Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Queen's Army Lands in England

News arrives back in France of the recent events in England. The details are somewhat confused as news can only arrive covertly from sympathisers, but nonetheless the general shape of events in clear. Rebellion against the Yorkist regime, it's loss of control in the North, and rumour of battle: clearly it is time to move and make the second planned invasion of England, this time from the South and into the Yorkist rear while their eyes are fixed northwards!

Queen Margaret and the Duke of Buckingham will need a major port in the South to support them, which means the choice for a landing is between Bristol in the south-west, or Southampton on the south coast. Bristol is a big city, and also close to the lands of the Earl of Devon in Cornwall, which would be yet more reliable support; however, Southampton offers its own set of advantages: it's near the lands of Yorkist supporters which might persuade them to keep their heads down, but the major one is swift roads to London. If they take the capital by the back door, then Margaret will be reunited with her husband Henry VI and the Yorkist hold on power will be finished.

Margaret, along with her son Edward, Buckingham, the Earl of Wiltshire and a host of French 'supporters' (i.e. Mercenaries) make landfall and soon have the county of Sussex under their control, ready to take the London road.

Yorkists have not been idle while all this takes place, however. First, there's the northern invasion. Plenty of people in the South-East have been happily profiting from trade, now that the Yorkist faction has seen off the indolent and inefficient Pro-Beaufort Court faction and brought a bit of law and order to the sea-lanes. Warwick in particular has been laying waste to pirates, and many towns have grown rich in consequence. Now news of the Beauforts' return would have worried them at the best of times, but news he is marching south with a horde of unintelligible Northern savages (Northumbrians and Scots: the Southerners draw no distinction!) pillaging and despoiling their way towards them... well, let's just say that finding recruits for the force to go and stop them isn't much of a problem.

Salisbury and Rutland have marched away southwards after their little scrap at Duffield, and now they have linked up with their much-desired reinforcements. The Duke of Norfolk has marched north with his forces, and after issuing a Commission of Array on behalf of the king
he has a large mass of Arrayed troops, especially from the Norfolk and the trading cities like Norwich, with which he can bulk out the ranks. Finally, the Yorkists have an army of adequate size to challenge the Northern invasion.

Outside of this Northern conflict, the head of the Yorkist cause, Edward Plantagenet (erstwhile Earl of March but now the Duke of York on inheriting his dead dad's claim to the throne) is in Wales. The Welsh are potentially a source of pro-Lancastrian support, so he's keeping a lid on things in the west with the aid of his supportive Hereford nobles along the Welsh Marches.
To increase his strength he has also linked up with support from Ireland, where memory of his father's rule there has led to it being highly pro-Yorkist.

This leaves Warwick in charge of London itself, keeping close watch on the king and capital. Effectively he's in reserve for the time being, although this changes with alarming speed on news from Southampton. The Queen and Buckingham have returned, seeking to capture Henry VI and London, and now with one Yorkist army in the north and Edward off in the west, only
Warwick is in their path! It's a moment of supreme crisis, and he acts fast. His uncle, Baron Fauconberg, is the Captain of Calais and Warwick sends word begging him to come with the garrison troops with all haste. Meanwhile Warwick turns out the London Levies and experiences a nerve-racking wait while he prays for his uncle to reach him before the Queen does!

He is saved from immediate and total destruction by the pause in the Lancastrian advance. The Queen issues Commissions of Array across Wiltshire, Dorset & Kent. Her powerful nobles quickly gather loyal Lancastrian followers to her banners, while pro-Yorkist nobles in the south try to keep as low a profile as possible while the army grows in size. But assembling the disparate troops takes time, which brings Fauconberg ever nearer to London...

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