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Duke of York slain!

The story of The Golden Widows begins in early 1461 so to help set the atmosphere, here is a news item:

The kingdom was reeling yesterday from news of a battle close by the town of Wakefield, Yorkshire.

Clifford, Commander of the Queen’s army, announced yesterday that the Duke of York had been slain, together with York’s second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and their cousin, Thomas Neville, but Lord Clifford refused to comment on whether they were slain on the field or beheaded after capture. Their heads are being taken to York this afternoon.

A smiling Queen Margaret, interviewed late yesterday evening, refused to comment except to say, ‘Let York look down on York.’

York’s mayor said that the citizens were none too pleased at her grace’s decision to nail the duke’s head up on Micklegate. ‘It don’t look too good if you’re a visitor coming to the city, eh?’

Religious authorities are raising questions as to the future of the Queen’s other prisoner, the Earl of Salisbury, who is being transferred to Pontefract Castle.

Meanwhile emergency organisations from local abbeys and volunteers from Wakefield are dealing with the slain and wounded. ‘It were a messy business,’ comments one of the local labourers, called in to clean up the battlefield outside York’s castle of Sandal. ‘Our town is in a state of shock.’

It is still too early to know the exact numbers of those who were slain. Most will be buried on site.

The dead include many fathers and sons, among them, Sir William Bonville and his twenty-year-old son, William, Lord Harrington, both from Devonshire.

Despite Queen Margaret’s victory in the north, London and King Henry VI remain in the hands of York’s supporters. Whether her grace will seek peace talks with the Duke of York’s successor, his eighteen-year-old son and heir, Edward, Earl of March, remains to be seen. However, sources close to the queen are hinting that recapturing London is high on her agenda and an emergency meeting of the Council of Aldermen is to meet at Guild Hall tomorrow.

Extract from The Abbey Chronicler 1 January 1461