Sir Andrew Trollope, d.1461

Sir Andrew Trollope was a professional soldier who was part of the Calais garrison early in the Wars of the Roses. He came to England with the earl of Warwick in 1459 but changed sides at Ludford Bridge in October and became a key Lancastrian commander for the rest of his career.

Very little is known about Trollope's family background but he may have been related to the Trollope family of Thornley, County Durham. He was a mounted man-at-arms by the late 1420s when he was serving under Thomas Burgh, and was part of Sir John Fastolf's force during the early 1430s. In 1433 he took part in Fastolf's relief of Caen. In February 1440 he was part of Matthew Gough's retinue for John Beaufort, earl of Somerset's raid into Picardy and in March he joined Somerset's personal retinue. In 1442 he was lieutenant of Fresnay for Sir Richard Woodville, and still held the same post in 1449, this time for Osbert Mundeford (treasurer-general of the duchy of Normandy from September 1448). Trollope married Mundeford's sister Elizabeth, and was awarded a life grant of the barony of La Ferté Macé in May 1447. This title was lost when the French conquered Normandy in 1449-50, and Trollope had to surrender Fresnay to them in March 1450, but his reputation and his military career survived this disaster.

By 1453 Trollope was sergeant-porter for the garrison of Calais, soon to become the only remnants of the English empire and France. The Calais garrison would become the most important professional military force available to the English crown, and control of it would play a major part in the Wars of the Roses.

In 1456 Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, became captain of Calais. Trollope served under Warwick, probably taking part in some of his successful piratical operations in the channel. When the Court decided to move against the Yorkists in 1459 Warwick responded by leading part of the Calais garrison to England to join with his father Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury, and Richard, duke of York. Trollope was chose to lead the Calais contingent, and accompanied Warwick as he crossed to England, evaded a Lancastrian army in the Midlands and joined up with York at Ludlow.

Battles of the Wars of the Roses
Battles of the
Wars of the Roses

After a brief campaign the Yorkists were forced to retreat back to Ludlow. The Lancastrians approached the town from the south, and the main Yorkist defensive positions were at Ludford Bridge. They were badly outnumbered, and the Calais men were their best troops. Unfortunately for the Yorkists the Calais contingent is said to have been told that they wouldn't be fighting against Henry VI in person. It was now clear that the King was alive and well and with his army. In addition the King had offered a full pardon to anyone who laid down their arms, apart from those involved in the death of Lord Audley at Blore Heath (23 September 1459). The Calais troops had not been involved in that battle, and on 12 October they changed sides.

This left the Yorkists in an impossible position and that night they fled from Ludlow. York escaped to Ireland, Salisbury, Warwick and Edward, earl of March to Calais. Trollope's change of side wasn't in any way half-hearted, and for the remaining two years of his life he was one of the most active Lancastrian commanders.

His first task was to try and aid Henry Beaufort duke of Somerset, in his attempts to take Calais from Warwick. The Lancastrians were denied access to Calais, but they were able to gain a foothold at the outlying fortress of Guines. Some of Trollope's men were blow into Calais harbour, where those who had changed sides at Ludford Bridge were executed. Somerset made a gallant attempt to capture Calais, but he was repeatedly repulsed. In the summer of 1460 the Yorkists staged a remarkable comeback. Warwick, Salisbury and March landed in Kent, marched on London and then defeated the Lancastrian army at Northampton (July 1460). Henry VI was captured and his cause appeared to be lost. When Warwick returned to Calais Somerset came to terms. He surrendered Guines and went into exile in France.

Warwick later claimed that Somerset had agreed never to fight against the Nevilles. If so Somerset soon changed his mind. In the autumn of 1460 York overplayed his hand and attempted to claim the throne. He was rebuffed by the peers, and had to accept an arrangement in which he became Henry VI's heir. This meant that the young Prince Edward had been disinherited, and helped trigger a series of Lancastrian revolts around England. Somerset, and with him Trollope, sailed from Dieppe to the south-west and made for Corfe. The Yorkists were now faced with revolts in the south-west, Wales and the north. Richard of York decided to go north to deal with the main threat. At about the same time Somerset and Trollope decided to leave the south-west and join the Percies in the north. In mid-December Trollope's men actually clashed with some of York's men at Worksop, but York was able to reach relative safety at Sandal Castle.

On 30 December 1460 Richard of York left Sandal to attack a nearby Lancastrian army. Some sources give Trollope the credit for tricking York into making what would prove to be a disastrous mistake. He was certainly present at the Battle of Wakefield, which ended with both York and his chief ally Salisbury dead. Trollope then took part in the Lancastrian advance towards London, which saw then defeat Warwick at the Second Battle of St. Albans (17 February 1461). Warwick was able to escape, but his army was destroyed and the Lancastrians regained control of Henry VI, who was abandoned at the end of the battle. Trollope was wounded in the foot by a caltrop during the battle, and in the aftermath was knighted by Prince Edward of Lancaster. He is said to have joked that he didn't deserve the honour as he had only killed fifteen men because of his wounds.

For a brief time it looked as if the Lancastrians had the upper hand, but they were unable to gain access to London. Instead the young Edward, earl of March, managed to get into the city first. Queen Margaret was forced to retreat back into Yorkshire. Edward acted quickly in London, claiming the throne as King Edward IV. He then advanced north with a massive army (at least by the standards of the Wars of the Roses). The Lancastrians decided to stand and fight to the south-west of York. The decisive battle of the first phase of the war was fought at Towton on 29 March 1461. Trollope shared command of the Lancastrian vanguard (which appears to have fought on their left during the battle). The Lancastrians were most successful on their right, but their left was overwhelmed by Yorkist reinforcements and Trollope was killed in the fighting.  

Books on the Middle Ages - Subject Index: Wars of the Roses

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 January 2014), Sir Andrew Trollope, d.1461 ,

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