Thomas de Scales, 7th Baron Scales
Born: c. 1399
Middleton, Norfolk, England
Died: July 25, 1460
Southwark, London, England (Age c. 61)
Scales in History
There is virtually nothing known about the life of Thomas Scales until he inherited the barony of Scales from his elder brother in 1421. By this point, the war with France was in full-force, and Scales dedicated a large portion of the next thirty years of his life to it. He was present at the significant English victory at Verneuil (1424); was created a Knight of the Garter (1425); took part in the siege of Orleans (1428); and was captured, along with John Talbot, after the English loss at the Battle of Patay (1429). He is thought to have been released the following year and continued to participate in the Hundred Years War, despite the fact that English fortunes were gradually waning. Scales seems to have made a connection with Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, while away at the French wars and was even made godson of his eldest son, the future King Edward IV. However, Scales's closest connection seems to have been with William de la Pole, Earl (and soon to be Duke) of Suffolk and one of the top advisers to King Henry VI. It was the latter connection that would ultimately decide his fate.
After Scales returned from France, he was given a number of important responsibilities and continued to build up his power and influence. He was given the task of defending the Tower of London during Jack Cade's rebellion and was given control of several of Suffolk's estates after his exile and murder (1450). Through the Suffolk connection, Scales began to associate with Queen Margaret (a close friend of Suffolk's), a move that proved to be highly significant in a political climate that was becoming increasingly partisan. By the mid-1450s, what has come to be known as the War of the Roses between the rival royal houses of Lancaster (the supporters of Henry VI) and York (the supporters of the Duke of York) began, and Scales was forced to side with the reigning Lancastrian party (for strictly political reasons, one would assume), despite his close Yorkist ties. A number of smaller skirmishes took place throughout the remainder of the decade (including the more significant Battle of St. Albans in 1455), but events took a turn for the worse in 1460. The Yorkists had all been attainted the previous year, and York proclaimed himself the rightful King of England (he did have a valid claim to the throne). Scales was responsible for defending London against the Yorkists but was unsuccessful and forced to take shelter in the tower. After Henry VI's capture at the Battle of Northampton, Scales attempted to escape from the tower but was recognized by Yorkist loyalists and killed on the spot. When looking at the life and career of Thomas Scales, it would be difficult to agree that he was not a loyal servant to his king and country. In the end, he was, quite simply, another innocent casualty of the War of the Roses.
Scales in Shakespeare
Appears in: Henry VI, Part 2
Lord Scales appears in a single, short scene of 2 Henry VI where he is seen at the tower being accosted by a citizen asking him to help subdue Cade's rebellion. For assistance, Scales sends Matthew Gough, who is subsequently killed by the rebels. Scales is not seen or mentioned again.