Henry VI 1450-55


York's return to England

when: 27th September, arrival in London, with 5,000 men under banner

  • presence unrequested by king, kings household tried to stop progress, viewed as a threat, travelling via marches (mortimer stronghold)
  • offered to take control of government during this crisis, publically published, Henry refused an suggested he be part of the council instead.


  • to clear name? Cade used Mortimer to get preseige, fear of being named as a traitor, messages to the king as he progressed about his loyalty
  • to get loans repaid? by 1450 he'd been forced to sell his lands. hadnt been paid since he'd gone to Ireland, owed £38,000
  • to protect postition? Somerset had taken suffolk's place as cheif advisor, wanted to protect positiion as heir--> Somerset had royal blood, could be heir if york was tried, Bristol MP thomas Yonge suggested he'd be named heir presumptive
  • to remove somerset? wheat Cade's rebellion had promoted, the rebellion had attracted alot of support, York felt he was responsible for loss of Normandy and York's french assets
  • bring justice and end curruption? commons saw him as a potential leader, offered personal assistance to attack issues of Law and household. viewed himself as potential saviour, had evaded the blame of the loss of lands, the biggest collapse of crown and government needed help since agruably early 1200s
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details of 1452 Dartford coup

Somerset vs York

on returning from France, Somerset received the position of chief advisor, despite refusing York. soon appointed chief constable of England, despite military failures, the highest military position in england.

Somerset is the nephew of Cardinal Beaufort - knew Henry well, had no estates to take care of and could devote all energy to Government

when released from the tower Somerset resumed his position in givernment, raised money to defend Gascony,  settled the bonville/courtenay disputes - became a figure representing peace. 

York excluded from government when Thomas Yonge petitioned for his being declared heir presumptive may 1451

January 1452, Somerset and his men accused York's chamberlain of stealing from him, directly attacked and tore him from sanctuary in order to arrest him.

York's supporters: William Courtenay, Earl of Devon; Lord Cobham assembled force of 20,000 men

King's supporters: alot of bishops and 16 other lords, including exceter, buckingham, nd norfolk


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Henry's illness

issues the household had with keeping it a secret

westminster council drawn up  12th november after edwards birth

  • York got Norfolk to demand Somersets imprisonment for treason - and he was placed in the tower

Council attempted to keep him as a puppet however when Percy and Nevill families met in conflict, they were reluctant to act without his authority

Cardinal Kemp (Lord Chancellor) died in March 1454, King had to make the desison, York appointed Protector of the Realm

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York's first protectorate - success or failure

March 1454- Janurary 1455

  Feburary 1454 : York called parliment and attendance was incredibly poor, so poor that fines were called for non-attendance.

 Many such as the Archbishop of canterbury believed York would use his power to revenge Somerset. Others such as Exceter believed that they should have been Protector. Percy's doubted yorks ability to be impartial, as Richard Neville became Lord chancellorappointed himself as Capain of Calais and appointed self as Lieuntenatnof ireland again

  • prevented from bringign Somerset to trial by other nobels
  • neutrals felt wary of York due to his continued keeping Somerset in the tower

Dealing with disorder annd justice

  • tried to be even handed with feuding nobels
  • distributed lands and titles fairly, ie the queen, Buckingham and the tudors reccevied land but hte earl of warwick received nothing
  • delt with Percy offensive  march1454, gathering army and facing Exceter, who fled. He captured the percy leaders at the battle of stamford bridge 1454 november
  • even handedness upset supporteers like the Courtneys, they felt they should have been rewarded better, 
  • Exceter, the other option for protector, fled norht and fought with the Percys


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Rise of Margaret of Anjou

Edward, prince of Wales born in October 1453, this raised the status of Margaret.

Bid to be regent:  

  • had little success as she was french, and a woman. Englands last experience with a female ruler had led to civil war with Mathilda
  • published the bill of 5 articles in 1454, where she demanded control of the country and to have the right to appoint officers ect
  • however it was rejected, her son was made the earl of chester and prince of Wales as consolidation.
  • only viscount beaufort stood for her, many nobels were busy feuding
  • Queens didnt have any involvement with the governing of the country at this period
  • however Queen Eleanor had ruled as regent before for her husband Henry III and son richard i, Queen Isabella running regent for Edward iii between 1327-30, Margaret had seen mother and grandmother take power whilst her father duke rene was in captivity.

Effects of this: many believe after this, her and Somerset worked together to call the great council of Leicester (a castle owned by Margaret) after convincing the King they were plotting treason.

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henry's recovery

Feburary 1455

  •  Henry ordered the release of Exceter (this was ignored by Salisbury who owned the castle)
  • freed Somerset, dropped charges, restored to Catian of Calais
  • Salisbury replaced as chancellor by archbishop of canterbury

April 1455

  • York and the Nevilles began to mobilise an army up north
  • Somerset decided that =, considereing that London prefered York the council and the king would travel north, a mass council to meet at Leicester,kings private land holdings
  • Great council fo Leicester, Nevilles and York didnt attend, fearful that it was a trap, like Gloucester 1447, requestes had been made to send armed men to the king.
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Battle of St Albans details

lancastrian supporters :  Jasper Tudor, Earl of pembroke, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Duke of BUckingham, William Neville, Lord Fauconburg etc. - only 2000 men

Yorks supporters: Richard \neville, Earl of Wariwck - 3000 men

Attempts to avaoid bloodshed: Buckingham replaced Somerset on the 22nd of MAy, Buckingham more senior, believe he could negotiate with York and Nevilles, Buckingham and Somerset soley negotiated with York, the king hadnt even seen his complaints.

BUckingham wanted to wait until reinforcements and refused to hand over Somerset

Lack of Preparation of the Lancastrians: Warwick ordered his men through the gardens of the towns, then throught the houses. The Lancastrians were unprpared and not even dressed, as they expected negotiations to begin again in the morning.

Thomas CLifford managed to hold the barriers of the town for around an hour

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dartford pt2


  • Marched from Ludlow to London, however LOndon closed their gates to them, crossed Thames at Kingston, at Dartford meeting the king.
  • negotiations 1st nd 2nd March
  • complained to the king, primarily about Somerset losing Normandy, breaking the truce at fougeres, failing to protect english garrisons, plotting to sell cals to the duke fo burgundy and embezzling money received for maine , Henry promised to look into it but Somerset remained.
  • york sent to London, rumours that he'd been tricked like the Duke of Gloucester
  • fortnight afterwards he was forced to swear loyalty to the crown publically humiliating him. 
  • York sent to Ludlow, isolated for 18 months


  • supporter Sir William Oldhall stripped of most of his property - life in sanctuary
  • Yorks status of Lieutenant of Ireland given to James Butler - earl of Wiltshire and Ormond
  • court toured Yorks lands in the marches
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dartford pt3

court toured Yorks lands in the marches


  • the war with France was going relitively well, new tax from parliment, economy was improving - October, Earl of Shrewsbury won back Bordeaux
  • nobels unwilling to stand up against Henry
  • York's letters to raise support, forwarned Henry of his intentions
  • Kent feared the beheadings and disaster which took place in Cade's rebellion
  • York's actions resembled treason, persoanl reasons to be against Somerset
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st albans pt2

Deaths: Somerset, Lord Clifford who had held the barriers of the  Earl of NOrthumberland, senior percy all ofd which left young heirs which wished for vengence agaisnt the yorkists, therefore the factions were nto to be broken

Henry VI was taken to St Albans abbey in the middle of the battle. after which we became ill again, never ruling alone for the rest of his reign Henry was then presented his crown in a ceremony by York, to show his loyalty

Post battle

  • parliment called, battle blamed on Somerset and other council members.
  • Duke of Exceter arrested,
  • Buckingham under bonds
  • little victimisation against those who were against York
  • Nobility were only going to tolerate York rather than support him
  • Margaret of Anjou was left to be the leader of the lancastrian faction, she set up court at Coventry those loyal to the lancastrians, especially heirs to those which died at st albans
  • York had more poweras constable of england, Warwick made captain of Calais, Viscount Bouchier made Treasurer
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