Friday, 19 March 2010

Escape Abroad

Richard, Duke of York and Edmund, Earl of Rutland escaped to Ireland, where York was remarkably popular by the standards of English Lords Lieutenants. More about Ireland in a later post.

Meanwhile Warwick, Salisbury and Edward, Earl of March (soon to be better known as Edward IV) made their way to Calais. They did not go directly to Calais, nor did they collect their £200. No, it appears they originally planned to go to Ireland too, but somehow found their way to the Channel Islands. To what extent this was a matter of navigation as opposed to a matter of prevailing winds - given that there were no steamships back then - I cannot say. One account has them going by way of Devon, which makes a certain sense, but how exactly they got to Devon is not clear.

By 2 November Warwick was in Calais, and in command of it. This tends to get taken for granted, but when you recall that a substantial chunk of the Calais garrison had deserted him at Ludlow Warwick must have arrived there in some doubt as to his reception.

Somerset had been appointed Captain of Calais in Warwick's room, but when he arrived there he was not admitted. He did manage to capture the fortress of Guines in the Calais March, but was promptly besieged in it. Since Warwick's fleet controlled the Channel it proved impossible to reinforce or supply Somerset and eventually (August 1460) the young duke was forced to capitulate.

Warwick's command of the seas was such that in January 1460 he was able to launch a pre-emptive assault on the town of Sandwich, under the command of Sir John Dynham. A Lancastrian force was based here to discourage a Yorkist invasion but its leaders, Richard, Lord Rivers, his son Anthony Woodville, and Lord Audley were captured and taken across to Calais. Here the Woodvilles were reportedly abused by Warwick and March on account of their 'low' origins and thrown into prison. I suppose they were lucky not to have their heads cut off. Audley - this is John Touchet, Lord Audley*, son of the Audley killed at Blore Heath - may have received kinder treatment. Anyway, he decided he was now a Yorkist.

Some may question whether the Woodvilles were low-born, given that Anthony's mother, Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford had a very impressive continental pedigree and was (under the Lancastrian dispensation) second-ranking lady after the Queen. The point is they were perceived as being low-born and jumped-up by Warwick and those who thought as he did. Richard Woodville had been born a squire and his wife's fancy foreign relations, to a 15th Century English mind, did not count for a hill of beans. Woodville had been 'made by marriage'.
The fact that Warwick, Salisbury and even York's father had been 'made by marriage' was neither here nor there. They belonged to 'good' English families you see, and their fathers had all been earls.

* Familiar to some of you as Alianore's kindly elder brother in The Adventures of Alianore Audley.

3 comments:

Antonia Woodville said...

Antony Wydeville (correct spelling of his name, please! No H in Antony until the end of the 16th century. Wish I had £1 for every time I've had to point that out to someone...) and his father were in no real danger of losing their heads in Calais. The three Earls needed to make an example of them, is all.
The full story is told in "Not The Shadow Of A Man" the life of Jacquetta Wydeville, due for release early in 2011 and later will be explored even further in "Such Is My Dance" the life of Antony, Lord Scales of Newcelles and the Isle of Wight, 2nd Earl Rivers, due out in a few years' time.
Meantime, disbelieve EVERYTHING written by eminent historians. Hardly a one of them has got it right.

Brian said...

Hi Antonia. I take your point, but English spelling was not standardised until the 18th Century. I happen to prefer the modern versions which is why I speak of Shakespeare rather than Shakeshaft or one of the other numerous versions the man himself used in his signatures.

For the same reason I don't propose to start referring to Henry of Lancastrie or Custance d'Everwyk even those these forms might be more 'authentic'.

As to the books they sound very interesting and I look forward to reading them. Anything that corrects all the eminent historians has to be worth having. I shall be very glad to give them publicity on here when published if the author so wishes.

John Foelster said...

A) I know what you mean, the use "He be" forms of the verb to be drove me up the wall as I read "Sunne in Splendour". It was as though they were speaking (and here's an Americanism for you) "ebonics".

B) Any particular reason you suddenly switch into italics in the last two paragraphs of this post? (The anal retentive former HTML editor rears his ugly head!)