Tewkesbury, Battle of

Tewkesbury, Battle of
   The Battle of Tewkesbury, fought on 4 May 1471, completed EDWARD IV’s restoration to the throne and destroyed the Lancastrian cause.
   On 14 April 1471, the day Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, was defeated and slain at the Battle of BARNET, Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU and her son EDWARD OF LANCASTER, Prince of Wales, landed in England. Met by Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, and other loyal Lancastrians, the queen, although grieved to hear of HENRY VI’s reimprisonment in the TOWER OF LONDON,was persuaded to continue the war by marching into the West Country, where support for her cause was strong. On 19 April, Edward IV left LONDON and marched slowly westward through the Thames Valley collecting reinforcements to make good his losses at the Battle of Barnet. His aim was to prevent Margaret, who was gathering substantial forces in the West Country, from turning north and crossing the Severn River into WALES, where she could join with the troops of Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke.
   Entering Bristol in late April, the Lancastrians acquired much needed provisions before continuing their march toward the Severn. Drawn southward away from the river by a Lancastrian feint toward Sodbury, Edward made up the lost time with the help of Sir Richard Beauchamp, who held the river crossing at Gloucester against the queen’s army and so compelled it to move upriver to the ford at Tewkesbury. After a forced march of over thirty miles, the Yorkist army arrived at Tewkesbury on the evening of 3 May. Although the Lancastrians held a strong position, they had not been able to cross the river. Early the next morning, before battle commenced, Edward sent a small force of spearmen to reconnoitre a nearby wooded area from which he feared the Lancastrians might launch the kind of surprise flank attack they had employed at the Battle of TOWTON in 1461. Finding the woods unoccupied, the spearmen waited there for the fighting to begin. Meanwhile, Somerset, the Lancastrian commander, used a small hill to his right to hide a flanking move with which he hoped to surprise and roll up the Yorkist line, much as the Yorkists had done to win the Battle of NORTHAMPTON in 1460. After opening barrages by the ARCHERS and ARTILLERY, the armies advanced upon one another. Somerset’s flank attack surprised the Yorkist van under Edward’s brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England), but the expected supporting attack by the rest of the Lancastrian army under John WENLOCK, Lord Wenlock, failed to materialize. Instead of catching the Yorkists between two wings of his army, Somerset now found himself heavily engaged by Gloucester in his front and assailed by the hidden Yorkist spearmen from the rear. Under this double assault, Somerset’s troops broke and fled toward the river, pursued by Gloucester’s men.
   Edward IV drove the rest of his army forward and quickly overwhelmed the remainder of the Lancastrian force. Enraged at Wenlock’s failure to support him, Somerset is supposed to have slain Wenlock with a battleax, thus depriving the Lancastrian army of leadership at a crucial moment. Somerset survived the battle, but he was executed at Tewkesbury several days later after being dragged out of SANCTUARY at the local abbey. At some point in the final rout, the Prince of Wales, who was nominally in command of Wenlock’s force, was killed on the field. Various unreliable accounts claim that he was slain by Gloucester; died crying out for aid from his brother-in-law, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence; or was captured and slain in the king’s presence. In all likelihood, he was killed while fleeing the battle, slain by Yorkist soldiers seeking a rich lord to plunder. Queen Margaret was captured two days later and imprisoned in the Tower, where, on 21 May, Edward IV completed the destruction of the house of LANCASTER by ordering the murder of Henry VI (see Henry VI, Murder of).
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Hammond, P.W., The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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  • Tewkesbury — /toohks ber ee, beuh ree, bree, tyoohks /, n. a town in N Gloucestershire, in W England: final defeat of the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses 1471. 79,500. * * * ▪ England, United Kingdom       town (“parish”), Tewkesbury borough,… …   Universalium

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  • battle of Tewkesbury — noun the final battle of the War of the Roses in 1471 in which Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians • Syn: ↑Tewkesbury • Regions: ↑England • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tewkesbury — noun the final battle of the War of the Roses in 1471 in which Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians • Syn: ↑battle of Tewkesbury • Regions: ↑England • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle * * * /toohks ber ee, beuh ree, bree, tyoohks /, n. a town… …   Useful english dictionary

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