Thursday, September 29, 2011

France, 1460

Recently I did a little 'Alternate Wars of the Roses' historical update and covered the Yorkist regime's tenuous position. They are, however, at least in power in England. What of the Lancastrian court in exile, the pro-Beaufort faction around the Duke of Somerset and the Queen Margaret of Anjou?

Over in France, the exiled queen and her supporters have their court in Koeur-la-Petite, courtesy of the French King. (This is Charles VII - currently down sick with a leg sore, a fever, and the host of other ailments that shall soon see him dead.) What are the French doing sheltering the Queen and the under-age heir to the throne on England? After all, not so long ago little Prince Edward and his nobles would've been at war with the French to conquer the place. Well, there's actually some very good reasons for the French to do all they can to help the Lancastrians.

The chief Lancastrian magnate is the Duke of Somerset Edmund Beaufort, who lost against the French at the tail-end of the Hundred Years' War. Given the choice between the able and belligerent Edward Plantagenet running England, or Edmund Beaufort - the man whose one indisputable military skill is the ability to lose wars against the French - it's pretty clear who they'd choose.

To the forlorn and cash-strapped court in exile of little Prince Edward then, who is currently 6 years' old and in the care of his mother the Queen plus the Lancastrian nobles like Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire. We shall turn our ears from the widespread rumours that either of these two might be the actual father of Prince Edward - such talk is merely vile Yorkist propaganda!

Edmund Beaufort is now 53 or 54 - pretty old to still be galloping off to war. Luckily his son Henry is 24, and in his prime to carry on the Beaufort cause. Also filling up the overcrowded court is the aforementioned Earl of Wiltshire, plus a list of the other minor & major nobles that fled following the defeat at Lawford Heath. The notables are the Duke of Buckingham & the Earl of Devon, plus the powerful Percy Earl of Northumberland.

Not all Lancastrians are abroad, however. The Earl of Pembroke & Viscount Beaumont also fled in 1459, but these two lords have returned to take advantage of the Yorkist amnesty that tried to patch up the rupture after York's death, giving some legitimacy to Henry VI's rule under Yorkist 'guidance'. Not that it'll do the Yorkists any good, as both are die-hard Lancastrians and will rise as soon as 'the French Lords' return to England.

The Lancastrian plan to retake the throne is simple. Northumberland and Somerset will head north to Scotland, and cut a deal with the Scots - military support in exchange for the city of Berwick being handed over to the Scottish crown. Once they invade and the Yorkist clique are distracted northwards, the French Lords with the Queen and the Duke of Buckingham shall land in the south to liberate Henry VI in London. With that, the Yorkists shall be crushed between the northern and southern invasions, delivering England back into the hands of Henry VI, Prince Edward, Queen Margaret and Edmund Beaufort.

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