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Battle of Tewkesbury 1471

The forces of Lancaster under the Duke of Somerset were defeated at The Battle of Tewkesbury, against the Yorkist King Edward IV

The Lancastrians who fled from the Battle of Tewkesbury looked to the queen to restore their house to the throne. The Duke of Somerset led the Lancastrian forces towards the Welsh border in order to recruit more troops.

the battle of tewkesbury 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury – painted by Graham Turner

King Edward IV moved his army towards the border as well in order to intercept the Lancastrians. After reaching Tewkesbury first, Somerset took up a strong defensive position with around 6,000 men.

4th May 1471, Edward reached Tewkesbury with a force of around 5,000 men, the battlefield was broken up by woods, ditches and embankments. The Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot.

Somerset saw an opportunity to outflank Edward’s army by leading some of his men via a lane. Although Edwards left flank was attacked by surprise they resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset’s attack among the hedges and banks.

the battle of tewkesbury 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury 1471 – painted by Graham Turner

Edward had earlier place 200 spearmen in the woods far out on the left, at a vital moment they came out of the woods and attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear, as Gloucester’s battle also joined in the fighting.

Somerset’s battle was routed and his surviving army tried to escape across the River Severn, most were cut down as they fled. As the morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the River Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Among the leading Lancastrians who died on the field were Somerset’s younger brother John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, and the Earl of Devon. Edward, the Prince of Wales (18 years old), died in battle. The Duke of Somerset was beheaded and Queen Margaret was captured.

21st May 1471 The Lancastrian King Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London died at the age of 49 years old.

By , last updated: 29th November 2020