The Battle of Tewkesbury

The Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471 proved to be one of the most decisive encounters in the Wars of the Roses…

The Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471 proved to be one of the most decisive encounters in the Wars of the Roses.

Following their defeat at the Battle of Barnet the previous month, the 6,000 strong Lancastrian army under the command of the Duke of Somerset were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales to join forces with Jasper Tudor.

Learning of the Lancastrian manoeuvres, King Edward IV set off with 5,000 Yorkists to intercept and confront his enemy.

The Lancastrians arrived at Tewkesbury on 3rd May; however rather than risk getting caught attempting the difficult river crossing, Somerset chose to give battle to the pursuing Yorkists. And so, the following morning the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of the town.

Due to the terrain, the Yorkists found it difficult to advance on the Lancastrian position in any sort of order, and so showered the defenders with arrow and shot.

Although Somerset led a counter attack, Edward’s men managed to hold them, slowly beating the Lancastrians back along the hedges and banks. The end was in sight when the Lancastrian ranks broke and most were cut down as they fled the field down to the river, an area still known today as the Bloody Meadow.

The Lancastrian Queen Margaret who was taking refuge nearby was captured and imprisoned, whilst her husband King Henry VI was executed shortly afterwards (as pictured at the top of this article).

The battle marked the end of the second phase of the Wars of the Roses; Yorkist monarchs would rule England peacefully for the next fourteen years.

Click here for a battlefield map.

Key Facts:

Date: 4th May, 1471

War: Wars of the Roses

Location: Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Belligerents: Lancastrians and Yorkists

Victors: Yorkists

Numbers: Lancastrians 6,000, Yorkists 3,500

Casualties: Lancastrians 2,000, Yorkists unknown

Commanders: Duke of Somerset and Edward, Prince of Wales (Lancastrians), King Edward IV of England (Yorkists)


The Battle of Tewkesbury

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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The Wars of the Roses

By Ben Johnson

A chronology of the major events during the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York 1455 to 1485

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