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Barnet 1471

The Battle of Barnet – 14th April 1471

When King Edward IV launched his campaign on 2nd April 1471 to retake England, George the Duke of Clarence accepted his brother’s offer of pardon and rejoined the Yorkists at Coventry.

mistaken identity at the battle of barnet 1471
Mistaken identity at the Battle of Barnet – painted by Graham Turner

King Edward IV was joined at Barnet by his brothers, Richard the Duke of Gloucester (who would become Richard III), and George the Duke of Clarence.

14 April 1471 Edward had planned for an early attack at around 4 o’clock in the morning, there was thick fog. He quickly roused his men to engage the Lancastrians.

Both sides fired their cannon and arrows before laying into each other with polearms. The Earl of Oxford’s men quickly overwhelmed Lord William Hastings. Yorkist soldiers fled towards Barnet, chased by the Lancastrians. The Earl of Oxford rallied 800 of the men and led them back to the battle. Due to the fog, visibility was low and the two forces failed to notice Oxford’s victory over Hastings.

The fighting between the forces of King Edward IV and Lord Montagu was evenly-matched and intense, Duke of Gloucester exploited the misaligned forces and beat the Duke of Exeter back. Warwick ordered most of his reserves to help ease the pressure on Exeter.

As the fog started to dissipate, Edward saw the Lancastrian center in disarray, he sent in his reserves, hastening its collapse. Cries of Exeter’s demise from a Yorkist axe resounded across the battlefield, Lord Montagu was struck in his back and was killed. The Duke of Exeter had been stripped of his armour and left for dead on the battlefield, but he was alive though gravely injured.

Warwick knew the battle was lost, he made for the horses in an attempt to retreat. Edward recognised his victory was at hand, deciding that Warwick was more valuable alive than dead Edward sent his guards to bring back Warwick alive. Other Yorkist soldiers ignorant of Edwards order, found Warwick first. They pulled him down, pried open his visor, and fatally stabbed him through the neck. Edward’s guards found Earl of Warwick’s corpse, mutilated and stripped of its gilded armour. After withdrawing from the battle, The Earl of Oxford fled to France.

Published by on 30th September 2020
Last updated on 9th October 2020