Saturday, 26 March 2011

Trouble in t'North

Although Edward's policy, after the executions following Towton, was one of conciliation and pardon, there were still a large number of irreconcilable Lancastrians at large, not least those in exile in Scotland or lying low in the far north of England. The King did not see fit to deal with this problem himself - admittedly he must have had many other matters on his plate - but was content to leave it to his Neville kinsmen, especially Warwick and Warwick's brother, John, Lord Montagu.

Margaret of Anjou, meanwhile, had concluded an alliance with Queen Mary of Guelders, the Scottish regent, on the basis that the Scots would receive Berwick in return for military assistance. Edward himself had been trying to come to terms with Scotland, but the offer of Berwick effectively outbid him. For the time being his enemies, including Henry VI and Margaret, had a secure base.

Edward's reaction was to make use of the Earl of Douglas and his brother, Scots lords exiled in England, to make approaches to other discontented Scots with a view to a little regime change across the border. This had little immediate effect and in June a combined Scottish/Lancastrian force made an attempt on Carlisle. John Neville rapidly raised the siege, if siege it could be called.

Later the same month Henry VI himself, backed by Lord Roos and other Lancastrian nobles, came to Brancepeth Castle, where they raised the standard of revolt. Again, this incursion was easily suppressed, this time by the Bishop of Durham who had evidently decided that his loyalties now lay with Edward IV.

In late summer Warwick managed to establish Yorkist control over much of Northumberland, taking Alnwick and Dunstanburgh Castles, the former a Percy stronghold, the latter a windswept outpost of the Duchy of Lancaster. Sir Ralph Percy, brother of the Northumberland killed at Towton, was allowed to continue as Constable of Dunstanburgh. This may have been part of the general policy of conciliation; equally it may simply be the case that no one else was available who had both Yorkist sympathies and local clout.

Yorkist control of the area remained tenuous. A few months later a Lancastrian force under William Tailboys was able to recapture Alnwick, while Lord Dacre of Gisland took up residence in his own castle of Naworth, near Carlisle, and offered defiance to the government. There was still a great deal of fighting to be done.

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