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On This Day …..

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    September 23

    In 1459 the second major battle of the ‘War of the Roses’ took place in Staffordshire, England.

     

    Between 1417 and 1419 King Henry V of England continued his military campaign with the “Conquest of Normandy” and the siege of Rouen (31st of July 1418 – 19th January 1419). When Rouen surrendered the French monarch, King Charles VI, signed the Treaty of Troyes which gave Henry the hand of his daughter, Catherine of Valois, in marriage and promised the throne to Henry V and his descendants upon his death. On the 2nd of June 1420 Henry married Catherine of Valois and on the 6th of December 1421 she gave birth to their son Henry.

     

    On the 10th of June 1421 Henry V had left for France and what would be his final campaign where he relieved his forces that were under besieged in Dreux. He relieved his forces and they went on to capture Meux in Paris on the 2nd of May 1422. It was while in France shortly after the victory that Henry V died mysteriously aged 35 on the 31st of August 1422. Henry V never met his son who became Henry VI of England upon his death. Just one month later Henry VI maternal grandfather, King Charles VI of France, died making Henry King of both Kingdoms aged 11 months.  England was governed by regents until 1437 when Henry was 16 and was believed to be of age to rule. In France K ing Charles the VI son, who had dis-inherited the French throne through the Treaty of Troyes, had proclaimed himself King Charles VII of France and ruled the land south of the Loire River. The Hundred years War continued with Henry’s Regent, John Lancaster, ruling the North of France. After Joan of Arc’s first victory in breaking the siege on the 29th of April 1429 the French army had a series of victories against the English forces. King Henry VI didn’t have the same fighting temperament as his father and he was a placid, pious King who was prone to periods of mental illness like his maternal grandfather King Charles VI. By 1453 the French had won the Hundred Years War and soon after the War of the Roses (1455 – 1488) broke out with two great noble families of England fighting for the crown.

     

    On the 22nd of May 1455 the Lancastrian forces under the command of Edmund, Duke of Somerset and Henry VI met the Yorkist forces under the command of Richard of York and Richard Neville, Earl of Warawick at the ‘Battle of St Albans’. The forces of York (around 5,000) vastly outnumbered those of Lancaster (around 2,000) and by the end of the battle Edmund was killed and Henry VI was captured. This opening Battle in the War of the Roses led to the English government appointing Richard as Lord High Protector.

     

    Relative peace remained for some years between the two Houses but tensions began to grow until by 1459 both sides (Henry’s wife Margaret of Anjou on one side and Richard on the other) had managed to grow support for their causes.

     

    The Battle of Blore Heath

     

    On the 23rd of September in 1459 the second major battle of the ‘War of the Roses’ took place in Staffordshire, England. When Yorkist forces from Middleham Castle in York (around 5,000 led by Richard, Earl of Salisbury) were on route to meet with the main force in Shropshire they were intercepted by a 10,000 strong Lancastrian army led by Lord Audley. Yorkist scouts spotted the awaiting Lancastrian ambush and despite being outnumbered two to one Salisbury prepared his men for battle who got into formations the other side of a near by brook out of range from the Lancastrian archers. Crossing the brook would have been very risky as the formations would have been broken allowing his men to be picked off. Salisbury instead ordered some of his men to turn as if they were retreating. The Lancastrians took the bait and sent in their Calvary to attack the retreating troops. When the Calvary was close to crossing the brook the Yorkist army turned and advanced to attack them. The galloping Calvary had no choice but to continue advancing and when they got to the brook many were slaughtered by the Yorkists. As the Battle of Blore Heath ensued the Lancastrians made a second charge and this time they managed to cross the brook. In the skirmish that followed Audley was killed and control of the Lancastrian forces fell to Lord Dudley. Dudley ordered another advance against the Yorkist forces but moral was low and some of the Lancastrians changed sides and began killing their own men. The Battle was over and the victorious Yorkists continued to Shropshire and the main Yorkist army.

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