This was the opening engagement of the War of the Roses fought between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians.
The first battle of the War of the roses
The period of thirty years between 1455 to 1485 is often refered to as the War of the Roses. It was the name given to the series of sporadic battles and sieges as the rival Lancastrians and Yorkists competed for the throne. Lancaster being represented by a red rose, and Yorkshire by a white rose.
The road to civil war
The primary cause of the War of the Roses was the inability of Henry VI to rule over England even before his steep decline in mental health. Before the birth of his son Edward, Henry's heir was Richard Duke of York who became Lord Protector when the king suffered from bouts of insanity. The Duke of York was reluctant to give up his powers as Lord Protector but had to when Henry was in one of his more lucid phases (or as lucid as the king ever got.
The Queen Consort and the Duke of York
Yet the Queen, Margaret of Anjou feared the Duke of York, and to protect her son's inheritance got the protectorate terminated. Margaret would rather the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland ran the country, as she trusted them to protect her husband and son.
However if the Lord Protectorate wee to be restored Richard would have to be offered the role as the most important royal.
The road to St Albans
The Duke of York fearing his own safety decided to take up arms against the Lancastrians (but not officially the king) led by the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland. The Yorkists also included Richard Neville, the Eal of Warwick, and Richard's eldest son Edward. In Edward and Warwick the Yorkists had two highly capable commanders.
The First Battle of St Albans was fought on 22 May 1455. The Duke of York, Edward, and Warwick won a resounding victory that damaged but did not destroy the Lancastrians. A victory made sweeter for the victors by the demise of Somerset and Northumberland. However Margaret of Anjou did not give up the fight, even when Edward went on to become king and Warwick was his right hand man.
It was just the beginning
Dodds, G L (1996) Battles in Britain 1066-1746, Arms & Armour Press, London
Hibbert C (1988) The English - A Social History 1066 - 1945
Roberts J M (1996) A History of Europe, Penguin Books, London
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