Warwick vs Edward




Two risings break out in Yorkshire; one is led by someone calling himself Robin of Redesdale and the other by an equally oddly-named Robin of Holderness. Both are put down with little difficulty by John Neville, although Robin of Redesdale slips through his fingers and reappears later the following month in Lancashire.


Edward decides to deal with Robin of Redesdale personally and sets about the process of mustering troops.

10 July

Edward reaches Newark-on-Trent. He has heard rumours that Warwick, Clarence and the archbishop of York are plotting against him and at first simply writes to all three asking them to come to see him.


However, at this point Clarence and Warwick are in Calais, where Clarence secretly marries Isabel Neville. At Newark, Edward hears that Robin of Redesdale’s army is close by and that it outnumbers his own. Edward retreats to Nottingham, sending urgent requests to Coventry for reinforcements as he does so.

12 July

Clarence and Warwick go public and circulate Robin of Redesdale’s manifesto plus an open letter of their own calling for support and asking all those who would help them to present themselves fully armed at Canterbury on 16 July.

20 July

Warwick and Clarence leave Canterbury at the head of a substantial force – Kent has always been a stronghold of support for Warwick – and march on London. Edward remains at Nottingham – possibly he is waiting for the army commanded by the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Devon, which is then marching west towards Northampton. At the same time though, Robin of Redesdale’s forces have bypassed the king and are heading south to link up with Warwick and Clarence. Both these forces are on a collision course.

26 July - The Battle of Edgecote

Despite Warwick’s protestations that he is nothing more than an aggrieved subject demanding the reformation of the realm, his actions seem to indicate another agenda. The royal army, under the command of the Earls of Pembroke and Devon becomes separated, a dangerous tactical situation since Pembroke’s force is mostly cavalry and Devon commands the majority of the archers. The reason for the separation may have been a combination of ignorance (Pembroke had no idea of the location of ‘Robin of Redesdale’s’ army) and the result of a quarrel between the two commanders over billeting arrangements in Banbury two days previously. Whichever the reason, both Devon and Pembroke are isolated and defeated in detail by both Redesdale and Warwick’s advance guard under Sir William Parr and Sir Geoffrey Gate. Both Pembroke and his brother are captured and later executed on Warwick’s orders.

29 July

At the village of Olney Edward hears the disastrous news from Edgecote. His small force numbers less than 2,000 and as the grim news filters out that Warwick is marching closer with vastly superior forces, they begin to desert en masse. Edward is taken into custody by George Neville.


Warwick attempts to rule England through the captive King Edward, but lack of support from the wider peerage forces him to allow the King to make public appearances and personally sign the orders for the raising of troops to keep the peace.


Warwick’s attempts to repeat the 1455 and 1460 experiments are at an end. Escorted by some of his most trusted peers and friends, Edward returns in triumph to London. All is seemingly peaceful, but both he and Warwick are now locked on a confrontational collision course.


Two major administrative changes are made by Edward. The first of these – the transfer to Richard of Gloucester of the estates accumulated by Warwick the previous summer – was only to be expected. The second is the release of Henry Percy from confinement in the Tower and his restoration to the earldom of Northumberland. This proves to be an unwise decision. John Neville resents losing the earldom and becoming Marquis of Montagu instead feels like crumbs from the royal table – since the title comes with no lands or other income with which to support it


Warwick’s attempt at a coup d’etat has failed – due mainly to a combination of passive resistance by the wider nobility. Thwarted in his ambitions for a French alliance, Warwick feels he has no choice but to make another bid for power. Edward’s removal would assure the survival of Warwick’s line. Nevertheless, support is minimal and only two peers, the Earl of Oxford and Lord Fitzhugh, offer active backing. Nothing daunted, Warwick looks around for a suitable starting point and finds it in the county of Lincolnshire. A prominent local Lancastrian, Lord Welles, has been locked in a feud with the Yorkist Sir Thomas Burgh of Gainsborough. Burgh is seen as a parvenu and owes his prosperity to grants of land given him by the king from attainted Lancastrians. That February, Welles attacks Burgh’s manor house at Gainsborough, strips it of valuables and partly demolishes it.

What makes this more than a local squabble is the fact that Burgh is Master of the King’s Horse and thus one of the King’s household. Burgh complains to the king, who orders Welles and his son-in-law Sir Thomas Dymmoke to appear before him. Both are heavily fined and the matter is deemed (by King Edward at least) to be closed. Nothing could be further from the truth.


In order to boost his standing nationally, Edward decides on a progress northwards.


Word of the royal progress reaches Lincolnshire and is used by agents of Warwick and Clarence to thoroughly stir things up.

4 March

Welles names himself ‘Great Captain of the Commons of Lincolnshire’ and orders a proclamation placed on the doors of every church in the county to the effect that the king is marching north to punish the common people of the county. He orders all able bodied men to meet him ‘defensibly arrayed’ on Ranby Hawe in two days’ time.

8 March

News of this reaches Edward as he prepares to stop for the night near Royston in Hertfordshire. He also receives a soothingly worded missive from Warwick and Clarence promising their full support against the rebellion. Encouraged by this, Edward issues them both commissions of array for the surrounding counties, authorising them to raise troops to help squash the rebels.

9 March

Edward reaches Huntingdon and at this point seems to have fresh suspicions about Lord Welles and son. Lord Welles is questioned and reveals everything – notably the fact that the rebellion is in fact a Warwick/Clarence inspired plot. Welles is ordered to write to Clarence and his (Welles’) son with the instruction that both submit to the king’s mercy. Edward instructs him to deliver the letter to Clarence personally.

12 March - Battle of Empingham (Loosecoate Field)

Edward finally confronts the rebel army near Stamford and soon puts it to flight. Clarence and Warwick hear of the defeat the following day and flee northwards towards the West Midlands in a pious hope that the Stanleys may be prepared to help them.

14-20 March

Both Warwick and Clarence continue to evade capture, whilst simultaneously trying to negotiate their way towards some kind of deal. Edward reaches York and thus cuts them off from any northern support. A furious Warwick, with Clarence in tow flees to Calais and thence to the Lancastrian court in exile in Normandy.

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