Battle of Wakefield

The Duke of York’s Last Battle

Battle of Wakefield

Sandal Castle

On December 30, 1460 an event would occur that would have long-lasting repercussions for Richard and his family. His father and his brother, Edmund, would perish in the Battle of Wakefield.

After having spent Christmas at Sandal Castle, for some reason York was soon drawn into battle with the Lancastrians. Contemporary sources disagree on the exact events, but the result was the same. Richard, the Duke of York, was slain.

The Chantry Chapel and Wakefield Bridge...Did Edmund meet his end here?

The Chantry Chapel and Wakefield Bridge.
Did Edmund meet his end here?

Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was said to have been struck down on nearby Wakefield Bridge after the battle by Lord Clifford, who later earned the sobriquet ‘The Butcher’ for his actions. Hall’s chronicle has Edmund pleading silently to Clifford for his life. Clifford responded by saying, ‘By God’s blood, thy father slew mine, and so will I do thee and all thy kin,’ before driving his dagger into Rutland’s heart. He then turned to the priest standing there and coldly told him to take word to Edmund’s mother and brother. Edmund was not a young boy, but by medieval standards an adult. However, perhaps Edmund did plead for his life and Clifford, in a fit of rage over the loss of his father, cut him down. Salisbury, who was captured, was executed the next day.

Cecily received the news of her triple loss while in London. Fearing for her younger sons’ lives, she sent them to relative safety in the Low Countries. All hope seemed lost, but Edward and Warwick were still fighting and soon the tides of war would turn in the Yorks’ favor.

depicted at Ludlow

Richard, Duke of York

My question to you: Why do you think the Duke of York left the relative safety of Sandal Castle? Leave a comment below.

Source for Chantry Chapel: Wikimedia Commons. All other photos by Kristie Dean.

  • Lorraine D’Allenger

    My understanding was that he was tricked into engaging with a small Lancastrian contingent who had attacked a baggage train.Upon setting out beyond Sandal his battalion were surrounded by a much greater force who had remained hidden.He was , like his son Richard, prone to sudden decisive action.Though this had proved successful for him, this time his luck ran out.
    I would love to learn more about Richards father.

    • kristiedean

      Hi Lorraine,
      That is definitely one of the theories I’ve heard. To me, it makes sense. While at Sandal, I found a book that is on my to be read pile (I’ve skimmed it, but not had an in-depth read) – The Battle of Wakefield Revisited: A Fresh Perspective on Richard of York’s Final Battle, December 1460 by Helen Cox. From what I can see, she offers alternative theories. I hope to get to read it in detail soon. Thanks for your comment.