Saturday, 16 June 2012

Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, part 2

When Margaret landed her troops managed to capture Alnwick Castle, but attempts to recruit locally were not particularly successful. The local 'power' was the Percy family, but they had been badly mauled at Towton, to say the least, and their supporters were naturally wary of sticking their heads in the noose. Eventually news reached the Queen that King Edward was on his way with a substantial army, and she and her followers took to ship again, apparently with the intention of landing at Scots-held Berwick. Unfortunately (from a Lancastrian point of view anyway) storms blew up and the ships were scattered.

Margaret and de Breze did manage to reach Berwick (eventually, in half-drowned condition) but many of their followers fell victim to the storms and the local Yorkist supporters. Most of the advantage gained by going to France and cutting an expensive deal with Louis XI had now been lost, and the Scots remained somewhat lukewarm allies.

There were however some castles still in the hands of the Lancastrians. Notably the newly-captured Alnwick, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. Dunstanburgh was Duchy of Lancaster property, but not even John of Gaunt had lived there - it was, at best, a military fortress, not a mansion. Alnwick and Bamburgh, as former Percy residences, may have been a tad more comfortable. Anyway, most of the remaining Lancastrians garrisoned these strongpoints, with Somerset in charge at Bamburgh.

It was now of course the dead of winter. Queen Margaret was safe in Scotland, and from there a relieving force, headed by de Breze and the Earl of Angus, was prepared. Angus was (at least by the standards of the time) a very old man. He had actually fought at Homildon Hill in 1402, and been captured by Hotspur's army!

Meanwhile, Edward IV fell ill with measles and had to go to bed at Durham - who with is not recorded. This left Warwick in overall charge, and he promptly set sieges around the various Lancastrian castles. The potential arrival of a Scottish army did however make the Yorkist attitude a little more flexible than usual, and generous terms were offered for surrender, including the reversal of attainders. Those in Bamburgh (including Somerset) almost bit Warwick's hand off in their eagerness to accept. (26 December 1462). Dunstanburgh hauled down its flag next day. Alnwick proved somewhat tougher, as the garrison there had somehow got wind that relief was on its way. The siege broke on 6 January, and Lord Hungerford and the other die-hards got away to the Scots. However Angus decided enough was enough and went home without fighting, leaving the Yorkists free to take the castle all over again.

The Lancastrians who surrendered were in no case executed. Dr Morton simply went his way, eventually back to Queen Margaret. Jasper Tudor was also apparently given to understand that he was not welcome, and allowed to depart. On the other hand Somerset was made welcome. King Edward restored his estates and treated him with a degree of favour that was to draw complaints from the Neville brothers. I shall go into more detail in the next post.

No comments: