3 Losecote Field, Battle of

Losecote Field, Battle of

   Fought on 12 March 1470, the Battle of Losecote Field forced Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, to abandon the house of YORK and seek a reconciliation with the house of LANCASTER.
   After the failure of their 1469 attempt to control EDWARD IV, Warwick and his ally George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, the king’s brother, awaited an opportunity to overthrow Edward and enthrone Clarence. Their chance came in early March 1470, when a feud erupted in Lincolnshire between Richard Welles, Lord Welles, and Sir Thomas Burgh, Edward’s Master of Horse. When Welles, his son Sir Robert, and his brother-inlaw Sir Thomas Dymmock attacked Burgh’s manor house, driving him and his family from the shire, Edward intervened on his servant’s behalf. Summoned to LONDON, Welles and Dymmock were placed in custody, but Sir Robert remained in the field with the secret encouragement of Warwick, his distant kinsman. Clarence, meanwhile, met Edward in London and delayed the king’s departure for Lincolnshire by two days, thereby giving Sir Robert time to raise the commons of the shire with rumors that the king planned to execute the Lincolnshire men who had joined the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION of the previous summer.
   At Royston on 8 March, the day Edward learned that Sir Robert had assembled a large force of rebels, he also received letters from Warwick and Clarence stating that they would soon arrive to assist in crushing the WELLES UPRISING. Still unaware of their involvement, Edward issued COMMISSIONS OF ARRAY that included Warwick, thereby allowing the earl to raise troops with royal approval. The king then forced Welles to write to his son telling Sir Robert to submit or his father and Dymmock would die. On 11 March, Edward learned that the rebels and the troops of Warwick and Clarence were both heading for Leicester, news that raised royal suspicions as to the latter’s intentions. Welles’s letter prevented a conjunction of the two forces by convincing Sir Robert to retreat to Stamford in an effort to save his father’s life. Edward followed and caught the rebels next day near Empingham. The battle opened with the executions of Welles and Dymmock in full view of both armies. The rebels then confirmed Edward’s suspicions by advancing with cries of “a Warwick” and “a Clarence.” After a barrage of ARTILLERY, the more experienced royal army charged the larger rebel force and scattered it, turning the battle into a rout. Rebels wearing the livery of Warwick and Clarence stripped off their jackets and cast them aside in their flight, giving the battle its name—“Losecote Field.” Sir Robert Welles was captured, as was a servant of Clarence’s, who possessed letters from the duke proving his and Warwick’s involvement in the uprising. Edward ordered them to disband their forces and come to his presence, but they declined without a safeconduct, which Edward refused to grant. The king executed Sir Robert on 19 March after he confessed that the objective of the revolt was to place Clarence on the throne. Edward then issued a proclamation denouncing Warwick and Clarence as traitors if they did not surrender by 28 March. Fleeing to Clarence’s lordship at Dartmouth near Exeter, the earl, the duke, and their families took ship for FRANCE, where Warwick, abandoning his attempts to find a pliant Yorkist king, began negotiations with MARGARET OF ANJOU for the Lancastrian alliance that allowed the earl to overthrow Edward IV in the following autumn.
   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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