3 Edgecote, Battle of

Edgecote, Battle of

   Fought on 26 July 1469 near Banbury in Oxfordshire, the Battle of Edgecote allowed Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, to seize temporary control of EDWARD IV and thereby initiate a new phase of the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   In the spring of 1469, Warwick, angered by the growing wealth and political influence of Edward IV’s in-laws, the WOODVILLE FAMILY, and certain of the king’s favorites, such as William HERBERT, earl of Pembroke, forged an alliance with George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, Edward’s equally disgruntled younger brother. The pact, which was sealed on 11 July with Clarence’s unauthorized marriage to Warwick’s daughter, Isabel NEVILLE, aimed at separating the offending courtiers from the king and making Warwick and Clarence the premier peers of the realm. The allies issued a manifesto calling for loyal Englishmen to support them in reforming Edward’s corrupt government and expressed support for an ongoing northern rebellion led by someone calling himself Robin of Redesdale, who had issued a similar call for reform in mid-June. In reality, the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION was directed by Warwick, and probably led by Sir William Conyers, a Neville retainer. By drawing Edward into the north, the Redesdale uprising sought to give Warwick time to secure LONDON and raise an army (see North of England and the Wars of the Roses).
   When Edward marched north in June to confront the Redesdale rebels, he was unaware of their connection to Warwick and Clarence. By mid-July, he was in Nottingham awaiting the arrival of forces from WALES under the command of Pembroke and Humphrey STAFFORD, earl of Devon. Although he was by this time probably aware of Warwick’s activities, the king made no move, and the Redesdale rebels bypassed Nottingham to hasten their meeting with Warwick, who was marching north from London. On the evening of 25 July, Pembroke and Devon argued over billeting arrangements. As a result of the quarrel, Devon withdrew toward Banbury with the ARCHERS, leaving Herbert with only the Welsh footmen. Shortly afterward, Pembroke encountered the Redesdale rebels, who attacked him vigorously the next morning. Although Pembroke’s men offered fierce resistance, they were hampered by lack of archers and forced to retreat with heavy losses. When advance elements of Warwick’s army arrived later in the day, a second rebel attack broke Pembroke’s force before Devon could engage his men.
   With Conyers and many others dead on the field, Pembroke and his brother were taken prisoner and executed the next day at Northampton in Warwick’s presence. Devon was killed some weeks later in Somerset and Richard WOODVILLE, Earl Rivers, and his son Sir John Woodville, whom the king had sent away from him for their safety, were captured and executed at Coventry in August on Warwick’s orders. Hearing of the disaster at Edgecote, Edward, now deserted by most of his RETAINERS, was on the road to Northampton when he was taken into Warwick’s “protection” by the earl’s brother, Archbishop George NEVILLE. For the moment, the king and the royal government were in the hands of Warwick and Clarence. Although Edward soon regained his freedom, he lacked the political strength to proceed against the earl and the duke, who extorted a royal pardon and remained free to resume their rebellion in 1470.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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