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.

Click here for a battlefield map.

Key Facts:

Date: 16th June, 1487

War: Wars of the Roses

Location: East Stoke, Nottinghamshire

Belligerents: Lancastrians and Yorkists

Victors: Lancastrians

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)


The Battle of East Stoke

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

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