Bamburgh Castle

(1461–1464)
   Along with the other Northumberland fortresses of ALNWICK and DUNSTAN- 16 THE BALLAD OF BOSWORTH FIELD BURGH, Bamburgh 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, Bamburgh was one of several northern strongholds controlled by RETAINERS loyal to the Lancastrian Percy family (see entries under Percy). The fortress fell to Edward IV’s men in July 1462, but the Yorkist garrison surrendered the castle to MARGARET OF ANJOU in October, when she landed nearby with HENRY VI and a body of French MERCENARIES under Pierre de BRÉZÉ. The Lancastrian royal family and de Brézé withdrew into SCOTLAND in November, leaving a garrison under Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, and Sir Ralph Percy to defend Bamburgh against an approaching Yorkist army. In early December, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, began coordinated siege operations of all three Northumberland castles, giving direction of the Bamburgh effort to his brother, John NEVILLE, Lord Montagu. On 26 December 1462, Somerset surrendered the fortress; the garrison was allowed to depart, and Somerset and Percy were pardoned upon swearing allegiance to Edward IV. Accepting Percy’s pledge of loyalty, Edward placed both Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh in his charge, but in March 1463 Percy reverted to his Lancastrian allegiance and yielded both fortresses to Margaret, who arrived from Scotland at the head of a joint Scottish-Lancastrian army. In June, another Scottish force, accompanied by both JAMES III and his mother MARY OF GUELDRES, as well as by the Lancastrian royal family, laid siege to Norham Castle, where it was surprised in July by a Yorkist force under Warwick and Montagu. The invading army disintegrated in panic before the Yorkist troops, leading to a rout that destroyed Scottish enthusiasm for the Lancastrian cause. In December, Edward IV concluded a ten-month truce with the Scottish government as a prelude to a final Yorkist campaign in Northumberland. However, before this effort could begin, Somerset returned to Bamburgh, where Henry VI was holding court, and openly declared himself for the house of LANCASTER. From Bamburgh, Somerset launched a campaign that captured several neighboring towns and castles and brought most of the shire under Lancastrian control. Montagu’s victories at the Battles of HEDGELEY MOOR and HEXHAM in April and May 1464 led to Somerset’s capture and restored all Northumberland outside the three castles to Yorkist control. Alnwick and Dunstanburgh surrendered on terms in June, but Bamburgh, commanded by the Yorkist turncoat Sir Ralph Grey, refused and stood siege. When Grey was knocked senseless by falling masonry during a bombardment by royal ARTILLERY, his second-in-command surrendered Bamburgh to Warwick in July, thus securing the shire for Edward IV and the house of YORK.
   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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