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Resumption of fighting, 1459–1460, and the Act of Accord





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Ludlow Castle, South Shropshire

The next outbreak of fighting was prompted by Warwick's high-handed actions as Captain of Calais. He led his ships in attacks on neutralHanseatic League and Spanish ships in the Channel on flimsy grounds of sovereignty. He was summoned to London to face enquiries, but he claimed that attempts had been made on his life, and returned to Calais. York, Salisbury and Warwick were summoned to a royal council at Coventry, but they refused, fearing arrest when they were isolated from their own supporters.[23][24]

York summoned the Nevilles to join him at his stronghold at Ludlow Castle in the Welsh Marches. On 23 September 1459, at the Battle of Blore Heath in Staffordshire, a Lancastrian army failed to prevent Salisbury from marching from Middleham Castle in Yorkshire to Ludlow. Shortly afterwards the combined Yorkist armies confronted the much larger Lancastrian force at the Battle of Ludford Bridge. Warwick's contingent from the garrison of Calais under Andrew Trollope defected to the Lancastrians, and the Yorkist leaders fled. York returned to Ireland, and his eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, Salisbury and Warwick fled to Calais.

The Lancastrians were back in total control. York and his supporters were attainted as traitors. Somerset was appointed Governor of Calais and was dispatched to take over the vital fortress on the French coast, but his attempts to evict Warwick were easily repulsed. Warwick and his supporters even began to launch raids on the English coast from Calais, adding to the sense of chaos and disorder. Being attainted, only a successful invasion would restore the Yorkists' lands and titles. Warwick travelled to Ireland to concert plans with York, evading the royal ships commanded by the Duke of Exeter.[25]

In late June 1460, Warwick, Salisbury and Edward of March crossed the Channel and rapidly established themselves in Kent and London, where they enjoyed wide support. Backed by a papal emissary who had taken their side, they marched north. King Henry led an army south to meet them while Margaret remained in the north with Prince Edward. At the Battle of Northampton on 10 July, the Yorkist army under Warwick defeated the Lancastrians, aided by treachery in the king's ranks. For the second time in the war, King Henry was found by the Yorkists in a tent, abandoned by his retinue, having apparently suffered another breakdown. With the king in their possession, the Yorkists returned to London.

In the light of this military success, Richard of York moved to press his claim to the throne based on the illegitimacy of the Lancastrian line. Landing in north Wales, he and his wifeCecily entered London with all the ceremony usually reserved for a monarch. Parliament was assembled, and when York entered he made straight for the throne, which he may have been expecting the Lords to encourage him to take for himself as they had acclaimed Henry IV in 1399. Instead, there was stunned silence. York announced his claim to the throne, but the Lords, even Warwick and Salisbury, were shocked by his presumption; they had no desire at this stage to overthrow King Henry. Their ambition was still limited to the removal of his councillors.

The next day, York produced detailed genealogies to support his claim based on his descent from Lionel of Antwerp and was met with more understanding. Parliament agreed to consider the matter and accepted that York's claim was better, but by a majority of five, they voted that Henry VI should remain as king. A compromise was struck in October 1460 with the Act of Accord, which recognised York as Henry's successor, disinheriting Henry's six year old son, Edward. York accepted this compromise as the best offer. It gave him much of what he wanted, particularly since he was also made Protector of the Realm and was able to govern in Henry's name.

 

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