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24 September 2014

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You are in: Gloucestershire > History > History Features > History comes to life: The Battle of Tewkesbury

Let battle commence

History comes to life: The Battle of Tewkesbury

Join the Companions of the Black Bear and experience the horror which befell this quiet country town in May 1471.

The Date: May 4th 1471

The place:

The Lancastrian force of about 6000 moved eventually from the walls just outside Tewkesbury Abbey - in the days when of course it was still a functioning abbey.

The Yorkist force of about 5,000 had camped the night before at the village of Treddington, two miles from Tewkesbury. The clash between the two sides came in fields and lanes away from the Abbey, nearer to what is now Gupshill Manor.

Buildings in Tewkesbury

Historic architecture in Tewkesbury

The background:

This battle was one of a series later given the title 'The Wars of the Roses' – battles between those who supported the House of Lancaster and those  who supported the House of York.

The prize for which they were fighting was the Throne of England.

Queen Margaret of Anjou, determined to see her young son Prince Edward as the next monarch had landed at Weymouth and moved her Lancastrian forces through the West country hoping to link up with the Celtic Lancastrian supporters in North Wales.

The troops made for Gloucester but unfortunately they were denied access to the Severn crossing there, because the Governor of the City was loyal to the Yorkist forces.

Weary from days of marching they moved up to Tewkesbury, intending to cross the Avon there and thence on into Wales over the Severn.

Once they arrived in the town, the leaders of the Lancastrian force decide not to try to get the thousands of men and their equipment over the causeway. Believing that they had superior numbers they decided to make a stand at Tewkesbury.

For their part, the Yorkist forces led by Edward had marched through the Cotswolds in pursuit of the Lancastrians, arriving eventually at Treddington. Somewhat inferior in numbers they may have been, but Edward had planned his strategy - and he did have some early forms of artillery.

What happened?

The Yorkists waited overnight in the village, setting out in pursuit of their opponents on the 4th. One shrewd piece of strategy was to deploy a troop of 200 horsemen on the wooded hillside of the Deer Park.

The fighting eventually began on the day of May 4, with both sides set out in three divisions.

It was the sudden move of the Duke of Somerset’s men which marked the beginning of the end for the Lancastrians. Unsupported by the other two divisions Somerset  drove his troops in the centre with disastrous consequences.

The panic that set in amongst the Lancastrians fleeing to Tewkesbury and hoping for sanctuary in the Abbey is graphically conveyed in this 10-minute audio drama.

Click the 'Hear The Battle of Tewkesbury' link on the top right of this page to follow the fortunes of both sides in this decisive 15th century battle.

last updated: 08/04/2008 at 13:58
created: 12/09/2006

You are in: Gloucestershire > History > History Features > History comes to life: The Battle of Tewkesbury

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