Blore Heath, Battle of

(1459)
   Fought on 23 September 1459 near the village of Mucklestone in northwestern Staffordshire, the Battle of Blore Heath initiated a period of open civil war that lasted until the Battle of TOWTON in March 1461.
   In June 1459, Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU convened a Great Council at Coventry to consider charges of treason against Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and his chief allies Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, and Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, all three of whom were excluded from the council summons. Seeking to repeat his success of 1455, when he had destroyed his enemies and taken custody of HENRY VI at the Battle of ST. ALBANS, York began raising an army and called the Nevilles to meet him with their own forces at Ludlow in southern Shropshire.
   Warwick eluded Lancastrian efforts to intercept him and reached Ludlow with a contingent from the CALAIS garrison, but Salisbury, coming from his seat at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire, encountered a Lancastrian force under James TOUCHET, Lord Audley, on Blore Heath about halfway between the towns of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Market Drayton. Charged by the queen with arresting Salisbury and preventing his army from joining York’s, Audley, who had the larger force, led two unsuccessful cavalry charges against the hastily entrenched Yorkist position in hopes of overrunning the enemy line and seizing Salisbury before he could withdraw.When Audley died in the second assault, the Lancastrian command fell to John Dudley, Lord Dudley.
   Because almost no accounts of the battle have survived, the exact course of the fighting thereafter is unclear. Dudley seems to have dismounted some of his cavalry and brought them into action on foot. By late afternoon, after three or four hours of combat, the remaining Lancastrian cavalry, seeing their infantry give ground, left the field. This loss of expected cavalry support and the possible defection of some of its members to the Yorkists caused the Lancastrian line to break. In the flight and pursuit that followed, Lord Dudley was captured and various other Lancastrian gentlemen were killed. With two other Lancastrian armies still in the field, Salisbury quickly recalled his scattered force and resumed the march to Ludlow, which he reached without further incident.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Swynnerton, Brian, and William Swinnerton, The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459 (Nuneaton: Paddy Griffith Associates, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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