Category Archives: Battles

On this day in 1589 – The Battle of Arques began

The Battle of Arques began on the 15th September 1589 and was between King Henry IV of France and the army of the Catholic League that was led by Duke of Mayenne, Charles of Lorraine.

After the death of King Henry III of France, Henry of Navarre began the next King of France as Henry IV. Henry was a Huguenot but he declared that he intended to keep and preserve the Catholic religion in France. The majority of the French cities sided with the Catholic League against the new King and their leader, Charles of Lorraine the Duke of Mayenne.

The French royal army was in disarray at the time and Henry IV could only summon 20,000 men to help stop a country that was rebelling. Henry therefore divided what troops he had into three and placed Henri I d’Orléans, Jean VI d’Aumont and Henry himself in charge of Picardy, Champagne and Normandy respectively with Henry waiting for troops to be sent from Elizabeth I in England.

On 6th August 1589 Henry had set up camp with his 8,000 men at the port of Dieppe however, the Duke of Mayenne wanted to win back the port and drive Henry from Normandy. The Duke had an army of 35,000 as well as militias from Cambrai. Henry knowing that an attack on an army the size of the one led by the Duke of Mayenne would be a dangerous decision he decided to move his troops to the city of Arques where he would construct defences.

On 15th September 1589 the Catholic League launched an attack on Arques however; Henry’s forces fought back with artillery but eventually Henry’s side began to struggle.

Henry’s army was eventually rescued through the help of Elizabeth I on 23rd September when she sent 4,000 men by the sea to aid his cause. Upon seeing the English ships approaching the Duke of Mayenne ordered his troops to retreat leaving Henry and the royal army victorious.

Henry IV at ArquesKing Henry IV of France at the Battle of Arques

On this day in 1513 – the Battle of Flodden began

On 9th September 1513 the Battle of Flodden took place between England and Scotland in Northumberland, England. King James IV led the Scottish army against the defending English that was led by the Earl of Surrey who was acting on orders of the Regent of England, Katherine of Aragon who had been left in charge of the country whilst her husband, King Henry VIII, was leading the army in France.

King James IV declared his intentions for war upon England in order to support France and the alliance that they held together. However, his declaration was in breach of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace a treaty signed between England and Scotland in 1502. King James IV sent a letter via the Lyon King of Arms to Henry on 26th July asking him to stop his attack on France. Henry responded to the Lyon Arms by saying that James had no right to ask this of him and if anything James should be England’s ally as he was married to Henry’s sister, Margaret. Henry said;

And now, for a conclusion, recommend me to your master and tell him if he be so hardy to invade my realm or cause to enter one foot of my ground I shall make him as weary of his part as ever was man that began any such business. And one thing I ensure him by the faith that I have to the Crownof England and by the word of a King, there shall never King nor Prince make peace with me that ever his part shall be in it. Moreover, fellow, I care for nothing but for misentreating of my sister, that would God she were in England on a condition she cost the Schottes King not a penny.”

King James IV used the pretext of the murder of his Warden of the Scottish East March, Robert Kerr, five years previously in 1503 at the hands of John ‘The Bastard’ Heron to begin his invasion of England. However, England was not completely unprepared before Henry left for France he left an army and artillery in the north of the country and he also appointed Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey as Lieutenant General of the army in the north in 1512.

King James IV sent notice to England a month in advance regarding his intention to invade this gave England enough time to collect the banner of Saint Cuthbert from Durham Cathedral, a banner that had been at the front of the English army in past victories over the Scottish.

On 18th August 1513 the Scottish transported five cannons from Edinburgh Castle to Netherbow Gate at St Mary’s Wynd with the King setting off that night to join the army as well. As a result on 27th August 1513 Katherine of Aragon acting as Regent of the country issued warrants for all property belonging to any Scots to be seized instantly. Upon hearing of the invasion preparations Katherine sent an order on 3rd September to Thomas Lovell to gather an army from the Midlands.

The Scottish army moved closer to England before taking Norham Castle on 29th August and moving further south capturing the castles of Etal and Ford. James kept the army at Ford Castle for a while enjoying the hospitality of Lady Heron and her daughter. It was here that the English Herald, Rouge Croix arrived to negotiate a place of battle for the 4th September and gave instructions that if James sent any heralds to speak with the Earl of Surrey should be met away from where the English army was camped. It was at Ford Castle that the Earl of Angus spoke out in favour of returning to Scotland as he felt they had done everything for France; James sent the Earl of Angus home and wanted to push on with the invasion.

On 7th September the Earl of Surrey recorded that James had sent his Islay Herald and agreed that they would commence battle on the 9th between midday and 3pm he returned the Herald asking for the battle to take place at Milfield as previously agreed.

With the time and place agreed Surrey moved his troops to block the Scottish route north so it would force them towards Branxton Hill. When the Scottish and English armies were three miles apart Surrey sent to Rouge Croix to King James to confirm the time of battle, James replied that he would wait until noon.

At 11am on the morning of 9th September the English vanguard and artillery crossed the Twizel Bridge whilst the Scottish army was in five formations and by the afternoon the Scottish descended into battle. The English had two battle formations each comprising of two wings. The Earl of Surrey combined his vanguard with the soldiers of his father’s rearward. Surrey’s groups fought the Scottish troops led by the Earls of Huntly, Crawford and Erroll with forces that totalled 6000 men.

The King of Scotland then led an attack on Surrey and the son of Lord Darce who bore the brunt of the Scottish armies force. When the battle ended Edward Hall, the chronicler, wrote ‘the battle was cruel, none spared other, and the King himself fought valiantly.’

Post battle the Scottish council sent for help from Christian II of Denmark the Scottish ambassador, Andrew Brounhill, was asked to explain what went wrong in the battle. Brounhill blamed the King for moving downhill to attack the English on marshy ground from a more favourable position and he claimed that the English won purely because of Scottish inexperience.

King James IV was killed close to Surrey after being fatally wounded by an arrow and a bill, a polearm weapon. His body was discovered by Lord Dacre and was taken to Berwick-upon-Tweed where according to Edward Hall the Scottish courtiers William Scott and John Forman who identified the body as the late King. His body was then embalmed and taken to Newcastle upon Tyne. From York the body was taken to Sheen Priory near London.

James’s banner, sword and his thigh armour were taken to the shrine of Saint Cuthbert at Durham Catherdral. Thomas Hawley, the Rouge Croix Herald, was first to take news to London of the English victory. He took the blood stained surcoat of the King to Katherine of Aragon at Woburn Abbey, who instantly sent it to Henry VIII who was still battling the French at Tournai. She had thought about sending the body of the fallen King instead as Henry had sent her the Duke of Longueville, a prisoner from Thérouanne.

Margaret Tudor was informed of her husband’s death and a council met at Stirling to form a committee that would rule Scotland in the name of Margaret Tudor and her infant son the new King James V of Scotland.

battle_of_floddenArtist impression of the Battle of Flodden

On this day in 1572 – the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre began

On 24th August 1572 the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre took place in France during the French Wars of Religion, which was a period of civil infighting and military operations fought between the French Catholics and the Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants).

Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was the leader of the Huguenots and was considered dangerous by Catherine de’ Medici, the King’s mother, she believed the de Coligny was gaining too much power especially as he was pursuing an alliance with the English and Dutch Protestant rebels.

Admiral_Gaspard_II_de_ColignyAdmiral de Coligny

The King’s sister, Margaret of France who was a Catholic was set to marry the Protestant Henry of Navarre on 18th August 1572 and de Coligny and other nobles arrived in Paris for the wedding. The wedding attracted a large number of Huguenots to the largely Catholic Paris. Just four days later on 22nd August there was a failed assassination attempt on de Coligny when he was shot at on the streets on Paris. Although it was never discovered who ordered the attempt on de Coligny’s life it is widely believed to be Catherine de’ Medici who believed that de Coligny was becoming influential over the King.

A decision was made to close the gates to the city and arm the citizens of Paris to stop any Protestant uprising. The King’s Swiss Guard was provided with a list of prominent Protestants to kill As the bells for matins (between midnight and dawn) rang out the Swiss Guards evicted any Protestant nobles from the Louvre Castle and massacred them in the street.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Guise led a group of supporters killed de Coligny in his lodgings along with several of his men on 24th August. His body was then thrown out of the window where it was castrated, mutilated, dragged through the mud, thrown in the river, suspended on a gallows and then burned by the crowd.

As a result of de Coligny’s assassination the cities Catholics began murdering Protestants and looting their homes. The bodies of those killed were loaded onto carts and disposed of in the Seine River. The revolt lasted three days despite attempts by the King to stop it.

On 26th August the King and his court established an official version of events, it was said that King Charles held a Lit de justice, a formal session of Parliament, in which he ordered the massacre the stop the Huguenot’s rising up against the royal family.

St Bartholomew day massacreSt Bartholomew Day Massacre

On this day in 1548 – The Earl of Shrewbury arrived at the Siege of Haddington

On 23rd August 1548 Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury arrived in Haddington with a large army for the Siege of Haddington was part of a series of sieges at the Royal Burgh of Haddington, East Lothian. They were part of the larger War of the Rough Wooing, a war started by King Henry VIII in 1543 whilst he was trying to negotiate with the Scottish over a marriage proposal between his son, Edward and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Following a defeat at the battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547 the Regent Arran took control of Haddington with 5000 troops including some troops sent by the French King, Henry II. By February 1548 the English led by Grey of Wilton captured the town from the Scottish and set about fortifying the town.

The Scottish and French troops began to attack the town in July 1548 when the Scottish organised guns and artillery to be brought from Broughty Castle. Mary of Guise visited the effort of the Scottish troops on 9th July but they encountered the English and 16 of her party were killed. The French eventually ordered their guns to be withdrawn just days later.

Talbot arrived in Haddington and was accompanied by 15000 troops. The Scottish and French retreated to Edinburgh and Leith upon Talbot’s army arriving. The French and Scottish began in fighting. Grey of Wilton wrote to Somerset on 1st November 1548 regarding the state of Haddington and wrote;

The state of this town pities me both to see and to write it; but I hope for relief. Many are sick and a great number dead, most of the plague. On my faith there are not here this day of horse, foot and Italians. 1000 able to go to the walls, and more like to be sick, than the sick to mend, who watch the walls every fifth night, yet the walls are un-manned.”

The English eventually withdrew from Haddington by September 1549 as they ran out of supplies and many of the troops were dead from plague. The French had also sent many more re-inforcements this caused the English to retreat.

220px-Nungate_Bridge_and_Doo'cot, Bridge at Haddington

On this day in 1513 – the Battle of the Spurs took place

On 16th August 1513 the Battle of the Spurs took place. The battle was also known as the Battle of Guinegate and it was part of the War of the League of Cambrai. The battle saw the English, led by King Henry VIII, and the Holy Roman Empire, led by Maximillian I fight together against the French.

In May 1513 English soldiers arrived in Calais to join up with the army that was led by George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who had been appointed as Lieutenant General on 12th May 1513. On 17th May King Henry VIII announced to the Cinque Ports and the Constable of Dover Castle, Edward Poynings, that he would be joining the troops in France and would leave his wife, Catherine of Aragon, as Governor of England.

The Chronicle of Calais records that troops began arriving from 6th June, with all the troops in place at the end of June they set off towards Thérouanne with Shrewsbury leading a vanguard 8,000 men strong and Lord Herbert, Charles Somerset, commanding the rearward that consisted of 6,000 men. King Henry arrived in Calais on 30th June with an army of 11,000 men provided by Cardinal Wolsey. Henry’s army contained cavalry, artillery, infantry and longbows. Henry set off towards the battle led by 800 German mercenaries that had been recruited to the battle.

When Shrewsbury arrived at the town of Thérouanne they set up the artillery battery and mines where they could lay explosives but throughout July little progress was made between the two sides. Eventually the town held by Antoine de Créquy surrendered and the French suffered a huge set back. Margaret of Savoy noted that two men were governing everything during the skirmish; this was Charles Brandon and Cardinal Wolsey. During all this Henry was camped to the east in a heavily defended camp. Henry’s accommodation was a wooden cabin with an iron chimney and surrounding that were large yellow and white tents.

The Emperor Maximillian arrived in France in August 1513 and stayed at Aire-sur-la-Lys, Henry arrived in Aire-sur-la-Lys on 11th August dressed in light armour whilst his retinue wore cloth of gold which was a big difference to Maximillian’s retinue who were dressed in black still mourning Bianca Maria Sforza, Maximillian’s wife. Upon hearing that the two leaders had met Catherine of Aragon wrote to Cardinal Wolsey that she was delighted as it would be an honour for Henry and help Maximillian’s reputation.

King Louis XII of France wanted the French to attempt a second battle in order to break the siege, it was organised for 16th August with the cavalry grouping at Blangy. The French army consisted of gendarmes and pikemen. In response to the this the English had their engineers work overnight constructing five bridges over the River Lys to allow their army to move freely, meanwhile King Henry moved his camp to Guinegate on 14th August after his army were able to displace a company of armed horsemen who were stationed at the Tower of Guinegate.

The French still in Blangy devised a plan to split their army into two one to be led by the Duke of Longueville and the other by the Duke of Alençon. Alençon’s force began by attacking the positions that were being held by Lord Shrewsbury whilst Longueville attacked Lord Herbert. Both of these attacks were to act as a diversion to allow the stradiots to deliver supplies to Thérouanne. The French were hoping to catch the English unaware by setting out before dawn; however, a small cavalry from the Scottish borders were already out patrolling and detected the two troops moving.

Henry sent out a vanguard consisting of 1,000 men and then followed them with between 10,000 and 12,000 men. With the French alerted to the fact that the English already knew they were moving the troops decided to wait on a hillside to regroup and wait for the stradiots to contact the garrison within the town of Thérouanne. Whilst they waited on the side of the hill the English vanguard approached from the front with archers shooting from nearby. This was the first time the French became aware of the size of the English army. The English charged as the French were moving off, throwing the French into confusion.

As the French were in disarray the stradiots who had attempted to reach Thérouanne were fleeing from cannon fire and crashed into the French cavalry. Whilst La Palice tried to regain control over his troops they were fleeing so quickly that in order to gain more speed they throw away lances and standards and the gendarmes even cut some of the heavier armour from their horses. The English chased the French for miles until they reached Blangy.

Whilst this was happening Sir Rhys ap Thomas fought the smaller French troops between the village of Bomy and King Henry’s encampment at Guinegate.

Reports of the day’s events were sent to Margaret of Savoy the Imperial Master of the Posts, Baptiste de Tassis wrote

“Early in the day the Emperor and the King of England encountered 8,000 French horse; the Emperor, with 2,000 only, kept them at bay until four in the afternoon, when they were put into flight. A hundred men of arms were left upon the field, and more than a hundred taken prisoners, of the best men in France; as the Sieur de Piennes, the Marquis de Rotelin, and others.”

With the battle over it was time to assess the casualties many French prisoners were captured and reports of approximately 3,000 French casualties. It was reported that nine French standards were captured as well.

With the threat of a French counter attack now dealt with Henry’s camp once again moved south and on 22nd August the town of Thérouanne fell and Henry was welcomed into the town by Shrewsbury. With the town captured it was time for the army to turn its attention towards Tournai.

Battle of the SpursAn artistic impression of the Battle of the Spurs

On this day in 1512 – The Battle of Saint-Mathieu

The Battle of Saint-Mathieu took place on 10th August 1512; the battle was part of the War of the League of Cambrai and happened near Brest, France. The battle was between 25 English ships commanded by Sir Edward Howard and a Franco-Breton fleet that comprised of 22 ships led by René de Clermont.

The English navy controlled the majority of the English Channel and heard of movement with the Franco-Breton navy and took the decision to attack first. Howard was able to surprise the opposition whilst they were still anchored. In a panic the ships in port cut their anchors and set off. At the time of the attack 300 guests were aboard the Breton flagship Marie la Cordelière and were still aboard when the anchor was cut free, the captain Hervé de Portzmoguer was unable to get them off the ship in time. Therefore were forced to sit out the battle on board.

The Marie la Cordelière and Petite Louise, the flag ships of the Franco-Breton navy covered the rest of the navy to help them retreat. Whilst the Marie la Cordelière faced off against the English ship, The Regent, as well as the Sovereign and Mary James. In the mean time the Petite Louise was badly damaged by the Mary Rose.

De Portzmoguer ordered the Marie la Cordelière to attack the Regent and they were able to throw grappling hooks over to tie the two ships together and the crew of the Marie la Cordelière boarded the Regent. Reinforcements were sent from the English to help the Regent. Fighting continued on board the Regent when an explosion ripped through the Marie la Cordelière and sank both ships including the captain of the Regent, Thomas Knyvet.

Over the next two days the English fleet either captured or destroyed 32 enemy ships. As a result of the successful mission Sir Edward Howard was made Lord High Admiral by King Henry VIII.

This battle was just one of two naval battles that were fought by King Henry VIII’s navy.

Cordeliere_and_RegentThe Marie la Cordelière and the Regent ablaze

On this day in 1595 – the Spanish landed in Mount’s Bay for the Battle of Cornwall

The Battle of Cornwall was part of the wars between England and Spain in the late 1500’s. On 26th July 1595 a fleet led by Pedro de Zubiaur set sail from Port Louis, Brittany with four galleys and three companies of arquebusiers (gunmen) commanded by Carlos de Amesquita. Their destination was England.

On the way to England the fleet sank a French barque ship that was manned by an English crew that was transporting cargo to England. The Spanish fleet landed at Mount’s Bay, Cornwall on 2nd August 1595 where Carlos de Amesquita was greeted by Richard Burley of Weymouth, a Catholic. Burley was to be their guide in England as they attempted to invade.

Upon the Spanish landing the local army who were acting as the anti invasion force fled in panic at the size of the Spanish army only Francis Godolphin, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and a band of 12 men remained to defend the land.

Over the next two days the Spanish travelled through Cornwall burning towns and villages like Penzance, Mousehole and Newlyn they also stole whatever they could including cannons from the local forts and placed them upon their own ships. At the height of the invasion Penzance saw 400 houses burned to the ground and three ships sunk.

The Spanish departed two days later on 4th August 1595 after they held a traditional Catholic mass on land along with a promise to return and build a new Catholic church once the Spanish conquered the rest of England. The Spanish set sail and managed to evade an English fleet that had been sent to capture the Spanish led by Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins.

The Spanish landed back in Port Louis on 10th August after sinking two Dutch ships and damaging many others.

Spanish attacking PenzanceThe Spanish attacking Penzance

On this day in 1545 – French troops invaded the Isle of Wight

The Italian War of 1542 – 1546 was a series of wars in the larger Italian Wars that saw England, France, Italy, Spain and the Low Counties fight one another.

France attempted to invade the Isle of Wight for the last time after a series of attempts to capture the island. The French, led by Claude d’Annebault, outnumbered the English but they met twice in battle once in the Solent and then at Bonchurch.

During the Battle of the Solent the English lost their flagship vessel, Mary Rose on 19th July. The English retreated in the hope that they could draw the French into the shallow waters of Spithead. The French would not be drawn into this and instead drew up a plan to bring the English to them and abandon their defensive position by invading the Isle of Wight.

On 21st July the French landed on the Isle of Wight, the plan was that the French would land at Whitecliff Bay and cross Bembridge Down in order to attack Sandown, another landing was planned at Bonchurch with the plan to march across and meet the rest of the troops at Sandown. However, the northern troops were intercepted and had to fight their way to the rendezvous point.

Every man that lived on the Isle of Wight was required to have military training and therefore Sir Richard Worsley led the residents of the Island out to defend their homes

Martin Du Bellay, a French chronicler, wrote about the invasion;

…To keep the enemy’s forces separated, a simultaneous descent was made in three different places. On one side Seigneur Pierre Strosse was bidden to land below a little fort where the enemy had mounted some guns with which they assailed our galleys in flank, and within which a number of Island infantry had retired. These, seeing the boldness of our men, abandoned the fort and fled southwards to the shelter of a copse. Our men pursued and killed some of them and burned the surrounding habitations…”

Despite the French attempts to surprise the English by landing at different undefended points the English were prepared for the attacks and reached the high points of the to oppose them. At Bonchurch the French landed at Monk’s Bay but found it difficult to climb the slopes of St Boniface and Bonchurch Downs before they were met at the top by the waiting English.

François van der Delft, the Imperial Ambassador wrote to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles ;

On Tuesday [21st] the French landed in the Isle of Wight and burnt 10 or 12 small houses; but they were ultimately driven to take refuge in a small earthwork fort, and a large force, 8000, is now opposed to them. Yesterday, Wednesday, and the previous night, nothing could be heard but artillery firing, and it was rumoured that the French would land elsewhere.”

There is no comprehensive record of the battle of Bonchurch but many sources have the English as winning the battle.

AMH4XG Battle of Bonchurch Isle of Wight Italian War  French invasion  landing Kingdom England France regular soldier English militiame

The Battle of Bonchurch

On this day in 1497 – Battle of Blackheath

With the Wars of the Roses safely behind King Henry VII he began looking at raising money in order to go to war against Scotland. To do so Henry needed to raise taxes in order to fund his army and Cornwall were forced to pay a large share of the tax. This raise was in violation of the Stannary Charter in 1305 which prohibited taxes of 10th and 15th from being raised in Cornwall.

In response to the increased taxes Michael Joseph and Thomas Flamank, a blacksmith from St Keverne and a lawyer from Bodmin respectively began a rebellion which caused many Cornish men to form an army of 15,000. The army marched towards Devon and gained support along the way.

From Devon they headed towards Wells via Taunton. In Taunton a tax commissioner was killed which went against the plans for a peaceful rebellion. Upon arrival in Wells the cause was joined by James Touchet, 7th Baron Audley, a prestigious addition to the Cornish cause. From Wells the army marched west through Bristol, Salisbury, Winchester. With no concession from the King the army then turned their sights on Kent in the hope to rally more men. There hopes were unfounded as the Kentish men had no plans to join the Cornish, with hopes dashed the army retreated and some men began to return home.

With the army heading back under the impression that the King had sat by and done nothing they arrived at Guildford on 13th June 1497 to find an army of 8,000 men under the command of Henry’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Daubeny. The army was readying itself for war against Scotland but instead of setting off straight away for Scotland it was decided to test the strength of the Cornish army and a small group of 500 mounted spearmen were sent to fight the Cornish at Gill Down.

The Cornish quickly left Guildford and moved towards Blackheath, where they pitched their tents on a hill overlooking the city of London. With the threat of the attack looming over the Cornish many deserted leaving the Cornish army standing at approximately 10,000 men.

The Battle of Blackheath took place on 17th June 1497; Henry VII had gathered an army of 25,000 men. They met a depleted Cornish army who were lacking weapon and artillery after spreading false rumours that the English army would attack a couple of days later on the 19th. The Earls of Oxford, Essex and Suffolk led three troops, a similar strategy that Henry took at Bosworth and Stoke Field.

The Cornish troops were surrounded but placed a row of archers near to Deptford Strand in order to block the passage over the river; despite a small delay Henry’s army crossed the river with minimal losses. The lack of experience within the Cornish ranks meant that the archers were not supported and the rest of the troops were further back. With the army led by Lord Daubeny now heading towards them fighting broke out. Daubeny was separated from the rest of his troops and was captured but soon released back to his army. The Cornish had resided themselves to defeat and were contemplating the future.

The Cornish army was quickly defeated and with the death toll rising Joseph gave the order for surrender. He quickly fled but was captured at Greenwich. Flamank and Baron Audley were captured on the battlefield.

By 2pm on the same day Henry returned to London triumphant. Cornwall was handed large punishment which effectively bankrupted parts of Cornwall, prisoners were sold into slavery and Joseph and Flamank were sentenced to death by being hung, drawn and quartered although this was changed to hanging and decapitation. They were executed at Tyburn on 27th June 1497 and Baron Audley was beheaded on 28th June at Tower Hill.

Battle of BlackheathBattle of Blackheath monument

On this day in 1487 – Battle of Stoke Field

Two years after the Battle of Bosworth and the victory of King Henry VII the last battle of the Wars of the Roses took place. On 16th June 1487 at Stoke Field King Henry VII and the Lancastrian army took to the field against the remaining Yorkist army.

The battle saw the Yorkists place their hopes on a man called Lambert Simnel who had come to the attention of the Earl of Lincoln, John de la Pole. Simnel was claiming to be the nephew of King Richard III and the son of George, Duke of Clarence and therefore the rightful heir to the throne. Simnel had gathered support abroad after fleeing to the Low Countries and the court of the Duchess of Burgundy, his aunt. Here Simnel gained the trust of Thomas David, captain of the English garrison at Calais, Sir Richard Harleston, former governor of Jersey and most importantly Lord Lovell, Richard’s most trusted aide. With some of the most loyal Yorkist supporters behind him they set said for Ireland to gather even more support.

Simnel and his followers landed in Dublin on 4th May 1487 and quickly gained even more support from the Irish. It was here on 24th May that Simnel was crowned King Edward VI. With this the army set of with England and the throne in their sights.

They landed on 4th June and found their army stood at approximately 8000 men. Just days later Lord Lovell led 2000 of these men on a late night attack against a small Lancastrian army of just 400 men led by Lord Clifford. Unsurprisingly it was a Yorkist victory.

Following a skirmish on Bootham Bar, York John de la Pole and the army continued south and just outside of Doncaster they fought with the Lancastrian army that was being led by Edward Woodville. Fighting continued for three days through Sherwood Forest as the Yorkist army forced Woodville and the Lancastrians back towards Nottingham. It was in Nottingham that Woodville waited for the rest of the army to join him, it was on 14th June that Lord Strange arrived with reinforcements as well as Rhys ap Thomas with support from Wales. Now King Henry VII’s army was bigger and better equipped than the Yorkists.

The following day on 15th June Henry and his army headed for Newark but it wasn’t until the 16th when they had caught up with de la Pole and the Yorkist army. At 9am the Earl of Oxford encountered the Yorkists on the top of Rampire Hill. They were surrounded on three sides by the River Trent and were just by the village of East Stoke.

Some Lancastrian soldiers deserted the army after misinterpreting lights in the sky as a sign of things to come but Oxford quickly bought the remainder of the army back together and readied them for battle. The Battle of Bosworth had taken place on two years previously and Henry followed a similar battle plan and let the Earl of Oxford take control of the vanguard as well as the direction that the fight would take. The Lancastrian army would be separated into three distinct battles whereas the Yorkists attacked in a single formation. After coming under arrow fire from the Lancastrians the Yorkists abandoned their high ground and attacked in the hope of breaking the opposition apart.

Oxford’s vanguard was left shaken after the Yorkist attack but it regrouped and the battle continued for the next three hours between the vanguard and the entire York army. With the vanguard holding strong Henry took the decision not to send in the other two attack groups. The vanguard had experienced longbowmen and with the lack of armour in the Irish troops the Yorkist army was cut down in size quickly.

With the Lancastrian vanguard in front of them and the River Trent surrounding them the Yorkist army had nowhere to retreat. Many were cut down on the field but some fled towards the river in hopes of escape only to be cornered and killed. All the Yorkist commanders were killed except one, Lord Lovell. Lovell disappeared after the battle and was never seen again. It is believed he escaped to Scotland as there is evidence that safe passage was granted to him. However, a body was found in the 18th century in a secret room inside Minster Lovell, his home in Oxfordshire and although never formally identified many believed it to be Lord Lovell’s body.

After the battle Lambert Simnel was captured and Henry realised that he was nothing more than a Yorkist dream and therefore Henry pardoned the young boy and found him work in the royal kitchen where he was later promoted to falconer. The Irish nobles were also pardoned in order to keep them on Henry’s side in the future.

There now stands a stone memorial in the place where the battle took place that reads “Here stood the Burrand Bush planted on the spot where Henry VII placed his standard after the Battle of Stoke 16 June 1487”

This was the last battle to take place between Lancastrian and Yorkist armies.

Stoke field monumentBattle of Stoke Field monument