The Yorkist leaders having fled from the Battle of Ludford Bridge on 12 October 1459, went into self-imposed exile.
Richard, Duke of York went to Ireland; Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury; and Edward, Earl of March went to Calais in France.
On 26 June 1460, Salisbury and Warwick returned to England, landing at Sandwich in Kent with an army of 2,000 men; they then marched to London gathering support as they went. By the time, they reached London on 2 July their army had built to around 10,000.
Warwick and his Yorkist army tried to gain control of the Lancastrian held Tower of London, but it held firm. Warwick left Salisbury with a small army in London to block the Tower, while he marched the main army north to confront Henry VI’s force.
Henry’s force had been staying in Coventry, but hearing of the Yorkist march north, Henry moved his army to Northampton and camped in the grounds of Delapre Abbey with their back to the River Nene. They constructed a water-filled ditch in front of them, topped with stakes.
Warwick arrived with his army and sent a delegation to negotiate, but they were turned away by Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
At 2 o’clock in the afternoon on 10 July 1460 the Yorkist army advanced. They were divided into three sections; Warwick commanded the centre, the Earl of March leading the vanguard and Lord Fauconberg the rear. Warwick ordered his men that only lords and knights were to be slain.
The Lancastrian army sent a hail of arrows towards their enemy, but the driving rain made it impossible to use their cannons.
Due to the treachery of Lancastrian Lord Grey of Ruthin, the battle was not to last long.
When Warwick, reached the Lancastrian left flank, Lord Grey’s men laid down their weapons and allowed Yorkist forces to access the royal camp.
The battle was over in under thirty minutes, the Lancastrian forces fled; many drowned while trying to cross the River Nene.
While trying to protect King Henry VI; the Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Egremont, Lord Beaumont and Sir William Lucy were killed.
Henry VI was captured and taken to London. The Lancastrian force guarding the Tower of London soon surrendered.