Heworth, Battle of
- (1453)The skirmish at Heworth on 24 August 1453 aggravated the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD and helped create the political alignments that made possible the war between the houses of LANCASTER and YORK.After the marriage of his son Sir Thomas NEVILLE to Maud Stanhope, Lady Willoughby, the niece of Ralph Cromwell, Lord Cromwell, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, led a wedding party across Heworth Moor toward his castle at Sheriff Hutton. Besides the bride and groom and a substantial number of RETAINERS, the party included Salisbury’s wife and his son John NEVILLE. On the northeast edge of York, Thomas PERCY, Lord Egremont, son of Henry PERCY, second earl of Northumberland, intercepted the Nevilles while leading a force that may have numbered almost 5,000. Egremont’s party included his brother, Richard Percy, and John CLIFFORD, the future Lord Clifford.What occurred next is uncertain. Both sides threatened violence, but neither offered much. Although some participants were injured, no blood was shed. The Nevilles came safely to their destination, but Egremont continued to harass his rivals’ lands and tenants. Egremont’s actions may have been precipitated by his anger over the possibility that former Percy lands held by Cromwell might, through the marriage, pass eventually to the Nevilles. More likely, Egremont was simply seeking to escalate the quarrel he had already begun with John Neville, and the wedding party, including both John and his father, admirably served his purpose. Because the Neville-Percy feud eventually arrayed the two powerful northern families on opposite sides in the growing political struggle between Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, the incident at Heworth was seen by a later chronicler as “the beginning of the greatest sorrow in England” (Hicks, p. 87).Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A.,“Local Rivalries and National Politics: The Percies, the Nevilles and the Duke of Exeter, 1452–1455,” in Ralph A. Griffiths, ed., King and Country: England and Wales in the Fifteenth Century (London: Hambledon Press, 1991), pp. 321–364; Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Hicks, Michael,Warwick the Kingmaker (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998); Storey,R. L., The End of the House of Lancaster, 2d ed. (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1999).
Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. John A.Wagner. 2001.
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