The town of St Albans holds the dubious distinction of being the site of two of the bloody battles of the Wars of the Roses.
The First Battle of St Albans was also the first battle of the Wars of the Roses. On May 22, 1455, the Duke of York defeated a royal army and captured King Henry VI. The Second Battle of St Albans, on February 17, 1461, saw the recovery of Henry VI by a Lancastrian army nominally led by his queen, Margaret of Anjou. Both were bloody affairs fought in, and around the ancient town.
St Albans’ unfortunate place in history was secured by its geographical location as the first major town on the old Roman road heading north from London. Any army moving on a North-South axis would pass through St. Albans.
In The Battles of St Albans , authors Burley, Elliott and Watson offer accounts and analyses of the battles, as well as a travel guide for the modern visitor. The book is an interesting read, with many useful maps, photos and illustrations. Although I have just a basic wargamer’s knowledge of the Wars of the Roses, I have long wanted to paint some figures and do some gaming in the period. The Battles of St Albans turned out to be a good place to start to scratch that itch.
In addition to descriptions of troop movement and fighting during the two battles, the authors offer a cogent summary of the politics of the era and of the progress of the decades-long war. Other parts of interest ot the wargamer are descriptions of the weapons, arms and armor of the period, and of tactics.
For those within a reasonable travel distance of the town of St Albans, the book offers both walking and driving tours of key locations in the two battles. The photographs and maps would really make the action come alive to anyone making those trips.