A battle that changed our history

A commemorative event held in the district.
A commemorative event held in the district.

It claimed the lives of thousands and changed the course of our country’s history.

The Battle of Wakefield was one of the bloodiest and most significant in the War of the Roses - and it was fought right here in the district 556 years ago tomorrow.

It was December 30, 1460 when Lancastrian soldiers loyal to King Henry VI and his wife Queen Margaret of Anjou clashed with the Yorkist army of Richard, Duke of York. The Duke had recently been named next in line to the throne, which angered the Queen, who was determined to restore the succession to her son Edward.

Local historian Helen Cox said: “After spending Christmas around Pontefract Castle, the Queen’s army marched over to Wakefield. The Duke, who had spent the winter at Sandal Castle, led his army out on to the fields to meet them. He thought he had enough people to win the battle, but he was outnumbered and defeated.”

The Duke and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland were both killed in the battle, sparking his eldest remaining son Edward to start a campaign to get revenge. He emerged victorious at the Battle of Towton in March 1461, and went on to take the throne from the Lancastrians.

Ms Cox said: “The Battle of Wakefield was a very important part of local history but also had an impact on the history of the whole country. It is important we remember what happened on the anniversary and remember the thousands of people that died that day.”