3 Battle of Lose-coat Field


Battle of Lose-coat Field

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Losecoat Field


caption=
partof=Wars of the Roses
date=12 March 1470
place=Tickencote Warren near Empingham in Rutland, England
result=York Victory
combatant1=
combatant2=
commander1=Edward IV
commander2=Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick,
strength1=Unknown
strength2=30,000
casualties1=Unknown
casualties2=Unknown

The Battle of Losecoat Field was fought on 12 March 1470, during the period known as the Wars of the Roses. Also known as the Battle of Empingham. Spellings of Losecoat vary with Losecote and Loose-coat also seen.

Background

Almost a year earlier, in July 1469, King Edward IV (House of York) was defeated and captured at the Battle of Edgecote Moor by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (House of Lancaster). However with the help and support of his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester he had by now regained power.

In March 1470 Warwick found himself in a similar position to that which he had been in before the battle of Edgecote. He was unable to exercise any control over, or influence, Edward's policies. Warwick wanted to place another of the King’s brothers, George, Duke of Clarence on the throne so that he could regain his influence.

When his family fell foul of Edward in 1470, Sir Robert Welles (8th Baron Willoughby de Eresby) turned to Warwick for help. Warwick judged the time was ripe for another coup d'etat, to kill or remove Edward from the throne.

Welles started gathering armed forces at his base in Lincolnshire, ready for a show of arms against the King. The unrest in Lincolnshire, prompted the King to act, and he started gathering men for his army on 4 March. The news of the King’s intention to march to Lincolnshire quickly spread panic among people there. Due to Welles’ voluntary misinterpretation, rumors were quickly spread that the King was coming to try the previously pardoned rebels from Edgecote, and that he would ‘hang and draw a great number’ of them.

With the encouragement of Warwick and Clarence, Sir Robert Welles set himself up as a ‘great captain’ of the people of Lincolnshire. On 4 March summons were sent to all the surrounding estates requesting every able man to join him in the resisting of the King. On the 7th the King heard that the rebels were marching towards Stamford with an army of 100,000 men, having recruited many men from the local shires, especially from Yorkshire.

The King later received letters from Clarence and Warwick stating they were marching North with all their men to support the King. The King then unsuspectingly issued commissions of array which included Warwick's name, authorising him to raise his own army of professional soldiers. Edward then received news that the rebels had changed course for Leicester, as had Warwick and Clarence, no doubt leaving the King with a good idea of their intentions.

Sir Robert Welles received a letter from the King telling him to disband his rebel army, or his father (Lord Welles, previously taken prisoner by Edward) would be executed. Welles quickly turned back with his army to Stamford. Edward’s confidence grew when Welles failed to rendezvous with Warwick and his experienced forces.

The battle

Edward's scouts informed him that the rebel army was some five miles from Stamford, arrayed for battle to the north of Tickencote Warren near Empingham in Rutland.

Edward positioned his men in a battle line to the north of Welles' army, and then in the space separating the two armies had Lord Welles executed in view of both armies.

This action set off the rebels (currently numbering 30,000), advancing with cries of ‘a’Warwick’ and ‘a’Clarence'. A single barrage of cannon balls was fired and then Edward had his men charge towards the enemy.

Before the leaders of this attack could even come to blows with the rebel front line the battle was over. The rebels broke and fled rather than face the King's highly trained men.

Both captains, Sir Robert Welles and his commander of foot Richard Warren were captured during the rout and were executed a week later on 19 March.

According to popular etymology, the name of the battle is explained in this way: many of Welles’ men were wearing jackets displaying Warwick’s and Clarence’s livery. Not wanting to be caught wearing such incriminating evidence when the rout began, many of them discarded their garments. The battle was thus christened ‘Lose-coat’.

However the name is probably derived from the more mundane Old English hlose-cot meaning 'pigsty cottage'. Forms of Losecote also appear as field names in other parishes in Rutland. An adjacent woodland is now called Bloody Oaks. Contemporary accounts refer to the battle site as Hornfield.


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