The 1460 Act of Accord tried to bring peace between the factions of the Houses of York and Lancaster. There was no peace. In fact things were rapidly coming to a boil. While the 1460 Act of Accord was being worked out the Lancastrians were arming for another battle. Queen Margaret, wife of King Henry VI, tried to gather the support of King James III of Scotland while Edmund, Earl of Rutland, second son of Richard, Duke of York, gathered forces at Sandal Castle, a stronghold of the Yorkists.
A larger Lancastrian army met the army of the House of York at the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460. The army of the House of York was decimated in the battle. Richard Plantagenet, heir to the throne was, killed during the battle. One source estimates that 2,500 Yorkists were killed while only 200 Lancastrians were killed in the battle. Although the House of York was soundly defeated this did not end the War od the Roses nor did it remove the threat to the throne for King Henry VI. Richard, Duke of York left his Dukedom and his claim to the throne to his eldest son, Edward.
The new rival claimant, Edward, Duke of York was 6′ 4″ tall and cut an imposing figure.* He also still had a powerful ally in his cousin, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. As noted previously that Warwick’s ambition was not to place Richard, Duke of York on the throne, but to retain Henry VI on the throne. In reality The Earl of Warwick wanted to be the power behind the throne. Unable to defeat the powerful Queen Margaret’s influence over the king the Earl now had a change of heart. Thinking he could rule behind the new Duke of York he began to plot in placing him on the throne.
Although Edward inherited the superior blood claim to the throne from his father, the Earl of Warwick wanted Edward to marry a foreign princess in order to gather support for his grab at the throne in the name of military assistance if it were to be needed. Edward was not going to be the puppet Warwick wanted. Edward married Elizabeth Woodville a widow whose first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, supported the Lancastrian side. # Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Another Lancastrian connection for Elizabeth Woodville was through her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, whose first husband was John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, third son of King Henry IV of England and his first wife Mary de Bohun. By disobeying his wishes and marrying someone so close to the Lancastrian side it is surprising that the Earl of Warwick continued to support Edward.
The Earl of Warwick found his moment to strike when King Henry VI and Queen Margaret were in Northern England. With the remaining troops of the House of York Warwick took London and had Edward declared King of England as Edward IV. Later than year at the Battle of Townton solidly defeated the Lancastrian army solidifying Edward’s hold on the throne. From 1461 to 1465 King Hnery VI was kept hidden by his loyal factions in the boarder towns of Northern England until he was captured by King Edward IV and was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Was Edawrd IV a usurper? I throw my hands up in the air at this point! It truly is a legal mess. Although the Lancastrian line did usurp the throne to begin with in 1399 and Edward did have a superior blood claim to the throne based on male preffered primogeniture, Henry VI was the legal king. I tend to view Edward not as a usurper technically because he did have the superior claim to the throne. His father was made the legal hier to the throne of Henry VI and it is a claim he inherited upon his father’s death. In my view Edward restored the rightful genealogical line to the throne by right of conquest.
Ah, but our story is far from over and Henry VI will be heard from again!
* King Edward IV at 6′ 4″ (1.93 m), makes him the tallest among all English, Scottish and British monarchs to date.
# Sir John Grey of Groby was also a great-great-grandfather of Lady Jane Gery a claimant to the English throne.