Saturday, 20 December 2008

20.12.08 Final battle


Today is about a final battle in more ways than one - I'm trying hard now to finish my rewrite by the end of the year and I still have about 150 pages to go!! So that's final battle number one. Also I'm coming up to the Battle of Barnet - yes I know Tewkesbury came after it - and of course Fauconberg's rebellion (these Nevilles, hey!) but Barnet really was the death of the Lancastrian cause and I'm feeling very emotional about it! Sources vary as to the size of the forces but Warwick probably commanded between 13,000 and 15,000 men while Edward had between 10,000 and 13,000 men. All Warwick's machincations, all that effort and it all comes down to a slugging match in the fog!!! And in this I've taken a controversial stance though it is the official view of the Barnet Museum. Fiona Jones writes that it isn't the experienced soldier and commander Will Hastings who loses his line to the rampaging Earl of Oxford, its a young man in his first battle command - Richard Duke of Gloucester. As Fiona says "The Great Chronicle of London states that Oxford routed Gloucester and the Arrivall says the Lancastrian right wing routed the Yorkist left wing. There is no other contemporary evidence for other Yorkist deployments." This also fits with Edward then keeping the same successful battle order for Tewkesbury where we know Hastings was on the right and Gloucester on the left. Buy almost any book on the Battle of Barnet (including the usually accurate Osprey series) and Tewkesbury and it has Hastings being routed on the left and then Edward switching them round for Tewkesbury, which never made sense to me. I think he stuck with the winning battle line-up from Barnet and so does Barnet Museum.


Reference: The Battle of Barnet by Fiona Jones published by Barnet and District Local History Society.

6 comments:

Lady D. said...

I'll bet Richard learnt pretty fast from that mistake though, eh? But all that fog must have been dreadful to fight in, very eerie.

Anyway, Su, have a great Christmas and New Year and I look forward to reading more of your posts in 2009!

Su_H said...

He did indeed and by all accounts fought very well at Tewkesbury and later when fighting for Edward in Scotland.
Obviously he will make a bigger appearance in the sequel(Listen me - I haven't finished the first book yet!!!), hope to keep you posted on the progress!!!
Best wishes for a great christmas and new year. Wassail!

Susan Higginbotham said...

I'm kicking myself that I haven't stopped here earlier! Fascinating about the Fiona Jones article. Looking forward to reading the Warwick novel!

scott davidson said...

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Chris Holmes said...

You have made some bad mistakes here about Richard and the Battle of Barnet.
It was Hastings who fled and Oxford's men followed them, Richard was on the right wing opposite Exeter, he overlapped Exeter in the bad fog and flanked him and pushed him back. This led to a movement of the whole line and when Oxford had rallied some of his men and came back to the battle still in fog he mistook Montagu/John Neville's flag for Edward's and attacked, Montagu and his men thought that they were being flanked by the enemy and the line crumbled and they fled leaving victory to Edward and Richard who joined together in the centre, victory won.
If it had not been for Richard's strong defense and determination the battle could have gone the other way.
Sources are Hammond's book, Osprey's Campaign books Tewkesbury and Battles of the Wars of the Roses all from original sources

Su_H said...

Hi Chris
As I have said in my post I am well aware of the secondary sources you quote but as I have also said the key statement comes from The Great Chronicle of London and is also the official view of Barnet Museums where they also have a scale mock-up of the battle. Also it never made sense to me why Edward would swap the battles round for Tewkesbury where we know Hastings was on the right and Gloucester on the left. I agree about Montagu and Oxford's battle-losing calamity but substitute Hastings for Gloucester in the events leading up to it.
We only have a limited number of sources to go on and these are often contradictory. As Fiona Jones says 'The Great Chronicle of London states that Oxford routed Gloucester and the Arrivall says the Lancastrian right wing routed the Yorkist left wing. There is no other contemporary evidence for other Yorkist deployments' and I have chosen to stick with that.