Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Battle of Baunton - Aftermath

Following on from the battle of Baunton, it's high time to deal with the aftermath.  I'm on the brink of new campaign phases, as mentioned in previous posts, so it's only right to tidy up the loose ends of the previous phase before moving on to fresh fields.  Let's recap on the climactic battle of our campaign!

At the start of 1461 it must have looked pretty grim for the Yorkists.  The north in rebellion; Henry VI "liberated" to join his queen Margaret; Warwick routed and fled to Calais; London lost.  Poor Edward of York was looking like a doomed man after this run of poor luck, but he was located in his Welsh-border heartlands with a good army - so when the Lancastrians marched on him to settle the whole business, he was more than happy to oblige.

The armies clashed at Baunton in a day-long grinding match, before the Yorkists emerged triumphant.  Losses on both sides were very high, but the Lancastrian army was routed off the field and disintegrated.  Result: a decisive victory for the Yorkist dynasty, and Lancastrian hopes completely devastated.  

The two sides probably lost about half their army's strengths in the battle through dead, wounded and (the majority) fled.  The Lancastrian force however then underwent a complete disintegration as the surviving nobles fled for exile.

With defeat, comes the reckoning: Henry VI has fled with his queen into exile, to France via a fast ship from Southampton.  Buckingham, his most powerful lord, is likewise heading overseas to sanctuary.  His erstwhile puppet-master, Edmund Duke of Somerset, lies dead on the field.  Edmund's son, Henry Beaufort (now the new Duke of Somerset, thanks to his father's death) is wounded & captured by the Yorkists.  Historically, Henry Beaufort led the Lancastrian army at Towton and was defeated, only to later be pardoned - apparently the Yorkist regime wanted to show it could forgive and forget, plus Edward IV and Henry apparently shared an appetite for wine and women - therefore, it seems only fair that in our re-fight that he receives some similar forgiveness.  (True, he's just had his dad killed, but 'forgive and forget' works both ways, right?) 

Many other Lancastrian nobles wound up dead on the field, or fled with the king to exile - those captured all turned out to be either related to Yorkists who would save them (Baron Neville of Raby, for example, is part of the Warwick faction) or were too minor to be worth executing in place of a flamboyant pardon.   Those that fled are, of course, attainted by the next parliament to let Edward confiscate their properties & titles.  

On the Yorkist side things are mostly rosier - fewer dead, at any rate; and prisoners are largely abandoned back into friendly hands when the Lancastrian army routs.  The one notable exception is Edward's brother - Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland.  He was taken prisoner when Trollope wrecked his ward on the field, and he would have gone as a prisoner to Edward of Lancaster.  There seems little reason to doubt how the seven-year-old would have been prompted by his mother, when it came to sentencing the son of the great Yorkist usurper!  Taking a lead straight from his historical behavior at the Second Battle of St Albans, we decide that he orders Edmund beheaded on the spot.  Shame really, as if he had been spared he could have been a useful bargaining-chip for later use.  

For Edward however, the loss of his younger brother is a blow to be offset against the triumph of his house.  From tenuous control of the prisoner Henry VI a year ago, he is now the sole and undisputed ruler of England - fresh from his claim being 'vindicated by the god of battles'.  He proceeds to London where the crowds receive him, and he is crowned Edward IV.   

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