3 Hexham, Battle of

Hexham, Battle of

   Fought on 15 May 1464, only three weeks after the Yorkist victory at the Battle of HEDGELEY MOOR, the Battle of Hexham ended the Lancastrian resurgence in Northumbria and ushered in five years of relatively stable Yorkist government.
   After regrouping at ALNWICK CASTLE, Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, and the other Lancastrian survivors of Hedgeley Moor, learned that EDWARD IV was collecting a large army at Leicester with the intention of coming north to destroy Lancastrian insurgency in the region once and for all. Fearing that the Anglo-Scottish talks then under way in York would close SCOTLAND to them, and desperate to boost morale with a quick victory before the arrival of Edward’s army, Somerset placed HENRY VI at the head of his force and marched south into the Tyne Valley. Hearing of Somerset’s advance, John NEVILLE, Lord Montagu, the victor of Hedgeley Moor, left Newcastle and marched west to intercept the Lancastrians. On the evening of 14 May, Somerset encamped in a meadow along the Tyne two miles south of the town of Hexham and near Bywell Castle, where the duke installed Henry VI. Early the next morning, Montagu passed the castle as he fell unexpectedly on Somerset’s camp. With no time to maneuver for position, Somerset formed his men on low ground with their backs to the river. Montagu charged downhill and smashed into the Lancastrian line, driving the center back toward the water, where many men drowned in their ARMOR or were slain as they tried to cling to the bank. Somerset tried to rally his flanks, but his men were panicked and overmatched, and the Lancastrian line shattered, leaving Somerset a prisoner. The duke was beheaded next day, while Thomas ROOS, Lord Roos, and Robert HUNGERFORD, Lord Hungerford, the other Lancastrian commanders, were captured and executed two days later at Newcastle. By July, Montagu and his brother, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, had completed the pacification of the northeast by capturing the Lancastrian castles at Alnwick, DUNSTANBURGH, and BAMBURGH.With the capture of Henry VI in Lancashire in 1465, the Lancastrian north gave up rebellion and accepted the rule of Edward IV.
   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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