1456: The Retreat to Coventry

Henry VI

We’re picking up where we left off in our coverage of the Wars of the Roses’ first half. You can catch up on 1455 here.


Henry VI, recovered from another bout of mental illness, appears before Parliament and revokes Richard, Duke of York’s appointment as Protector. He then alters the Act of Resumption, but asks York to remain a member of Council. Ironically, this is would have been enough to appease York a decade before, but the conflict has gone too far.


Sick of London, in which riots are breaking out, Marguerite of Anjou takes Prince Edward and leaves for Tutbury.

On the 20th, York appoints his nephew, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Captain of Calais. York then retires from London for Sandal Castle, while Warwick heads back north to Warwick Castle.


Marguerite moves through Chester and then over to Kenilworth, showing off her son so as to shore up support for the House of Lancaster. Henry remains in southern England with his  half-brother, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke.


Warwick’s wife, Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, gives birth to a daughter, christened Anne.

The Welsh attack the forces under the command of Henry’s other half-brother, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond.


Henry meets Marguerite and Edward at Chester and they begin their summer progress.


As Henry and Marguerite move through the Midlands, James II of Scotland invades England with an army of 100,000 men and begins pillaging border towns. York meets him with force and the conflict is halted. In recognition of his victory and a sign of friendship, Henry invites York and Warwick to join him and his family on their progresses.

Richmond successfully quashes the Welsh skirmishes, but York orders forces under the command of William Herbert to take South Wales from him. They eventually beat back Richmond’s men and Richmond himself is captured.


In Coventry, Henry and Marguerite are met with pageants and displays of loyalty. Marguerite convinces her husband to move their court there, removing them from London, which has repeatedly shown favor for York.

The location change gives the Queen complete control and on the 24th, her chancellor is awarded the privy seal. Council is summoned, including York and his supporters, but after presenting themselves, fall away. York goes to Ludlow Castle on the Welsh border, Warwick to Calais and Warwick’s father, the Earl of Salisbury, heads to Middleham.


Riots break out in London in response to the power vacuum.

Back in Wales, Richmond is finally released, but he is seriously ill, likely with the plague.


On November 3, Richmond dies. He is only in his mid-20s and leaves behind his pregnant widow, Margaret Beaufort. When Pembroke learns of his brother’s death, he moves to Wales to put their affairs in order and takes Margaret under his protection. Livid over his brother’s death, he turns away from York, having previously worked to mediate between the two sides.

We’ll pick back up with 1457 later this week.

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