THE Battle of Wakefield. This was probably the most important event to happen in the history of Wakefield.
However, the minor event to mark the 550th anniversary – not even on the date of the battle – December 30, 1460, was only made public by your article and even the visitor centre at Sandal Castle was shut.
Where was the civic pride? We are a country of pageant and Wakefield missed a fantastic opportunity to promote itself through the neglect of the council. The Civil War battlefields in the USA are an example of how to hold on to memories of such events by their astute preservation.
The background to the battle was that Richard, Duke of York, was the heir to the throne because an Act of Accord had been made. Richard had travelled north to Wakefield to challenge and hopefully overthrow those opposed to the act.
He was experienced in successfully commanding his armies through his leadership in France and Ireland as opposed to his opponents who lost all the land and possessions in France except Calais while Richard was serving in Ireland.
The leader of the council, a couple of years ago, announced he would like to rebuild Pontefract Castle – which has merit – but Pontefract was the stronghold of the Lancastrians where the enemy came from to defeat our Yorkist hero – is this a signal that Wakefield has no pride in its Yorkshire heritage?
Your article about the nursery rhyme may be correct but there were other Duke of York contenders and even if it did refer to Richard it could well have been misconstrued.
The most obvious reason for Richard’s defeat was a double cross by a ‘friend’ changing sides at the last minute which is the conclusion of Helen Cox in her excellent new book The Battle of Wakefield Revisited.
Following the battle, the country remained unsettled and was followed by the battle of Towton, three months later, when 28,000 fighting men were killed and this followed a skirmish at Ferrybridge and destruction of the bridge by ‘Butcher Clifford’ of Skipton Castle who was responsible for the cold-blooded killing of Richard’s son, Edmund, on Chantry Bridge or Kirkgate – depending on which source is quoted.
The Yorkist forces moved up the river Aire to Castleford which they successfully crossed and sent their archers after Clifford and succeeded in killing him before he reached the main Lancastrian army.
Is there any chance that the council can make something of the skirmish at Ferrybridge and the river crossing at Castleford?