Stamford Bridge, Battle of

   Fought on or about 31 October 1454, the Battle of Stamford Bridge was one of the most violent episodes of the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD and an important factor in cementing the political alignments that led to civil war. In June 1454, after more than a year of harassing and destroying the partisans and property of the rival NEVILLE FAMILY, Thomas PERCY, Lord Egremont, second son of Henry PERCY, second earl of Northumberland, joined with Henry HOLLAND, duke of Exeter, in an uprising aimed at disrupting the FIRST PROTECTORATE of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York. Exeter claimed that he had more right to be protector of the realm during HENRY VI’s illness than had York, and Egremont saw the duke’s rebellion as an opportunity to escalate his attacks on York’s allies, the Nevilles, with whom Egremont’s family was vying for political dominance in northern England. When York marched north to quell the uprising, Exeter fled to LONDON, where he was hauled from SANCTUARY and imprisoned in July. Egremont remained at large, recruiting followers from among the Percy tenantry.
   In late October, while leading a band of more than 200 Percy RETAINERS, Egremont and his younger brother Richard Percy encountered a force led by Thomas and John NEVILLE, younger sons of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury. The two forces collided east of York on the Neville manor of Stamford Bridge, near the site of the like-named battle where King Harold defeated Scandinavian invaders in 1066. Because most of their men seem to have fled before battle was fully engaged, Egremont and his brother fell into the hands of the Nevilles, who carried them to Middleham Castle. A Neville-convened commission in York found Egremont liable to Salisbury for over £11,000 in damages, a staggering sum well beyond the prisoner’s means. The judgment allowed the Nevilles to commit Egremont and his brother to prison in London as debtors, a confinement that lasted until the Percies’ escape in November 1456. In the late 1450s, the mutual hostility that manifested itself at Stamford Bridge drove the Nevilles to ally themselves with York for support against the Percies, while the Percies felt obliged to ally themselves with the COURT faction of Henry VI for support against the Nevilles. Although Henry VI tried to reconcile the parties with his LOVE-DAY of March 1458, a settlement that required Egremont to give bonds to keep the peace and Salisbury to drop the monetary judgment against Egremont, the Neville and Percy alliances endured and gave the houses of LANCASTER and YORK the strength and confidence they needed to proceed to open war with one another in 1459.
   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); 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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