Medieval War of the Roses

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross 1461

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross fought between Edward, Duke of York, and Lancastrians Sir Owen Tudor, and Earl of Pembroke in 1461.

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross was at Wigmore in Herefordshire, close to the Welsh boarder. Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York had heard Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke and his father Sir Owen Tudor headed up an army. The Lancastarian army were approaching from Wales.

Edward of York had been at Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire. He had planned to travel to London and met up with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who held King Henry VI captive.

the battle of mortimers cross 1461
The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross 1461

Instead, the Duke of York had decided to block the Earl of Pembroke from reaching the main Lancastrian force, which were heading towards London. A Yorkist army of 5,000 men had become deployed to Mortimer’s Cross. The army comprised of Englishmen and Welshman, mainly from the boarder counties.

The Earl of Pembrooke’s Lancastarian army made up of Welsh from the Tudor lands of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Additionally, French Mercenaries and Irishmen lead by James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire.

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross

2nd February 1461, At the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, the Yorkist archers positioned themselves at a crossroads to halt the advance of the Lancastrians.

The Lancastrians commenced the attack at midday with James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire leading the first assault. It forced the Duke of York’s right wing to retreat across the road, dissolving the flank. The Earl of Pembroke attacked the Duke of York’s centre division, but the Lancastrians were fended off.

Sir Owen Tudor attempted an encirclement of the Yorkist left wing resulting in a disorderly retreat of defeated Lancastarian troops. The Earl of Pembroke’s centre then also broke, giving a victory to the Duke of York. Sir Owen Tudor’s men fled as far as 17 miles to Hereford.

Capture of Owen Tudor

Sir Owen Tudor became chased down and captured, along with the other fleeing Lancastarian men at Hereford.

Sir Owen believed he would become imprisoned by the Yorkists. He had been mistaken, he was to become beheaded. Just before the execution took place, Sir Owen had been heard to say “that head shall lie on the stock that was want to lie on Queen Catherine’s lap”.

His head became placed on the market cross at Hereford. A woman came by and washed the blood off the face of the capitated head.

Sir Owens body was taken to a chapel on the north side of the Greyfriar Church in Hereford to be buried.

After the Battle

The Duke of York continued his march east to join up with the Earl of Warwick. He had to deviate from his route to London again. Queen Margaret of Anjou had formed a Lancastarian army at St. Albans, which would become the location of the next battle.