Battle of Northampton

From Academic Kids

The Battle of Northampton was a battle in the Wars of the Roses, which took place on 10 July, 1460.

The Yorkist cause seemed finished after the previous disaster at Ludford Bridge. Some of the Yorkist commanders, Warwick, Salisbury and Edward reached Calais on 2nd November 1459, where Warwick found his uncle Lord Fauconberg. Meanwhile York and Edmund, Earl of Rutland retired to the relative safety of Ireland.

On the English mainland, the Lancastrians were quick to exploit the Yorkist flight; Sir James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire was appointed Lieutenant of Ireland and Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset became Captain of Calais. Neither however succeeded in occupying their new posts as the Irish refused to dislodge York and the gates of Calais remained firmly closed to their new 'Captain'.

The Lancastians gave Somerset an army to storm Calais with, but first they had to cross the channel, so the construction of a fleet was started at Sandwich in Kent. No sooner had the ships been finished, than Warwick made a raid on Sandwich and stole them. In May Warwick crossed the channel again and destroyed the new fleet under construction there.

At Sandwich, Warwick left his uncle with a small force of Yorkists to act as a bridgehead for his planned invasion of England. Then, on the 26th of June Warwick, Salisubury and Edward landed at Sandwich with two thousand men at arms. At this moment in time, both the King and Queen were stationed at Coventry with their small army. Warwick entered London on 2nd July with an army of supporters numbering between 20,000 and 30,000.

The King's forces took up a defensive position at Northampton, with their backs to the River Nene, and in front of them a water-filled ditch topped with stakes. The defending army was 10,000 to 15,000 strong, consisting mainly of men-at-arms. The Lancastrians also had a quantity of field artillery.

While approaching, Warwick sent a delegate to negotiate with the King on his behalf. The Lancastrian commander, the Duke of Buckingham, however replied "The Earl of Warwick shall not come to the King's presence and if he comes he shall die." During Warwick's advance to Northampton he was twice more denied acces to the King's person.Once in position he sent a message that read "At 2 o'clock I will speak with the King or I will die." A final time this was denied to him.

At two o'clock the Yorkists advanced. The men were in column, but the hard rain blowing in their faces some what hindered them. As they closed with the Lancastrians, Warwick was met by a fierce barrage of arrows, luckily though, with the rain the Lancastrian collection of cannon was quite usless. When Warwick reached the Lancastrian right flank, commanded by Lord Grey treachery ensued. Grey had his men lay down their weapons and let the Yorkist have access to the camp beyond. It was a fatal blow to the loyal Lancastrians: after this, the battle lasted a mere thirty minutes more. The defenders, unable to manoeuvre inside the fortifications, fled the field as their line was 'rolled up' by attacking Yorkists.

The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewbury and Lords Egremont and Beaumont all died trying to save Henry from the Yorkists closing on his tent. Three hundred Lancastrians were slain in the battle, the King was captured and once more became a puppet in the hands of the Yorkists.


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