The Battle of Hedgeley Moor was fought on 25th April 1464. A Yorkist force led by Lord Montague defeated a Lancastrian force led by the Duke of Somerset. The victory enabled the Yorkists to escort a Scottish delegation to York for negotiations about a peace. It also hampered the Lancastrian efforts to rebuild in Northumberland.
Lancastrians after Towton
Following the Battle of Towton, Queen Margaret had gone into exile in Scotland. Some parts of Northern England remained loyal to Henry VI. The North had become a place of refuge for Lancastrians and was an area in which they were growing in strength and confidence.
Edward’s need for a peace with Scotland
Edward IV needed to secure his throne. The threat of raids or an invasion from Scotland loomed large over the early part of his reign. Strategically, he needed to shore up that border by making agreements with the Scots. With the House of Lancaster having French support it was possible that Margaret of Anjou would plot for simultaneous uprisings in the Midlands, the North of England along with French and Scottish raids or even invasions.
Montagu’s mission to Scotland
The frequency of raids by Lancastrians in the north meant that it was not safe for the Scottish delegation to travel unaccompanied to York for meetings with Edward IV and his council. To ensure their safe passage, Edward sent Lord Montagu north to meet them at the border.
Somerset, learning of the movement of Montagu’s men swept into action. He called together as many Lancastrians as he could muster. Initially Somerset wanted to ambush Montagu’s men. The Yorkist scouts foiled these plans though and Somerset withdrew further north. The Yorkist force marching to the Scottish border was now some 6000 strong. Somerset had a force of 5000. He decided to block their route.
Somerset chose high ground on Hedgeley Moor to face the advancing Yorkists.
Battle of Hedgeley Moor
Sources do not provide much information about the Battle of Hedgeley Moor. It appears that the usual exchange between the archers preceded an advance. As the Yorkists advanced, one side of the Lancastrian force broke and retreated from the field. This left the Lancastrian vanguard exposed. Sensing the danger, Somerset withdrew his battle. However Sir Ralph Percy at the head of the Lancastrian vanguard was left isolated and died overwhelmed by the Yorkist force.
The short battle opened the route for Montagu to march to Scotland and hampered Lancastrian efforts in the area. Somerset was forced to withdraw to Alnwick. From there he engaged the Yorkists again at the Battle of Hexham before Lancastrian power in the area crumbled. This was a period within the wars of the roses in which York was very much in the ascendancy. Lancastrian loyalists had used the north east as a stronghold and looked to regroup in this area.
Battle of Hedgeley Moor: Links
English Monarchs – account of the Battle of Hedgeley Moor
Historic England – schedule for the Percy Cross
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