Sunday, December 25, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
The Battle of Bosworth began when Oxford led the Beaufort left against the far right flank of the Yorkist host lead by Devon, but then Warwick and his men appeared behind the Beaufort army. In a risky maneuver, Warwick and his men had risen and assembled early before circling around their opponents’ right flank in a forced march that positioned them in-between center and right flank of the Beaufort army. The surprise rear assault caused mass confusion in the Beaufort army that Salisbury and Fauconberg quickly took advantage of as they attacked the isolated right flank of the Beaufort army. Richard III ordered Cobham to engage Somerset’s center before leading the center of his army to cut off the attacking left flank of the Beauforts. The confused and cut off Beaufort right flank quickly collapsed in the face of the Neville brothers’ assault and the fleeing troops escaped in the only direction they could find, right towards the center of Beaufort army. The Beaufort center had already engaged Cobham’s attack while fending off Warwick in the rear when their fleeing comrades raced into their ranks with Salisbury and Fauconberg’s men chasing after them. Somerset ordered a retreat and attempted to move whatever he could closer to Oxford’s forces, he found his way suddenly blocked by Richard III and his men not having yet engaged the attacking Oxford. The Beaufort army completely disintegrated as men ran for their lives or surrendered wholesale. Henry Beaufort had been killed when his men collapsed in face of the assault of Salisbury & Fauconberg while the Duke of Somerset was injured as he attempted to escape and was captured by Warwick himself. Oxford, having done the best he could, retreated towards Stamford.
By early in the afternoon the Battle of Bosworth was a complete Yorkist victory as the Beaufort forces were either dead, fled, or captured. Warwick presented the wounded Somerset, under heavy guard, to Richard III. The King ordered his rival to be put in chains and his wound given attention so that he could not escape justice for the crime of treason. Richard III then pardoned all the commoners that had fought for Somerset and commanded that the decree should be read in every church so that none should fear for his life then allowed those captured to return home, but with the warning that if they committed any crimes on their return home their lives would be forfeit for committing treason. As for the knights and nobles that had been taken captive, Richard III kept them prisoner so that they could be judged after his coronation. The King then allowed his army the right to take booty from the Beaufort camp. After the formalities of victory, Richard III retired to his tent with his commanders and ate a celebratory meal.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
On 7 February, the nearly 10,000 strong army led by Somerset headed south to Stamford where it was joined by a force led by the Oxford swelling its number to nearly 13,500. On 9 February, the Richard III’s army arrived at Northampton to learn that Somerset was headed for Coventry by way of Leicester. On 12 February, the Neville army marched into northern Leicestershire and headed towards a rendezvous with Richard III in the western part of the county hoping to intercept Somerset. On the afternoon of 14 February, units of all three armies arrived around the small town of Bosworth during the rest of the day the small village swelled to a city with the arrival of a combined 49,000 armed men from both sides, with Richard III outnumbering Somerset roughly 5-to-2.
As night fell, Somerset decided that he would engage Richard’s larger army as early the next day as possible for the element of surprise and in the ensuing chaos either get the victory or give himself time to retreat to fight on more favorable terms against either one of the Yorkist armies. However, Oxford tried to persuade him to attack and defeat the Neville army then retreat before the larger army of Richard could engage them. The self-styled Edmund I decided against Oxford’s plan as it could have been seen as if he was frightened of Richard. Meanwhile in the Yorkist camp, the King held a council of war with his senior commanders and the consensus was for the Nevilles to attack Somerset’s right while the King attacked Somerset’s left. Warwick in particular was vocal in this and many believed he had something up his sleeve in response to the humiliating propaganda that the Beauforts had put out against him. After the council, Salisbury and Fauconberg told the King they would do their best to ensure Warwick wouldn’t do anything reckless.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
On 30 December, Edmund, Norfolk, and Devon joined up with York, Edward, and Cobham outside London. The Yorkist army was welcomed into London, securing the Tower and the city. Late in the afternoon the Duke of York entered the City of London before heading for Westminster Hall where he sat upon the throne and was formally proclaimed Richard III by those present. The Yorkist control of London, Canterbury, and southern England combined with the York-supporting Nevilles domination of the North made the proclamation very near reality. However, when Somerset heard the news he attained all those that followed the ‘false king Richard,’ before continuing his march northwards on the road to Chester.
As 1454 began, Richard III took control of the government bureaucracy in London while sending his forces to the cities of Barnet, St. Alban’s, and Oxford to clear them of Beaufort loyalists. The Earl of Oxford and Edmund Beaufort escaped from Barnet with their forces to Norwich. In the north, the Nevilles had been gathering forces for Richard and with Somerset so close it was decided by Salisbury, Warwick, and Fauconberg to march south. The three men each took a third of their total force and started on different routes southward, hoping to lure Somerset towards a fight. By that time Somerset was leaving Chester and turned eastward and the city of York.
On 16 January, outside Nottingham the forces under Warwick confronted a part of the Beaufort army and fighting quickly ensued. Warwick’s smaller force held its own the entire day as his father and uncle raced to reinforce him, however the winter weather was hampering everyone. Unfortunately, the entire Beaufort army was closer and Warwick found his force at a numerical disadvantage even though they were controlling the field. The young Neville sent a small charge to push the Beaufort army back to allow the rest of his force to disengage from the field and head towards Newark where he linked up with his father and uncle. The Battle of Nottingham was a draw with Warwick gaining a tactical victory by preserving his force to fight another day while inflicting heavy losses to the enemy in both actual numbers and proportion of the total force killed, however it was a strategic victory for Somerset in forcing Warwick from the field and stopping the overall Neville advance. And according to the Beaufort propaganda it was a major defeat for Warwick, who was portrayed as a coward running from the battlefield. That humiliation would have major ramifications weeks later.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
On 14 December, the Earl of Ormond came upon a column of the Yorkist army outside of Swindon and attacked it believing it to be just Devon’s force only to found himself facing a host that vastly outnumber his own. The battle was over in 90 minutes and those among Ormond’s force not dead either fled back to their homes or were captured. The Battle of Swindon gave York a victory, but considering that he almost outnumbered the Beaufort supporters nearly 5-to-1, it wasn’t a major one. However, Yorkist propaganda went into effect and the news was spread that the styled Richard III defeated a supporter of the usurper Somerset but graciously forgave the commoners and sent them home. After the battle, York presented his son Edward to the contingent of Cornish soldiers that Devon had recruited. Edward was then proclaimed the Duke of Cornwall, a title usually assumed by the king’s eldest son, and put him in command of the soldiers, if only nominally.
After Swindon, Ormond escaped to Southampton where he boarded a ship that took him to his estates in Ireland. The Duke of York with his eldest son followed with about 5000 men after Ormond but arrived too late to capture him. The two then started along the coast securing the port cities for the Yorkist cause, but didn’t seem to be heading towards London, which seemed odd. But a near 10,000 man army nominally led by Edmund, but with the Norfolk and Devon in actual command, headed towards London. The split of the Yorkists seemed very strange, especially with York commanding the smaller force that wasn’t heading to London.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Somerset had set off from Barnet to St. Alban’s on 12 December then headed up towards Olney then Northampton with an army of around 10,000 men sporting badges and banners with a large red rose prominently displayed. Somerset’s strategy had been to lure York out of Tewkesbury; however when news reached him of the Battle of Swindon and then the split in the Yorkist army it made him pause in Northampton for several days. The Beaufort commanders were divided with some suggesting that they go after the force led by Norfolk and Devon while others thought they should gain control of the Midlands since York seemed to have northern and southern England virtually in his control, this plan would including capturing York’s lands in the west of England and in Wales. Somerset decided to embarrass York by raiding his land, even perhaps capturing his family, and proceeded towards Ludlow via Coventry. Upon his arrival at York’s seat at Ludlow, Somerset discovered that York’s wife, younger sons, and daughters weren’t there. It turned out that York had sent his family to the city of Gloucester where they could escape to safety if the advance of Beaufort forces made it necessary. After letting his army sack Ludlow, Somerset then headed northward towards Shrewsbury.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
In late November, Baron Cobham raised a force from Kent and headed for London in the name of York only to meet a force led by the Earl of Oxford from Barnet resulting in a battled just south of London resulting in a standstill. A small force of London citizenry tried to help Cobham, but as they exited the city Oxford tried to storm the city through the opened gate. Oxford was pushed back and then had to retreat when Cobham attacked from behind, though did prevent the Kentish force from linking up with the residents of London, who retreated back behind their gates. In the southwest, the Earl of Devon had raised a force from Cornwall and Devonshire then led them across the county of Somerset and entered county Wiltshire. On 3 December 1453, the Earl of Ormond having gathered a force from Wiltshire in support of Somerset defeated Devon’s forces at Bradfort-on-Avon. However, bad weather the next day prevented Ormond from following up the victory and Devon retreated into southern Gloucestershire.
As Christmas Day drew closer, the succession crisis had turned into a civil war but neither claimant had personally taken the field in their own cause. The House of York had the victory at Durham while the House of Beaufort had the victory at Bradford-on-Avon to counter it. Both forces of York and Beaufort were at a stalemate outside London with men starting to raid areas around London to gain provisions. The reason both Somerset and York had yet to take the field was because they were actively trying to gain the support of the church and its blessing, however while some clergy choose sides others took the stance of the Bishop of London and supported neither. Soon both men decided it was time to take the field and after having personally gathering armies were about to take to the fields of England to win undisputed control of the throne.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Throughout September and into October, the two claimants demanded the other submit to them and by the end of the month had attained the other. Some nobles and magnates started to align themselves with either the House of York or House of Beaufort, by person or proclaiming it in nearest cathedral. The court party quickly supported Somerset, the two most prominent were the Earls of Oxford, John de Vere, and Ormond & Wiltshire, James Butler, and with them most of the bureaucracy of the Kingdom was at Somerset’s quick disposal. After Norfolk’s public support, York was soon joined by the Earl of Devon and Baron Cobham who had joined him in his 1452 campaign for reform as well as his brother-in-law, Viscount Bourchier, at Tewkesbury. Then news that Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and his son the Earl of Warwick, also named Richard, had proclaimed their support of York quickly sent their rivals in the North, the Percy clan headed by the Earl of Northumberland, over to support Somerset.
While others were putting their support behind either claimant, in hopes of power and influence, some nobles and magnates couldn’t make up their minds. An interesting case was Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter, who was a descendant of John of Gaunt and possible claimant to the throne but also married to York’s oldest daughter. Exeter was strangely silent and noncommittal to the annoyance of his wife. Henry VI’s half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper Tudor, stayed in London with their sister-in-law Margaret, who had gone into sanctuary in Westminster Abbey feeling her life threatened in London. But the biggest seemingly neutral magnate was Humphrey Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. A descendant of Edward III, Buckingham liked neither claimant and remained in his castle however he had learned that his son, the Earl of Stafford was going to go to Barnet to support Somerset. But after the Nevilles had joined York, Buckingham believed Somerset needed a miracle and stopped his son by holding him as a virtual prisoner until an undisputed King was acknowledged.
As the succession crisis continued into November all of England, both noble and common alike, could feel that a war was coming as neither claimant was backing down. It was only a matter of time when fighting would begin, even if it was winter. Then William Neville, Baron Fauconberg, sent word to his brother and nephew that the Earl of Northumberland had gathered a force and was marching south from Alnwick towards the city of York. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick were both in Middleham gathering soldiers for the Yorkist cause when they received Fauconberg’s message and quickly marched north to meet the Percies. The two forces raced toward the city of Durham, though the Percies arrived first it was only an hour before the Nevilles did so as well, however it was just before night fell on 13 November and the two forces camped outside the city which had been barred by Robert Neville, the bishop of Durham, brother and uncle to the commanders of the Neville forces. For all in and around Durham that night, it was a night of unease.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The House of York’s claim to the throne was also based on descent from Edward III as well, but twice over. The Dukes of York were direct male descendants of Edward III through his 4th son, Edmund of Langley and first Duke of York, and unlike the Beaufort claim to direct lineage, the House of York did not have the taint of illegitimacy hanging over their family. But to Richard Plantagenet what gave him the right to the throne was that he was a descended from Edward III’s 2nd son, Lionel of Antwrep. Lionel only had one surviving child, Philippa of Clarence, the 5th Countess of Ulster, who married Edmund Mortimer, the 3rd Earl of March. During her lifetime, Philippa was the heir presumptive to her cousin Richard II and upon her death that right passed to her son Roger Mortimer, the 4th Earl of March. When Roger Mortimer died in July 1398, he left four children including two sons the oldest of which was his namesake the six-year old Roger who inherited his grandmother’s position of heir presumptive. When Richard II “resigned” the throne in 1399, the seven-year old Roger Mortimer’s right was pushed aside in favor of Henry of Bolingbroke who became Henry IV and began the House of Lancaster. The 5th Earl of March lived until 1425 but left no surviving issue and since his younger brother had died young, the Mortimer rights to the throne were passed to Richard Plantagenet, the son of his older sister Anne Mortimer. As the House of Plantagenet inherited the throne through Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England, who’s right to rule had been usurped by King Stephen but was reestablished by her son the first Plantagenet King of England, Henry II.
Because of the events of 1399 and Richard II’s “resignation,” both the House of Beaufort and the House of York seemed to have clear claims to the Crown. The Beauforts held the agnatic claim while the Yorkists were the legitimist claim, while today the claim of the House of York would be paramount in law back in 1453 it was still an open question. And like many other legal arguments of so high importance back then, the issue would need to be decided not in Parliament or the court room but the battlefield.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Even while Henry’s body was still warm, the Duke of Somerset with the court party accompanying him left Clarendon racing towards London 75 miles away. Upon the King’s death, they had sent a messenger to the capital with the news of Henry’s death and that Somerset had been “acknowledged” by the late King on his death bed. Unbeknownst to Somerset and the other members of the court party, John Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk, had himself sent a messenger to London as well but in his is message was to proclaim the Duke of York as the rightful King of England. The Duke of Norfolk with his retinue raced north from Clarendon to Ludlow.
On 24 August 1453, London erupted into chaos when the news of Henry VI's death was proclaimed and only grew when two men were proclaimed as the late King’s successor. The populace separated into rival camps supporting each claimant, however Somerset's supports found themselves vastly outnumbered and escaped the city towards Windsor. When Somerset arrived in Windsor, he made his first public pronouncement of his claim to the Crown as ‘Edmund the First, King of England’ and was given allegiance by this London supports and was informed of the proclamation of York as King as well as London’s reaction to the situation. Undaunted, Somerset continued to London and demanded the capital submit to him, however the Lord Mayor and the council barred him from the city. Frustrated Somerset went to Barnet on 27 August 1453 and called all loyal subjects to the House of Beaufort meet him there.
On 22 August 1453, York and Norfolk met one another in Tewkesbury. In front of the city officials, Norfolk publicly proclaimed and pledge allegiance to 'Richard the Third, King of England.' Messengers were then sent to all corners of the England as York called on all subjects to meet him there or to send their pledges of loyalty. Soon the news of Henry VI's death spread across the whole of England and quickly on its heels were as the summons by two men claiming to be the rightful King of England.
Meanwhile the body of Henry VI and the grieving Margaret of Anjou had been virtually abandoned at Clarendon. The late King's half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper Tudor led the funeral procession with the grieving Margaret a few days after the court party had raced for London. As the funeral procession carrying the late King’s body was slowly making its way towards London, the country started to divide in-between those that supported the House of Beaufort and those that supported the House of York.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The night of 15 August 1453 was thought to be like any other for those in attendance of King Henry VI of England. The King and his inner circle court were in the royal hunting lodge at Clarendon, near Salisbury in Wiltshire where Henry had learned of the shocking news of the defeat of Castillon and the defeat of the Earl of Shrewsbury, John Talbot. The King had been feeling unwell since the early days of the month and it seemed to grow worse upon the news of Castillon. That night the King complained that he felt unnaturally sleepy at dinner before standing to announced he was retiring for the night but asked his guests not end their revelry on his account. As the King exited the dining hall, his body started to spasm out of control and suddenly he fell forward and struck his head on a corner of a wooden table with a loud crack. The room erupted as noblemen, attendants, and most importantly the Queen rushed to check on the King. Henry VI lay on the floor unconscious with a large bruise swelling on a portion of his forehead.
Queen Margaret of Anjou, seven months pregnant, had to be restrained by several of the men as the King was taken to his bedchamber and physicians administered to him. The excitement resulted in Margaret going into labor the next day as Henry remained unconscious, the male child was stillborn and the Queen was beside herself in grief. The King’s condition and the death of his would-be heir was the source of much debate and consternation within high noblemen of Henry’s inner circle as they looked to the future especially concerning themselves. The chief amongst these noblemen was Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, the King’s right hand man and those close to him in the so-called “court faction.”
The Duke of Somerset was one of two heir presumptive to the throne in the event of the King leaving no living heir and attempted to keep the events occurring at Clarendon as secret as possible. However, other individuals in Henry’s court had looked towards the future of the realm and had been secretly sending news northwards to Ludlow Castle situated along the Welsh border. The castle was the residence of Richard Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke of York, the powerful magnate in England whose claim to the throne was better than even Henry VI had and who was the greatest opponent to Somerset’s “court faction.” As the news grew ever worse, York resolved to head south and with a large retinue headed for the royal lodge.
In the early morning of 21 August 1453, Henry VI of England passed away thus ending his 30 year and 355 day reign upon the throne. The King had been the last descendant, and only legitimate grandchild, of Henry IV who had founded the House of Lancaster when he had forced his cousin Richard II to abdicate in 1399. Thus Henry VI’s death not only represented an end to the 54-year reign of the House of Lancaster upon the throne, but also it’s complete extinction. And as a result the Crown lay on no man’s head.
From the information I’ve gathered Henry’s illness is described as ‘a disease and disorder of such a sort overcame the King that he lost his wits and memory for a time, and nearly all his body was so uncoordinated and out of control that he could neither walk nor hold his head up, nor easily move from where he sat.’ The sources I’ve read was that Henry was seemingly unwell beginning in early August and complained of feeling unnaturally sleepy on the 15th, the next day he was incapacitated.
With this information in mind the point of divergence (POD) from OTL is the night of 15 August 1453…
In our timeline (OTL), the Wars of the Roses were a series of conflicts between the competing the Houses of Lancaster and York, which were cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet that had ruled England since 1152 when Henry II ascended to the throne following the death of King Stephen. The causes of the Wars of the Roses range from deposition of Richard II and accession of Henry IV, the loss of England’s conquests in France, and the general lawlessness and economic deterioration during the 1440s and early 1450s especially concerning the finances of the crown; but in my timeline the general cause will be crisis of succession following the death of a childless monarch.
The entries in this blog will concern this alternate timeline (TTL), biographies of individuals within the context of TTL, family histories within TTL, and from time-to-time have posts concerning things in OTL. This is also a long-term project, while my first several entries will be in quick since they’ve been completed for over a year, expect there to be long gaps between entries in the future. I hope you’ll enjoy and I hope to hear from you.