By 1456 Henry VI felt sufficiently confident and well enough (he suffered from sporadic insanity) to remove Richard Duke of York from his office as first minister, although York maintained his position in the King's Council, where he was dominant. The Earl of Warwick, an important member of the Yorkist faction, was appointed Captain of Calais, a point from where he would later launch his Yorkist invasion of England.

Peace continued for another 3 years, supported by a public show of affection by the King, the 'Loveday' in which the members of the rival factions walked into St Paul's Cathedral arm-in-arm. Despite this show, the reality was that the rift was as large as ever. While the Duke of York was carrying out his duties in Dublin, the feud between the houses of Lancaster and York revolved mainly around the Earl of Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, the King's wife. Margaret tried to have Warwick arrested for alleged crimes of piracy and inciting a riot in court, further widening the rift.

By 1459 Margaret of Anjou and the Duke of Buckingham appear to have convinced the King that the Duke of York and his ally the Earl of Warwick were planning to usurp the throne. In June of that year, the Lancastrians decided it was time to crush the Yorkist faction by force. Indicted for treason, York and his supporters rallyed their armies once more. A small Yorkist army led by the Earl of Salisbury defeated a larger Lancastrian force at Blore Heath, in Shropshire. A game of cat and mouse ensued, as the bulk of the King's army, together with the King, pursued York to his base at Ludlow.

Yorkist troops began to desert following a promise of pardon, putting paid to the Yorkist cause. The Duke of York fled to Ireland and Salisbury and Warwick fled to Calais, leaving his commanders in the field.

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