By 1456 Henry VI felt sufficiently confident and well enough (he suffered from sporadic insanity) to remove Richard Duke of York from his office as first minister, although York maintained his position in the King's Council, where he was dominant. The Earl of Warwick, an important member of the Yorkist faction, was appointed Captain of Calais, a point from where he would later launch his Yorkist invasion of England.

Peace continued for another 3 years, supported by a public show of affection by the King, the 'Loveday' in which the members of the rival factions walked into St Paul's Cathedral arm-in-arm. Despite this show, the reality was that the rift was as large as ever. While the Duke of York was carrying out his duties in Dublin, the feud between the houses of Lancaster and York revolved mainly around the Earl of Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, the King's wife. Margaret tried to have Warwick arrested for alleged crimes of piracy and inciting a riot in court, further widening the rift.

By 1459 Margaret of Anjou and the Duke of Buckingham appear to have convinced the King that the Duke of York and his ally the Earl of Warwick were planning to usurp the throne. In June of that year, the Lancastrians decided it was time to crush the Yorkist faction by force. Indicted for treason, York and his supporters rallyed their armies once more. A small Yorkist army led by the Earl of Salisbury defeated a larger Lancastrian force at Blore Heath, in Shropshire. A game of cat and mouse ensued, as the bulk of the King's army, together with the King, pursued York to his base at Ludlow.

Yorkist troops began to desert following a promise of pardon, putting paid to the Yorkist cause. The Duke of York fled to Ireland and Salisbury and Warwick fled to Calais, leaving his commanders in the field.

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Date: 23rd September, 1459

Time: started - 1:00pm; duration - 4 hrs

Location: Blore Heath, 1 mile north of the town of Blore Heath (NW of London)

Weather: wet, ground muddy

Factions: York vs Lancaster

Victor: York

Troops/inventory: York - 3,000 - 6,000 men-at-arms (including billmen, pikemen & archers), cannons, spears;
Lancaster - 6,000 - 12,000 (including large cavalry contigent & archers) *approx. 500 defected during battle

Injuries/fatalaties of interest: York

  • Sir John Neville (captured)
  • Sir Thomas Neville (captured)

  • James Touchet, Lord Audley (slain)
  • Lord Dudley (captured)
  • Sir Hugh Venables of Kinerton (slain)
  • Sir Richard Molineux of Sefton (slain)
  • Sir John Dunne (slain)
  • Sir Thomas Dutton of Dutton (slain)
  • Sir John Haigh (slain)

Total slain: York 500 - 1,000; Lancaster 2,000; injured: 200 - 300

Interesting bit: The Yorkist contingent, realising that they were greatly outnumbered, strengthened their defensive position before the battle began. This proved to be a wise move, as the Lancastrian army was forced to traverse a slope down to a stream, cross the water and then climb the opposite bank in order to engage their opponents. The unsuing melee lasted for several hours, but the disadvantaged Lancastrians were soundly defeated. They lost a total of around 2,000 men, while the Yorkist fatalities numbered between 500 and 1000. It is said that Wemberton Brook ran red with Lancastrian blood for three days.

Although he was one of York's victorious commanders, Salisbury still felt that he may be in danger from another two Lancastrian armies which were assembling a short distance away. He beat a hasty retreat to Ludlow where he joined York and Warwick. To cover his withdrawal from Blore Heath, Salisbury creatively left one of his cannons with a local Augistinian friar and asked to him to fire it during the night. This tactic confused the Lancastrians as to the exact location of Salisbury's retreating men.

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