War of the Roses

Battle of Towton

Date: 29th March 1461   Victory: Yorkist
House of York
King Edward IV (7th Earl of March)      
House of Lancaster
Henry Beaufort (3rd Duke of Somerset)      

The Battle of Towton was to affirm the victor's right to rule over England through force of arms. On reaching the battlefield, the King Edward IV found himself heavily outnumbered, part of the force under John de Mowbray (3rd Duke of Norfolk), had yet to arrive.

The Yorkist leader Lord Fauconberg turned the tables by ordering his archers to take advantage of the strong wind to outrange their enemies. The Duke of Somerset believed the best strategy was to abandon their defensive position and charge at the Yorkists. After many hours of intense hand-to-hand combat the Yorkist line was showing signs of strain.

Fortunately the Duke of Norfolk arrived with reinforcements and the Yorkist army defeated the Lancastrians. Many Lancastrians were killed while fleeing, some trampled each other while some were drowned in the rivers. A number of Lancastrians were taken as prisoners, they were executed.

It was said that 'this battle was probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil'. The Yorkists had a force of around 25,000 while the Lancastrians had a force of around 30,000. By the end of the battle there was around 28,000 dead.

King Henry VI, the Queen, and their son fled to Scotland and Edward IV marched into York.

28th June 1461 Edward IV was formally crowned King at Westminster.