Friday, 18 May 2012

Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (Part 1)

Somerset (this Somerset being Henry, the one who led the Lancastrians at Towton) fled to Scotland, but then in the summer of 1461 travelled to France in an attempt to gain assistance for his cause. Unfortunately for him, King Charles VII died in July, and the new King, Louis XI, promptly had Somerset thrown into prison. Louis had been at odds with his father and was now (apparently) keen to reverse his policies. The gesture was probably intended to please the aged Philip, Duke of Burgundy, with whom Louis had been lodging for some years. Philip was a strong Yorkist supporter.

Luckily for Somerset, Philip's son, Charles of Charolais (the future Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy) had taken a liking to the Beaufort when they had met on a previous occasion, and had him released. Somerset was given an audience with the King and sundry presents and sent back to Caledonia.

Queen Margaret of Anjou was not happy with this failure. For her own part she had found Scotland a somewhat limited source of assistance. James III was still a child and his mother, Queen Mary of Guelders, had her hands full keeping the country is some kind of order. In addition, it need scarcely be added, the Scots Treasury was in its usual state of emptiness. Nevertheless, Margaret promised to hand over Berwick in return for their help, such as it was or could be.

She now travelled to France to see what she herself could do with the new King. Louis kept he hanging about until May 1462 before he would even give her an audience. Then he demanded Calais as security for a relatively small loan and permission to recruit French soldiers. Queen Margaret agreed, and would probably have offered Kent and Sussex as well had he asked for it. She was desperate and had little choice.

In September 1462, Margaret was able to sail for the north of England with 800 French soldiers under command of a nobleman, Pierre de Breze. It was a hopelessly small force with which to make such an attempt, and the price of it (if theoretical) was outrageous. No English politician would have dared to suggest the surrender of Calais - it would have cost him his head. The surrender of both Calais and Berwick together would have been unthinkable - and yet Queen Margaret had agreed to it.

More in a few days...

The Adventures of Alianore Audley

Bewrite, who publish The Adventures of Alianore Audley have decided to stop printing books. All books, not just mine. This means that if you want a print copy you had better move swiftly while they are still to be had. You may already be too late, depending on what (if any) stocks are held.

The good news is that it will still be available in e-format, for Kindle, etc.

I now have the copyright back for the print version, and theoretically, if I can find a publisher interested in doing a print-only version, a new version might emerge at some point. Any offers gratefully received. (I've always thought an illustrated version would be fun, just need a cartoonist.)

You have this news almost as soon as I had