford in 1548.
Thomas was the ninth of fourteen children born to Henry and Ursula Stafford during a 44-year marriage. Many of these, as was usual, died in infancy, including Henry, the eldest. Another Henry was, the eldest surviving son and became the 2nd Baron; Edward became the 3rd Baron and progenitor of the senior branch ever since; Richard was the father of Roger (Froyde) Stafford (an old man deprived of the title under Charles I, for his poverty, after it had passed to him on the initial failure of Edward’s male line).
Dorothy married Sir William Stafford of Grafton (a very distant cousin whose grandfather Sir Humphrey Stafford had been executed in 1486), becoming the mother of William Stafford (1554-1612), a later rebel. For further Stafford genealogy, see Robinson or the author’s Stafford Line (Mid-Anglia Group, 2004). The Buckingham and Grafton lines separated some time in the thirteenth century but Sir William and Dorothy’s marriage partially reunited them.
During Thomas’ childhood, his paternal aunt, Margaret Stafford (Lady Bulmer), was executed with her husband (1537) for their part in the “Pilgrimage of Grace”, his maternal grandmother and uncle (Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1541) and Henry Pole, Baron Montagu (1539)) both beheaded.
He grew up knowing that his father’s family was one of the oldest in England, his earliest known ancestors being born in the tenth century and, also being of Beaufort stock, were closely related to the Tudor monarchs. His mother’s father was of Lancastrian stock and her mother, as daughter of the Duke of Clarence, was of the Yorkist royal line.
He would also have become aware how dangerous this combination of ancestry could be.
Little is known of his education but Thomas toured Europe in the early fifties, including Paris (1550), Rome (where he was to visit his uncle, Cardinal Reginald Pole), Venice (where he stayed until summer 1553) and Poland, where King Sigismund Augustus received him, writing to Queen Mary to suggest that the young man be restored to his grandfather’s Duchy, although his brother, Henry, was alive and was knighted in 1553.
In Rome, Cardinal Pole tried to re-convert Stafford to Catholicism. In Venice, Stafford was permitted to view the jewels of St. Mark and the armoury halls; furthermore he and two servants were permitted to carry arms.
Thomas returned to join the Wyatt conspiracy (probably under Henry of Suffolk in the Midlands), being briefly imprisoned in the Fleet – at the same time, Stafford’s cousin, Francis of Huntingdon, and his son, Lord Henry Hastings, were detained in the Tower. He then developed a violent objection to Mary’s Spanish marriage although it is not known whether, like Edward Courtenay (12th Earl of Devon), he considered himself as an alternative suitor.
He declared that she had forfeited the throne, thereby ignoring the claims of Princess Elizabeth, Mary Stuart as a descendant of Margaret Tudor, any remaining descendants of Henry VII’s daughter Mary (i.e. Lady Catherine Grey) and his own brother, Sir Henry.
On his release, Thomas travelled to Fontainebleau, residence of Cardinal Pole, who refused to meet him again, embarrassed at his objection to Mary’s choice of husband, moving on to the Low Countries to mix in extreme Protestant circles, which emphasised his belief that he was destined for greater things.
He had a seal made, consisting of the undifferenced royal arms, tantamount to claiming the throne and, therefore, a treasonable act. Thomas fell out with many of his fellow exiles, such as his brother-in-law Sir William Stafford (Hicks calls him Sir Robert), attempting to assassinate Sir William Pickering (April 1554) and, after further imprisonment in Rouen (1556), left for Dieppe.
After his restoration, Edward IV granted Scarborough Castle to the Duke of Gloucester who visited it in 1484. Perkin Warbeck promised it to his “aunt”, Margaret of Burgundy. Robert Aske led a siege during the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 but troops led by Sir Ralph Evers withstood it. The castle was located in the Catholic north-east of England, accessible by sea but easily defensible.
Thomas Stafford and his band of thirty-five men sailed in two ships from Dieppe on 18 April (Easter Sunday), landed on the Yorkshire coast, sailed up to the undefended Scarborough Castle on 25 April and took the garrison completely by surprise. He warned that the Spanish marriage would enslave the English people, that Scarborough and other castles would be ceded to the Spanish, proclaimed himself Lord Protector and announced his intention to reclaim his grandfather’s title (a pretext employed by Henry of Bolingbroke in 1399, Richard of York in 1460 and Edmund of Suffolk in 1502).
However, the rebellion failed to gather momentum and the local militia acted swiftly. Under Henry Neville, Earl of Westmorland (Thomas’ uncle), they retook the castle. Many of the rebels (who included four Scots) were summarily hanged (hence the phrase “Scarborough warning”, meaning none at all) and others were executed across Yorkshire. Thomas was taken to London and tried for treason, beheaded at Tower Hill on 28 May and buried at St. Peter ad Vincula. With the other executed rebels, he was attainted. Two of his party were pardoned.
The DNB (both editions) says that he was drawn, hanged and quartered but, his father having been restored to the Barony nine years earlier, this seems unlikely. John Strype (1643-1737) confirms that Stafford was beheaded, his work being re-published in 1822, names many of the co-conspirators and includes both Stafford’s and Mary’s proclamations: “May 28: Stafford was beheaded on Tower Hill”.
As a consequence of the rebellion, Queen Mary declared war on France, during which the French took Calais, England’s last possession on the continent.
Five years later, Elizabeth almost died from smallpox. Lord Henry Hastings (now the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon), together with Lady Catherine Grey, was on the shortlist of successors considered by Parliament – a Yorkist heir who would have inherited the throne peaceably and went on to serve Elizabeth at the highest level for twenty-three years.
Early sources claimed that the Scarborough raid had official French backing because Thomas was a continental Protestant and England’s Catholic Queen was married to a Spaniard. According to Hicks, this is unlikely, as Henri II would have wished to avoid provoking an Anglo-Spanish alliance. Other theories, such as Thomas as a “stalking horse” or victim of Tudor provocation, are also rejected; indeed the reports you may read can be taken at face value.
Both DNB editions, Burke’s and the Complete Peerage all claim that Thomas had a surviving elder brother. His parents’ first son, Henry, died very young and Thomas’ other brother by that name (later the second Baron) seems to have been born by 1527 and Edward (3rd Baron) in 1536. These three “standard sources” do not correspond perfectly and interpretation is important.
There is a little scope for confusion but, having exchanged e-mail with Professor Hicks during which he summarised one of his sources (1534 pedigree: British Library MS 6672 f.193), Thomas’ position in the family has probably been finalised. However, he claimed on several occasions to have been born before Sir Henry. This seems to be analogous to the Lancastrian fantasy (of Henry III’s sons) that formed the basis to their claim.
Dictionary of National Biography (Entry by A.F. Pollard, 1897).
New Dictionary of National Biography (Entry by Michael Hicks, 2004).
The Staffords (J.M. Robinson, 2002).
The Earlier Tudors (J.D. Mackie, 1952).
The Tower of London: The Official Illustrated History (Edward Impey & Geoffrey Parnell).
Elizabeth I: A Study of Power and Intellect (Paul Johnson, 1974)
Ecclesiastica Memoria (John Strype, volume 3 part 2, 67-9, 513-9, 1721-33).
We all know Helen Cox from her fascinating analysis of the Battle of Wakefield.
This new book will be essential reading if you plan to visit the site of this decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses, or are just interested in seeing the historical setting in today’s geography. Both are aspects which interest me, so Walk Wakefield 1460 has top place on my wish list.
This new book covers the campaign of the winter of 1460, from its opening skirmish at Worksop to the grisly aftermath in York, through sites connected with the battle. Each section of the concise illustrated guide features a brief history, directions to the sites (including maps), and up-to-date information on opening times and admission charges for visiting. The sites covered are:
Worksop Priory & Castle
Duke of York’s Monument
The Battlefield at Wakefield Green
St Mary’s Chantry Chapel
Micklegate Bar & York City Walls
The book will be launched at Waterstones Booksellers, The Ridings Shopping Centre, Wakefield, on Saturday 19 March 2011, from 11h00 -13h00. What a pity, this is just before my trip to the UK to attend the Blood and Roses Weekend in Oxford. Should you be in the area though, I am sure Helen would be delighted to see you and sign a copy for you.
You can also get signed copies of both Helen’s books at the Friends of Sandal Castle Open Meeting at Sandal Castle Visitor Centre on Saturday, 26 March, when she will be speaking alongside popular author Keith Souter on ‘Sandal Castle in Fact and Fiction’.
And for all those who cannot be there, we can order this publication from YPD Books.
Watch this space for more news after the launch!
To commemorate the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 a fascinating new DVD is available. It is based on a BBC documentary, but includes so much more which due to time constraints had to be cut out of the documentary. This is not to be missed.
On a cold and snowy day in 1461 Henry VI’s Lancastrians and Edward IV’s Yorkists met on a field near Towton in Yorkshire. It has been estimated that 100 000 men fought at the 12 hour battle. At the end of the day approx. 28 000 men were dead, an equivalent of 1% of the English population at the time, Britain’s bloodiest battle.
During building work in 1996 the workmen found a mass burial pit from the battle. This was excavated and analysed by archaeologists of the University of Bradford. The results from this investigation have helped tremendously in our knowledge of the fighting in the period of the Wars of the Roses, as anyone who has read the book Blood Red Roses will know. Read the rest of this entry »
St Albans – Hertfordshire
When considering which could be my next Ricardian Place in Hertfordshire, the recent 555th anniversary of the First Battle of St Albans (22 May 1455) offered the obvious answer. During our life in England St Albans was a popular haunt for us, for shopping, eating out or just soaking up the atmosphere. I also happened to have a number of private students there – hello to Tony and Jacky, should you read this.
There have been settlements in the St Albans area for a long time. The first that we know of was by the Celtic Catuvellauni tribe, who called it ‘Verlamion’. During the Roman period it became ‘Verulanium’, the second largest town in England after Londinium, situated on Watling Street heading north. Most of the remains of the Roman town are today covered by Verulanium Park, but some parts have been excavated and can be visited. For instance the Hypocaust (including an in situ mosaic); the Roman Theatre of Verulamium; and the remains of the Roman city walls and London gate. Read the rest of this entry »