Battle of Northampton
After the defeat of Blore Heath , the Lancastrian party under the energetic direction of Queen Margaret rather than the weak-willed Henry VI , was able to counter and nullify Yorkist gains.
Warwick and Salisbury sought safety in Calais, York in Ireland. Preparations to retake Calais by Henry’s forces were farcical, one fleet stolen by Warwick, the other destroyed. When the Yorkists returned in June 1460 Henry was in Coventry , far from where his presence might have helped repel them.
The two armies met outside Northampton . The Lancastrian side took up a strong position behind a field or deer-park boundary, probably a ditch full of water, with stakes defending them from cavalry attack. Henry had managed to assemble a formidable battery of field guns that dissuaded the more numerous Yorkists from immediate attack. The white rose army may be estimated at 20,000, the red at around 12,000.
A parlay was held in the morning of July 10th, but no agreement was possible. Warwick repeatedly requested an audience with the king in person, but Buckingham denied him. When a sudden shower drenched the powder of the Lancastrian battery Warwick seized his opportunity and charged.
Treachery quickly decided the action. Lord Grey commanding the Lancastrian right flank betrayed Henry, letting the Yorkists through the line to attack the outflanked red rose army and camp. The battle that started at 2pm finished a mere 30 minutes later. Yorkist casualties were negligible, but the Lancastrians lost up to 2,000 in the fight, the rout, and the slaughter of many nobles afterwards.
Henry was captured by a common soldier, but many of his nobles died protecting him, or were put to the sword on Warwick’s orders after they were captured. With Henry’s capture Edward Duke of York was in the ascendancy. Queen Margaret, though, was still at large and able to gather the Lancastrian forces again. York’s temporary triumph ended at the Battle of Wakefield in December that same year.
More famous dates here
7548 views since 1st April 2007
On this day: