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The slight spur extending south east from the hilltop, looking from the line of the former Nottingham road down towards Elston. It may be here that the rebel army deployed to face the royal forces on the lower ground to the right.
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Looking south east from the possible hilltop position of the rebel army towards the lower ground alongside the Foss Way.
The Action

With the rebel force on the hilltop, Vergil says that Oxford deployed on level ground below and that the rebel force then advanced down the hill to engage. Because we do not yet know with any confidence exactly where this took place or the detail of the landscape within which it happened, it is difficult to determine if this attack was part of a pre-determined plan, exploiting advantages of the terrain. It may simply have been prompted by the realisation that the longer they delayed the greater the likelihood of a royal victory as the other troops arrived and deployed in support of the vanguard.

The battle appears to have been a fierce engagement, while it lasted, and initially a fairly even contest, with the royal vanguard put under some pressure. It seems likely that as the armies closed there was the typical arrowstorm. While the German mercenaries were well equipped and experienced, the Irish contingent of the rebel army, because they lacked armour, are said to have been hard hit by the royal archers. Although they showed great bravery they were defeated, ‘shot through and full of arrows like hedgehogs’ as Molinet describes them. Finally, as at Bosworth, having blunted the enemy attack, the Earl of Oxford’s troops counter attacked. They charged the enemy killing some leaders then putting the rest to flight

According to tradition the Red Gutter, a small gulley giving access down the steep scarp to the floodplain of the Trent, was used by some of the fleeing rebel troops, and burials have apparently been found there. However the majority of the mass graves reported at Stoke lie along the edge of the village, to the north east. This suggests that the majority of the rebel army fled in that direction, the way in which they had probably advanced to the field. The majority of the deaths probably occurred at this time in the pursuit, after the rebel formation broke. Many may have been caught against the hedged enclosures of the village of East Stoke as the tried to flee, the hedged roads providing bottlenecks which restricted their escape.

The Earl of Lincoln and the German mercenary commander Schwartz were killed together with various other persons of note and many common soldiers. Indeed Molinet claims that only 200 of the rebel force escaped, most of whom were captured over the next two days. Of these the Irish and English were hanged, but the foreign mercenaries were simply dismissed. The impostor Lambert Simnel was captured but was not considered responsible for the actions of those who promoted him as king and so he was not executed but rather given lowly employment in the king’s household.


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