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Saturday, 6 August 2011

The battle of Wakefield.

The Battle of Wakefield

30 December 1460
On 7 October, Parliament recognized the Duke of York’s stronger claim to the throne and agreed that Henry VI should rule England until his death when the crown would pass to York. King Henry agreed to this but his fugitive wife and child certainly did not; no sooner was the Act of Accord passed than Queen Margaret marched south with an army of twenty thousand men under the command of the Duke of Somerset.
In a desperate position, York resorted to sending his eldest son, the Earl of March, to tackle an emerging Lancastrian rebellion in Wales led by Jasper Tudor. Then, leaving Warwick with orders to guard the King, York left London with an army of seven or eight thousand men and headed north. With him went his second son the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas
The Yorkists arrived at Sandal Castle on the 21st of December. Reaching his northern stronghold, York decided to settle in for the winter and put his men to work digging ditches, improving the defenses and mounting guns on the walls. Thus entrenched in near-impregnable positions the Duke sat down to wait for reinforcements. Though he could not distinguish their exact whereabouts, York knew there were five or more Lancastrian armies in the vicinity and dared not face battle.
The exact reason why York left the safety of Sandal Castle on 30 December 1460 is not and probably will never be known. It seems most likely that one of his many foraging parties came under attack and York sallied out to save them.

All but abandoning the castle, York hurried down to the skirmish on Sandal Common only to be attacked on both flanks by Andrew Trollope and Lord Roos. While all the time fighting on the move York realized that he would soon be totally surrounded, and overrun. He ordered his seventeen-year-old son, Rutland, to flee the battlefield but the lad was promptly captured on Wakefield Bridge and stabbed to death. Lord Clifford meanwhile brought his men up the Yorkist rear and sealed their line of retreat. York himself was unhorsed, and after refusing quarter, was brutally hacked to death. With York dead the battle ended and the rout began. Half the Yorkist army lay dead and of their leaders only Salisbury (temporarily) escaped. The Earl was captured during the night and executed the following day.
The heads of York, Salisbury and Rutland were later impaled on spikes and left to rot on Mickelgate Bar in York. The victory was a great one for Lancaster: most of the Yorkist leaders were eliminated in one day including York himself, and their army crushed beyond contempt.

Note: the Battle is said to be the source of the children’s nursery rhyme (perhaps once solely Lancastrian propaganda):

At the foot of Sandal Castle is a memorial to Richard , not many people know that it exists, it was erected in the 1800's. But then again are Wakefield Council really bothered about promoting our history ?, there is no sign post indicating the spot where Richard was murdered, the memorial is behind a metal railing and a council building puts it in the shadows.

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down.
But when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down!

The First Battle of St Albans 22 May 1455   
The Battle of Blore Heath 23 September 1459    
The Battle of Northampton 10 July 1460  
The Battle of Wakefield 30 December 1460    
The Battle of Mortimer's Cross 2 February 1461   
The Second Battle of St Albans 17 February 1461   
The Battle of Ferry Bridge 28 March   
The Battle of Towton 29 March 1461

A team of intrepid ''ghost hunters'' went along to Sandal Castle to investigate the strange goings on in and around the Castle above is footage of that cold night on December 30th 2011, the 551st anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield...

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