When Henry VI
had a brief respite from his insanity in 1454, he remembered nothing of the past 16 months. He recognised his son and released the Duke of Somerset
from the Tower of London
. Somerset was made Captain of Calais
, a position of considerable military strength that was until recently held by Somerset's rival, the Duke of York
. York and the Duke of Warwick
retired to the north.
York once more raised an army to march south to London to persuade the King to abandon Somerset. This was a pre-emptive strike designed to defeat his rival before Somerset saw a way to do away with York. The King and Somerset learnt too late of York's preparations, and in the end only mustered 2,000 troops to meet York's 3,000. After several hours of fighting at St. Albans on the 22nd May 1455, the royalist army fled. The King fell into York's hands and was placed in the abbey for safety. Somerset took refuge in an inn, but York found him.
Somerset fought bravely, felling 4 Yorkists, but he was then himself felled with an axe.
Having now achieved his goals, York met with the King in the abbey and begged forgiveness, pledging his loyalty for ever. The King accepted his apology and York as his unrivalled first minister. Warwick was made Captain of Calais, a role in which he would distuinguish himself by destroying a Spanish fleet.
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