Ludford Bridge, Battle of

(1459)
   Because it resulted in the Yorkist leaders’ decision to abandon their troops and flee the country, the military encounter at Ludford Bridge on 12–13 October 1459 seemed a final and ignominious end to the attempt by Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, to control HENRY VI and the royal government. After his victory over a Lancastrian force at the Battle of BLORE HEATH in September 1459, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, evaded two other royal armies and joined forces with York at the duke’s lordship of Ludlow in southern Shropshire. Also at Ludlow was Salisbury’s son, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, with a portion of the CALAIS garrison, the only standing military force of any significance in fifteenth-century England. From Ludlow, York and the Nevilles sent the king a letter setting forth their reasons for taking up arms. Henry responded with a promise of pardon for York and all his adherents, if they would lay down their arms and surrender to the royal forces. Excepted from this offer were those responsible for the Battle of Blore Heath and the death there of the Lancastrian commander, James TOUCHET, Lord Audley. Because this exception certainly covered Salisbury and could probably be stretched to cover York and Warwick as well, the Yorkists declined to respond to the king’s message. Thus, on 12 October, a royal army reached Ludford Bridge and made contact with an entrenched Yorkist force that was probably only one-third its size. Beyond the Nevilles, York had attracted little noble support to his cause, while the royal army comprised the followings of a great number of English peers (see Peerage). When the soldiers of the Calais garrison, perhaps remembering their sworn oath to the king, accepted the royal pardon and abandoned York, the Lancastrian advantage in numbers became even greater. With the defection of the Calais garrison, York lost both his best troops and his most experienced commander, Andrew TROLLOPE, who took with him to the royal camp his knowledge of York’s plans and dispositions. As evening approached, York ordered an ARTILLERY barrage to cover the withdrawal of himself, his two eldest sons, and Salisbury and Warwick to Ludlow Castle for the night. However, upon reaching the fortress, the Yorkist leaders collected their personal belongings and scattered in flight, York and his son Edmund PLANTAGENET, earl of Rutland, to IRELAND and Warwick, Salisbury, and York’s son Edward, earl of March (see Edward IV, King of England), to Calais. Abandoned by its commanders, the Yorkist army quickly dispersed the following morning, leaving the Lancastrians to plunder the town of Ludlow and Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU and her supporters in uncontested control of the government.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Hodges, Geoffrey, Ludford Bridge and Mortimer’s Cross (Herefordshire: Long Aston Press, 1989).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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