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a body of ten thousand men, marched towards London, demanding a reformation of the govern. ment, and the removal of the duke of Somerset from all his power and authority. He had hopes from the beginning that the citizens would have thrown open their gates to him; but was much mortified when he found that he was refused ad. miffion. Upon this retreat into Kent, a parley ensued between the king and him, in which the duke ftill insisted on the dismission of Somerset, with which the king seemed at length' willing to comply. The duke of York' was therefore per-' fuaded to pay his respects to the king in his tent; but on repeating his charge against the duke of Somerset, he was surprised to see that minister step from behind the curtain, and offer to justify his innocence. York now perceived his danger, and repressed the impetuosity of his accusation. As soon as he left the presence, the king commanded him to be apprehended; but fuch was this nobleman's authority, or such the timidity of the king's council, that they suffered him to retire to his seat at Wigmore, upon promising strict obedience for the future.
But a reconciliation thus extorted could be of no long duration ; York still secretly aspired at the crown, and though he wished nothing fo ardently, yet he was for fome time prevented by his own scruples froin seizing it. What his intrigues failed to bring about, accident produced to his desire. The king falling into a distemper, which so far en. creased his natural imbecility, that it even rendered him incapable of maintaining the appearance of royalty, York was appointed lieutenant and pros tector of the kingdom, with powers to hold and open parliaments at pleasure. This was a fatal blow to the house of Lancaster; and all the adhes
rents of that party were dismissed from court, and the duke of Somerset was sent to the Tower.
York being thus invested with a plenitude of power, continued in the enjoyment of it for some A. D. time, but at length the unbappy king re
covered from his lethargic complaint; 1454. and, as if awaking from a dream, perceive ed with surprize, that he was stripped of all his authority. Margaret, his queen, also did all in her power to rouze him to a sense of his unworthy fituation, and prevailed upon him to depose the duke of York from his power ; in consequence of which, that nobleman had instant recourse to arms. The impotent monarch, thus obliged to take the field, was dragged after his army into St. Alban’s, where both sides came to an engagement, in which the Yorkists gained a complete victory, and the duke of Somerset was flain. The king himself being wounded, and taking shelter in a cottage, near the field of battle, was taken prisoner, and treated by the victor with great respect and tenderness. From thence he was, shortly after, led along in triumph to London ; and the duke of York permitting him still to enjoy the title of king, he reserved to himself the title of protector, in which consisted all the real power of the crown.
Henry was now but a prisoner, treated with the splendid forms of royalty ; yet indolent and sickly, he seemed pleased with his situation, and did not regret that power which was not to be exercised without fatigue. But it was otherwise with Margaret, his queen. She, naturally bold, active, and endued with masculine courage, could not be content with the appearances of that authority, which her enemies alone permitted her to exercise; she continued to excite the wretched monarch to a vindication of his real dignity, and
to (pur him on to independence. He was, therefore, once more induced to assert his prerogative; and the duke of York was obliged to retire; to be in readiness to oppose any designs again his liberty and life. At first a negotiation for peace was entered upon by both parties; but their mutual distrusts soon brought them into the field, and the fate of the kingdom was given up to be determined by the sword. Their armies met at Bloreheath, on the borders of Staffordshire, and the
Yurkists gained some advantages. But Sent. when a more general action was about to ensue, the night before the intended 4 engagement, Sir Andrew Trollop, who commanded a body of veterans for the duke of York, de. serted with all his men to the king; and this so intimidated the whole arıny of the Yorkists, that they separated the next day, without striking a single blow. The duke of York fled to Ireland; the earl of Warwick, one of his boldest and ableft fupporters, efcaped to Calais, with the government of which he had been intrusted during the late protectorship; and all the party, thus luppressed, concealed teir intentions for a more favourable opportunity. Nor was this opportunity long wanting ; Warwick having met with some fuccefles at sea, landed in Kent, and being there joined by some other barons, he marched up to London, amidst the acclamations of the people. The city immediately opened its gates to him ; and his iroops encreasing on every day's march, he soon found himself in a condition to face the royal army, which haftened from Coventry to attack him. Never was there a more formidable division of interests, or greater inveteracy between the chiefs of either party than the present. Warwick was one of the most celebrated generals of his
age. formed for times of trouble, extremely artful, and incontestably brave, equally skilful in council and the field, and inspired with a degree of hatred against the queen which nothing could fupprefs. On the other side, the queen seemed the only acting general : the ranged the army in bactalia, and gave the necessary orders, while the poor king was brought forward, an involuntary spectator of those martial preparations. Both armies met on a plain near Northampton; the queen's forces amounting to above five and twenty thousand men, the earl of Warwick's to near double that number. While the queen went about from rank to rank, the king renained in his tent, awaiting the issue of the combat with female doubts and apprehensions. The battle continued for five hours, with the utmost obftinacy; but at length the good fortune and the numbers of Warwick were seen to prevail. The queen's army was overthrown; and she had the misfortune to see the king once more made a prisoner, and brought back to his capital in triumph.
The cause of the Yorkists being thus confirmed by the strongest arguments, those of power, a parliament was called to give it their more formal Tanction. The duke of York, whose prospects began to widen as he rose, from being contented with the protectorship, now began to claim the crown. It was now, for the first time, that the house of lords seemed to enjoy an unbiasfed deliberative authority; the cause of Henry and the house of York was solemnly debated, each side producing their reasons without fear of control. This was the first time that a spirit of true rational liberty ever appeared to exert itself in England, and in which recent conquest did not superlede all deliberation. The duke of York, though a con
queen, to all
queror, could not entirely gain his caufe: it was
appearance, now seemed utterly deftitute of every resource ; her armies were routed, her husband taken prisoner, and the para liament disclaimed her cause ; yet, though she had loft all, the still retained her native intrepidity and perseverance. She was woman of a great mind, and some faults, but ambition seemed to be the leading passion in all her conduct. Being now a fugitive, distant from the capital, opposed by a victorious army, and a consummate general, The still tried every resource to repair her disastrous circumstances. She few to Wales; there endea, voured to animate her old friends, and to acquire,
The nobility of the North, who regarded themselves as the most warlike of the kingdom, were moved by indignation to find the southern barons dispose of the crown, and settle the government. They began to consider the royal cause as unjustly suppressed; and the queen soon found berself at the head of an army of twenty thousand men, ready to second her pretensions. She and her old enemy, the duke of York, once more
upon Wakefield Green,
1460. vour of the queen. 'The duke of York was killed in the action; and his body was found anjong the slain, his head was cut off by Margaret's ora ders, and fixed on the gates of York, with a pa-, per crown, in derision of his pretended titie. His lon, the earl of Rutland, a youth of seventeen, was taken prisoner and killed in cold blood, by