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The Wars of the Roses Page 2

During the uneasy peace that followed, the Lancastrians gained the upper hand and in October 1459 York and his ally Warwick the Kingmaker prepared to meet the Lancastrians under Margaret of Anjou. When the main Lancastrian army appeared however, York and Warwick were deserted by their men and they were forced to flee into exile. York went to Ireland and Warwick to Calais.

The following year, Warwick returned and captured Henry at Northampton on July 10 1460. The battle lasted a mere half hour before the Lancastrians under Humphrey Stafford duke of Buckingham were routed. York claimed the crown but the magnates shied away from the constitutional implications and only recognised him as the heir. The implied disinheritance of Henry’s young son, Prince Edward was too much for Margaret and she began to raise an army in the north. York was determined to frustrate her and marched north with his army. The two met at Wakefield on December 30th 1460 where the superior Lancastrian forces won the day and killed York. Following up her advantage, Margaret repossessed Henry after the second Battle of St Albans in February 1461.

Margaret failed to follow up her advantage and fled north again having failed to take London. The Yorkists now set up the son of Richard of York as King Edward IV and he defeated Margaret at Towton on 29th March 1461. This was perhaps the most decisive battle of the feud and involved up to 50,000 combatants. After a day-long fight in a snowstorm the Lancastrians were thoroughly routed and Edward was effectively master of England.

The war might have now ended were it not for the increasing frustration of Warwick. Seeing his hopes of ruling through Edward become increasingly unr4ealistic he formed an alliance with the duke of Clarence and fomented a number of rebellions during 1469-70. I n October 1470 he defected to the Lancastians and Edward was forced into exile and Henry VI restored to the throne. Six months later, however, Edward returned and outwitting Warwick took London on April 12th. Henry VI effectively became a prisoner and was forced to join Edwards army as it marched to intercept Warwick who was slain t the Battle of Barnet on the 14th April.

On May 4th 1471 Edward intercepted the Lancastrian army, led by Margaret and Prince Edward, at Tewkesbury. Prince Edward was killed and Margaret was captured and taken back to London where she was lodged in the Tower. Edward arrived back in London on May 21 and on that night, between eleven and midnight, Henry VI was executed. Edward was now more firmly established than ever and twelve years of domestic peace followed. However, on his death in 1483, the usurpation of Richard III alienated many of the Yorkist supporters and paved the way for the invasion of the Lancastrian forces led by Henry, duke of Richmond. His decisive victory at Bosworth Field established the long Tudor dynasty. His defence of his crown at the battle of Stoke on June 16th 1487 is seen as the last real battle of the War of the Roses.

Books about the Wars of the Roses:
The Military Campaigns of the Wars of…
The Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses (A Royal History…
The Wars of the Roses : Politics and the…
Wales & Wars of Roses
The Red Queen: Margaret of Anjou and the…

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