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Battle of Fornham St Genevieve
The Armies and Losses
Royalist. Barons, including: Richard de Lucy, Justiciar; Humphrey de Bohun, Constable; Reginald, Earl of Cornwall; William, Earl of Arundel; Robert, Earl of Gloucester; Hugh de Cressi; Roger Bigod. Troops: With de Bohun “300 knights”. The Abbott of Bury St Edmunds was owed service by another 40 knights, and the other Earls were doubtless accompanied by both their own knights and retainers. The total is uncertain, but is unlikely to have been fewer than 2-3,000 and may have been substantially more.
Rebels. Notables: Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester; His wife Petronilla de Grandmesnil; Hugh des Chateaux (French); Walter Odell. According to William of Newburgh the rebels had “about 80 chosen horse and four or five thousand valiant foot”. Ralph of Diss says Leicester had 3,000 Flemings in whom he placed particular trust. The chroniclers also mention Normans French and Lombards in Leicester’s army. As well as his “trusted” Flemings, the army may also have been accompanied by a large number of Flemish weavers out for spoil. Once again total numbers are uncertain, but seem to have been at least 5,000, and may be substantially more.
Losses. Numbers are notoriously difficult to determine in mediaeval battles, with chroniclers estimates often differing wildly. Fornham is no different. No accounts of Royal casualties are included in the various chronicles, and the absence of naming any of noble rank strongly argues for royalist casualties being light. Most casualties for the rebels appear to have been inflicted in the flight, when they found themselves trapped in the marshy ground between the river, Fornham St Genevieve, and Bury, and were hunted down and killed by the local peasantry. Most of the physical remains discovered over the centuries, including two swords, were found in this area. Roger of Hovedon claims as many as 10,000 Flemings were slain on the field, while Gervase of Canterbury estimates 3,000 Flemings were slaughtered. All the leading rebels were captured and were despatched to Henry in France. Of the ordinary soldiers captured, most seem to have died in captivity. The entire rebel force seems to have been destroyed.