3 Battle of Northampton (1460)

Battle of Northampton (1460)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Northampton

partof=the Wars of the Roses
date=10 July, 1460
place= Northampton in Northamptonshire, England
result= Significant Yorkist victory
commander2=Henry VI, Buckingham

The Battle of Northampton was a battle in the Wars of the Roses, which took place on 10 July, 1460.


The Yorkist cause seemed finished after the previous disaster at Ludford Bridge. Some of the Yorkist commanders, Warwick, Salisbury and York's son Edward, Earl of March reached Calais on 2nd November 1459, where Warwick found his uncle Lord Fauconberg. Meanwhile York and Edmund, Earl of Rutland retired to the relative safety of Ireland.

On the English mainland, the Lancastrians were quick to exploit the Yorkist flight; the Earl of Wiltshire was appointed Lieutenant of Ireland and Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset became Captain of Calais. Neither however succeeded in occupying their new posts as the Irish refused to dislodge York and the gates of Calais remained firmly closed to their new 'Captain'.

The Lancastrians gave Somerset an army to storm Calais, but first they had to cross the Channel, so the construction of a fleet was started at Sandwich in Kent. No sooner had the ships been finished than Warwick made a raid on Sandwich and stole them. In May, Warwick crossed the channel again and destroyed the new fleet under construction there. Warwick left his uncle in Sandwich with a small force of Yorkists to act as a bridgehead for his planned invasion of England.

The battle

On 26 June Warwick, Salisbury and Edward landed at Sandwich with 2,000 men at arms. The King and Queen were at Coventry with their small army. Warwick entered London on 2nd July with an army of supporters numbering between 20,000 and 30,000.

The King's forces took up a defensive position at Northampton, in the grounds of Delapre Abbey, with their backs to the River Nene, with a water-filled ditch in front of them topped with stakes. The defending army was 10,000 to 15,000 strong, consisting mainly of men-at-arms. The Lancastrians also had a quantity of field artillery.

While approaching, Warwick sent a delegate to negotiate with the King on his behalf. The Lancastrian commander, the Duke of Buckingham, however, replied "The Earl of Warwick shall not come to the King's presence and if he comes he shall die." During Warwick's advance to Northampton he was twice more denied access to the King's person. Once in position, he sent a message that read "At 2 o'clock I will speak with the King or I will die."

At two o'clock the Yorkists advanced.

The men were in column, but the hard rain blowing in their faces somewhat hindered them. As they closed with the Lancastrians, Warwick was met by a fierce barrage of arrows; luckily for them, though, the rain had rendered the Lancastrian collection of cannon quite useless.

When Warwick reached the Lancastrian right flank, commanded by Lord Grey of Ruthin, treachery ensued. Grey had his men lay down their weapons and simply allow the Yorkists to have easy access into the camp beyond.

This proved a fatal blow to the loyal Lancastrians: after this, the battle lasted a mere thirty minutes. The defenders, unable to manoeuvre inside the fortifications, fled the field as their line was rolled up by attacking Yorkists.

The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Lords Egremont and Beaumont all died trying to save Henry from the Yorkists closing on his tent.

Three hundred Lancastrians were slain in the battle, the King was captured and once more became a puppet in the hands of the Yorkists.

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