The Battles of Wakefield by George Tyas contains a historical narrative of the Battle of Wakefield that took place in 1460. The author also gives an account of the engagement on Wakefield Green, in 1643.
The Battles of Wakefield was published in 1854 with antiquarian, topographical and local remarks. London: Arthur Hall. It is in the library collection at the Royal Armouries.
This small paperback book details two of the bloodier episodes of local history; the battles fought in the vicinity of Wakefield during the civil wars of the 15th and 17th centuries. Please scroll down to read the relevant excerpts about the battles that took place at Wakefield [p.52-55 1469, p.84-87 1643]
The Battle of Wakefield in 1460 was part of the long running dynastic dispute known as the Wars of the Roses, in which Richard Duke of York and his heirs fought against the Royalist faction of King Henry VI and his wife Queen Margaret of Anjou. By 1460 much of the Royalist support came from the North, whilst the Yorkists drew their support from the south.
Sandal Castle was owned by Duke Richard, and he was there in late December when he was confronted by a large force commanded by Queen Margaret, which included several powerful local lords, such as Sir John Clifford, lord of Skipton and Cravendale. He was a famous hater of the Yorkist cause (his father having been killed in an earlier battle), and earned for himself the nickname “Butcher Clifford.”
The two forces engaged outside the castle and the Yorkists were defeated. York himself was executed, as was his young son Edmund, Earl of Rutland. The executions were allegedly performed by Clifford, and were fictionalised by Shakespeare in his play King Henry VI.
Yorkshire gentry also played a large part in the battles of the English Civil War, including the Battle of Wakefield Green in 1643, when a small Parliamentary force commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax defeated the larger Royalist garrison of the town. Fairfax eventually rose to senior command in Parliament’s forces, and served several times as an MP for Yorkshire. He was also instrumental in the party that made the Restoration of the Monarchy possible in 1660, and provided the horse which Charles II rode at his coronation.
The book also includes historical information on the town of Wakefield and the surrounding area, making it an interesting guide to the locality and the local history of the great national events. All in all it is a very good read, and a great insight into the Victorian perception of our medieval and early modern past.
Here are examples of a wallet and weapons that may have been used in the battles at Wakefield. They are available to view at Royal Armouries Museum.
Featured on the Exhibitions page is a print illustrating the drill postures of a musketeer from ‘Principles of the Art Military’ practised in the warres of the United Netherlands’ by Hexham, Henry. (1642) Delf & Rotterdam: James Moxon.