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  Contemporary Accounts

Mortimer’s Cross is one of the most poorly documented of the battles of the Wars of the Roses, and of those references that do exist even the date is in dispute between the 2nd and the 3rd February.

PRIMARY ACCOUNTS

William of Worcester’s ‘Itinerary’
This provides a list of Lancastrians killed or executed, from which Hodges has estimated the likely numbers of the Lancastrian army.

Annales Rerum Anglicarum
quoted by Dockray, 2000, 110
3rd February ‘a battle was fought near Wigmore at Mortimers Cross, where the Earl of March with 51,000 (?15,000) men attacked the Earl of Pembroke with 8000, and there fled from the field there the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Wiltshire and many others…’

The English Chronicle
quoted by Dockray, 108
3rd February ‘Edward, the nobel Earl of Marsh, fought with the Welshmen near Wigmore in Wales, whose captains were the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Wiltshire, (and) he won a victory over his enemies, put the two earls to flight, and slew 4000 Welshmen.’

Crowland Chronicle
quoted by Dockray 109
‘Meanwhile, the duke’s eldest son, Edward Earl of March, campaigning against the queen’s supporters in Wales, won a glorious victory over them at Mortimer’s Cross.’

Gregory’s Chronicle
quoted by Dockray, 109
2nd February ‘Edward Earl of March, the Duke of York’s son and heir, won a great victory at Mortimer’s Cross in Wales, where he put to flight the Earls of Pembroke and Wiltshire, and took and slew knights, squires and others to the number of 3000. (In) that conflict Owen Tudor was taken and brought to Haverfordwest (Hereford), where he was beheaded in the market place: his head was set on the highest pinnacle of the market cross….’

Brut Chronicle
quoted by Hodges, 2001, 37
‘And at this time, the earl of March being in Shrewsbury, hearing the death of his father, desired assistance and aid of the town for to avenge his father’s death; and from thence went to Wales, where, at Candlemas after, he had a battle at Mortimer’s Cross against the earls of Pembroke and Wiltshire.’

LATER ACCOUNTS

John Speed, 1610
Nicholson, 1988, The Counties of Britain: A Tudor Atlas by John Speed
An account of the battle given on his map of Herefordshire of 1610, published in 1616 in his Atlas of Britain.

‘Upon the Virge of this Shire betwixt Ludlow and little Hereford, a great battail was fought by Jasper Earle of Pembrooke and James Butler Earle of Ormond and Wiltshire, against Edward Earl of March. In which 3800 men were slaine. The two Earles fled, and Owen Teuther taken and beheaded. This field was fought upon the daye of the Virgin Maries Purification in Anno 1461. Where in before the battell was strok, appeared visibly in the firmament three sunnes which after a while joined all together and became as before: for which cause (as some have thought) Edward afterwards gave the Sunne in his full brightness for his badge and cognizance.’

Here it seems Speed mistakes the site of Mortimers Cross with that of Ludford Bridge, which lay immediately to the south east of Ludlow.

 

   
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