One of the most significant and bloodiest battles of the Wars of the Roses was fought at Tewkesbury on Saturday 4th May 1471. The battle was the culmination of a campaign by Edward IV to crush the resurgent Lancastrians and place the Yorkists on the English throne where they remained until1485.
Following her exile in France, Queen Margaret of Anjou (the wife of Henry VI) returned to England in April 1471 with her son Prince Edward of Lancaster, to continue the Lancastrian struggle against the Yorkists which had failed 10 years previously at Towton.
Queen Margaret and her forces moved north from Weymouth via Exeter, Taunton, Bath and Bristol. Meanwhile the Yorkist Edward IV had quickly assembled his forces and marched from London to intercept her. Upon learning of Edward's movements, Queen Margaret moved her army towards Gloucester. Being unable to ford the River Severn at Gloucester to rendezvous with Jasper Tudor and his force coming to her support from Wales, Queen Margaret then marched to the next river crossing at Tewkesbury. Her exhausted troops made camp and awaited the arrival of the Yorkist army.
King Edward and his army had spent the night of the 3rd May encamped at Tredington, 3 miles south of Tewkesbury. On the morning of the 4th they advanced in battle order towards the waiting Lancastrians, who were in a relatively strong position with both flanks protected by water and their front by hedges and ditches.
The battle began with missile exchanges by both archers and artillery.
Richard of Gloucester led a charge against the Lancastrian right flank but was
beaten back. Somerset then made a bold move. Splitting his battle into two
parts, he left one part to hold position while the other moved around the
Yorkist left flank in difficult terrain of woods and hillocks. Emerging from the
trees they fell on Gloucester's men. It had been Somerset's intention that
having achieved this tactical surprise, the rest of the Lancastrian army would
attack in support. For some reason, this did not happen and both Wenlock and
Devon remained where they were.
Meanwhile, King Edward took advantage of the confusion to scatter the
remaining Lancastrian forces. Prince Edward was slain as he tried to reach the
sanctuary of the Abbey, while Lord Wenlock was murdered by an enraged Somerset
for not supporting his advance.
It is extremely difficult to be precise about the strength of the opposing armies in this period. However, the sources state that the Lancastrians slightly outnumbered the Yorkists and that the former numbered about 6000. Rayner (2004) suggests the Yorkist strength to be thus about 5500. Both sides used artillery and the Yorkists had handgunners. The Yorkists also had a force of 200 (mounted?) spearmen that played a significant part in the battle. Based on the size of the armies, each element represent about 500 men.
Lancastrian Army- 1x 3Kn (Gen) (Somerset), 1x 4Bd (men at arms), 3x 4Bd, 6x 3/4Lb, 1x Art. (Note, this is the "by the book" IV/83 Wars of the Roses army)
Yorkist Army- 1x 3Kn (Gen) (Edward IV), 1 x3Kn (Gloucester), 3x 4Bd, 4x 3/4Lb, 1x Art, 1x 3Sp (Notes: The 3Sp element can be replaced by a 3Cv element if the view is taken that the 200 spearmen were mounted. An additional 2Ps element can be added to represent the handgunners.)
Armies of this period typically deployed in three "battles":
Game Map (ASCII)
Given that 1 element represents about 500 men, the ground scale is thus 1" to 50p. The town of Tewkesbury is to the North (the top of the map). Tewkesbury Park is to the west and Bloody Meadow to the north west.
======== Lancastrian Baseline ===================
Special RulesThe appearance of the Yorkist flanking force is handled by using the Flank Marches variant rule. I also recommend the use of the DBA Hit Markers variant rule.
Burne, A.H., The Battlefields of England, Penguin, 1996
Last Update: 13 Jan. 2005
Thanks to Mike Elliott for contributing