Learn a Rhyme

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The Grand Old Duke of York

The Grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
Then he marched them down again.
And when they were up they were up,
And when they were down they were down,
And when they were only half way up
They were neither up nor down.

This traditional rhyme was first published in 1642

It is thought to refer to Richard Duke of York who wanted to take the throne from the Lancastrian Henry VI. The feud between the York and Lancaster families led to the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses. In 1460 Richard stationed his army in Sandal castle which was built on a high hill. On 30th December 1460 Richard led his army out of the castle and down the hill. His army clashed with the Lancastrian army at the Battle of Wakefield and Richard was killed. His son, Edward became King Edward IV in 1461.