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Northampton 1460

The Battle of Northampton – 10th July 1460

The Earl of Warwick, his father the Earl of Salisbury and Edward, The Earl of March landed at Sandwich with 2,000 men at arms. King Henry VI and his Queen (Margaret of Anjou) were at Coventry with their small army. Warwick entered London on 2nd July 1460 with an army of supporters numbering approximately 10,000.

Earl of Warwick kneels to King henry vi after the kings capture by the yorkists at the battle of northampton on 10th july 1460
Earl of Warwick kneels to King Henry VI after the King’s capture by the Yorkists at the Battle of Northampton on 10th July 1460 – painting by Graham Turner

10th July 1460 King Henry VI forces took up a defensive position at Northampton, in the grounds of Delapré Abbey, with their backs to the River Nene, with a water-filled ditch in front of them topped with stakes. The defending army was around 5,000 strong, consisting mainly of men-at-arms. The Lancastrians also had some field artillery.

At two o’clock the Yorkists advanced, as they closed with the Lancastrians, Warwick was met by a fierce hail of arrows, the rain had rendered the Lancastrian cannons useless.

death of the earl of shrewsbury at the battle of northampton in 1460
Death of the Earl of Shrewsbury at the Battle of Northampton in 1460

When Warwick reached the Lancastrian left flank, that was commanded by Lord Grey of Ruthin treachery ensued. Lord Grey had his men lay down their weapons and let the Yorkists have easy access into the camp beyond. This treachery was the result of a secret message from Lord Grey to the Earl of March. Warwick had ordered his men not to attack those wearing the black ragged staff of Lord Grey’s men. After this, the battle lasted a mere thirty minutes. The defenders were unable to manoeuvre inside the fortifications, and fled the field as their line was rolled up by attacking Yorkists.

The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Egremont and Lord Beaumont all died trying to save the King from the Yorkists closing on his tent. Three hundred other Lancastrians were slain in the battle.

King Henry VI was found in his tent by Warwick and March. Henry was taken to London and confined in the Bishop of London’s palace. The king agreed that the Yorkists were the rightful heirs to the throne, many thought this would end the war of the roses. The Queen was busily assembling an army in Wales in order to continue the struggle.

Published by on 29th September 2020
Last updated on 9th October 2020