Promise of the exchange of Berwick for Scottish military aid.

When Margaret of Anjou was gathering support for her cause in late 1460 and early 1461, she lacked money with which to pay for external aid. Instead, Margaret needed to use promises. Some of these were easier than others to fulfil and had significant value. It is believed that Margaret and the Scots came to an arrangement that would see Berwick being transferred to the Scots in return for military support.

Exchanging Berwick for Military Aid

The basis for belief that Berwick was exchanged for military aid comes from a variety of sources. One, below, is the Milanese Ambassadors newsletters. However, these newsletters simply pass on news and rumour as they are heard. As such they are very good at recording what people believe, but not necessarily accurate. It is known that Margaret of Anjou travelled to Scotland. Whilst there it is said that an agreement was made at Lincluden in January 1461 to cede Berwick in return for aid. There is no firm contemporary evidence that this agreement was actually made. No treaty documentation exists, no references are made to it in Scottish legal papers, or in letters sent between senior Lancastrians and their French allies. Nor is there any evidence of Scottish nobles being present at any of the battles that took place in 1461. No mention is made of them in English attainders, nor is there any reference to Scottish involvement in the events of December 1460 – March 1461 in diplomatic correspondence between the Yorkists and Scots. Nonetheless, it is possible that an arrangement was discussed, or even agreed. The evidence may simply be lacking.

Fortifications at Berwick-upon-Tweed. The border town was possibly exchanged by Margaret of Anjou for Scottish military support
Berwick-upon-Tweed town wall.

Newsletter from Bruges to Milan, 2nd June 1461

The Milanese State Papers provide an interesting insight into how marriages were used to formalise alliances and cement support for campaigns. This example refers to the earlier promise by Margaret of Anjou to exchange Berwick for military aid, along with a suggestion of a marriage treaty.

“King Henry, the Queen, their son, the Duke of Somerset and Lord Roos, his brother, have taken refuge in Scotland. It is said that they are negotiating for a marriage alliance between the sister of the late King of Scotland and the Prince of Wales… They also say that King Henry has given away a castle called Berwick, which is one of the keys of the frontier between England and Scotland”.

It is clear from this newsletter that the Lancastrian terms with Scotland were rumoured, with the belief that Berwick had been gifted to Scotland in exchange for support in the campaigns that followed the Act of Accord. The same arrangement between Margaret of Anjou and Margaret of Guelders led to Scotland supplying Lancastrian castles in the North East of England.

A proposed marriage union between the two families would provide the Scots with greater motivation to aid the Lancastrian cause. If the children married, their wealth and importance would be reliant upon the Yorkist regime being overthrown: so it would make sense to assist King Henry to facilitate improved relationships between England and Scotland in the future.

Image Credits

Featured Image: [Lincluden Abbey, Dumfries, Scotland] [between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900]. 1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color. Notes: Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J–foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905. Print no. “13119”. Forms part of: Views of landscape and architecture in Scotland in the Photochrom print collection. Subjects: Scotland–Dumfries. Format: Photochrom prints–Color–1890-1900. Rights Info: No known restrictions on reproduction. Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print Part Of: Views of landscape and architecture in Scotland (DLC) 2001703567 More information about the Photochrom Print Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.pgz Persistent URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.07571 Call Number: LOT 13407, no. 060 [item]

Town Fortifications Including the Bell Tower. Wikipedia. Jhsteel.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Leave a Reply