3 – Battle of Wakefield – 1460
This was yet another monumental battle in the War of the Roses and it took place at Wakefield on 30 December 1460. After capturing Henry at Northampton, Richard of York forced the king to transfer the right of succession to him (and his heirs) via an Act of Settlement in October 1460. The Act stated that Henry VI would remain king until his death whereupon Richard would become the new monarch. As a result, the king’s son Edward, Prince of Wales, would be disinherited.
The king’s wife Margaret, refused to acknowledge the settlement and marched south with an army led by the Duke of Somerset. York took an army of around 8,000 men to meet this threat and, after a short skirmish with enemy forces at Worksop on 16 December; he arrived at his castle of Sandal which was located close to the town of Wakefield. The Lancastrians were only 9 miles away and sent an army to meet York in battle. York requested aid from his son Edward but instead of waiting, he decided to meet the enemy in battle on 30 December. This turned out to be a disastrous decision.
It is not known whether York believed the enemy army was roughly the same size as his but as it turned out, the Lancastrian army was twice the size. When the Yorkists charged out of the castle, they were quickly surrounded by the enemy. The Battle of Wakefield lasted little more than an hour as the Yorkists were soundly defeated while York was killed in battle. Other notable casualties included York’s son Edmund (the earl of Rutland) the Earl of Salisbury.
If the House of Lancaster thought this was the end of the matter, they were sorely mistaken. They gained victory at the Second Battle of St Albans and rescued Henry VI in 1461 but were unable to enter London.