Motives of the Duke of York
The Duke of York believed he deserved the Crown more than Henry VI because:
- York was a politician, warrior of distinction and a father of healthy sons (this was the opposite to Henry VI).
- York's strength of personality had matched his ambitions, which had embraced the Crown of England, by the 1450s.
- He had a claim to the throne.
- York's aims were shared by most of the noble compatriots,
- Despite this, they disagreed that York should be King.
- However, the King had advantages of the nobles:
- Such as the power of patronage and reward.
- No noblemen or women could normally marry without the King's knowledge and approval.
Competition of Royal Patronage
Competition of royal patronage may have been a reason for York's rise;
- Royal Patronage was traditionally a policy referred as 'divide and rule'. which diivided the nolbitiy.
- This policy would only work well under a strong and decisive King, which Henry VI was not.
- This resulted in more ambitious nobles to become too powerful.
- The outbreak of the Wars of the Roses illustrated that Henry was no longer in control of his nobles and allowed their political rivalry to spill over into armed conflict.
- This suggests, that the Wars of the Roses was a war between nobles, as much as it was between nobility and the monarchy.
The exvlusion of York
The exclusion of York:
- York was expected to be one of the power breakers at Court, as he was the King's closest living male relative.
- He resented his exclusion from the centre of power.
- York was exluded because:
- Suffolk and Edmund Beaufort (the King's chief advisors) were able to monopolise royal patronage, as they created a household a court faction and they were not prepared to share their power.
- Margaret of Anjou didn't trust York because he was forceful and he had a claim to the throne, when Duke of Gloucester died in 1447. She succeeded in keeping York away from the King and the court.
- Instead of exercising patience and cultivating friendships, York preffered confrontation andf challenge, and had little respect for his inferiors in title, intellect and military skill.
York's feud with Somerset
York had a feud with Somerset because:
- He was mortified when he was removed and replaced by Somerset, as the King's military commander.
- As a result, York suspected that Somerset had 'kingly ambitions'.
- York complaints to the King and Suffolk, about how Somerset was ill equipped to command English armies in France, were not listened to.
- The Crown owed £38,000 to York, so he pressured the King to settle at least part of the debt, or employ him in some meaningful role.
- So the King appointed York as the Lieutant of Ireland, to keep him quiet.
The fall and exectution of Suffolk
The fall and execution of Suffolk:
- English forces suffered catastrophic defeats, resulting in the losses of Normandy and Gascony, which proved York's complaints of Somerset right.
- In February and November 1449, Henry VI called on Parliament to provide funds for the war, to restore England's declining military fortunes in France.
- However, Parliament granted only half of Henry's expectations, so they were dissolved.
- Suffolk and Somerset were balmed for the defeats because Suffolk renewed the war.
- The HOC refused to fund the effects of the war, and charged Suffolk with treason accusing him of misgovernment, missmanaging the war and financial corruption.
- Henry VI banished Suffolk for 5 years, but saved him from imprisonment in the ToL, by giving him a ship to take him to France.
- However, Suffolk was captured on this ship, by his enemies ad was executed.
The Act of Resumption
Following Suffolk's execution, HOC demanded that Henry VI should approve the passing of an Act of Resumption:
- This Act would make it impossible to recover most of the grants of land and to recover most of his favourites over the last decade.
- This Act humiliated the King as it undermined his authority and ability to offer rewards for faithful service.
- Cade's rebellion was a serious blow to the Crown's authority and prestige.
The return of York
The return of York:
- York left Ireland without permission and returned to London in September 1450, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction.
- He returned to enormous public support.
- York presented the King with a list of grievances, which included 2 Bills:
- The first Bill listed personal grievances, such as York's position as heir, his debts and the fact that his advice was ignored.
- The 2nd Bill listed general grievances, such as increasing lawlessness and disorder, the corruption of royal officials and the King's 'Evil councellors' and the demise of 'good governance.'
- York succeeded in persuading the King to meet some of these demands as he was backed up by 3000 armed retainers.
- As a result, York was appointed to the royal council, and the King promised to re-establish law and order.
- However, Somerset still dominated the King's council, money owed to York was not paid and York's heir to the throne was not legally recognised.
- Somerset was made Captain of Calais giving him command of the larfest army.
York made a fustrated attempt to impeach Somerset in Parliament. However, York failed to do so, so he decided to use force of arms:
- In February 1452, York's army met the King's forces at Dartford.
- York had miscalculated because the most powerful nobles of the kingdom, such as the Duke of Buckingham and the Neville Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, remained loyal to the king.
- As a result, York was outnumbered and was forced to submit.
- After being compelled to make a public apology at St Paul's, people turned against York.
- He also had to take a soloemn oath to remain faithful to the King.
- The Queen's announced pregnancy was a serious blow to York's position as heir.
- In August 1453, Henry VI had suffered a mental breakdown, so Margaret of Anjoy assumed a more active role in politics.
- Therefore, she worked closely with Somerset.
- She hoped to exclude York from power and set herself up as regent until her husband's recovery.
- However, the nobility rejected this idea and switched their support for York.
- As a result, Margaret abdnoned Somerset and had him imprisoned in the Tower, in an effort to conciliate her enemies.
- In addition, one of the most powerful noble families in England, called the Nevilles now supported York as they had a feud with the Percy Earl of Northumberland (who was favoured by the King).
- This resulted in Margaret's inability to prevent York from assuming powers and authority of Protectorate and Defender of the Realm, in March 1454.
- In effect, York had become King in all but name.
Success and Failure of York's Protectorate
Althoufh York's protectorate was short lived In the 12 months he was in power, York succeeded in:
- Reducing the size and expenditure of the royal household.
- Restoring greater law and order, especially in the north.
On the other hand, York failed to:
- Put Somerset on trial for treason.
- York fell short of enlisting all but a handful of nobles to serve in his govt.
- The majority of England's noble families stopped to openly support York as they preferred to remain aloof and cautious.
Margaret of Anjou
When Margaret gave birth to her son Edward in October 1453, she became convinced that York posed a threat to his inheritance: (Success and Failure for York)
- Maragaret retained her political power and tightened her grips on the court, when Henry VI came back to health in December 1454.
- She took York's powers as Protector, but failed to have him banished from the court at first.
- After showing he sufficiently recovered to be able to rule, Henry VI publicly recognised York's importance by declaring him to be his principle royal advisor.
- However, this was short lived because Margaret persuaded Henry VI to exclude York from the decision making process on important matters of state.
- Therefore, Somerset was released from the Tower and was reappointed to the King's council and to the post of Calais
- As a result, it can be argued that Henry VI became little more than a puppet, in the hands of his politically astute wife.
- York fled north to raise an army with the Nevilles, intending to rid the kingdom of Queen Marharet, along with imposing his will on the King and his council.