Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Margaret turns back from London

London now lay completely at the mercy of Margaret of Anjou and her Lancastrian army. The citizens had no thought of resistance and sent out a team of noble female negotiators to secure terms. It was led by none other than Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, mother of Dame Elizabeth Grey. Another great lady, Cecily, Duchess of York, was meanwhile busily engaged in packing her younger sons, George and Richard, off to the safety of Burgundy.

The Mayor had asked for a guarantee from pillage. Ordinary Londoners were ordered to stay behind doors, and, as a further attempt to placate the Lancastrians a convoy of food was prepared. This was pillaged by a mob of angry Yorkist fans as it attempted to pass out of the city via Newgate, and it appears the 'lower orders' rejected the official city policy and manned the defences. Margaret and her army - which it must be remembered included many Scots, to say nothing of Northerners - were not widely trusted.

On the face of it, Margaret could have overwhelmed the city by force of arms. However, it appears she had no siege equipment, while some of the Scots were already making their way home with their booty. There was also the little matter of the Yorkist army undefeated in their rear. It would have been extremely inconvenient to be trapped between the city defences and Edward of York.

It is not too hard, therefore, to understand why Margaret and her advisers chose to retreat to Yorkshire, though in some ways in was a missed opportunity. The strategic importance of holding London can scarcely be exaggerated. If the Lancastrians had taken possession of the city, it would have made Edward's next step much more complicated.

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