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Battlefield of Edgecote as marked on John Speeds map Northamptonshire of 1610.
 
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Battle of Edgcote
26th July 1469

The battle of Edgcote was the first major action in the campaigns of 1469-71, the second major period of unrest in the Wars of the Roses. It took place in Northamptonshire when the army of the Earl of Pembroke, which was marching to join with Edward IV at Nottingham, encountered a rebel force under Robin of Redesdale, which was marching to join with the army of the Earl of Warwick.

They clashed on the morning of the 26th July, on Danesmoor in the parish of Edgcote, about 6 miles north east of the town of Banbury. Pembroke’s army had been dangerously weakened because, supposedly after an argument the night before, the Earl of Devon had withdrawn his troops. This left Pembroke without archers, a weakness that the rebels exploited. An initial attack by the rebel archers forced Pembroke to abandon a strong hilltop position and engage in hand to hand fighting on the valley floor.

After this initial setback, Pembroke’s army fought back and was on the brink of success when rebel reinforcements arrived. Thinking them the vanguard of Warwick’s whole army, Pembroke’s troops broke and fled. In the ensuing rout large numbers of the fleeing troops were killed, while Pembroke himself was captured and then executed then next day. In the following days the king himself was taken prisoner and other of his major supporters captured and executed. With the king under his ‘protection’, Warwick was in effective control of the kingdom.

Edgcote is one of the poorest documented of the campaigns and battles of the period and this has resulted in considerable confusion as to the exact location of the action. Yet there is sufficient topographical evidence within the primary sources to enable the action to be securely positioned, but only when the historic terrain of the Edgcote area, as it was in 1469, has been reconstructed. In the meantime however, the options are very limited, the landscape undeveloped and pleasant and the area reasonably accessible on rights of way. It is thus a site well worth visiting to compare the alternative interpretations.

KEY FACTS

Name: Battle of Edgcote
Type: Battle
Campaign: Edgcote
War period: Wars of the Roses
Outcome: Rebel victory
Country: England
County: Northamptonshire
Place: Edgcote
Location: approximate
Terrain: Open field & lowland moor
Date: 26th July 1469
Start: morning
Duration: uncertain
Armies: Royal army commanded by Earl of Pembroke; Rebel army under Robin of Redesdale
Numbers: Royal: possibly 5-6,000; Rebel: uncertain
Losses: uncertain but possibly high
Grid Reference: SP517461 (451780,246170)
OS Landranger map: 151
OS Explorer map: 206

 

   
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