The Battle of Wakefield Revisited: A Fresh Perspective on Richard of York's Final Battle, December 1460
Paperback, 140 pages, 16 black & white plates, 5 line drawings; ISBN 978-0-9565768-0-4
Available at £12.00 plus p&p directly from the author
The book can also be borrowed from Wakefield Libraries, or purchased from Rickaro Books, Horbury, Wakefield.
On 30th December 1460, a battle took place which changed the course of English history. Richard, Duke of York, had recently been named heir-apparent to King Henry VI by the Act of Accord. But Henry's wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou, refused to accept the Act and mustered a mighty army to oppose the Duke and restore the succession to her son Edward, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales. Their forces clashed near the city of Wakefield, where the Duke was killed along with his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland and many of their supporters - and the reason why York led them out from the safety of Sandal Castle to face certain defeat by a much larger army has puzzled historians ever since.
Some people believe that the Duke was reckless and stupid, an ageing commander past his prime who made a bad decision - or that he charged out in blind fury because the enemy had sent heralds to insult him. Others think he made a heroic but futile attempt to rescue some of his foragers who were under attack; or that he didn't realise how big the Lancastrian army was, because many of their troops were cunningly hidden in nearby woodland, waiting to charge out and ambush him.
But I've never been convinced by these theories, which aren't well supported by contemporary reports of the battle. So in The Battle of Wakefield Revisited I've tried to pull together and re-examine all the surviving historical and archaeological evidence relating to the encounter - and I think I've come up with a far simpler and more plausible explanation of why the Duke of York rode out to face his enemies that day...
What's In The Battle of Wakefield Revisited?
Introduction: Traditional accounts of the battle and the Duke of York's 'failure'
Enter the Protagonists: Historical prelude to the conflict from Edward II to Henry V; introduction to Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and Richard of York
The Road to War: The upheavals of the 1450s, resulting in York's claim to the throne and the Act of Accord
Dispelling the Myths: A critical analysis of the traditions - the alleged 'destruction' of York's vanguard at Worksop; the Duke's 'rashness'; the role of foragers in his defeat; alleged Lancastrian 'provocations'; the 'ambush from the woods' theory; accounts of the battle; York's dishonour on the 'ant-hill' throne; the fate of the hapless young Earl of Rutland
The Real Battle of Wakefield? An alternative view of the battle based on the most reliable evidence
The Fate of the Vanquished: What subsequently became of the Yorkists - and their conquerors
Finding Proof Positive: Suggestions for research and archaeological fieldwork to support or refute various theories
A Nursery Rhyme Duke? Is Richard Plantagenet really the 'Grand Old Duke of York'?
Afterword: Who should we blame for the Battle of Wakefield?
The text is fully supported by notes at the end of each chapter and a Select Bibliography of the most frequently cited sources.
To read expanded versions of the book jacket 'blurbs' by Mark Taylor and Peter Hammond, click on the button:
To read a review by David Santiuste, author of Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses, click here!
Walk Wakefield 1460: a Visitors Guide to Battle-related Sites. An illustrated guide to walks around Battle of Wakefield sites: Worksop; Sandal Castle, the Duke of York's monument at Wakefield Green, and St Mary's, the chantry chapel on the medieval bridge; Pontefract Castle; and Micklegate Bar/York city walls. Includes maps, directions, descriptions of the walks and a brief history of the battle.
Walk Towton 1461: a Visitors Guide to Battle-related Sites. An illustrated guide to Edward IV's 1461 campaign from Mortimer's Cross to Towton, featuring the new Towton Battlefield Trail, co-authored with Alan Stringer.
A Victorian view of the Battle of Wakefield: the magnificent polychrome plaster frieze by H.C. Fehr in the Council Chamber at Wakefield County Hall on Wood Street in the city centre