The First Battle of St Albans, fought on 22 May 1455 at St Albans, 22 miles (35 km) north of London, traditionally marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York and his ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeated the Lancastrians under Edmund, Duke of Somerset, who was killed. With King Henry VI captured, the parliament appointed Richard, Duke of York, Lord Protector.BackgroundBy Christmas of 1454, King Henry had recovered from his illness, which was quickly followed by the Duke of York's resignation of his protectorate. The Duke of Somerset was restored to his former position and given York's former post as the Captaincy of Calais. With his court reconvened at Westminster by mid April 1455, Henry and a select council of nobles, minus York and Warwick, decided to hold a great council at Leicester. Both York and Warwick, believing this council would question their loyalty, gathered their retinue and marched to stop Henry from reaching Leicester. Their forces met at St Albans.FightingThe Lancastrian army of 2,000 troops arrived at St Albans first, with Buckingham in command, and proceeded to defend it by placing troops along the Tonman Ditch and at the bars in Sopwell Lane and Shropshire Lane. The 7,000-strong Yorkist army arrived and camped in Keyfield to the east. Lengthy negotiations ensued with heralds moving back and forth between the rival commanders. After a few hours, it was believed in the Yorkist camp that King Henry VI knew nothing of the letters of negotiation.
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