Battle of Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury, England, United Kingdom

About Battle of Tewkesbury

A definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Tewkesbury was a resounding defeat for the Lancastrians, and led to fourteen years of peace from May 1471.

In April 1471 the Lancastrian queen, Margaret, landed with her troops at Weymouth, where they were joined by the Duke of Somerset with reinforcements. They expected that the advance troops, led by the Duke of Warwick, would have made some headway in defeating Edward IV's army. However, Warwick had joined battle with Edward IV at Barnet and had been defeated and killed.

King Edward IV, meanwhile, was in Windsor, and realised that he would have to intercept the Lancastrians before they arrived in Wales. The Lancastrian army detoured to Bristol for supplies, were refused entry to Gloucester by its citizens and so marched north, hoping to cross the river Severn at Tewkesbury.

With King Edward’s army in pursuit, Somerset arrived at Tewkesbury and decided to make a stand. He deployed his troops, numbering about 5,000, in an area of pastureland just south of the Abbey, flanked by two streams. On arrival, Edward chose to deploy his army (about 4,000 men) south of, and parallel with, Somerset’s.

Battle was joined in the morning and lasted several hours, during which the Lancastrians lost 2,000 men and the Yorkists around 500. Among the Lancastrian dead was the Prince of Wales.

With the death of the heir and the imprisonment of both Henry VI (who was later murdered in the Tower of London) and Queen Margaret, the Lancastrian hold on the throne of England seemed lost.

The east side of Tewkesbury Battlefield is now covered by a housing development, but the western part is still agricultural land and is accessible by public footpath. There is a monument to the Battle of Tewkesbury in front of the Abbey, and Edward, prince of Wales is buried here. The remains of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of King Edward) and his wife, Isabelle (daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker) were brought here for burial. The Abbey itself is a wonderful historic building and is well worth a visit.

It is worth noting that, as with many medieval battlefields, there is some controversy about the exact location of the Battle of Tewkesbury and Tewkesbury Battlefield.

There is a Tewkesbury Battlefield trail which allows visitors to walk some of the key sites. Further information on the Battle of Tewkesbury trail can be found at the Tewkesbury tourist information centre.

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