Friday, 30 April 2010
It was necessary to form a new government and it was more or less as narrowly based as the last Yorkist administration, heavily reliant on Nevilles and Bourchiers. George Neville (Warwick's brother) became Chancellor. Viscount Bourchier (York's brother-in-law) was made Treasurer.A certain Robert Stillington was made Keeper of the Privy Seal. Parliament was summoned with a view to achieving a new settlement, Richard Duke of York naturally receiving a summons even though technically still under attainder.
The Tower (18 July) was taken. It was on this occasion that for some reason Warwick had certain members of Exeter's household executed, though most of the garrison - including Scales - were allowed to toddle off where they would. Scales was subsequently murdered by a mob, but this was not Warwick's fault.
Most of Henry's jewels and ready cash had been stolen during July, so the government was even more penniless than usual. Warwick negotiated the surrender of Guisnes - which involved letting Somerset go free but at least secured Calais and thus London's trade with the continent. However the regime remained weak pretty much everywhere outside the South East and its control over the far West, the North and most of Wales was more nominal than actual.
The following post is by Stephen Lark, and all credit belongs to him. Thanks for the contribution, Stephen!
Three weeks after Northampton, a Scottish army gathered in the grounds of Roxburgh Castle, determined to add to Lancastrian woes. The castle had been in English hands almost continuously since Edward I’s time, although it was not in good condition. James I had attempted to take it on several occasions but his assassination in 1437 halted the strategy due to the minority of his son.
James II came of age at the end of the following decade and determined to recapture Roxburgh and other Border castles. Henry VI’s difficulties aided James in this as his armies took Abercorn and Threave in 1455, formerly held by the Earls of Douglas. James’ character was passionate – hinted at by a prominent facial birthmark and an interest in guns. 1457 saw him order “Mons Meg”, a particularly large cannon.
James’ army lay siege to Roxburgh as July 1460 gave way to August. “Mons Meg” had already misfired once, killing its skilled French gunner but it was repaired as the English army remained inside the castle. On August 3, James took the decision to test-fire his cannon again – Neil Oliver suggests that this was a grand romantic gesture for his queen, Marie of Guelders – with fatal effects. The cannon shattered, a shard severed James’ leg, he died almost instantaneously - and the garrison surrendered.
Roxburgh Castle was soon demolished and a wooden structure added to the site in the 1540s, but not for long. A “James II Holly” marks the spot where a Scottish King died, at his moment of long-planned triumph, in the grounds of the C18 Floors Castle, still the home of the Dukes of Roxburghe. Kelso lies to the east - James III was crowned a week later at its Abbey, his mother serving as Regent until her death in 1463. Either side of the site are the Teviot and Tweed. “Mons Meg”, reconstructed again, sits in Edinburgh Castle.
2010 marks the 550th anniversary of the end of the siege – and August 2 will be a Bank Holiday in Scotland.
The morning of 10 July was spent in fruitless negotiation. Warwick kept finding ways to ask for an interview with Henry VI and Buckingham (Lord Constable and Henry's military commander) kept finding ways of saying 'no.' Whether discussion would have achieved anything is questionable, but maybe the Lancastrian leaders feared that Henry would settle for some compromise and were confident of victory.
It is one of the curiousities of the Wars of the Roses that the side that attacked boldly tended to win over the one holding a defensive line. At two o' clock in the afternoon the Yorkists went forward in heavy rain - well, it was England in July! The Lancastrian cannons did not appreciate the weather and worked poorly and it may be that the archers' effectiveness was also reduced, as bow-strings were very vulnerable to water. (Archers usually hid their strings under their hats if marching in wet weather.)
However the key factor was the decision of Lord Grey de Ruthin, on the Lancastrian flank, to change sides. It is highly unlikely that this was a spur of the moment decision, although how exactly the defection was arranged is unknown. (I can only assure you that Alianore Audley was not involved.)
Anyway, instead of fighting Grey's men assisted the Yorkists over the ditch and stakes, and then joined them. The Lancastrian flank was thus cruelly exposed and rolled up. Within half an hour the battle was over.
Acting on orders, the Yorkist soldiers were particularly keen to hunt down and kill the enemy nobles, knights and gentlemen, while disregarding the escaping common soldiers. Buckingham, Shrewsbury, Egremont and Beaumont were all killed. Henry VI was captured in his tent and treated with due respect.
(Grey de Ruthin's grandfather, as readers of Within the Fetterlock will recall, was a strong supporter of Bolingbroke, and his mother, Constance Holland, was Henry IV's niece. It is perhaps surprising that a peer with such an impeccable Lancastrian background should defect, but he became a staunch Yorkist and was created Earl of Kent by Edward IV in 1465. He outlived the Yorkist dynasty, surviving until 1490.)