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Battle of Barnet 1471

King Edward IV army defeated the Lancastarian army, lead by the defected Earl of Warwick at Battle of Barnet in 1471.

When King Edward IV launched his campaign on 2nd April 1471. The Battle of Barnet was to retake England. George Plantagenet, 1st 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 Plantagenet – Duke of Gloucester, and the Duke of Clarence.

Battle of Barnet

14 April 1471, Edward IV 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. John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford’s men quickly overwhelmed William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings. Yorkist soldiers fled towards Barnet, and were chased by the Lancastrians.

The Earl of Oxford rallied 800 of the men, and led them back into the battle. Due to the fog, visibility was low and the two forces failed to notice the Earl of Oxford’s victory over Lord Hastings.

The fighting between the forces of Edward IV and John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu was evenly matched and intense. Duke of Gloucester exploited the misaligned forces and beat the Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter back. Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ordered most of his reserves to help ease the pressure on the Duke of Exeter.

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

The Earl of Warwick knew the Battle of Barnet had been lost, he made for the horses in an attempt to retreat. Edward IV recognised his victory was at hand, deciding that the Earl of Warwick was more valuable alive than dead. Edward IV sent his guards to bring the Earl of Warwick back alive.

Other Yorkist soldiers ignorant of Edwards IV order, found the Earl of Warwick first. They pulled him down, pried open his visor and fatally stabbed him through the neck. Edward IV’s guards found the Earl of Warwick’s corpse, mutilated and stripped of its gilded armour.

Aftermath

After withdrawing from the battle, the Earl of Oxford fled to France. He would continue his campaign against Yorkist rule by attacking English ships.

The Duke of Exeter made a full recovery while being imprisoned at the Tower of London. He did eventually submit to the rule of Edward IV.



By , last updated: 1st December 2020