Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the House of Parliament, the duke of York, his sons, and the earl of Warwick rejoice over their success at Saint Albans. Riding hard, the Yorkists arrive in London ahead of the routed king, and Henry, entering with his lords, is filled with consternation when he sees York already seated on the throne, to which Warwick conducted him. Some of the king’s followers are sympathetic toward York and others are fearful of his power; the two attitudes result in defection in the royal ranks. Seeing his stand weakened, the king attempts to avert disorder by disinheriting his own son and by pledging the crown to York and his sons, on the condition that York stop the civil war and remain loyal to the king during his lifetime.
Annoyed by the reconciliation and contemptuous toward the king because of her son’s disinheritance, Queen Margaret deserts the king and raises her own army to protect her son’s rights to the throne. The queen’s army marches against York’s castle as York is sending his sons to recruit forces for another rebellion. York’s sons persuade their father that his oath to the king is not binding because his contract with the king was not made in due course of law before a magistrate.
In a battle near Wakefield, Lord Clifford and his soldiers kill Rutland, York’s young son, and soak a handkerchief in his blood. Later, as he joins Margaret’s victorious army, which outnumbers York’s soldiers ten to one, Lord Clifford gives...
(The entire section is 1327 words.)
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York and his followers have won the first battle of Saint Albons, sending King Henry VI and his Lancastrian supporters to London in retreat. But York arrives in London first and, encouraged by his sons Edward and Richard as well as by Warwick, defiantly seats himself in King Henry's throne in Parliament. (York's claim to the throne, and the origins of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses, which were fought between the Yorkists— whose symbol is a white rose—and the Lancastrians— whose symbol is a red rose—are covered in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part One and Two.) King Henry arrives with his supporters, and after debating with York over whose right it is to rule England, Henry finally promises to resign the crown to York and his heirs, provided that the civil war ends and that Henry is allowed to remain king during his lifetime. York agrees to these conditions and returns home to his castle, but Margaret, Henry's queen, is outraged that their son, Prince Edward, has been disinherited. Backed by Henry's disgruntled supporters, Margaret vows to continue fighting. Meanwhile at home in Yorkshire, York's sons convince him to disregard his oath to Henry, and to insist on being crowned king immediately. Margaret appears outside York's castle with a formidable army. Close by, her Lancastrian supporter Clifford drags York's youngest son, Rutland, away from his tutor and kills him in revenge for the death of his own father, old...
(The entire section is 1009 words.)