Nibley Green, Battle of

   Fought on 20 March 1470 near the Gloucestershire village of the same name, the Battle of Nibley Green was the culmination of an inheritance dispute between Thomas Talbot, Viscount Lisle (1451–1470), and William Berkeley, Lord Berkeley (1426–1492). Occurring while EDWARD IV was on campaign in the north against the rebel forces of Richard NIBLEY GREEN, BATTLE OF 187 NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, and George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, the battle is a prime example of the local disorder that was common in mid-fifteenth-century England during periods of weak or distracted royal government.
   William Berkeley was the son and heir of James, Lord Berkeley, but his possession of the Berkeley title and estates was disputed by Margaret, countess of Shrewsbury. The countess was the granddaughter and coheiress of Thomas, Lord Berkeley, whose estates had passed, not without challenge, to his nephew James, and then, on James’s death in 1463, to William, who was thus Lord Thomas’s greatnephew. In pursuit of her claims, the countess had arrested and imprisoned Lord William’s mother, Isabel Berkeley, when she had attempted to appeal on her husband’s behalf to the COUNCIL of HENRY VI in 1452. Lady Berkeley died while still in confinement in Gloucester in September 1452. On the death of Countess Margaret in June 1468, her claim was taken up by her eighteen-year-old grandson, Lord Lisle.When Warwick’s attempts to control the Crown revived political instability in 1469–1470, the Berkeley-Talbot feud, like such other longrunning disputes as the Harrington-Stanley feud in Lancashire and the Harcourt-Stafford feud in the Midlands, turned violent during the ensuing period of royal weakness. As in the worst days of Henry VI, aggrieved nobles took up arms to settle their differences. The encounter at Nibley Green arose from a challenge, apparently issued by Berkeley, to settle the matter by combat. With the time and place arranged by the Berkeley and Talbot heralds (i.e., each magnate’s official messenger and officer of arms), the battle occurred only eight days after Edward IV defeated Warwick’s rebels at the Battle of LOSECOTE FIELD. A bloody fight that was remembered in Gloucestershire well into the seventeenth century, the Battle of Nibley Green resulted in the deaths of Lisle and some 150 others (probably more than died at the Battle of ST. ALBANS in 1455), and in the sack of Lisle’s manor at Wotton.
   Because his support was deemed vital for the house of YORK, Berkeley apparently suffered little or no punishment for his involvement in the fray. He was made a viscount by Edward IV in 1481 and created earl of Nottingham by RICHARD III in 1483. Berkeley was also favored by the house of TUDOR; HENRY VII named him Earl Marshal of England in 1486 and created him marquis of Berkeley in 1489. He died at Westminster in February 1492.
   Further Reading: Goodman, Anthony, The Wars of the Roses (New York: Dorset Press, 1981); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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