I have been a WU member since September 2005. Now a retired teacher, enjoying my garden, writing, sketching, taking photos, and having great fun!
By: sandiquiz , 7:55 PM GMT on March 31, 2014
You may have heard of the mnemonic for the colours of the rainbow.
As a child I was taught - "Richard of York gave battle in vain"
Why mention this?
Well, I am about to write about one of the battles that took place during 1455 and 1487 - a period widely known as "The Wars of the Roses".
The Yorkists of the 'White Rose', fought the Lancastrians of the 'Red Rose', for the throne of England.
It all began because the King of England, Henry VI, suffered from periodic bouts of insanity, so transferred the right of succession to his cousin Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, by an Act of Settlement. His strong willed wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou, was unwilling to accept the fact that her only son, Edward, Prince of Wales, would therefore be disinherited. The Queen was fiercely protective of her young son and his rights, so rallied the Lancastrian nobles to attack Richard. The Yorkists, under Richard, despised the Lancastrians and were willing to fight for supremacy, and the throne.
There were many battles during the period of 1455 to 1487, where the power swapped from the House of Lancaster to The House of York and back again, several times.
The one I am going to write about is "The Battle of Towton Moor" that took place on March 29th 1461, when the Lancastrians attacked the Yorkists on Towton Moor, but were slaughtered, leaving Edward of York, Richard's eldest son, to rule England for 9 years whilst Henry VI hid in Scotland with his family.
At the weekend I attended a choir reunion. It was forty years to the day since the choir had their first rehearsal with just 12 people. The lady who began the choir was at the reunion - a sprightly 86 year old and still full of fun. To me she looked no different to the lady who welcomed me to the choir on my first night over 30 years ago. The choir is now conducted by a friend of C's, who sings with him in the 'International Touring Choir' they both belong to.
The dinner on Saturday night was a wonderful way to catch up with old friends, and we had the privilege of hearing the special musical piece written for the choir, to celebrate their Ruby Anniversary Concert in the summer.
On the Sunday morning, as we left the guest house where we had stayed, the weather was misty.
About a mile from the guest house is Towton Moor cross, so I asked C if we could go to see it, so that I could take a photo.
The sky was weird: it was misty and mottled, with a weak sun peeping through. The top of Towton Moor is an eerie place at the best of times, but in the mist it was even more so.
We got out of the car, and whilst C had a look at the newly erected tourist information boards, I went to take a photo of the cross. I noticed a bouquet of red roses on the side nearest to where I was standing, then as I walked around I noticed the white ones.
Someone had placed them on the cross to remember the anniversary of "probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil".
On 4th March 1461, Edward of York named himself King Edward IV in Westminster Abbey, after his father, Richard, Duke of York, had been killed at the Battle of Wakefield. BUT this meant that England would have two Kings! Henry was still officially King, even though he left the fighting to his Lancastrian nobles. The Queen and the Lancastrians were furious that Edward had declared himself King, so marched to Yorkshire and gathered at Ferrybridge, south of Towton, on the morning of the 28th March, ready for battle.
Images of Edward of York, the young 17 year old son of Richard, and Henry VI.
The Yorkist troops knew of the Lancastrians' intentions so marched north to engage them. Edward and his troops made camp at Towton, on the eve of the 29th, ready for battle the next morning.
At 4am on the 29th, the Lancastrians attacked, using falling snow to deaden their advances.
Norfolk and Warwick's troops did not get to the battle site until later on the 29th, but their arrival rallied the Yorkists into defeating the Lancastrians.
History tells us that an estimated 70,000 soldiers fought a furious battle that day: with arrows, swords, spears and by hand. By the end of the day it is thought that nearly 30,000 were dead.
Several bridges in the area collapsed under the weight of fleeing men in armour, plunging many into the freezing water. So many died that the 'chroniclers' recorded that the Lancastrians eventually fled across 'bridges' of bodies. Local tradition states that the river ran red with blood for many days afterwards.
Towton Moor in the mist, 553 years after the battle, ... is still a spooky place!
"And heaped in many a lofty mound,
By pitying victors then,
That battle-field gave burial ground
To thirty thousand men;
And on those mounds the Roses twain
Of civil strife, were set,
To mark the parties of the slain,
With symbols of regret."
Jane Williams 1858
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