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Start of the war::Wars of the Roses

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Henry::edward    Richard::england    London::battle    Warwick::neville    Beaufort::margaret    Yorkist::throne

Start of the war

The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally.

Richard the Duke of York led a small force toward London and was met by Henry's forces at St Albans, north of London, on 22 May 1455. The relatively small First Battle of St Albans was the first open conflict of the civil war. Richard's aim was ostensibly to remove "poor advisors" from King Henry's side. The result was a Lancastrian defeat. Several prominent Lancastrian leaders, including Somerset and Northumberland, were killed. After the battle, the Yorkists found Henry hiding in a local tanner's shop, abandoned by his advisors and servants, apparently having suffered another bout of mental illness. (He had also been slightly wounded in the neck by an arrow.)<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> York and his allies regained their position of influence. With the king indisposed, York was again appointed Protector, and Margaret was shunted aside, charged with the king's care.

For a while, both sides seemed shocked that an actual battle had been fought and did their best to reconcile their differences, but the problems that caused conflict soon re-emerged, particularly the issue of whether Richard the Duke of York, or Henry and Margaret's infant son Edward, would succeed to the throne. Margaret refused to accept any solution that would disinherit her son, and it became clear that she would only tolerate the situation for as long as the Duke of York and his allies retained the military ascendancy.

Henry recovered and in February 1456 he relieved York of his office of Protector.<ref>Rowse, p.136</ref> In the autumn of that year, Henry went on royal progress in the Midlands, where the king and queen were popular. Margaret did not allow him to return to London where the merchants were angry at the decline in trade and the widespread disorder. The king's court was set up at Coventry. By then, the new Duke of Somerset was emerging as a favourite of the royal court. Margaret persuaded Henry to revoke the appointments York had made as Protector, while York was made to return to his post as lieutenant in Ireland.

Disorder in the capital and the north of England (where fighting between the Nevilles and Percys had resumed<ref name=Rowse138>Rowse, p.138</ref>) and piracy by French fleets on the south coast were growing, but the king and queen remained intent on protecting their own positions, with the queen introducing conscription for the first time in England. Meanwhile, York's ally, Warwick (later dubbed "The Kingmaker"), was growing in popularity in London as the champion of the merchants; as Captain of Calais he had fought piracy in the Channel.<ref>Pollard, A.J., Warwick the Kingmaker, London 2007, pp. 177–8</ref>

In the spring of 1458, Thomas Bourchier, the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to arrange a reconciliation. The lords had gathered in London for a Grand Council and the city was full of armed retainers. The Archbishop negotiated complex settlements to resolve the blood-feuds that had persisted since the Battle of St. Albans. Then, on Lady Day (25 March), the King led a "love day" procession to St. Paul's Cathedral, with Lancastrian and Yorkist nobles following him, hand in hand.<ref name=Rowse138/> No sooner had the procession and the Council dispersed than plotting resumed.


Wars of the Roses sections
Intro  Name and symbols  Summary of events  Origins of the conflict  Start of the war  Act of Accord  Death of Richard, Duke of York  Edward's claim to the throne  Yorkist triumph  Edward IV  Warwick's rebellion and the death of Henry VI  Richard III  Buckingham's revolt  Henry VII  Aftermath and effects  In literature  Key figures  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

Start of the war
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