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Medieval Woodcut of a Battle

The Battle of Losecoat Field (March 12, 1470)


Blore's History of Rutland, sub. Hardwicke, p. 142, says:

At Hornfield, in the parish of Empingham, was fought one of the many ferocious battles between the houses of York and Lancaster, whose contests for the crown of England deluged the country with blood. After King Henry VI's temporary restoration to the crown, and after King Edward IV's escape, by the assistance of Sir Wm. Stanley and Sir Thos. Borough, from his confinement under the Archbishop of York, Sir Robert Welles (sometimes styled Lord Willoughby), a man of great experience in military affairs, son and heir apparent of Richard Lord Welles, being appointed by the Earl of Warwick to be a captain of an army raised in Lincolnshire for the support of the cause of Henry VI, and being joined by Sir Thomas de la Launde, of that county, who had married one of his sisters, proceeded with the Lancastrian forces, amounting to thirty thousand men, to the residence of Sir Thomas Borough in Lincolnshire, which they pillaged and destroyed, after having driven the owner away, and then proceeded towards Stanford (Stamford).

King Edward, hearing of this insurrection, sent instantly to the Lord Welles, as the author of it, to appear before him, upon the pain of death if he should disobey the summons. The Lord Welles at first doubted what course to take; but, after some deliberation, commenced his journey, attended by his sonin-law, Sir Thomas Dimocke; yet, when the travellers came near to London, they heard so many reports of King Edward's anger that their resolution began to fail them; and, under the impression of their fears, they threw themselves into sanctuary at Westminster, instead of proceeding directly to the king. They were soon, however, persuaded to relinquish that miserable protection for their lives, by promises of pardon; and the Lord Welles, after an interview with the king, wrote, by command, to his son, to prevail with him to desist from his enterprize. After the letter was sent off, King Edward proceeded with an army, superior in numbers to that of the insurgents, towards Stanford, near which place the latter were then assembled, taking with him the Lord Welles and Sir Thomas Dimocke; but Sir Robert Welles, upon receiving the message, determined, after some hesitation, to disregard it, and kept his camp, and prepared for the king's approach.

King Edward, exasperated by this resistance, ordered the heads of the Lord Welles and Sir Thomas Dimocke to be struck off; and then proceeded towards the Lancastrians, who were assembled at Hornefield in the parish of Empingham, where the contending parties met on the 12th March, 10th Edward IV (1469-70), and, after a dreadful conflict, in which both sides resolutely maintained the cause which they had espoused, Sir Robert Welles and Sir Thomas de la Launde were taken prisoners, and their followers were completely routed. Ten thousand men are said to have fallen in this battle; and the place where it was fought, about five miles north-west of Stanford, near the road to York, retains the name of Bloody Oaks to this day. We are told that some of the Lancastrians who fled from the battle threw off their coats, that they might not be encumbered by them in their flight, and that the field called Losecote-field, between Stanford and Little Casterton, which, by erroneous tradition, has been fixed upon as the field of battle, received its name from that circumstance. Perhaps that was the place where some of them were severely pressed by their pursuers. Sir Rt. Welles (Lord Willoughby) and Sir Thos. de la Launde were beheaded at Doncaster seven days afterwards, and attainted in the Parliament which commenced at Westminster on the 6th of October, 12th Edward IV.

Leicestershire and Rutland Notes and Queries, Vol I (April 1889-Jan 1891).
John and Thomas Spencer, eds. London: Elliot Stock, 1891. 206.

by James Gairdner

[After the Battle of Edgecote] the government was for a time completely in Warwick's hands, the King [Edward IV] being his prisoner, and the power of the Woodvilles altogether broken. But presently Edward made his escape, or perhaps was suffered to regain his freedom, and a general pardon was afterwards proclaimed to all who had taken part in these commotions. This, however, did not prevent a renewal of disturbances early in the following year, when Sir Robert Welles, the eldest son of Lord Welles, raising the cry of "King Henry!" gathered to his standard a great number of the commons of Lincolnshire, where he attacked the house of Sir Thomas à Borough, a knight of the royal household, and razed it to the ground. With Sir Robert Welles was associated Sir Thomas Dymock, the King's champion, who was his uncle by marriage.

When the news of this insurrection reached the King he was provoked and alarmed in a way he had not been before. He was now convinced that a secret confederacy had been formed against him which any further acts of clemency would only serve to encourage, and he summoned Lord Welles, the father of Sir Robert, and Sir Thomas Dymock, to repair to him immediately. Hearing that the King's suspicions were fully roused they came up to London, and at first entered the Sanctuary at Westminster, but being assured of pardon, Lord Welles came to the King and wrote a letter to his son desiring him to desist from his enterprise. His son, however, did not obey, and Edward, enraged at his obstinacy, violated the promise of security he had given to the father, and ordered both Lord Welles and Sir Thomas Dymock to be beheaded.

It was only meeting perfidy by perfidy. As might be expected, the King's enemies were confounded. Sir Robert Welles and his confederates were desperate. He had been promised assistance from the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence; but the king had gone northwards with his army as far as the confines of Lincolnshire, and no succors were at hand. Sir Robert engaged the royal forces in the neighborhood of Stamford; but when the King's artillery opened fire the greater part of the insurgents flung away their coats and took to flight, leaving their leader a prisoner in the hands of his enemies. The manner in which the rebels were dispersed caused the action to be spoken of as the battle of Lose-coat Field. The defeated knew that they had no mercy to expect, and fled, some of them as far as Scarborough, where several were beheaded. Sir Robert Welles was beheaded the day after the battle. Before his death he made a full confession as to the plan and motives of the insurrection, by which it appeared beyond all doubt that the intention was to have deposed King Edward and made the Duke of Clarence king.

But the rebellion was now paralyzed. The Duke of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick fled into Lancashire, from whence they passed by sea to Southampton, hoping there to have secured a large ship called the "Trinity," belonging to the Earl of Warwick. In this attempt, however, they were defeated by the Queen's brother, Lord Scales, who by the death of his father had now become Earl Rivers; for Edward had given him the command of some ships at Southampton and he captured several vessels of Warwick's little fleet. Warwick and the Duke of Clarence escaped across the sea, while John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, was commissioned to try the prisoners taken in their ships. The result was that twenty persons were hanged, drawn, and quartered, and their heads cut off. To exhibit their quarters to public view in some conspicuous position was only one of the commonplace barbarities of the age in the punishment of treason. But by Worcester's orders a new horror was given to this practice. The head and members of each of the unfortunate men were impaled on a stake in a manner peculiarly hideous and unaccustomed. Civil war, conspiracy, and rebellion had not only hardened the hearts of men on both sides, but had brutalized the most refined. The Earl of Worcester was one of the most accomplished scholars of the time; but he was remembered after this as "the butcher of England."

Gairdner, James. The Houses of Lancaster and York.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895. 186-8.

Other Local Resources:

Books for further study: Hicks, Michael. The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485.
           New York: Routledge, 2003.

Matthews, Rupert. Battle of Losecoat Field - 1470.
           Epsom, Surrey: Bretwalda Books, 2013.

Weir, Alison. The Wars of the Roses.
           New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

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This page was created on March 30, 2013. Last updated May 1, 2023.

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Isabella of France, Queen of England
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Charles VII, King of France
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The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485
Causes of the Wars of the Roses
The House of Lancaster
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The First Battle of St. Albans, 1455
The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459
The Rout of Ludford, 1459
The Battle of Northampton, 1460
The Battle of Wakefield, 1460
The Battle of Mortimer's Cross, 1461
The 2nd Battle of St. Albans, 1461
The Battle of Towton, 1461
The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464
The Battle of Hexham, 1464
The Battle of Edgecote, 1469
The Battle of Losecoat Field, 1470
The Battle of Barnet, 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury, 1471
The Treaty of Pecquigny, 1475
The Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485
The Battle of Stoke Field, 1487

Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
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Elizabeth Woodville
Richard Woodville, 1. Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2. Earl Rivers
Jane Shore
Edward V
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Ralph Neville, 2. Earl of Westmorland
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Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
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Pico della Mirandola
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The Sweating Sickness

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Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
Robert Aske
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Lord Thomas Darcy
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Oath of Supremacy
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The Act of Supremacy, 1559
Articles Touching Preachers, 1583

Queen Elizabeth I
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
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Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
Sir Thomas Egerton, Viscount Brackley
Sir Francis Knollys
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Sir Henry Sidney
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Archbishop Matthew Parker
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Sir Christopher Hatton
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Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Thomas Radcliffe, 3. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 4. Earl of Sussex
Robert Radcliffe, 5. Earl of Sussex
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
Henry Wriothesley, 2. Southampton
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William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
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Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
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Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland
Henry FitzAlan, 12. Earl of Arundel
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Edward Somerset, E. of Worcester
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Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford
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Great Fire of London, 1666
Merchant Taylors' School
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Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
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Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
London in late 16th century
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's View of London, 1616
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c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London

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