2 – Battle of Northampton – 1460
This important battle occurred on 10 July 1460 and led to the capture of Henry VI. The Earl of Warwick and the Earl of March (he was later to become Edward IV) landed at Sandwich in June 1460 after sailing across to England from Calais. Warwick eventually marched north to intercept a Lancastrian army that was on its way south to Coventry and was led by King Henry VI.
The Lancastrians learned of this plan and elected to stop at the town of Northampton and create a defensive position. Instead of attacking straight away once he arrived at the town, Warwick wanted a peace settlement and was hoping to speak to the king. After fruitless talks, the Yorkists launched their attack.
As I mentioned in the introduction, treachery was a feature of the War of the Roses and it reared its ugly head at Northampton. Lord Grey had been commanding a section of the king’s army but when he faced Warwick in battle, he ordered his men to lay down their arms and allow the Yorkists through.
Had Lord Grey not taken this action, it is likely that the Battle of Northampton would have been a bloody one as the combined strength of the two armies was around 30,000. Instead, the entire conflict was over in about half an hour as Warwick captured the king and killed several important Lancastrian nobles. A number of Lancastrian foot soldiers tried to escape via the River Nene but it was overflowing so many of them drowned. These deaths made up most of the casualties which totalled only hundreds. Incidentally, Grey switched sides because the Yorkists offered support in a property dispute he was having!
It appeared as if the war was over now that the king had been captured but his queen, Margaret of Anjou, had other ideas as she assembled an army in Wales.