29th March 1461. Towton.
The Wars of the Roses was a term coined and immortalised by Walter Scott in his 1829 novel Anne of Geierstein and Today in 1461 was to witness the bloodiest battle, in those wars, ever to be fought on British soil.
It took place in a snowstorm on Palm Sunday, at Towton south of York and established Edward IV as King up to 1483, but in a reign broken by exile, and counter-claims from the supporters of Henry VI until he was murdered in the Tower.
The Wars were between the two Houses of Plantagenets, descendants of the sons of Edward III, Lancastrian, John of Gaunt and Richard of York and to culminate in a battle of the thirty six thousand army of the Yorkist Edward IV and the forty thousand Lancastrians of Henry VI.
The two were to face each other over a wind scoured plateau and by the end of the day an estimated 28,000 lay dead.
Many died in the opening arrow salvos or hand-to-hand melee, many were pushed into the Cock Beck ravine which choked with bodies served as a bridge helping many to escape the rout.
The casus belli has been attributed to the inadequacy of Henry VI, his mental instability and his pious notion of a unique relationship with God.
After Towton which restored the Yorkists, the powerful Queen Margaret continued to intrigue with her husband Henry in the Tower and it was only the breach between Edward and Warwick in 1468 which gave her any chance of success of preserving the Lancastrian line.
Could the reason why Towton is largely forgotten whilst Bosworth of 1485 is remembered be due to Tudor propaganda?, as the Yorkist victory at Towton, was not as important to their cause as the later Tudor 1485 victory. History is all about the victors.
(1) Lord Dacre’s Cross commemorates the dead on Towton Lane, south of York. Thirty times more died at Towton, than at Bosworth, the penultimate battle of the wars.
Pic Google images.