The Battle of Blore Heath took place on 23rd September 1459. It is considered by some historians to be the ‘real’ start of the Wars of the Roses. The battle followed a period in which Lancastrian and Yorkist factions had invested in arms and factions had grown stronger, and further apart than ever. With years of disagreements and lords gathering large military retinues, tension was high. Blore Heath saw that tension explode into war. A Yorkist force was intercepted and attacked by a larger force of Lancastrians led by Lord Audley.
As tensions mounted both factions built up large armed forces. In September 1459 the Yorkist began moving forces. Salisbury moving south to join with Edward, Earl of March. Salisbury’s son, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, set off with 5000 men towards Warwick.
The Lancastrian faction had forces around both Henry VI and queen Margaret. Both of these attempted to intercept Salisbury’s force. Queen Margaret received word that Salisbury was near her army. She instructed Lord Audley to intercept it.
Audley commanded a force of between 8000 and 14000. They intercepted Salisbury at Blore Heath, near Market Drayton. As the Yorkists had seen Lancastrian banners in the distance, Salisbury could choose his ground. It was a defensive location, with a brook between his lines and those of the Lancastrians.
Battle of Blore Heath
An attempt at negotiation was unsuccessful. The battle commenced with an ineffective exchange from both sets of archers, Salisbury’s force was deliberately set up out of range. Salisbury then deployed a ruse and withdrew a large number of men from his centre.
Audley was tricked by the ruse. The Lancastrian cavalry charged. The boggy ground ner the brook halted their advance and made them easy targets for the Yorkist archers. Audley fell in the fighting and men switched from the Lancastrian side to that of the Yorkists.
The Lancastrians were in disarray and a victory for the Yorkists was completed after an advance by the infantry.
Battles in the Wars of the Roses
First Battle of St. Albans – Battle of Blore Heath – Battle of Ludford Bridge – Battle of Northampton – Battle of Wakefield – Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – Second Battle of St. Albans Battle of Ferrybridge – Battle of Towton – Battle of Hedgeley Moor – Battle of Hexham – Battle of Edgecote Moor – Battle of Losecote Field – Battle of Barnet – Battle of Tewkesbury – Battle of Bosworth – Battle of Stoke Field
Documents, Maps and Evidence
People and periods
British History – The Wars of the Roses – The Plantagenets – The Tudors – King Henry IV – King Henry V – King Henry VI – King Edward IV – King Edward V – King Richard III – King Henry VII – Margaret of Anjou