Love-Day of 1458

   The date 24 March 1458 became known as a “love-day” because it witnessed the apparently successful culmination of HENRY VI’s personal attempt to prevent civil war and to restore harmony to a bitterly divided English nobility. On that day, in a symbolic act of reconciliation, the sons and heirs of the noblemen who had been killed at the Battle of ST. ALBANS in 1455 walked arm in arm with the men responsible for their fathers’ deaths in a solemn procession led by the king to St. Paul’s Cathedral in LONDON.
   After their fathers were slain at St. Albans by the forces of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and his allies Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, and Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, the sons, Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, Henry PERCY, earl of Northumberland, and John CLIFFORD, Lord Clifford, clamored for revenge against the Yorkist lords. The country and its political system were thrown into disorder as noblemen of both parties recruited large retinues of armed followers to protect themselves and menace their enemies (see Affinity; Bastard Feudalism). To end this turmoil, Henry VI summoned the English PEERAGE to London for a great council to be held in January 1458.York arrived with 400 followers and Salisbury and Warwick with 500 and 600, respectively; Somerset came accompanied by 800 men, and Northumberland; his brother, Thomas PERCY, Lord Egremont; and Clifford brought almost 1,500 between them. To prevent an outbreak of hostilities, tense city officials lodged the Yorkists within the city walls and the Lancastrian lords without, while maintaining a constant armed watch. Despite these precautions, Northumberland, Clifford, and Egremont tried unsuccessfully to ambush York and Salisbury as they rode from London to nearby Westminster.
   The settlement eventually accepted by all parties, after long and acrimonious discussions mediated by the king, called for York to pay Somerset 5,000 marks, for Warwick to pay Clifford 1,000 marks, and for Salisbury to forgo fines previously levied on Northumberland and Egremont for hostile actions against the Nevilles during the course of the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD. The Yorkists were also to endow the abbey at St. Albans with £45 per year for masses to be sung in perpetuity for the souls of the battle dead. The only reciprocal undertaking by a Lancastrian was Egremont’s acceptance of a 4,000-mark bond to keep peace with the NEVILLE FAMILY for ten years. Announced on 24 March, and sealed later that day with a procession that saw Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU on the arm of York and Salisbury and Somerset walking side-by-side behind the king, the love-day reconciliation proved only a temporary triumph, for it failed to resolve the key political issue of the day—the exclusion of York and the Nevilles from the exercise of royal power, which was being increasingly monopolized by Queen Margaret and her supporters. By the spring of 1459, the loveday had been forgotten, and both sides were preparing for civil war.
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); 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. . 2001.

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