Following the rout at Ludford the Yorkist lords had fled the country. The Earls of March, Salisbury, and Warwick made their way to Calais, whilst the duke of York travelled to Ireland. Richard Neville, the earl of Warwick, was Captain of Calais. However, as the Yorkists were attained, the Captaincy was given by the Lancastrian parliament to the duke of Somerset. An attempt to oust the Yorkists from the well defended port of Calais was launched by the duke of Somerset. Soon it became clear that additional manpower was required and so a fleet was commissioned to sail from Sandwich to aid the duke’s efforts in and around the port. Learning of the assembling fleet, the Yorkists decided to launch an audacious attack. Taking place on 15 January 1460, the Battle of Sandwich, proved to be an overwhelming success.
Success of the Raid on Sandwich, 15 January 1460
The Brut Chronicle briefly summarises the extent of the raids success:
The lords at Calais sent over Master Dynham with a great fellowship, to Sandwich and [he] took the town, and Lord Rivers, and the Lords Scales his son, and took many ships in the haven and brought all 32 to Calais; with which ships, many mariners came to Calais to serve the Earl of Warwick. Brut Chronicle
Lords Rivers and Scales captured
A small fleet had left Calais and made its way to the haven at Sandwich. Led by John Dinham (Dynham) the Yorkist ships caught the Lancastrian fleet unprepared and wholly unaware of the imminent threat. The result was that the 800 men on board Dinham’s flotilla managed to capture Lord Rivers, who was commanding the expedition, and his son, Lord Scales. The Paston Letters includes a reference to this:
As for tydyngs here, I sende som of hend wreten to you and othyrs how the Lord Ryvers, Sir Antonye, hys son, and othyrs hafe wonne Calais be a feble assault made at Sandwich by Denham, Squyer, with the nombre of viijc. men, on Twyesday betwene iiij. and v. at cloks yn the mornyng. Paston Letters, Letter 399.
Capture of many Lancastrian ships
Further to the capture of Lord Rivers and his son, the Yorkists also captured the majority of the ships that had been anchored in the haven, losing one prized vessel, Grace Dieu, due to it sinking. The result was 32 ships being taken, along with the commander of the fleet, and the potential for the Yorkists to make use of those ships and the mariners for the next phase of their plan. An English Chronicle summarises the events:
Not long afterward the lord Ryuers was sent to Sandewyche for to kepe the toun, that the erle of Warrewyk and the other lordes shulde nat londe there, for it was seyde that alle Kent fauored and supported thaym ; and sothe it was : and also that the seyde lord Ryuers shulde kepe certeyne grete forstage shyppys, that were the A.D. 1459. erles of Warrewyk, the wniche lay at ankere there in the hauene.
And whanne the seyde erle of Warrewyk sawe a conuenient tyme, A.D. 1460. he sent some of his men to Sandwhyche by nyghte, the whyche took [January.] the sayde lorde Ryuers and Antony [ Woodvill *] his sone, in theyre beddes, and lad theym oner to Caleys, and took with theym alle the grete shyppes, saue on called “Grace Dieu/’ the whyche myghte nat be had awey because she was broke in the botome. An English Chronicle of the Reigns of Richard II., Henry IV., Henry V., and Henry VI. by Camden Society (Great Britain)
Consequences of the Battle of Sandwich, January 1460
The outcome of the successful raid on the haven at Sandwich was that the duke of Somerset did not receive the support that he needed to successfully execute his siege of Calais. In time this led to negotiations via Burgundy that saw the duke granted a safe conduct back to England on the condition that he never bore arms against the Yorkist lords: a condition he broke. Capturing the ships also made the Yorkist landing, again at Sandwich, in June 1460 easier logistically as more men could be transported to create a safe bridgehead.
Lords Rivers and Scales berated by the future King Edward IV
One interesting aside with regards the consequences of the Yorkist raid on Sandwich is the way that Lord Rivers and Lord Scales were treated in Calais. Bearing in mind that Lord Rivers would become the father-in-law of Edward IV, and that Edward was one of the Calais lords whilst Earl of March, consider this, written by William Paston to John Paston:
As for tydyngs, my Lord Ryvers was brougth to Caleys, and by for the Lords with viijxx. [eight score] torches, and there my Lord of Salesbury reheted [rated] hym, callyng hym knaves son, that he schuld be so rude to calle hym and these other Lords traytors, for they schall be found the Kyngs treue liege men, whan he schuld be found a traytour, &c. And my Lord of Warrewyk rehetyd hym, and seyd that his fader was but a squyer, and broute up with Kyng Herry the Vth, and sethen hymself made by maryage, and also made Lord, and that it was not his parte to have swyche langage of Lords, beyng of the Kyngs blood. And my Lord of Marche reheted hym in lyke wyse. And Sir Antony was reheted for his langage of all iij. Lords in lyke wyse. Paston Letters, Letter 400.
Perhaps ironically the Yorkist lords, including Edward, make a point of noting the low birth of the Woodville family. An issue that would present problems for Edward following his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.
An 18th century illustration of the town of Sandwich. Edward Hasted, ‘The town and port of Sandwich’, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10 (Canterbury, 1800), pp. 152-216. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol10/pp152-216