1 – First Battle of St Albans – 1455
This was the first battle in the War of the Roses and took place on 22 May 1455. Richard of York led a 3,000 man army to London but was intercepted by Henry VI’s Lancastrian army at St Albans. It was led by the Duke of Buckingham but included the King and was comprised of around 2,000 men. Defensive barricades were set up by locals along with the king’s soldiers and both sides attempted to negotiate. Once the talks broke down, the Yorkists attacked and the result was brutal fighting in the narrow streets of the town.
The Yorkist army suffered heavy casualties and the Lancastrians made a major breakthrough when they managed to sneak into the town’s market square. The Earl of Warwick (The Kingmaker) was an ally of York at that time and he took a small group of men through a series of alleys and into the town. Once there, Warwick ordered an attack on the main reserve Lancastrian army that was still waiting within St Albans.
By now, the Lancastrian army knew the game was up and they elected to flee the town instead of trying to turn the tide. The remaining Lancastrian men were slaughtered by Warwick’s longbowmen and Buckingham and several other important nobles were killed. King Henry VI was wounded in the battle but he managed to escape.
York now became the Lord Protector of England and was effectively the nation’s ruler after St Albans. It was just the beginning of a long and arduous battle for the throne. There were a number of clashes between the two sides over the next five years including battles at Ludford Bridge and Blore Heath but the next major events occurred in 1460 where there were two crucial battles.