Warwick swashed and buckled his way up and down the channel until the Yorkists were ready to invade England again. But on his return from Ireland with horns and trumpets blowing, Richard of York had a shock for his allies.
The Parliament of Devils, 1459
Here was revenge for the house of Lancaster. At the parliament, the Yorkist lords were attainted – that is they were guilty of treachery, and their lives were forfeit. But a Bill of Attainder was much worse than that, because it struck at what was really important to your 15th century magnate – his family. Because the Bill of Attainder also stripped all members of the family of their riches, including any heirs. It was in effect wiping the family from the face of history.
The Battle of Northampton
Warwick, Salisbury and the earl of March (the future king Edward) landed in Kent in June 1460, and quickly marched north to London – where they were welcomed. Warwick and March led the army as quickly as they could towards the royal court at Coventry. Buckingham and the Queen were caught hopping – but constructed strong defensive works on the banks of the river Nene at Northampton. The Lancastrians may have numbered 5,000, and the Yorkists 10,000.
The result was a complete rout for the Yorkists – because one of the Lancastrian commanders, Grey of Ruthin, deserted to the Yorkists. Buckingham, Egrement (one of the Percies!) and Shrewsbury all lost their lives and king Henry was captured – laughing and singing in his tent.
Richard of York claims the throne
Richard landed at Chester on 8th September – and grandly made his way south with a great fuss, his sword carried before him – like a king. Parliament was assembled. The Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede records what happened:
…the Duke of York, with the pomp of a great following, arrived in no small exultation of spirit; for he came with horns and trumpets and men at arms, and very many other servants. And entering the palace there, he marched straight through the great hall until he came to that solemn room where the king was accustomed to hold parliament with his commons. And when he arrived there, he advanced with determined step until he reached the royal throne, and there he laid his hand on the cushion…like a man about to take possession of his right, and kept his hand there for a short while. At last, drawing it back, he turned his face towards the people, and standing still under the cloth of state, he looked attentively at the gazing assembly.
In fact, Richard's actions shocked and horrified Lancastrians, neutrals and Warwick and Salisbury. But a deal was worked out – Henry would reign, but York and his heirs would succeed him. Whether or not Margaret of Anjou would agree was another matter.