Accord, Act of

   Although meant to end the political instability caused by the rival claims of the royal houses of LANCASTER and YORK, the Act of Accord of October 1460 helped transform a dynastic dispute into a civil war. By disinheriting EDWARD OF LANCASTER, Prince of Wales, and vesting the succession to the throne in Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and his heirs, the act compelled Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU and her followers to take arms against the settlement as the only way to ensure the future of the prince and the Lancastrian dynasty.
   The Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON in July 1460 left both HENRY VI and the government in the hands of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick,York’s most prominent supporter. In exile in IRELAND since the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE in late 1459, York returned to England in September. By moving across the country in leisurely state and settling himself in the royal apartments at Westminster, York left no doubt that he intended to claim the throne. In LONDON, Warwick; his father, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury; and York’s son Edward, earl of March (see Edward IV, King of England), established a Yorkist regime, calling a PARLIAMENT to meet at Westminster in early October. On 10 October, York entered the Parliament chamber and made to seat himself on the throne; when this action elicited silence rather than acclaim, Archbishop Thomas BOURCHIER asked the duke if he wished to see the king. Although York replied that the king should rather come to see him, the lords’ obvious disapproval of his actions caused York to withdraw. On 16 October, York formally laid his claim to the Crown before Parliament. Supported by a pedigree that detailed York’s royal descent, the claim sought to prove the Lancastrians usurpers. After a week of debate, the lords crafted the Act of Accord, which disinherited the Prince of Wales and gave the succession to York and his heirs. On 25 October, both Henry VI and York accepted the settlement. Given immediate approval by Parliament, the act avoided the unwanted deposition of Henry VI, while giving York an interest in maintaining the political stability of the realm, even though it lessened the likelihood of his accession, the duke being ten years older than the king.
   The act assigned York and his two eldest sons 10,000 marks from the revenues of the prince’s earldom of Chester, thus depriving the prince of income as well as status.York was given powers similar to those he enjoyed during his two protectorates in the 1450s. On 31 October, the lords swore to accept York as heir and the duke swore to accept Henry VI as king for life. The act was then publicly proclaimed throughout the realm. The great weakness of the Act of Accord was its disregard of the queen and her commitment to her son’s right to the Crown. The act quickly drove Lancastrians, who considered Henry VI a prisoner acting under duress, into the field to overthrow the Yorkist regime.
   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);Wolffe, Bertram, Henry VI (London: Eyre Methuen, 1981).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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