Sandal Castle – 15th Century

2/1/1461Margaret of AnjouFollowing the Lancastrian victory at Wakefield, Lancastrian forces  joined  the Queen Consort, Margaret of Anjou, and her army of northern and Scots mercenaries at York. The Lancastrian commanders then planned to liberate King Henry VI from his Yorkist 'gaolers' in London. In early January 1461, the whole army headed south along the Great North Road. The Lancastrians had much of the nobility in their ranks and marched under the banner of the Prince of Wales with the emblems of the white swan and ostrich feather. The northern mercenaries were, unfortunately, generally no more than a rabble and widespread pillaging on their way south severely damaged what little favourable public opinion the Lancastrians held in the country.  These actions would be a key factor in the events that were to follow at the second Battle of St Albans and Battles of Mortimers Cross and Towton.
18/1/1425On 18th January 1425, Richard Plantagenet’s (Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle), uncle, Edmund Mortimer, died of plague after having been sent to Ireland. Richard now assumed the titles of Earl of March and Ulster and the Mortimer lands in Wales and border territories. These lands, however, were held in trust by Mortimer’s widow, Anne Stafford by reason of Richard’s ‘nonage’ (minority).
28/1/1457On 28th January 1457, Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales. It would be Henry on 22nd August 1485, who would bring the Wars of the Roses to a conclusion with his decisive defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, thus ending the period of Yorkist rule and heralding the commencement of the Tudor dynasty, and with it, the loss of Sandal castle’s pre-eminent place in the government of the north.
2/2/1461Battle-of-Mortimers-CrossOn 2nd February 1461, a Yorkist force, under Edward the Earl of March (soon to be Edward IV), defeated a Welsh Lancastrian force at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross.
9/2/1455On 9th February 1455, Richard Duke of York - whose northern stronghold was Sandal castle - was stripped of his Protectorate by the now recovered Henry VI. He was also stripped of the Captaincy of Calais which was again awarded to Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset. York’s ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, was also removed from his position as Chancellor.
10/2/1441Richard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son, Henry, was born at Hatfield, on Friday 10th Feb 1441.
17/2/1461Earl of Warwick, Richard NevilleAs news spread of the destruction brought about by the Lancastrian army on its march south, the Earl of Warwick, unsure if the Lancastrians would soon appear, left London with a Yorkist army and King Henry VI in tow. Warwick set up a defensive perimeter around St Albans and on 17th February engaged with the Lancastrian army. In the Second Battle of St Albans the Yorkists were routed. Warwick and many of the Yorkist commanders managed to escape but, in the confusion, left behind Henry VI who was found under a tree. Two Yorkist knights who were charged with guarding the king had stayed with Henry VI and were captured and ordered to be beheaded by Henry's seven year old son, Edward.
25/2/1456On 25th February 1456, Richard, Duke of York, was sent an emphatic and strongly worded letter to his castle at Sandal : ‘We on the 25th February in our said parliament, with the advice and assent of the lords spiritual and temporal being in the same parliament, have discharged you from the responsibility or change and name of Lord Protector and Defender. We order you not to intervene at all in any further responsibility or charge and name of the protector and defender of our aforesaid kingdom of England and our principle councillor and name of the aforesaid. For we wish you to be completely discharged of the responsibility or charge and name of the aforesaid.’ Albeit discharged of ‘kingly’ powers, York was expected to deal with a new crisis in the realm: Scotland’s James II‘s incursion into Cumbria. James did reportedly offer to help York in his claim to the English throne. This pattern of expecting York to meet a crisis in government and then being side-lined was one he was unable to break.
26/2/1461King_Edward_IVOn 26th February 1461, after the Lancastrians' victory at the Second Battle St Albans their army marched on the capital but, with their notorious reputation  now common knowledge,  Londoners closed the city gates. Rather than trying to take the capital by force, the Lancastrian army turned north to regroup and plan its next course of action. It now  began to march north to the city of York. The Earl of Warwick now convinced Richard Duke of York's son, Edward,  to proclaim himself king; the Duke of York was dead and under the Act of Accord, Edward, his heir, could claim the throne on Henry VI's death. Albeit Henry was still (presumably) alive, Edward, Warwick and their supporters claimed the throne by virtue of  Henry VI and his followers  breaching the agreement by causing 'unrest, inward war and trouble, unright wiseness, and the shedding and effusion of innocent blood'. The Yorkists called on the citizens of London to accept Edward as king and save them from the 'dissolute' Lancastrians. Edward was now acknowledged (at least in London) as Edward IV, King of England. These events would lead in the following weeks to the climactic battles at Ferrybridge and Towton where the future of the crown would be decided.
10/3/1452On 10th March 1452, Richard, 3rd Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle, was forced to ride through London’s streets to the altar of St Paul’s Cathedral and recite an oath of fealty to Henry VI. Only a week earlier, York’s army had reached Blackheath with York demanding the arrest of Henry’s close adviser, Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. After accepting Henry’s promise of Somerset’s arrest (not fulfilled) and disbanding his army, York swore never again to take up arms against Henry, duly come whenever he was summoned and expose any plots against the king he became aware of. A chastened York withdrew to his fortress at Ludlow on the Welsh border.
20/3/1471In late March 1471, after having returned from exile and landed at Ravenspur on the River Humber, Edward of York moved his army around the Marquess of Montagu’s forces at Pontefract and arrived at Sandal Castle, the scene of his father's death. Despite, at this stage, having a far greater force composed of local militias (estimates say 6,000 to 7,000 men) than Edward, Montagu chose to track him as he moved south. Seemingly, even Pontefract Castle's bailiff deserted Montagu for the returning king, taking the castle's funds with him.
25/3/1414On 25th March 1414, Thomas Clifford , 8th Baron Clifford, was born. The Clifford family seat was at Skipton. Thomas, who would be killed at the first battle of St Albans on 22nd May 1455, was the father of John Clifford, a key protagonist at the Battles of Wakefield and Ferrybridge and accredited with the slaying of Edmund Earl of Rutland following the former.
25/3/1458On 25th March 1458, Richard, Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle, was part of the ‘hypocritical’ Love Day parade from Westminster Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral organised by Henry VI in his attempts to end the ongoing rivalries in his kingdom. York, himself, was ordered to compensate the 2nd Duke of Somerset’s family to the tune of 5,000 marks (£3.8 million in today’s money) for his killing at the Battle of St Albans three years before. The Earl of Warwick was required to compensate Lord Clifford for his father’s loss, the Earl of Salisbury was forced to negate some debts owed to him by the Percys and all three Yorkist lords had to pay £45 a year (over £51,000 today) to fund prayers at St Albans Abbey for those killed in action at the battle. Only one sanction (against Lord Egremont) was stipulated against the Lancastrian court party. Henry led the parade followed by Queen Margaret holding York’s hand then Salisbury holding hands with Somerset and Warwick with the Duke of Exeter. Unsurprisingly, hostilities broke out within months with the Battle of Blore Heath eighteen months later resulting in around 3,000 killed.
27/3/1454Richard Duke of YorkOn 27th March 1454, whilst Henry VI was in a fit of deep melancholia and unable to speak, the Lords in parliament agreed to elect Richard Duke of York Protector of the Realm and Chief Councillor. Richard's base in the north was Sandal Castle. It would be fair to say there were many Lords that held grave concerns about York's suitability as Protector. However, at this stage, those fears were not realised and York attempted to be both fair and tough and non-partisan in all his dealings. Richard would subsequently be killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.
28/3/1461On 28th March 1461, Lord John Clifford, who three months prior had slain Edmund Earl of Rutland on Chantry Bridge in Wakefield, was himself killed at the Battle of Ferrybridge, the pre-cursor to the Battle of Towton on the following day. Nicknamed ‘The Flower of Craven’, Clifford was killed at Dintingdale by the Yorkist vanguard contingent after taking off his gorget (armoured neck protection) either through heat or pain, only to be hit in the neck by an arrow.
30/3/1454On 30th March 1454, Richard Plantagenet (Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle), presided over a meeting of the council (parliament) at Westminster to try to resolve the paralysed government of Henry VI, caused by his being taken ill in August 1453.
3/4/1454On 3rd April 1454, Richard Plantagenet (Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle), in view of Henry VI’s catatonic illness, was officially named as Lord Protector ‘in consideration of the King’s infirmity whereby his attendance to the protection of the realm and church of England would be tedious and prejudicial to his swift recovery’.
8/4/1435On 8th April 1435, Lord John Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford, was born. He was the son of Thomas Clifford, the 8th baron, who was killed by the army of Richard Duke of York at the 1st Battle of St Albans. Clifford would have his revenge by the slaying of the second son of Richard, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, on Chantry Bridge, Wakefield, following the Yorkist defeat at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. Clifford would be labelled a ‘tyrant and no gentleman’.
9/4/1484On 9th April 1484, Richard III’s son, Edward, died. He was about ten years old and his death threw Richard and his Queen, Anne Neville,  into a state of near madness. As a usurper of the throne, Richard needed an heir to guarantee the security of the succession. Richard had fathered many illegitimate sons including one John of Pontefract, but Edward was the only one who could be accepted as the heir to the crown. His death was therefore catastrophic for Richard. Following his death and realising the danger to his  future succession, Richard had Edward 17th Earl of Warwick and the son of his elder brother George Duke of Clarence ( who had been executed in 1478) and Isabel Neville, sent to his residence at Sheriff Hutton. John de la Pole,  Earl of Lincoln, Richard's nephew and son of his elder sister, Elizabeth, would be preferred to Edward and would be chosen to supersede Edward’s position in the north and he would rule on the king's behalf from Sandal Castle, which had been chosen as the headquarters of the  Council of the North.
22/4/1444Elizabeth_of_SuffolkRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Elizabeth, was born at Rouen on Saturday 22nd April 1444. The photo shows Elizabeth's effigy St Andrew's parish church, Wingfield, Suffolk.
28/4/1442Edward IVRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son Edward, Earl of March, was born at Rouen on 28th April 1442. He would later become King Edward IV.
3/5/1446Margaret_of_YorkRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Margaret, was born at Fotheringhay, on Tuesday 3rd May 1446.
17/5/1443The_Murder_of_Rutland_by_Lord_Clifford_by_Charles_Robert_Leslie,_1815Richard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, born at Rouen on 17th May 1443. Edmund died age seventeen just after the Battle of Wakefield. The painting is titled The Murder of Rutland by Lord Clifford by Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859).
18/5/1455On 18th May 1455, Richard Duke of York and lord of Sandal castle, sent out summonses to his estates for men to rally to his side. This was following Henry VI’s recovery from illness on Christmas Day 1454 and Henry’s subsequent release from the Tower of London of Richard, Duke of York’s (lord of Sandal) enemy, Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. York had resigned his position as Lord Protector early in the year and events were now to presage the Battle of St Albans four days later. This has traditionally been seen as the beginning of the Wars of the Roses in England.
1/6/1475On 1st June 1475, the steward (Sir John Pilkington) at Berkhamstead of Cecily Neville, widow of Richard, Duke of York, erstwhile lord of Sandal Castle, obtained a grant to found a chantry chapel for perpetual prayer in All Saints Church, Wakefield. It would have one chaplain with an annual rent of 9 marks (£7600 in today’s money). The first chaplain was James Smethurst and all successors were appointed by the Abbot of Kirkstall.
3/6/1454Two letters to their father, Richard Duke of York, have been preserved. Edward and Edmund were 12 and 11 years respectively and in their first letter state: 'We thanke your noblesse and good ffadurhod for our grene gownes nowe late sende unto us to our grete comfort: beseeching your good lordeship that we might have summe fyne bonetts sende un to us by the next sure messig, for necessitie so requireth.' The second letter dated June 3rd 1454 says: 'If it please your Highness to know of our welfare at the making of this letter, we were in good health of body thanked be God; beseeching your good and gracious fatherhood of your daily blessing. And where ye command us, by your said letters, to attend specially to our learning in our young age, please it your Highness to wit, that we have attended our learning since we came hither, and shall hereafter, by which we trust to God your gracious Lordship that it may please you to send us Harry Lovedeyne, clerk of your kitchen, whose service is to us right agreeable: and we will send you John Boys to wait on your good Lordship.' A few years later at the Battle of Wakefield Edmund would be tragically killed aged only seventeen.
15/6/1484In June 1484, probably whilst staying for prolonged periods at Pontefract Castle, Richard III visited Sandal and authorised the building of a new tower in the castle. He would later order the building of a new bakehouse and brewhouse. By this time, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and head of the Ducal Council of the North and, following the death of Richard's son Edward in April 1484, Richard's nominated heir apparent, was ordered to reside permanently at Sandal Castle, rather than one of Richard Neville's other properties. Richard had drawn up a series of ordinances for the household in the north at Sandal, which detailed 'the hours of God's service, diet, going to bed and rising, and also the shutting of the gates". In terms of breakfast, Lincoln and Lord Morley would sit at one table, the Council of there North at another whilst the children were to 'dine together at one breakfast'. Deliveries of wine, ale and bread were strictly controlled, with John de la Pole, whilst at Sandal, being treated like the king's servant rather than his nominated heir.
7/7/1447Richard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son, William, was born at Fotheringhay on Friday 7th July 1447.
20/7/1455Richard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Ursula, was born at Fotheringhay, Sunday 20th July 1455.
21/7/1484By 21st July 1484, Richard III was establishing the Council of the North with places of residence at Sandal Castle and Sheriff Hutton. The Council was now institutionalised as a formal branch of the royal council proper under the presidency of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, Richard’s nephew and heir. Its main objectives were to give justice and promote peace throughout the northern shires of Yorkshire, Durham, Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland. Edward IV had given his brother, Richard, pre-eminence beyond the Trent in 1472 as ‘Lord of the North’ and the Council possessed both civil and criminal jurisdiction, the power of investigating, commanding the presence of witnesses by subpoena, ordering by decree, giving verdicts and setting penalties. Only some of its members are known: Clarence’s son, the Earl of Warwick; Lord Morley and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Lord Scrope of Bolton; Baron Greystoke; Sir Francis Lovell; Sir James Harrington and Sir William Parre. The Council’s budget was 2,000 marks per annum (£1.72 million in today’s money) and was to meet every three months at least at York. The Council remained operational in various forms until 1641. Its regulations included: “These articles following be ordained and established by the king’s grace to be used and executed by my Lord of Lincoln and the lords and others of his council in the North parts for his surety and the well-being of the inhabitants of the same. First, the king wills that no lord nor other person appointed to be of his council, for favour, affection, hate, malice or bribery, shall speak in the otherwise than the king’s laws and good conscience shall require, but be indifferent and in no way partial, as far as his wit and reason will allow him, in all manner of matters that shall be administered before them... [The] council shall meet, wholly if it may be, once in the quarter of the year at least, at York, to hear, examine and order all bills of complaints and others shown there before them, and oftener if the case require. [The] council shall have authority and power to order and direct [in respect of] all riots, forcible entries, disputes and other misbehaviours against our laws and these parts... [Our] council, for great riots...committed in the great lordships or otherwise by any person, shall commit that person to ward in one of our castles near where the riot is committed... [The] council, as soon as they have knowledge of any assemblies or gatherings made contrary to our laws and peace, [shall arrange] to resist, withstand and punish the same... [We] will and straitly charge all and each of our officers, true liegemen and subjects in these north parts to be at all times obedient to the commandments of our council in our name, and duly to execute the same, as they and each of them will eschew our great displeasure and indignation... "    
30/7/1447On 30th July 1447, Richard Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle, was appointed Lieutenant of Ireland for ten years on a fee of 4,000 marks (£3.05 million in today’s money), followed by an annual salary of 2,000.
30/7/1447On 30th July 1447, a nearly eight years old Anne Plantagenet, first child of Richard, Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle, married seventeen years old Henry Holland, (later Earl of Exeter). Holland was to prove a thorn-in-the-side for York as he remained loyal to Henry VI and was a commander at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 at which York perished.
30/7/1476On 30th July 1476, the funeral services for Richard, Duke of York’s (former lord of Sandal Castle) re-interment at Fotheringhay along with his son, Edmund, were held at St Mary and All Saints Church. After Masses and sermons, ritual offerings of pieces of gold cloth were made. York’s black warhorse, still alive sixteen years after his death, was ridden into the church by Lord Ferrers carrying an axe with the blade facing downwards. York was buried in the choir and Edmund in the lady chapel. A huge feast followed with reportedly up to 20,000 present. York’s widow, Cecily, apparently was absent for whatever reason.
10/8/1439Anne_of_York_and_Sir_Thomas_St._LegerRichard Duke of York's  (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Anna, Duchess of Exeter, was born at Fotheringhay, on Monday 10th Aug 1439.
22/8/1485On 22nd August 1485,  Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth to establish the Tudor dynasty. The defeat of Richard marked the end of Sandal Castle as a royal residence and for the next one hundred and sixty years, the castle would only be fitfully repaired as a centre of local administration. It became a drain on the royal finances rather than a source of prestige. Under the Stuarts, it would be allowed to decay further.
9/9/1460On 9th September 1460, Richard Duke of York landed at Chester and began to march south with his banners emblazoned with the royal arms. As York headed towards Westminster, he would seriously misjudge the mood of his fellow nobles who had no stomach to overthrow an anointed king. With his attempt to take the crown bound for failure, and despite the Act of Accord of 25th October 1460 naming Richard or his heirs as successor to Henry VI, York was now on a collision course with Margaret of Anjou, desperate to protect the succession of her son Prince Edward. York’s fate would be sealed before the end of the year with his death at the Battle of Wakefield.
17/9/1483On 17th September 1483, Richard III instructed the receiver of Wakefield to continue paying 40s a year (nearly £1400 in today's money) to a priest to provide services in the chapel of St Michael, Holmfirth, for the tenants, because of the long distance they would otherwise have to travel to reach the parish church.
21/9/1411On 21st September 1411, Richard Duke of York was born at Conisbrough to Richard 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer. Richard would become one of the most pivotal figures of the first half of the fifteenth century: challenger, Protector and ultimately claimant to the English throne. Richard’s northern base would be at Sandal Castle and Richard would die on the 30th December 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield, in sight of his castle.
2/10/1452Richard_IIIRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was born at Fotheringhay, on Monday 2nd Oct 1452. He would later become King Richard III.
15/10/1484In October 1484, in addition to erecting a new well tower that year, Richard III ordered John Woderobe, the receiver of rents, to have a bakehouse and brewhouse built within Sandal Castle. This new building would serve the household and garrison. The letter read: "John Woderof: A comaundement to John Woderoffe Receivor of Wakefeld to cause a bakehouse and a brewhouse to be bilded within the Castelle of Sandelle by the advise of Therle of Lincolne and other the king's Counselle lieng there and of the Revenues of his office to pay for the same at the king's charges."
21/10/1449George_Duke_of_ClarenceRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle)  son, George, Duke of Clarence, was born in Ireland, Tuesday 21st Oct 1449.
25/10/1460On 25th October 1460, the Act of Accord came into force following the Yorkist success at the battle of Northampton where King Henry VI was once again placed under Yorkist control. Through the Act of Accord, Parliament recognized Richard Duke of York's position (he had a strong claim to the throne and was King Edward III's great-grandson) and stipulated that, on the death of Henry VI, the crown would not pass to his son Edward but to the Duke of York and his heirs. This act would prove the catalyst for the great battles that would follow in the following months at Wakefield, St Albans, Mortimers Cross and Towton.
7/11/1448Richard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) son, John, was born at Neyte on Thursday 7th Nov 1448.
15/11/1461By mid November 1461, Edward IV’s first parliament had passed an Act of Attainder against thirty-six Lancastrians for their complicity in the ‘murders’ at the Battle of Wakefield the previous December. The Yorkist interpretation of the battle seemed to indicate a broken Christmas truce or the ambush of a foraging party - no one can say for sure why Richard left the safety of Sandal castle with his vastly outnumbered forces to meet the Lancastrians - rather than a fair fight. A month later, the Earl of Warwick was appointed to execute the office of Steward of England at the trial of Henry VI and other rebels who had murdered the king’s father, Richard, Duke of York, at Wakefield.
17/11/1455On 17th November 1455, Richard Duke of York, owner of Sandal castle, officially began his second Protectorate. This Protectorate had actually begun following the Yorkist victory at the 1st Battle of St Albans and the capture of Henry VI on 22nd May 1455. Richard had tried to unify the lords and provide good governance, but whereas in his first Protectorate (March 1454 to February 1455), Henry VI had been totally incapacitated, during his second, York was attempting to exercise royal authority without any such urgent demand.
18/12/1484On 18th December 1484, a message from Thomas Wrangwysh, Mayor of York, addressed to the Earl of Lincoln, Lord President of the Council of the North, arrived at Sandal Castle. John Stafford and his son, Richard had been arrested (and confessed) on charges of counterfeiting French crowns and ‘uttering’ (passing) them within the city. Under a statute of Edward III, false coining was high treason punishable by a gruesome death. Wrangwysh requested the Earl ‘to show your commandment by our servant this bearer how I shall deal with the said John and with his son’. Lincoln requested Stafford to be sent to him to be examined with his son kept at York. However, York’s city council baulked at its authority being questioned and requested Stafford, ‘after your high pleasure and wisdom’ to be remitted to York ‘to be punished after his demerits, according to the rights of the said city’. Albeit Stafford’s (and son’s) fate is not known, it is likely his defence of finding coining irons in Derbyshire and counterfeiting foreign coins and not English ones was not a felony and would not become so until the reign of Henry VII!
21/12/1460Between 21st -24th December 1460, Richard Duke of York arrived at his castle at Sandal with an army of approximately 5,000 men. Richard had initially intended to confront the Lancastrian armies based at Pontefract but, on realising he would be significantly outnumbered (the Lancastrians had approx. 15,000 troops), Richard decided he would have to spend Christmas at Sandal awaiting reinforcements from his son Edward Earl of March (later Edward IV); Edward had headed to the Welsh Marches to suppress a Lancastrian uprising in that area. Some contemporaries have the issue of the ravaging of the Yorkist properties in Yorkshire, especially by the Earls of Northumberland and Clifford, as the reason why York travelled north from London. However, what should not be forgotten is that it was the recovery of the Lancastrian strongholds such as Pontefract Castle that were key reasons for York's  venture.
25/12/1454On 25th December 1454, Henry VI awoke from his stupor and his senses quickly returned. He was introduced to his son Edward who had been born the previous year, and he quickly began to reverse all of the policies of the Duke of York that had been pursued over the last year. Richard would retire quietly to his castle at Sandal.
29/12/1460On 29th December 1460, both the Lancastrian and Yorkist forces were in position in readiness for battle (see the Pontefract posting on 28th December). Throughout the whole of the 29th, the Lancastrian forces taunted Richard, who was securely in his castle, trying to draw him from his stronghold as the Lancastrians had no siege equipment with them. The Lancastrians realised that, without any siege equipment, the longer Richard could maintain his position in the castle then the greater would be the likelihood that his forces would be reinforced. Consequently, the Lancastrians were desperate to draw him into battle.
30/12/1454On 30th December 1454, with Henry VI regaining his ‘sanity’ and acknowledging his young son, Prince Edward, for the first time, Richard, Duke of York’s regency effectively came to an end and he retired quietly to his castle at Sandal.
30/12/1460Margaret of AnjouFollowing the Battle of Wakefield, bonfires were lighted on 30th - 31st December 1460 to enable the conquerors to bury the bodies of the slain on the field of battle. A letter written at the time by a son who visited the battlefield in search of the dead body of his father said 'that at midnight the kindly snow fell like a mantle on the dead and covered the rueful faces staring to directly up to heaven'. After the battle, the Lancastrians set off towards York with the intention of reuniting with Margaret of Anjou who had remained in Scotland throughout the whole of the Wakefield campaign to gather further support and an army of mercenaries.
30/12/1460Richard_of_York_MemorialOn 30th December 1460, the Battle of Wakefield was fought on the plain ground between Sandal Castle and the town of Wakefield i.e. to the north of Sandal Castle. This battle has often been overlooked in history mainly due to its short duration (one to two hours) and the number of combatants, about 30,000, when compared against some of the great battles of the era at St Albans, Towton and Barnet. However, this battle changed the course of English history as the Yorkists were routed, losing 2,500 men, and Richard Duke of York, himself, who was killed and his head subsequently displayed on Micklegate Bar in York. There are many theories why Richard engaged the Lancastrians in battle when significantly outnumbered: the Yorkists had approximately 5,000 troops against the Lancastrians' 15,000-22,000 troops. These theories include York's underestimating the Lancastrian force and not realising that the Lancastrians had been split and hidden in woods to the west, east and north of the castle, meaning that  when Richard charged down the hill he was quickly surrounded. Also, Lord John Neville, on his long march North, had purportedly got word to Richard that he would raise troops to support his cause and arrive on the battlefield with 8,000 men, but he quickly changed sides, leading to the Yorkist army being encircled by enemy forces. Following the battle, Richard's second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland was captured close to Chantry Bridge by Lord Clifford and subsequently slain. The Earl of Salisbury was captured and taken to Pontefract where on the following day he was executed and his head removed and placed on Micklegate Bar along with Edmund's and his father's.