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The Background Of Battle

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By : Candice Ames   99 or more times read
Submitted 2016-08-03 15:46:57

Edward IV owed his victory in large measure to the support of his cousin, the powerful Earl of Warwick. They became estranged when Edward spurned the French diplomatic marriage that Warwick was seeking for him. Edward instead married Elizabeth Woodville, widow of an obscure Lancastrian gentleman, in secret in 1464. When the marriage became public knowledge, Edward placed many of his new queen's family in powerful positions that Warwick had hoped to control. He meanwhile reversed Warwick's policy of friendship with France by marrying his sister Margaret to Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy. The embittered Warwick secured the support of Edward IV's brother George, Duke of Clarence, for a coup, in exchange for Warwick's promise to crown Clarence king. Although Edward was imprisoned briefly, Clarence was unacceptable as monarch to most of the country. Edward was allowed to resume his rule, outwardly reconciled with Warwick and Clarence. Within a year, he accused them of fresh treachery and forced them to flee to France.

With no hope of a reconciliation with Edward, Warwick's best hope of regaining power in England lay in restoring Henry VI to the throne. Louis XI of France feared a hostile alliance of Burgundy under Charles the Bold and England under Edward IV. He was prepared to support Warwick with men and money, but to give legitimacy to any uprising by Warwick, the acquiescence of Margaret of Anjou was required. Warwick and Margaret were previously sworn enemies, but Margaret's attendants (in particular Sir John Fortescue, formerly Chief Justice during Henry VI's reign) and Louis eventually persuaded her to ally the House of Lancaster with Warwick. At Angers, Warwick begged her pardon on his knees for all past wrongs done to her, and was forgiven. Prince Edward was betrothed to Warwick's younger daughter Anne. (The marriage was eventually solemnised at Amboise on 13 December 1470 but may not have been consummated, as Margaret was seeking a better match for Edward once he was King.) Finally, they swore loyalty to Henry VI on a fragment of the True Cross in Angers Cathedral. However, Margaret declined to let Prince Edward land in England or to land there herself until Warwick had established a firm government and made the country safe for them.

Warwick landed in the West Country on 13 September 1470, accompanied by Clarence and some unswerving Lancastrian nobles, including the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke. As Edward made his way south to face Warwick, he realised that Warwick's brother John, Marquess of Montagu, who had up till then remained loyal to Edward, had defected at the head of a large army in the North of England. Edward fled to King's Lynn where he took ship for Flanders, part of Burgundy, accompanied only by his youngest brother, Richard of Gloucester, and a few faithful adherents.

In London, Warwick released King Henry, led him in procession to Saint Paul's cathedral and installed him in Westminster palace. Warwick's position nevertheless remained precarious. His alliance with Louis of France and his intention to declare war on Burgundy was contrary to the interests of the merchants, as it threatened English trade with Flanders and the Netherlands. Clarence had long been excluded from Warwick's calculations. In November 1470, Parliament declared that Prince Edward and his descendants were Henry's heirs to the throne; Clarence would become King only if the Lancastrian line of succession failed. Unknown to Warwick, Clarence secretly became reconciled with his brother, King Edward.

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