The British were unhappy with the rule of King Henry VI, moreover, he was a rather weak-willed person, and he also fell into insanity. Then Duke Richard of York found the basis to challenge the crown. He claimed that he was a descendant of the second son of King Edward III, while Heinrich himself was a descendant of only the third son of Edward. In addition, the grandfather of Henry seized the throne by force and forced Richard II to abdicate the throne. This questioned the legitimacy of the Lancaster dynasty. The confrontation began between York and Lancaster, which went down in history as the war of the Scarlet and White Rose.
Emblems of Warring Houses
In 1455 it developed into an open military conflict. The Yorkists won the battle of St. Albans and captured Henry VI. Richard was declared protector of the kingdom and heir to Henry. Thus, the only son of King Edward was deprived of the right to the throne. The wife of Henry VI Margaret of Anjou was against this step and went along with the army of the Allies of Lancaster against York. In 1460, Richard of York was killed in the battle of Wakefield, and his army was scattered. Margaret hoped that the death of the Duke of York would put an end to the war, but 18-year-old Edward, Earl March, took the place of her father in the conflict. He was already an experienced military leader and fought with his father in this war.
King Henry VI
Edward tried to prevent the units of the Lancaster army, who led Owen Tudor and his son Jasper Pembroke, to reunite with the main forces of their army. The elder Tudor was the second husband of Catherine Valois, his family was dominant in South Wales. In the army of Tudor were the Welsh, mercenaries from France and Breton, as well as Irish troops. Edward, who settled in Wigmore, pulled forces into his troops from the English frontier provinces and from Wales. Edward, knowing about the movement of the enemy, decided to block the path to Jasper Tudor and moved with a five-thousand army to Mortimers Cross. It was then that the York army witnessed a rare atmospheric phenomenon - parghelia. When it creates the effect that in the sky a few suns. Edward's army was agitated in earnest, but the count decided that it was a good omen, and after the victory he even accepted the sun as his emblem. This episode was later described by Shakespeare in Henry VI:
Three clear, three victorious suns,
Uncut by clouds
But visible separately in the pale sky.
Look, look, merged, as in a kiss,
As if swearing in an unbreakable union;
Now they are one shine steel,
One light, one sun!
What events is the prophetic sign?
Edward, Earl March
One of York’s advisors, Sir Richard Croft, suggested positioning archers at a crossroads to stop the advancement of Lancaster. Mortimers Cross was then a small village in the valley of the Lag River, which was located at the junction of Hereford and Shrewsbury (going from north to south) and between London and Aberystwyth (going from east to west). Edward knew that Jasper intended to go to Wigmore and followed the old Roman road north of Hereford. Edward headed south on the same road to apprehend Tudor. Both armies met on February 2, 1461.
Three suns in the sky before the battle
It is not known who first launched the attack. There is an assumption that the Yorkies, since Count Wiltshire, who is responsible for the Lancaster vanguard, fled the first from the battlefield, because his Irish soldiers were beaten by the soldiers of York. But there is also a version that it was the Lancaster forces that attacked. They attacked the right wing of Edward's army and forced him to retreat across the road, where this flank crumbled. Justin Tudor collided with the central division of the Yorkers, but the enemy forces carried the blow. Then Owen Tudor decided to surround the left wing of the troops of York, but his squad was mercilessly defeated. Soon the Lancaster lost their last hope, the rout began, they fled south, pursued by Edward's soldiers. The loss of the Lancaster was the worst, killing nearly 4,000 in the battle. Jasper Tudor fled from the battlefield, although the oldest members of the aristocracy, such as his father, fought to the end. Owen Tudor was captured and later executed in Hereford.
War of the Scarlet and White Rose
Victory in this battle shook Marie of Anjou’s position and opened the way to the throne for Edward of York. March 2, he arrived in London and a couple of days later he was proclaimed Edward IV, the King of England. He later confirmed his power with a decisive victory at the Battle of Taunton.