06 August 2006

Richard III- War of the Roses- England

The Battle of Bosworth marked the end of 24 years of Yorkist rule in England. Richard Plantagenet, now King Richard III was killed. He was struck down while apparently making a final desperate charge against Henry Tudor. It is said that he almost succeeded in bringing Henry down, which is evidenced by the death of the young Tudor's standard-bearer. As a standard-bearer of the time invariably stayed close to the commander he was serving, it is generally accepted that Henry was involved in some form of close combat. However, as we do know, it was Richard who met his demise. The King was later stripped naked and paraded through town slung over the back of a horse. His body was exposed to the public for two days, then inferred in a stone coffin in the Grey Friars Church at Leicester. Years later, when this church was destroyed, King Richard's bones were tipped into a river, and the coffin used as a horse trough outside the White Horse Inn in Gallow Tree Gate. Henry Tudor allegedly found Richard's crown under a hawthorn bush near the battle site and was claimed King of England from that day forward. This marked the beginning of the 120 year Tudor dynasty.

War of the Roses

Richard Neville, 1st Earl of Warwick, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, byname THE KINGMAKER (b. Nov. 22, 1428--d. April 14, 1471, Barnet, Hertfordshire, Eng.), English nobleman called, since the 16th century, "the Kingmaker," in reference to his role as arbiter of royal power during the first half of the Wars of the Roses (1455-85) between the houses of Lancaster and York. He obtained the crown for the Yorkist king Edward IV in 1461 and later restored to power (1470-71) the deposed Lancastrian monarch Henry VI.

The son of Richard Neville, 1st (or 5th) Earl of Salisbury (d. 1460), he became, through marriage, Earl of Warwick in 1449 and thereby acquired vast estates throughout England. In 1453 Warwick and his father allied with Richard, Duke of York, who was struggling to wrest power from the Lancastrian Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, chief minister to the ineffectual king Henry VI. The two sides eventually took up arms, and, at the Battle of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, in May 1455, Warwick's flank attack won a swift victory for the Yorkists. As his reward Warwick was appointed captain of Calais, an English possession on the coast of France. From Calais he crossed to England in 1460 and defeated and captured Henry VI at Northampton (July 10). York and Parliament agreed to let Henry keep his crown, probably because of the influence of Warwick, who preferred to have a weak king.

The situation soon changed, however. York and Warwick's father, the Earl of Salisbury, were killed at the Battle of Wakefield, near Pontrefact Castle, Yorkshire in December 1460, and on Feb. 17, 1461, the Lancastrians routed Warwick at St. Albans and regained possession of the king. Retreating, Warwick joined forces with York's son Edward; they entered London unopposed, and on March 4, 1461, Edward proclaimed himself king as Edward IV. Later that month Warwick and Edward won a decisive victory over the Lancastrians at Towton, Yorkshire.

Although Warwick wielded the real power for the first three years of Edward's reign, gradually the king began to assert his independence. Warwick hoped to marry Edward to a French noblewoman--thereby gaining France as an ally--but Edward spoiled this scheme by secretly wedding Elizabeth Woodville in May 1464. Tensions between the two men mounted as Edward provided his wife's relatives with high state offices.

Warwick then won to his side Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence. In August 1469 they seized and briefly detained the king and executed the queen's father and one of her brothers. A fresh revolt engineered by Warwick broke out in northern England in March 1470; after suppressing it, Edward turned on Warwick and Clarence, both of whom fled to France (April 1470). There Warwick was reconciled with his former enemy, Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI's wife. Returning to England in September 1470, he drove Edward into exile and put Henry VI on the throne. Once more Warwick was master of England. Edward landed in the north in March 1471, however, and on April 14 his troops killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. [Encyclopaedia Britannica CD, 1996, WARWICK, RICHARD NEVILLE, 1ST EARL OF]

"Richard Neville [Earl of Warwick] was a Yorkist because of his family connections. He held a command at the battle of St. Albans in 1455 that brought about the defeat of the Lancastrians and the capture of Henry VI. By 1461, the Yorkists had won the first war of succession and the son of the Duke of York became King Edward IV.

However, Neville's power began to wane when Edward married Elizabeth Woodville [Wydeville]. Plotting with Edward's brother, the Duke of Clarence, he raised an army in 1469 and took the king prisoner, holding him at Warwick Castle. Trying to rule through a captive king proved futile, and Warwick [Neville] fled to France, pledging his allegiance to the exiled wife of Henry VI. He then returned to England, overthrew Edward, and restored Henry to the throne.

Deserted by the Duke of Clarence a week earlier, Warwick's army, which had been following Edward towards London, reached Barnet during Saturday 13th April. The Lancastrians numbered around 15000 men. By late evening, the 12000 strong Yorkist and Burgundian force under Edward had gathered in darkness opposite Warwick's men. As a watery light filtered across the sky at 4.30 am on Easter Sunday, the facing armies found themselves shrouded in a heavy mist. Fierce fighting began almost immediately.

Initial success went to the Lancastrians. However, confusion and unfounded suspicions of treachery soon broke out amongst Warwick's ranks. His army fell away and by 8 am with around 3000 strewn dead on the field, the battle of Barnet was over.

Warwick was caught by Yorkist troops as he tried to reach his horse. He was stripped naked and killed, and his body, along with the body of his brother Montagu were left on public display for two days, before being buried at Bisham Abbey. The death of the Kingmaker Earl was mourned by many, but welcomed by more."

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