23 September 1459 – Battle of Blore Heath
Here’s my notes for this battle:
• Salisbury on his way to Ludlow;
• Lancaster led by Audley and Dudley
• Salisbury chose a position at Blore Hill
• Lancster had to cross stream to attack
• Salisbury pursued them
• Dead – Audley;
• Taken – Dudley
– Thomas Nevill, John Nevill (& Harrington ?) possibly while seeking shelter/help for injuries
• Augustinian friar covers Salisbury’s withdrawal by firing cannon all night; when found next day, claims he did it to keep his spirits up.
And THAT’s why I’m a day late and getting later blogging this battle! Sometimes I think I should fire myself and hire a research assistant!
So, what I thought I’d do, rather than reach for my books and give you something more comprehensive and sensible about the battle itself, is talk about the involvement of Alice Montacute, countess of Salisbury.
I’ve mentioned before that she was attainted at the so-called Parliament of Devils, along with York, Salisbury, Warwick, Thomas and John Nevill, the earls of March and Rutland and a whole bunch of other people. The other wives were explicitly exempted from this, their personal wealth untouched and their safety not in question. They remained in England (or in the countess of Warwick’s case, Calais) able to get on with their lives, so far as anyone can whose husband and sons have been forced to flee the country or have been captured and imprisoned. Alice had to get herself gone fast.
Here’s the relevant section from the parliamentary rolls dealing with Alice.
While hunting down the full text of the Manner & Guiding, I stumbled across these two (too?) sad pieces of correspondence.
In 1415, when his son, Richard (later duke of York), was four years old, Richard, earl of Cambridge, was “accused of a treasonable conspiracy, indicted, convicted and beheaded” (p45). This has come to be known as the Southampton Plot. During his captivity he wrote two letters to the king, Henry V: a letter of confession and a plea for mercy, “but neither had any effect upon Henry” (p45).
An indispensable site for anyone researching the Wars of the Roses: British History Online. Here you can find, among other things, the Rolls of Parliament for the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III. There’s a lot you can access for free, but getting the full benefit of it costs around £36 a year. I really can’t do without it.
Immediately after the first battle of St Albans, York, Salisbury and Warwick attended the King in his quarters at St Albans Abbey. Abbot Whetehamstede gives York a hell of a speech denouncing the dead Somerset and urging Henry to ‘rejoice’ at both Somerset’s death and York’s triumph. “I am, and always was, and all my followers are and were your faithful – indeed, your most faithful – liegemen; and we will always remain…” York had been insisting the truth of this for some years now, so determined to get his point across that twice he stood with a sizeable band of armed men, demanding to be given access to the king.
In searching for Cecily Nevill’s letter to Margaret of Anjou, I also found this. I’m assuming that the confusion about its intended recipient is well and truly cleared up. Rawcliffe* thought it was a letter to Edward, earl of March, though it would have been extraordinary if it was. But as she also is prepared to believe that Edward threatened to march on London at the head of an army at the age of ten, her confusion is perhaps not quite so surprising. Bearing in mind that around this time Edward and his brother Edmund sent their father a letter asking for help against the bullying Crofts, I think that if he’d had an army powerful enough to threaten London he’d have been able to sort this out himself! Pugh** (correctly) links it with Henry Holland, duke of Exeter, who was, at the time it was written, fomenting rebellion (or trying to) in the north of England alongside those two well known rapscallions, Thomas and Richard Percy. (below is the version as found in Rawcliffe.)
The letter is dated 8 May 1454.