The movements (and excuses) of the Earl of Salisbury, January 1458

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Letters, Richard Nevill, Earl of Salisbury

In the last few months of 1457, there was trouble between the sons of the men killed at the first battle of St Albans and those who were, or at the very least were presumed to be, responsible for their deaths.

In November, the duke of Somerset and the earl of Northumberland, along with the duke of Exeter, lord Roos and the earl of Shrewsbury, attempted to ambush the earl of Warwick on his way to Westminster. Warwick had 600 armed men with him and the attempt failed.

Various letters were sent by the king to various lords, summoning them to attend great council on 26 January 1458, the stated aim of which was ‘to set apart such variances as be betwixt divers lords’. (Wolffe, Henry VI, 311). Salisbury was reluctant to travel to London, presumably afraid of putting himself at risk. He sent this letter to Viscount Beaumont:

Right worshipful and with al myn hert right entirely wele bilovede Brothre I recomaunde me unto yow and for somoche as by the Kings moste noblez l’rez brought me late by Hagreston oon of the Gromes of his Chambre, I am desired to come unto his Highnesse to London, whereunto for suche grievous diseas and infirmitees, as it hath liked oure Lord to visit me with, wherof Robt Danby can at large declare unto yow, I can ne mowe dispose me, without feynyng, by the trouth I owe unto the King but y therby I doubt not, I shulde not rekever, daies of my lyfe suche hurt, as by the reason of y said diseas, wolde grow unto me, the which hath right fervently and fore holden me in many divsez bihalves, for y sith my last comyng frome London, I had not y space of vj daies togider my helth.

 Wherfore brother I pray yow with al myn hool hert, y it like yow to cal tofore yow the said Robt Danby and to take of him y vray trouth in y premissez and y’upon to bee my goode and tender moyen as by ho wysdome can best be thought convenable, unto the Kings good grace, for thexcuse of my nown comyng, p’yng how hertly to c’tifye me by comers bitwen suche tidings as ye shal have in thos p’tiez, with other your good pleas to bee p’fourmed at my power as knoweth oure Lord, to whom I biseche to ever have yow in his blissed p’teccon and keeping.

 Wryten at Shirrifhoton the xxiiij day of Januar

 Yo trow brodir wich prayth you herttely to excuse me to y Kings Heghnesse

 R Salisbury

According to a letter from William of Worcester to John Fastolf, Salisbury did make it to London.

The Kyng came the last weke to Westm’ and the Duk of Yorke came to Lond w’ hys oune housole onlye to the nobre of cxl hors as it ys seyd, the Erle of Salysburye w; iiij c hors yn hys companye iiij xx knyghts and sqwyers.

 The Duke of Somset came to London last day of Janyver w’ ij c hors and loggyth wythoute Temple barre and the Duc of Excestr shalle be here thys weke w’ a grete Felyshyp and strong as it is seyd.

 The Erle of Warwyke ys not yhyt com because the wynd is not for hym. And the Duke of Excest’ takyth a grete disples’ that my Lord Warewyke occypyeth hys office and takyth the charge of the kepy’g of the see uppon hym.

Wolffe (p131) says that Salisbury was “brought” from Sheriff Hutton, “presumably under the escort of Viscount Beaumont”. He was certainly in London by 1 February, when William of Worcester wrote to Fastolf.

Whether Beaumont was able to reassure Salisbury, I don’t know. They were both Knights of the Garter and Fenn suggests that this may have allowed both men, in this instance, to rise above politics. (Fenn, Paston Letters, 83). This ‘brotherhood’ doesn’t seem to have prevented Salisbury from claiming illness to avoid what he must have feared would be a difficult situation. Something certainly seems to have brought Salisbury back from the brink of death in just a few days.


I’ve just found this in the Calendar of Patent Rolls (428):

“Whereas on 16 November last by letters under the privy seal the king commanded John, viscount of Beaumont, to stay at Dancastre to meet there with Richard, earl of Salisbury, coming to the king’s presence by the king’s command, and to associate with the earl until he should reach the king, and afterwards by letters under the signet the king promised the viscount recompense for his labour and costs herein.”

  1. Susan Higginbotham says:

    Wouldn’t you love to know what Beaumont wrote to Salisbury?

  2. Susan Higginbotham says:

    I keep hoping that there’s a trunk in some ancient manor house full of letters that would answer all of our unanswered questions about the WOTR. I don’t ask for much, do I?

    • anevillfeast says:

      I have this dream of buying a little cottage up in Ravensworth and finding a secret cellar in which is hiding a trunk containing the Fitzhugh Papers. Between the two of us we should be able to answer all the questions.

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