This Day in History: 1455-05-22

On 22nd May 1455, Richard, Duke of York, lord of Sandal Castle, along with his Neville allies, intercepted a heavily armed royal party of Henry VI at St Albans, twenty miles north-west of London. Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, had summoned Henry’s nobles (not York et al) to a great council meeting at Leicester earlier that month and this had forced York’s hand as he saw a pre-emptive counterattack as his only choice. The Lancastrian army of 2,000 men, led by the Duke of Buckingham on the orders of Henry VI, was beaten by the stronger Yorkist forces but there were relatively ‘minor’ casualties with estimates of fewer than one hundred deaths, albeit Somerset, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and Lord Clifford were killed. The First Battle of St Albans traditionally marks the start of the Wars of the Roses.