Dunstanburgh Castle

(1461–1464)
   Along with the other Northumberland fortresses of ALNWICK and BAMBURGH, Dunstanburgh Castle demonstrated the insecurity of EDWARD IV’s throne by falling several times into Lancastrian hands between 1461 and 1464.
   After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of TOWTON in March 1461, Dunstanburgh was one of several northern strongholds controlled by RETAINERS loyal to the Lancastrian Percy family (see entries under PERCY). Beginning in August, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, campaigned to reduce Lancastrian outposts across the north, with Sir Ralph Percy surrendering the coastal fortress of Dunstanburgh in October. Edward IV ordered Warwick to leave Percy in command of the castle, a decision that proved disastrous in the following month when Percy yielded Dunstanburgh to a Lancastrian force from SCOTLAND under Sir William TAILBOYS.
   In October 1462, when MARGARET OF ANJOU recaptured Bamburgh and Alnwick with a troop of French MERCENARIES commanded by Pierre de BRÉZÉ, Percy was still holding Dunstanburgh for the house of LANCASTER. But the Lancastrian royal family and de Brézé withdrew to Scotland in November, leaving the Northumberland garrisons to face Warwick’s approaching army.Throughout December, Warwick coordinated siege operations, placing the effort at Dunstanburgh under the command of Lords Scrope, Greystoke, and Powis. When the castle surrendered on 28 December, the king’s desire to reconcile the rival parties led him to again show an unwise generosity to Percy, who, upon swearing allegiance to Edward, was given custody of Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. Percy’s Yorkist loyalty evaporated a second time in March 1463, when he handed both fortresses to Margaret upon her return to England at the head of a Lancastrian-Scottish force.
   In June 1463, a Scottish army accompanied by JAMES III and his mother MARY OF GUELDRES, as well as by the Lancastrian royal family, crossed the border and laid siege to Norham Castle.Warwick and his brother, John NEVILLE, Lord Montagu, hurried north and surprised the Scots in July, driving the panicked invaders out of the kingdom and dampening Scottish enthusiasm for the Lancastrian cause. Edward IV concluded a ten-month truce with the Scottish government in December, and in early 1464, the Yorkists prepared to suppress Lancastrian activity in Northumberland once and for all. In April, Percy left Dunstanburgh to fight with Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, against Montagu at the Battle of HEDGELEY MOOR. Percy’s death there and Somerset’s defeat and capture at the Battle of HEXHAM in May cleared all Northumberland outside the three castles of Lancastrian resistance. On 25 June, the Dunstanburgh garrison surrendered to Warwick on terms that granted all its members pardons.With the fall of Bamburgh a few weeks later, the war in Northumberland ended.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Pollard, A. J., North-Eastern England during the Wars of the Roses (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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