Medieval War of the Roses

Battle of Blore Heath 1459

Earl of Salisbury’s Yorkist army defeated larger Lancastrian army at Battle of Blore Heath, enabling it to join the Duke of York in 1459.

Over the past three years Queen Margaret of Anjou maintained the pressure on ending Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York claims to the throne. Richard, Duke of York decided it was time to act before his forces had lost complete momentum. He centralised his Yorkist forces of 5,000 around Ludlow. He then attacked the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Blore Heath.

In support of Henry IV, Queen Margaret ordered the Lancastrian army of 10,000 under James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley. Preventing the Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury from marching from Middleham Castle in Yorkshire to Ludlow in Staffordshire.

Battle of Blore Heath

23rd September 1459, two miles east of the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, the Battle of Blore Heath started. An archery duel between the longbows of both armies commenced. The Earl of Salisbury was aware that any attack across the brook would be suicidal.

The Earl of Salisbury employed a ruse to encourage the enemy to attack him. He withdrew some of his men just far enough for the Lancastrians to believe they were retreating.

The Lancastrians launched a cavalry charge, after they had committed themselves. The Earl of Salisbury ordered his men to turn back and catch the Lancastrians as they attempted to cross the brook. It had the effect of turning the balance in favour of the Earl of Salisbury. The charge resulted in heavy casualties for the Lancastrians.

Lancastarian second attack

The Lancastrians withdrew and made a second assault. The second attack had become more successful with many Lancastrians crossing the brook. Consequently, Lord Audley had been killed during the intense period of fighting.

The Lancastrian command now fell to the second-in-command, John Sutton, 1st Baron Dudley who ordered an attack on foot with 4,000 men. The attack also failed, with 500 Lancastrians deferring to the enemy. At this point they began attacking their own side.

All remaining Lancastrian resistance collapsed. The rout continued through the night, with the Yorkists pursuing the fleeing enemy for miles across the countryside.

At least 2,000 Lancastrians had been killed, with the Yorkists losing 1,000 men.

The Earl of Salisbury became concerned that the Lancastarians would gain reinforcements. The Yorkist army marched on towards Ludlow, where the Battle of Ludford would commence.