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Looking north east down Humber Lane.
 
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It is possible that what is now the dead end Humber Lane, running up from East Stoke to the hilltop to the south west, was in the 15th century one of two major roads to Nottingham from Newark. If so then this may have been the route along which the royal army advanced to engage the rebels.
The Battle

On the night of the 15th June the royal army was quartered at Radcliffe, eight miles from the rebel camp at East Stoke. Using local guides the army marched north east towards Newark in three columns to locate and engage the rebel army. Following normal practice of the period the vanguard, under the Earl of Oxford, led the march, followed by Henry VII with the main body and finally Lord Strange commanding the rearguard. They used local guides to show them the route and to advise on aspects of the terrain including possible places of ambush. Though most authors place this advance along the Foss Way, in fact Radcliffe does not lie on the Foss, but rather on an earlier route leading from Nottingham up to East Stoke and then on to Newark. Bennett also argues that the reported use of local guides to lead the army suggests that the Foss was not used.

The rebels had chosen the ground on which the battle would be fought and it seems they were already in battle array when Oxford’s vanguard encountered them at sometime before 9:00am near the village of East Stoke.

In a formation typical of the period, the royal army deployed in three ‘battles’ or divisions, the vanguard to the fore with the main body and any rearguard to deploy behind them in support, rather than to their side as wings. Oxford’s vanguard, which may have numbered as many as 6000, had two cavalry wings, on the left was Savage and on the right, with nearly double the number, was Scales. Molinet gives 1200 and 2000 respectively for the cavalry wings but his numbers for the royal army overall appear highly suspect. In contrast, the rebel army, with no more than about 8000 troops, were forced to deploy in a single battle array. They had to try to emulate Oxford’s success at Bosworth by combining all their forces to destroy the royal vanguard, hoping that then, as at Bosworth, the rest of the royal army might collapse or flee.

According to Andre the rebel force was deployed in battle array on the brow of a hill awaiting the royal army. Their most experienced troops, the German mercenaries, stood in the front line. This was the time when the new style of warfare was rapidly developing in Europe, with the combination of pike and shot replacing the medieval weaponry and deployments. It is possible that these German mercenaries were equipped with pike, but if so it is surprising that none of the contemporary accounts refer to the fact.

 

   
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