Battle of Stoke

June 16, 1487

‘There was not one left to piss against the wall’. Sir Thomas Craig.

Craig’s pithy observation concerning the Plantaganet line is broadly correct though, as Professor Pollard points out, the extinction was due, in no small part, to the assiduous elimination of likely competitors by the first two Tudor rulers. Even those families who poured out their blood in torrents, the Percies being a case in point, the second and third earls died in battle as did Lord Egremont and several younger sons, yet the line was not extinguished. The 4th Earl remained a powerful figure and the traditional Percy hegemony in Northumberland continued largely as before. Many magnatial families suffered through loss and forfeiture of course, and even in many attainders were later reversed, the wars proved the ruin of some. Nonetheless, it cannot be said that the overall rate of attrition amongst the landed classes was markedly higher during the period that at other times [1].

If the magnates were not substantially diminished, it may be the power of the crown did not swell so mightily after 1487. Henry VII is credited with establishing strong and centralist government and, whilst the first Tudor monarch’s considerable abilities need not be in doubt, this trend weas one that can be traced back to the reign of his father in law, Edward IV. The whole business of attainder proved useful to both, the reversal of forfeiture and the lure of confiscated estates were powerful means of building and controlling a royal affinity. Henry’s position was different from that of his predecessors. The fact he was an outsider, an opportunist without an established faction, could be construed as a weakness, yet he made it a virtue. Those who had followed him were a mix of old Lancastrians, (such as Pembroke and Oxford), disaffected Yorkists (Stanley and Dorset), with a motley of chancers. For a number of these, those who had been exiled, the recovery of their estates was sufficient reward; there was no need to create additional lordships. Some like Sir William Stanley and Dorset proved to be liabilities, but they were contained or dealt with, the political calm was not fractured. Henry enjoyed the considerable advantages of having replaced a King who, at least in the south, was largely unpopular. He could hold himself out as the architect of a Yorkist restoration – with the Stanleys favoured the rulung elite of Edward IV reign were effectively restored to predominance. Happily for Henry there was no Kingmaker on the scene to ceontend with [2].

Royal control is perceived as having been inexorably and ruthlessly extended, the new king used his magnates as officers in his administration but their overall influence in his council diminished, those who transgressed found themselves being sharply pulled to heel. Henry understood the power of wealth, he saw stability in being a richer man than his magnates – no Kingmaker would boast, even in his cups, that he owned greater estate than his sovereign. His was a significant achievement; he brought three decades of intercnine strife to a close and re-established the authority of the crown, which had, hitherto, been steadily eroded. He is seen as having curtailed the power of the magnates, asserted the rule of law, restored the crown’s finances and established his position as the unchallenged head of a centalised and efficient royal bureaucracy.

Recent writers, such as Christine Carpenter, have identified a particular difficulty in dealing with the reign of Henry VII, what she attributes to ‘different historiographical traditions’ – the interface between Tudor and Medieval historians. Traditionally 1485 has been identified as a pivotal year, wherein a great deal became changed – a ‘King-centred’ approach. In fact change was likely a good deal more gradual and Henry’s reign did not necessarily witness a shift in power away from the magnates to a class of advisers drawn more from the bourgeoisie [3]. An early priority was to gain control of Clarence’s heir Edward, Earl of Warwick and Robert Willougby [4] was dispatched in the immediate aftermath of Bosworth to bring the teenage lad, who lacked full capacity, within the greater security of the Tower. Henry was the titular heir to Lancaster, there being no other claimants and he could also claim to represent the rump of Yorkist interest, disenfranchised by Richard III. There was a satisfying dearth of competitors. Percy was briefly imprisoned but, by the end of 1485 had been set at liberty and restored to his offices including the March wardenry, a post Lord Strange had briefly occupied in the interim..

Rebellion, when it flared, broke out in the north where Lovell and Humphrey Stafford sought to raise fresh mischief. Both men had sought sanctuary at Colchester after the wrack of Bosworth; both had been attainted but, by the spring of 1486 the former was active in Yorkshire and the latter in Worcestershire. The affair was largely still born, many men had lost the appetite for conspiracy, most of Richard’s northen affinity had accepted Henry’s win and had no wish to incur the new king’s wrath. At Lincoln when news of the disturbanced reached him, Henry continued northwards, correctly gauging the business would not merit a full muster and that his household knights and retainers would be sufficient for the task. From York, on 23rd April, Jasper Tudor, elevated to the Dukedom of Bedford, led a force to confron the rebels and the canny offer to pardon those who laid down their arms, prompted a rash of defections and Lovell’s following disintegrated. He took temporary refuge with Sir Thomas Broughton [5] who, with Sir John Huddleston [6], briefly kept the flame flickering in Cumberland. Lovell managed to give the hounds the slip and made good his escape to Flanders. Henry now turned south and west to stamp out the embers of Stafford’s attempt, Sir Humphrey and his brother, Sir Thomas, again sought sanctuary, this time at Culham, by Abingdon. Their rebellion had raised no more followers that Lovell’s aborted attempt in the north, their faltering cause sustained by a poor mix of rumour and pious hopes. Henry had, however, had quite enough of Humphrey Stafford and, as the royal judges, were later to find, the normal rules of sanctuary did not obtain in cases of high treason, Stafford lost his head, though Sir Thomas and the other, lesser malefactors were treated with leniency.

Lambert Simnel

If men were losing their taste for armed conflict, factionalism, as Polydore Vergil later highlighted once ingrained, becomes a difficult trend to reverse. Richard Simons, a priest at Oxford, certainly seems to have thought so when he attempted to pass off one of his protégés as the young Earl of Warwick. This wretched and innocent youth had ben the focus of Lovell and Stafford’s abortive rising and the magic of the name created a handy focus for any mutterings of discontent. What is remarkable is how so many influential people found it expedient to believe him, as Vergil relates:

‘At Oxford, where he devoted himself to scholarship, he brought up a certain youth who was called Lambert Simnel. He first taught he boy courtly manners, so that if ever he should pretend the lad to be of royal descent (as he had planned to do) people would the more readily believe it and have absolute trust in the bold deceit’ [7].

Henry had deemed it wise to parade the captive earl through the streets of the capital on 17th February, 1486, to show that he had the young man safe and that, contrary to rumour, he had not been done to death in the Tower. Despite the patent implausibility of his claim, there were those who found it convenient to accept Father Simons’ protégé as the real Earl of Warwick. Chief amongst these was John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln who had been the most likely heir to Richard III after the death of Edward of Middleham. He had submitted, readily enough, to Henry Tudor in 1485 and appeared to have had no interest in the pretensions of Lambert Simnel until after February 1487. At this point he defected to Flanders where he made common cause with Richard III sister, his own aunt, the dowager Duchess of Burgundy [8]. In Ireland there was also disaffection, as Henry had refused to confirm Gerald Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare [9] in his office of Lord Deputy of Ireland. Simons had taken the boy Simnel across the Irish Sea where he found willing listeners:

‘Having secured their trust, he decribed to them how he had saved from death the Duke of Clarence’s son, and how he had brought him to that land, where (so he had heard) the name and family of King Edward were always cherished. The story was readily believed by the nobles and was soon communicated to others….’ [10]

Margaret Plantagenet, ever since the death of her husband, Charles the Bold, continued to wield great influence in Flanders. She had been an inveterate hater of the House of Lancaster and all who followed on, her late brother George had been her favourite and the chance to strike a blow at this Welsh usurper and perhaps place her nephew on the throne, was not one to be readily cast aside.

‘She [Margaret] pursued Henry with insatiable hatred and with fiery wrath never desisted from employing every scheme which might harm him as a representative of a hostile faction’ [11].

With Lovell on hand in Flanders to stir the pot this unlikely coalition posed a significant threat to Henry’s throne and he, by the time April came around, had begun setting watchers along the coasts of East Anglia, Essex and the south-east. This was entirely logical as this coastline would offer the most opportunities to an invader launching his his fleet from Burgundy. In this Lincoln successfully humbugged the King by doing the unexpected; he and Lovell sailed for Ireland instead and reached Dublin on 5th May. To give their cause a suitably sharpened edge, Margaret had met the cost of contracting two thousand tough German professionals under a famous captain, Martin Schwarz:

‘Meanwhile John earl of Lincoln and Francis Lovell, having received from Margaret an army of about two thousand Germans, whose commander was that most martial man martin Schwarz, crossed over to Ireland and in the city of Dublin crowned as king the lad Lambert’ [12].

On 24th May the rebels mounted a propaganda campaign by ostentatiously crowning the carpenter’s son, in Christ Church, Dublin and proclaiming him now to be Edward VI of England. A sham of course but this did not mean the threat was anything other than real. The forces which the rebels could command would be greater than those which had accompanied Henry in his bid two years beforehand. Circumspect as ever, Henry took the precaution of confining the mercurial Dorset, to whom temptatation might prove too great a lure, he also undertook a timely pilgrimage to Walsingham, the royal presence serving as a reminder to the Duke of Suffolk. By the end of April, like Richard III before him, he had established his headquarters in the Midlands, using Coventry and Kenilworth as his major bases.

The Campaign

On 4th June the rebels landed in the north-west, at Peil Island near Furness on the coast of Lancashire [13], their total force might have been as great as 9,000 [14]. Lincoln would have judged that the north-west and across the hills, Yorkshire and Richmondshire, might offer fertile ground for recruiting from the rump of the old Neville/Gloucester affinity. In this he was to be sadly disappointed. On the first night the army camped by Ulverston where Sir Thomas Broughton swelled their ranks with his Cumbrians. Their marches next took them through Carnforth, where further disaffected elements of local gentry, Harringtons and Middletons joined their colours. Later at Sedburgh, other gentlemen, Alexander Appleby of Carlisle, Nicholas Musgrave of Brackenthwaite, together with Clement Skelton of Bowness also declared.

From Lancashire the invaders initially made for York, capital of the north, marching over the bare, upland sweep of the Pennines but the city fathers were less than enthusiastic. True, they had been fervent partisans of Richard III but the Tudor had exerted the lightest of touches and had conferred further honours upon the city. Northumberland had already written to the townsmen warning of his intention to reinforce the city within the span of four days. This tipped the balance and the burgesses replied to Lincoln’s summons which he’d issued in the name of ‘Edward VI’ with aggression; they would refuse entry and man the walls should he resort to force. Spurned by the citizens of York Lincoln during 9th – 11th June swerved southwards toward Tadcaster. This was sound planning, to fritter away precious time trying to leaguer York would have been pointless. Besides, recruiting in Yorkshire was sluggish and sparse, both Scrope of Bolton and of Masham were sympathetic but would not yet commit. Whilst encamped on Bramham Moor [15] the rebels ranks were finally swelled by some local adherents; Sir Edward Hastings and Sir Robert Percy of Scotton.

Son of the notorious ‘Butcher’, Sir Henry Clifford had spent his youth in hiding and had just managed to claw back his family estates. Keen to demonstrate his commitment to the regime, he had led two companies of his generation’s ‘Flower of Craven’ to reinforce York. Emboldened by the rebels’ reluctance to attack the city he trailed them to Bramham Moor, found them gone and, on 11th June, made camp by Tadcaster. Lincoln, sensing opportunity for a classic descent and ‘beating up’ enemy quarters, struck that night and put Clifford to flight, capturing his equipment. Bolstered by this small but stylish success, the rebels continued their southerly passage through Castleford (12th June) toward Rotheram (13th), along the length of Ryknild Street [16] and in the direction of Newark. Passing the Trent would be no easy matter, the castle and bridge were defended by a royal garrison, and Lord Scales with a body of horse was already hanging on their flanks, they halted and drew breath at Southwell.

Henry, having established his headquarters at Kenilworth, did not march out until news of the invasion reached him, some five days after the rebels made landfall. Collecting such forces as could be raised locally the royal army marched upon Coventry, then toward Leicester (a hard slog of 25 miles), thence to Loughborough. The King was probably still unsure as to whether the blow would fall from east or west of the Pennines but at Loughborough he received clear intimation that the threat now lay in the east and he continued his march toward Nottingham. The army having run into difficulties of transport and billeting, had failed to make much headway during either of the two days following their departure from Loughborough. At Nottingham, however, the Stanleys came in, led by Lord Strange, (Lord Stanley had been elevated to the earldom of Derby). This was the young man who had survived Bosworth, under the shadow of the axe, now with some six thousand bows and bills beneath his banner all fair embattled. At this point, evening on Thursday 14th June, the rival forces were barely a dozen miles apart. Some captured scouts or spies were strung up from an ash tree, at the southern edge of the river crossing [17].

In the north Clifford, doubtless still smarting from his earlier discomfiture, had joined forces with Northumberland. The Percy had mustered several thousand of his northerners and intended to shadow the rebels on their southward march. However, no sooner had the Northumbrians quit the York then, two days later, both John, Lord Scrope of Bolton and Sir Thomas of Masham suddenly, and with a substantial following, appeared and demanded the city gates be opened forthwith in the name of ‘Edward VI’. The mayor and burgesses held their nerve and demurred, the townsmen then saw off an attempt to force entry through Bootham Bar. Messengers were sent post haste after the Earl, acquainting him with York’s peril. Immediately upon receipt he turned his men around and force marched them north again, only to find the rebels had melted away in the interim. This may simply have resulted from a failure of nerve on their part. Alternatively, to give the Scropes more credit for guile, it may have been a carefully wrought ruse intended to create precisely this effect, drawing the northern royalists away from the rebel rear and leaving Lincoln free to deal with the King’s army on more equal terms.

The Battle

The ground that now lay between the two main armies was dominated by the course of the Trent, a wide and full river obstacle, some 150 yards across where it flows between Nottingham and Newark, the ford at Fiskerton some 4 miles south of the latter. The valley is broad and level, with a range of low ridges that swell gently from the alluvial plain. One of these runs south west from the town of Stoke, at no point rising higher than 150 feet. This ridge is bisected by another which branches to the east about half a mile from the town and finally sinks into the valley floor after perhaps a mile and a half; the terrain was free of woodland and enclosure [18].

At a council of war on the evening of 14th June, the King’s officers had pressed for an immediate advance toward the rebel army with the aim of bringing on a contest [19]. The royal army had been swelled by a number of fresh contingents; John Morton, who had finally attained the archbishopric of Canterbury, contributed forces as did the Bishop of Winchester, the earls of Devon, Shrewsbury and redoubtable Oxford were all present. Other veterans of Bosworth, including Sir John Cheyney also donned harness in the King’s cause [20]. Progress on Friday 15th however, was still slow, the King heard mass in Nottingham, whilst the marshals were struggling to establish order. Only 7 miles were covered that spring day, and the host encamped on the south bank of the river by Radcliffe. Next morning, a fine Saturday, the march resumed, this time with the army deployed in battle formation, the van, under Oxford, to the fore. By nine in the morning, with the sun well up, they approached the line of the ridge previously described and, arrayed along the crest, stood the rebel army.

The Earl of Lincoln had taken his army over the Trent late on the previous day, splashing through the ford at Fiskerton and planting his colours on the low ridge that dominates the crossing. Michael Bennett has calculated that the river was perhaps no more than 50 yards in width at this point and, in the early summer, perhaps only a couple of feet deep. When, the following morning, the Earl drew up his forces, these were facing away from Stoke and Newark, his prickers having informed him of the location of the royal encampment at Radcliffe – the King must therefore continue his advance along the Fossway and the rebels were ideally placed if they intended to fight. And indeed Lincoln did wish for battle. His efforts at gathering local recruits on his march south had failed to produce significant numbers. With support for his cause no better than lukewarm, he needed strike a speedy and decisive blow:

‘This field was the sorer foughten by reason that forenamed Martin Schwartz was deceived, for when he took this voyage upon him he was comforted and promised by th’Earl of Lincoln, that great strength of this land after their landing would have resorted unto the said earl. But when he was far entered and saw no such resort, then he knew well he was deceived…’ [21].

The rebels’ position was a strong one; with their right anchored on the highest point, the Burham Furlong, secured by the line of the river, that flank was secure. The high ground then ran eastwards toward the left which most likely rested on the line of the Stoke-Elston Road. Colonel Burne gives the rebels a frontage of some 1,800 yards, their deployment slightly convex toward the centre conforming to the ground. This conformity with the terrain did mean the line was not straddling the Fossway head on, but rather inclined away to the left, so the whole was at an angle to the road. The attacker would thus have to alter his deployment accordingly.

Lincoln had failed to win large numbers of recruits and, apart from Lovell and Thomas Fitzgerald, no magnates stood alongside, he was, however, supported by a leavening of gentry; Sir Thomas Broughton, Sir James Harrington, William Kay, William Hammond, Richard Harleston, Sir Henry Bodrugan, Sir John Beaumont, Alexander Appleby, Nicholas Musgrave, Clement Skelton and Thomas David. The English and Germans would be well-harnessed the Irish, however, would be lightly armed and mainly without armour. Lincoln, Lovell and Fitzgerald had little or no battlefield experience, doubtless all three deferred to Schwarz. His mercenaries, equipped with pike and halberd would be well-drilled in the latest continental tactics, in total contrast to the Irish. Bennett surmises and I concur that the army was thus drawn up in a wedge shaped phalanx with the various bodies interspersed to provide some element of cohesion and add weight and momentum to the attack [22].

The available evidence, (and it has to be stressed that accounts of the battle are sparse), confirms that substantial gaps had opened up between the divisions of the royal army and that Oxford with the van, was dangerously exposed. This suggests both poor intelligence and weak generalship on Henry’s part, he should certainly have been aware of the rebel’s proximity and their deployment, Oxford, hardened veteran that he was, should not have been left so isolated in the very face of the enemy. It does seem clear that the royal army suffered from rank indiscipline and that the job of the marshals that morning was particularly taxing. If Oxford, leading the van, commanded the more experienced and better harnessed men, was not constrained to wait for stragglers or left cursing impotently as ill-trained levies milled in confusion, then it is possible to see how such a gap might open. The accounts also speak of reinforcements being fed piecemeal into the fight, companies going straight into the melee as they came up.

Oxford, it should be remembered, was no beginner; he was a skilled and experienced practitioner of the art of war. His division was substantial, perhaps 6,000 strong out of a total force perhaps as large as 15,000 [23], and comprised the cream of the royal forces, bolstered by the affinities of Sir Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, Viscount Lisle and Sir Edward Grey. On his flanks he had the mounted contingents of, on the left, Sir John Savage and, on the right, Lord Scales, It may be he had accepted the gamble of outstripping the rest but was confident he had sufficient resources available to deal with the rebels. If this was a calculated risk, then it was a bold one. The main body was under the command of Henry’s uncle, the veteran Duke of Bedford, militarily undistinguished, most probably Oxford simply required him to feed regular reinforcements in to the fight. Both senior commanders, Lincoln and the King may have treated their followers to a rousing address. The rebels’ would require a confidence booster – the numbers of their enemies all too apparent.

Schwarz may have begun the fight by ordering his crossbowmen and handgunners to shoot; no sooner had they discharged their pieces than the archers of Oxford’s division made reply. At once the disparity in the missile arm became obvious. The longbows bit deep into the exposed Irishes, causing heavy loss. For Lincoln there was only one recourse; an immediate advance to contact. The rebels surged down the gentle slope, smashing against the hedge of the royal van, the crash of armies resonating. The wild Irish, full of Celtic fury, but devoid of harness, suffered from the royalist arrow storm, but others of the van, dismayed by numbers, gave ground or even turned tail, crying that all was lost. This was the very crisis of the battle and a lesser commander might have given way, but Oxford had faced these odds before, he knew how to handle his men, how to keep them to their colours in the brutal slogging match that turned the dry tussocks red. Accounts state that the carnage continued for a full three hours and this evidences the notion the battle was both long and hard fought.

Lincoln’s best, indeed only, chance was to break Oxford before he could be reinforced letting the panicked survivors to flee back toward their comrades in the centre and let the contagion of fear complete his victory. But the van did not break; some ran, most stood, held on in the desperate scrum of slashing bills and frenzied hacking. Gradually, as more and more royalist infantry reached the field, the attack began to run out of steam, the royalist line held then began to push, driving the rebels, now on the defensive back toward the crest of the ridge. Likely the rot began with the Irish, their fire dampened and their numbers much depleted; they wavered then broke, streaming back over the reverse slope toward the river crossing. Now completely isolated Schwarz and his mercenaries sold their lives dearly. The ground now called the Red Gutter, which runs north of the Burham Furlong became the scene, as the name implies, of the greatest slaughter; many others drowned in their precipitate flight across the Trent.

Lincoln died fighting, Fitzgerald had most probably already fallen, Schwarz and Broughton, too, were amongst the casualties. Lovell is said to have swum his horse and reached the sanctuary of his property at Minster Lovell, where he went into hiding and met a bizarre death through starvation [24]. Lambert Simnel and his Svengali priest were captured by a Northumbrian, Robert Bellingham [25]. It is said that some 4,000 rebels fell in the fight and subsequent rout, though this seems a rather high figure [26]. More were hanged by the King at Lincoln and perhaps several hundred royalists died; the majority from Oxford’s division. Henry Tudor’s crown, however, was safe.

‘… it was only then, when the battle was over, that it was fully apparent how rash had been the spirit inspiring the enemy soldiers: for their leaders John Earl of Lincoln, Francis Lord Lovell, Thomas Broughton and the most bold Martin Schwartz and the Irish captain Thomas Geraldine [Fitzgerald] were slain in that place…’ [27].

Henry had arrived on the field in time to plant his banner on the Burham Furlong, (where the monument now stands). He had wished to see Lincoln taken alive and is said to have been angered by the news of his death. The vanquished Earl was probably the better commander, Henry’s organisation and scouting throughout the campaign had left much to be desired, it is ironic that the man who won two of England’s most decisive encounters fought within a couple of years was, in reality, no soldier. His victory was complete and the King marched his army, or that portion of it which was not immediately paid off, back to Kenilworth. If Lincoln had failed to gather recruits in Yorkshire there was evidence his welcome had not been as hostile and Henry would have wished. Consequently, he came north again and in August made a suitable show of royal authority in York, Durham and Newcastle, returning south by way of Richmond, Ripon and Pontefract.

Those who might earlier have wavered now flocked to affirm their loyalty or seek forgiveness, Henry was not seeking retribution though both Scropes were temporarily incarcerated and only released on licence thereafter. His fresh triumph at Stoke did not imply that Henry could in any way relax his vigilance, he had in fact fought his last battle and, in reality, the Wars of the Roses were now finally ended. In the summer of 1487, this was far from obvious and the King would be glancing over his shoulder for the remainder of his life and reign.

When, two years later, early in 1489, Parliament voted an additional subsidy of £100,000 to fund renewal of the French war, serious riots ensued, and Henry Percy 4th Earl of Northumberland became a casualty, not falling honourably in battle like his forbears, but miserably, as a hated tax-gatherer, a fitting end perhaps. The captive Earl of Warwick remained a beacon for discontent, plots emerged in 1489 and again the following year. In 1491, a young Flemish adventurer, Perkin Warbeck announced he was, in fact, none other than Richard, Duke of York, younger of the two Princes in the Tower.

Despite the improbability, Warbeck became the focus of a serious threat; he was supported by Margaret of Burgundy, who had learnt nothing from the Lambert Simnel fiasco and, in 1496, by an opportunist James IV of Scotland. Even after the pretender had been seen off, discredited and obliged to submit, plots and rumours of plots abounded. In November 1499, Henry, who had shown admirable restraint finally felt constrained to send Perkin Warbeck and the hapless Warwick to the block. Only Edward de la Pole, Lincoln’s younger brother and a nephew of Edward IV, remained as a fitful pretender, penniless, itinerant and without serious support. Perhaps the crowning achievement of Henry’s reign was that, on his death in 1509, Henry VIII ascended seamlessly.

The wheel had finally ceased spinning.


[1] Very few noble lines were, in fact, extinguished; many more suffered loss through attainder. However, reversal was equally common – some 64% of all those attainted between 1453 and 1504, as much as 84% of the magnates, were finally restored; see Pollard, op. cit., p. 96.
[2] Henry dealt sharply with instances of magnatial excess; Dorset, whom he never trusted, was imprisoned during the Lambert Simnel affair and later, in 1492, heavily fined and stripped of many of his estates; see Pollard, op. cit., p. 101 and Carpenter, op. cit., p.p. 221 – 222.
[3] Even Oxford was heavily fined when he transgressed as were Devon and the 5th Earl of Northumberland. Sir William Stanley, that most devious scion of his clan, overstepped the mark and finally went to the block; see Pollard, op. cit., p. 101 and Carpenter, op. cit., p. 221.
[4] Of the line of Willoughby de Eresby.
[5] He was later killed at Stoke.
[6] The family is commemorated in the Huddleston Chapel in Holy Trinity Church, by Millom Castle, which houses a fine effigy of Richard Huddleston (d. 1494).
[7] PV (H) p.p. 10 – 27.
[8] Lincoln’s mother, Elizabeth, was one of the sisters of Edward IV.
[9] Sir Gerald Gearoid Mor Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare (d. 1513) was an important and colourful figure in Irish politics of the late fifteenth century.
[10] PV (H) p.p. 10 – 27.
[11] Ibid., p.p. 10 – 27.
[12] Ibid., p.p. 10 – 27.
[13] This landfall was not accidental; Sir Thomas Broughton had both estates and influence in the area.
[14] Burne, op. cit., p. 150.
[15] It was here the 1st Earl of Northumberland, together with Lord Bardolph, fell in 1408.
[16] Ryknild Street was probably an old Roman Road; the line was first mapped by a local cartographer, John Warburton in 1720.
[17] Burne, op. cit., p. 151.
[18] Ibid. p. 152. Burne records that two windmills, now vanished, existed in the fifteenth century and that one, called the Rampire, which crowned the ridge just to the west of the Fossway was said to have been built on the site of Lincoln’s camp.
[19] The sources for the battle diverge sharply in their accounts. Vergil’s account, which was followed by the later Tudor writers appears to conflict with the contemporary version, that of the anonymous herald, who was almost certainly an eyewitness.
[20] Sir John Cheyney gained a baronetcy, and the King dubbed a further 13 bannerets and 52 knights, see M. Bennett, Lambert Simnel and the battle of Stoke (Gloucs. 1993), p. 95.
[21] GCL p. 241 and see also Bennett, op. cit., p. 91.
[22] Irish and Anglo-Irish armies of this time would include elite household warriors, the Galloglas (“Galloglaich”) and the much more lightly armoured infantry or kerns; see Bennett, op. cit., p. 94..
[23] Haigh, op. cit., p. 176 and Bennett, op. cit., p. 95..
[24] A skeleton was discovered many years later, walled up within the vault of Minster Lovell, said to represent his mortal remains.
[25] Haigh, op. cit., p. 179.
[26] Burne, op. cit., p. 159 and Bennett, op. cit., p 99.
[27] Lambert Simnel was put to work as a scullion and turnspit in the royal kitchens, though he subsequently prospered in service and rose to become trainer of the King’s hawks.
May 1487, the 10-year-old Lambert Simnel, an impostor posing as Edward Earl of Warwick, was crowned Edward VI in Dublin by a group of disaffected Yorkists led by the Earl of Lincoln, Viscount Lovell and Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare.

An invasion of England was planned. Margaret Duchess of Burgundy, Edward IV's sister, had supplied money and some 2,000 German mercenaries under the command of Martin Swartz. The rest of the army consisted of about 4,000 Irish under Sir Thomas Fitzgerald and perhaps 2,000 English retainers.

They sailed to England and landed near Barrow-in-Furness and moved to Masham in Yorkshire. From there they marched south probably via Rotherham, Mansfield and Southwell and crossed the River Trent close to East Stoke. Meanwhile, Henry VII had gathered his army at Leicester and marched via Loughborough to Nottingham where he met George Stanley, Lord Strange with an estimated 6,000 men. From there he marched up the Trent towards Newark.

The Earl of Oxford led the vanguard of about 6,000 men. Henry and Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford marched with the main battle of about 4,000 ahead of Lord Strange's contingent. On the morning of 16th June 1487, Oxford's vanguard came upon the rebel army and attacked without waiting for the rest of the Royal army. The Earl of Lincoln had probably deployed his army with his English troops on the right, the mercenaries under Swartz in the centre, and the Irish under Fitzgerald on the left.

At first the rebel army did well, but after 3 hours of fighting and with more of Henry's troops arriving on the battlefield, the rebels were gradually pushed back towards the Trent. Then the Irish routed and Lincoln and Swartz were surrounded and massacred. In all 4,000 rebels were killed. The ferocity of the fighting is underlined by the fact that at least half of Oxfords 6,000 van was either killed or wounded.

                                                 Yorkists                                                Lancastrians

Alexander Appleby, attainted November 1487

Sir John Arundel, knighted after battle

George Ascough

Sir John Babington, knighted after battle

Sir Ralph Ashton

William Bedyll

John Avintry, attainted November 1487

Edward Belknap

Richard Bank, attainted November 1487

Sir Roger Bellingham, knighted after battle

Thomas Batell, attainted November 1487

Sir Edmund Beningfield, create knight banneret after battle

John Beaumont, attainted November 1487

Sir Maurice Berkeley, knighted after battle

Thomas Blandrehasset, attainted November 1487

Sir James Blount, created knight banneret after battle

Sir Henry Bodrugan, attainted November 1487

Sir Thomas Blount, knighted after battle

John Broughton, attainted November 1487

Sir Henry Bold, knighted after battle

Sir Thomas Broughton, killed in battle, attainted November 1487

Sir Robert Brandon, knighted after battle

Wiliiam Claxton, fined

Sir Thomas Brandon

Philip Constable of Flamborough, fined

Sir Robert Broughton, knighted after battle

Thomas David

Sir Anthony Brown, knighted after battle

Thomas Fitzgerald, killed in battle

Robert Brudenell

Edward Frank, imprisoned and fined, attainted November 1487

William Bulmer

Thomas Geraldine, killed in battle

Sir Edward Burgh, knighted after battle

William Hammond

Sir Maurice Burgh, knighted after battle

Roger Harlington

Sir William Carew, knighted after battle

James Harrington, attainted November 1487

Sir John Cheney, created knight banneret after battle

Thomas Harrington, attainted November 1487

Sir Robert Cheney, knighted after battle

Richard Harleston, escaped to Burgundy, attainted November 1487

Henry Lord Clifford

Sir Edmund Hastings, pardoned

Sir Robert Clifford, knighted after battle

Robert Hilton, attainted November 1487

Sir Gervase Clifton

Richard Hodgeson, attainted November 1487

Sir Thomas Cokesey, knighted after battle

Edmund Juse, attainted November 1487

Robert Cotton

William Kay, attainted November 1487

Edward Courtnay, Earl of Devon

Francis Viscount Lovel, fate unknown

Sir Richard Croft, created knight banneret after battle

Giles Mallary of Grevysnorton, attainted November 1487

Robert Daniel

John Mallary of Lichborough, attainted November 1487

Sir Edward Darell, knighted after battle

Robert Mallary of Fallesley, attainted November 1487

Sir Richard Delebare, knighted after battle

William Mallary, attainted November 1487

Sir John Devenish, knighted after battle

Robert Manning, attainted November 1487

Sir John Digby, knighted after battle

Thomas Metcalfe, fined

Sir Simon Digby

Richard Middleton, attainted November 1487

Edward Fielding

Nicholas Musgrave of Brackenthwaite

Thomas Findern

Robert Percy of Knaresborough, attainted November 1487

Sir Richard Fitzlewis, knighted after battle

Sir Robert Percy of Scotton

Godfrey Foljambe

Sir Thomas Pilkington

Sir John Fortesque, knighted after battle

John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, killed in battle, attainted November 1487

Thomas Green

John Pullen, pardoned

Thomas Gresley

Rowland Robinson, imprisoned and fined, attainted November 1487

Edward Grey, Viscount Lisle

John Lord Scrope of Bolton

George Grey of Ruthin

Sir Thomas Scrope of Masham, imprisoned and fined

John Lord Grey of Powys

Clement Skelton, attainted November 1487

Sir Thomas Grey, knighted after battle

Lambert Simnel, crowned Edward VI, made part of Henry VII’s household

Nicholas Griffin


Sir Thomas Hansard, knighted after battle


Sir James Harrington, knighted after battle


Edward Lord Hastings


Sir George Hopton, knighted after battle


William Hugton


John Hussey


William Knyvet


John Langford


Richard Latimer


Sir William Littleton, knighted after battle


Sir John Longville, knighted after battle


Sir Ralph Longford, knighted after battle


Sir George Lovel, knighted after battle


Sir Thomas Lovel, knighted after battle


Edmund Lucy


Sir Thomas Lynde, knighted after battle


John Markham


Henry Marney


William Merbury


William Mering


Thomas Monington


John Montgomery


John Mordaunt


Sir John Mortimer, knighted after battle


Sir John Musgrave, knighted after battle


Sir George Neville, knighted after battle


John Neville of Thornbridge


Ralph Neville


William Newport


Sir Edward Norris, knighted after battle


Sir William Norris, knighted after battle


George Ogle


Roger Ormston


Sir James Parker, knighted after battle


Sir John Paston, knighted after battle


Sir Amyas Paulet, knighted after battle


Robert Paynton


Sir Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland


David Philip


Sir Edward Pickering, knighted after battle


William Pierpont


Sir Richard Pole, knighted after battle


Sir Thomas Poole, knighted after battle


Thomas Pulteney


Sir Robert Radclyff, knighted after battle


Sir William Radmill, knighted after battle


John Rainsford


John St. John


Richard Sacheverell


Sir William Sandes, knighted after battle


Sir John Sapcote, knighted after battle


Sir Humphrey Savage, knighted after battle


Sir John Savage


Robert Sheffield


Sir Ralph Shirley, knighted after battle


Charles Somerset


Edward Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire


Edward Stanhope


George Stanley, Lord Strange


Humphrey Stanley


Sir Humphrey Stanley, created knight banneret after battle


Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby


Sir Brian Stapleton


Sir William Stonor, created knight banneret after battle


Edward Sutton


George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury


Sir Gilbert Talbot, created knight banneret after battle


Thomas Tempest


Rhys ap Thomas


Robert Throckmorton


Sir William Tirwhit, knighted after battle


Sir William Troutbeck, knighted after battle


Henry Tudor, King of England


Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford


Sir Thomas Tyrell, knighted after battle


Sir William Vampage, knighted after battle


Sir Nicholas Vaux, knighted after battle


Henry Vernon


John Villiers


Thomas Walton


John William


Sir Henry Willoughby, knighted after battle


Sir John Windham, knighted after battle


Guy Wolston


Sir Thomas Wolton, knighted after battle


Sir Edward Woodville, Lord Scales


Sir Christopher Wroughton, knighted after battle

























































































































































































©Photos copyrighted to the Richard III Foundation, Inc.

Stoke Field

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