Scales, Thomas, Lord Scales

   A principal advisor of Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU, Thomas Scales, seventh Lord Scales, held the TOWER OF LONDON against the Yorkists in 1460.
   Succeeding his brother in the family PEERAGE in 1420, Scales led a company of men to FRANCE in 1422. He spent most of the next decade in the service of the king’s uncle, John, duke of Bedford (1389–1435), and by 1429 was sufficiently prominent in the English command to be mentioned in a letter by Joan of Arc. During the early 1430s, he was seneschal of Normandy and captain of numerous Englishheld fortresses. In the 1440s, he fought in Normandy during the lieutenancies of both Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, and probably remained militarily active in the province until its fall to the French in 1450. Upon the eruption of JACK CADE’S REBELLION in 1450, Scales held the Tower for the government and commanded the loyal Londoners who defended London Bridge against the rebels on the night of 5–6 July. After the suppression of Cade’s uprising, Scales was appointed to a commission charged with looking into abuses committed in his native Norfolk by local followers of the late William de la POLE, duke of Suffolk, the former chief minister of HENRY VI. Himself a Suffolk supporter, Scales protected many of the men under investigation. In 1453, when the king’s illness and the birth of her son, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER, drew her into politics, Queen Margaret turned to Scales for political advice (see Henry VI, Illness of). On the outbreak of civil war in 1459, Scales became a prominent Lancastrian, suppressing Yorkist activity in Norfolk and sharing responsibility for the defense of Sandwich with Richard WOODVILLE, Lord Rivers, and his son, Anthony WOODVILLE.
   To stiffen LONDON’s resistance to an invasion from Yorkist-held CALAIS, the Lancastrian government placed Scales and Robert HUNGERFORD, Lord Hungerford, in command of the Tower in 1460, despite the Londoners’ protests that they could defend themselves. In July 1460, Scales and his colleagues failed to prevent the entry into London of Yorkist forces under Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, and his son Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick. Forced to withdraw into the Tower, Scales began a bombardment of the city that caused much damage and some deaths among citizens. When, after the Battle of NORTHAMPTON, Warwick returned to the city with the captive king, the Londoners joined with the Yorkists in besieging Scales and Hungerford in the Tower. On 19 July, while in the midst of negotiations to surrender the fortress, Scales was allowed to flee upriver to take SANCTUARY at Westminster; although the Yorkists were willing to spare his life, the citizens of London were less forgiving. Recognized by London boatmen, Scales was pursued and murdered, and his naked body was cast upon the Southwark shore.
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Johnson, P. A., Duke Richard of York (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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