This Day in History: 1459-10-10

On the 10th October 1459, Richard Duke of York – owner of Sandal Castle – along with the earl’s of Salisbury and Warwick, sent a desperate letter to King Henry VI pledging their loyalty. The Yorkist forces had arrived at Ludford Meadow just outside of Ludlow following news from scouts that a royal army, headed by the king himself, and perhaps twice the size of York’s forces, was heading to meet them. There was a real sense of panic in the earl’s letter stating that they only sought to end ‘such inconvenient and irreverent jeopardies as we have been put in diverse times herebofore’. York would state that they only kept ‘such fellowship’ (referring to the thousands of men they had with them) for their protection and that they would willingly come to the king’s presence, if he would grant them safe conduct. However, at the end of the letter, York does seem to take aim directly at Queen Margaret as he recounts to King Henry ‘the opportune impatience and violence of such persons as intend of extreme malice to proceed under the shadow of your high might and presence to our destruction’. The letter as a whole had a different resonance to other Yorkist communications and looks to appeal to henry’s lifelong love of peace. The change of tone is understandable as they were in a no-win situation. If they fought they would commit treason and risk their lives and inheritance of themselves and their heirs. If they ran, they might save their lives but still lose their lands and inheritance.