The Battle of Stoke Field
by Ellen Castelow
The last major engagement of the Wars of the Roses took place at the Battle of Stoke Field, near the town Newark in Nottinghamshire.
Although the Yorkist King Richard III had been killed at the Battle of Bosworth two years earlier, the victorious Lancastrian King Henry VII’s grip on the crown remained somewhat tenuous.
Seeking to reverse the outcome of Bosworth was the Yorkist Earl of Lincoln, who had arrived in the country at the head of a mainly mercenary army recruited from Germany, Switzerland and Ireland.
At Lincoln’s side was the imposter Lambert Simnel, who had been crowned “King Edward VI of England” in Dublin just a few weeks earlier. And so on the 16th June 1487, the 8,000 strong Yorkist forces took up their position on Rampire Hill to await the arrival of the slightly larger royal army of Henry VII, under the command of the Earl of Oxford.
Oxford had divided the royal army into three, but the Yorkists engaged the leading troops before they had time to properly form. The battle raged on for three hours. Unable to retreat due to the surrounding River Trent, the mercenaries had no other option than to fight it out.
When the Yorkist ranks finally did break, the mercenaries were pursued down a ravine, known today as the Bloody Gutter, by the Royalist troops and put to the sword.
With almost all of the Yorkist commanders killed in the battle, the future of King Henry’s rule and that of his Tudor dynasty was all but secured.
Date: 16th June, 1487
War: Wars of the Roses
Location: East Stoke, Nottinghamshire
Belligerents: Lancastrians and Yorkists
Numbers: Lancastrians 12,000, Yorkists 8,000
Casualties: Lancastrians unknown, Yorkists 4,000
Commanders: King Henry VII of England and John de Vere, Earl of Oxford (Lancastrians), John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln and Lambert Simnel (Yorkists – Simnel is pictured on the right, being carried by the Irish Kerns)
More Battles in the Wars of the Roses
|The First Battle of St Albans||22 May, 1455|
|Battle of Blore Heath||23 September, 1459|
|Battle of Northampton (1460)||10 July, 1460|
|The Second Battle of St Albans||17 February, 1461|
|Battle of Towton||29 March, 1461|
|Battle of Barnet||14 April, 1471|
|Battle of Tewkesbury||4 May, 1471|
|Battle of Bosworth Field||22 August, 1485|
|Battle of Stoke Field||16 June, 1487|
|Background to the Wars of the Roses|