The Battle of Edgcote (sometimes termed Edgecote Moor) took place on 24th July 1469. Edgcote saw the Earl of Warwick’s troops overcome an army loyal to Edward IV. This followed Warwick’s defection to the Lancastrian cause. Edward’s army was defeated at Edgcote. Shortly afterwards he was forced into temporary exile as Henry VI was put back on the throne.
A note on the name and date of this battle
The Battle of Edgcote is sometimes referred to by other names. In the past has been known as the Battle of Danes Moor. Edgcote is sometimes spelt with an e in the middle – Edgecote – perhaps through variations in translations from Medieval to Modern English? Edgecote Moor is also a name that has been popularised for the battle. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, with no contemporary source using the mixture of Edgcote (either spelling) and Moor. It was a phrase that seems to have been first used in the Victorian era but more frequently since the mid-1990s. The choice of Edgecote Moor as the name on a Royal Mail commemorative stamp recently saw the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society seek to correct the name and to clarify the reasons why ‘Battle of Edgcote’ is correct. Not least of which is the simple fact that the Royal Mail postcode checker spells it Edgcote…
Some sources say the 26th of July. As these sources have been more accessible and popular, the date gained precedence over the alternative of the 24th. However, the majority of contemporary sources state the feast day upon which the battle took place. This is known to be the 24th of July, meaning that the more widely known Warkworth Chronicle is incorrect. Other sources using 26th July, such as Edward Hall’s account, are written years after the event and most probably are based on the Warkworth account.
Thanks to Graham Evans of the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society for clarifying the above.
Build up to the Battle of Edgcote Moor
In 1464 the Earl of Warwick had been negotiating a marriage on behalf of Edward IV. Edward however, married Elizabeth Woodville in secrecy. This infuriated Warwick. Over the next few years the Woodville family were given positions of power. They grew in importance and influence within Edward’s court. Warwick’s own position was challenged.
This led to disputes between Warwick and Edward. Warwick was further angered by the kings refusal to allow his daughter to wed the Duke of Clarence. Edward insisted on Clarence marrying for diplomatic purposes. Neither Clarence, the heir to the throne, or Warwick were happy with this. Their thoughts turned to rebellion.
Rebellion in the North
In the early summer of 1469 rumours were spread in the North of England that Edward IV was illegitimate. This would make the Duke of Clarence the rightful king. Warwick’s agents had spread these rumours. A small rebellion broke out as a result of the rumours. Edward marched north to deal with the issue. He stopped at Nottingham to gather recruits but, with his popularity in decline, was forced to wait for reinforcements from the Earls of Devon and Pembroke.
As Edward awaited his reinforcements both Clarence and Warwick declared their support for the rebels. Warwick had a large force at the ready and set off marching north on the 18th July. The rebels, aware of the plan, began to march south. On their way south the rebels encountered the forces of Devon and Pembroke at Edgcote Moor. The next day, 26th July, the rebels from the north engaged with the force of Pembroke and Devon.
The Battle of Edgcote Moor
The battle itself was a short one. The forces of Pembroke and Devon were separated, having camped in different villages. Though Pembroke had the larger force, the rebels were buoyed by the fact they faced only half of the enemy force. They then got an unexpected advantage. Pembroke’s men identified Warwick’s livery among the rebel force. Believing this to be the full army led by the Earl, they panicked. Many of them turned and fled before being engaged. The rebels quickly overwhelmed the remainder of Pembroke’s force. The earl was captured, along with his son. Both were executed the following day. Devon was captured several days later.
After the battle
In the days after the Battle of Edgecote Moor the rebels captured Richard Woodville, father of the queen, and his son, John at Chepstow Castle. Both were given a hastily arranged show trial by the rebels and beheaded. This marked a turning point in the wars of the roses. Edward IV was losing popularity and now losing supporters through their death on the battlefield and summary executions.
Warwick had been instrumental in getting Edward IV onto the throne. Together they had waged the successful Towton Campaign, defeating Henry VI’s forces and undoing the work of Margaret of Anjou to place the house of York on the throne. Now, Warwick was switching allegiance. Though at this point the rebellion was claiming Clarence was the rightful heir, Warwick soon allied with Margaret of Anjou and the readeption of Henry VI followed soon after. It led to Edward IV going into exile, regrouping and a few years in which the wars of the roses had military campaigns, culminating in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury.
When Warwick knew that Edward had started for the north, and had his attention fixed on Robin of Redesdale, he developed the second half of his plan. On July 11 the Duke of Clarence was wedded to Isabella Neville at Calais by the Archbishop of York, in open disobedience to the king’s commands. Next day Warwick, his new son-in-law, and his brother published a manifesto, to the effect that they adhered to the cause of the “king’s true subjects,” now up in arms, who had “called upon them with piteous lamentations to be the means to our Sovereign Lord the King of remedy and reformation”. They republished the manifesto of the Yorkshire rebels, testified to its righteousness, and promised to be at Canterbury within four days, where all good men were invited to meet them “defensibly arrayed”. Warwick was as good as his word; he crossed the straits at the head of the Calais garrison, was joined by many thousands of the Kentishmen, and marched on London unopposed, at the moment when all the king’s forces were moving northward. The capital opened its gates without resistance; the name of Warwick was still greater than that of the king with the Londoners. The earl then moved northward on Northampton, to attack the royalists in the rear. But before he had reached the front the campaign was over. ROBIN OF REDESDALE’S RISING by C. Oman. (Additional text on Luminarium)
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 Edgcote 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