Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Men Claim One Crown

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.

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