Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464

Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464

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Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464

The battle of Hedgeley Moor (25 April 1464) was a Yorkist victory that marked the beginning of the end of Lancastrian resistance in Northumberland.

After the battle of Towton of 29 March 1461 the most effective centre of opposition to Edward IV was in Northumberland. Queen Margaret and Henry VI had escaped from Towton to relative safety in Scotland, and the Lancastrians were able to use their Scottish base to make repeated attacks on the castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh. Edward IV attempted to find both a political and military solution to this problem, sending armies to recapture the castles and attempting to come to terms with some of the remaining Lancastrian leaders. During 1463 he appeared to have made peace with Henry Beaufort, third duke of Somerset. Somerset had spent some time in exile, and had returned with a French mercenary force that seized the castles in October 1462. When Queen Margaret retreated back into Scotland Somerset was left to defend Bamburgh, and in December he surrendered it to Edward IV.

Somerset had been a dedicated enemy of the Yorkists, but Edward was determined to win him over. His estates were restored, his brother was released from prison and Somerset spent much time with the king. This dramatic pardon didn't make Somerset popular, and after a near riot he was sent to his estates in Wales for his own safety. His change of heart would prove to be short-lived, and late in 1463 he left north Wales and attempted to make his way to Henry VI, who was at Bamburgh Castle. On the way he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize Newcastle, but the plot was discovered and foiled.

Despite this setback Somerset was able to reach Bamburgh, which was now the centre of Lancastrian resistance. Scotland was now closed to them and peace negotiations were under way between Edward IV and the Scots. A number of other pardoned Lancastrians joined Somerset, amongst them Sir Henry Bellingham, Sir Humphrey Neville and Sir Ralph Percy. The Lancastrians were able to capture Norham, Langley, Hexham, Bywell and Prudhoe, and by late March had created a small Lancastrian enclave in the far north-east.

This caused Edward a number of problems, including disrupting the Anglo-Scottish talks, which had been due to take place at Newcastle on 6 March. The talks were rearranged for late April and were to be held in York. An army commanded by John Neville, Lord Montagu, was sent to Northumberland to collect the Scottish envoys, and on 27 March Edward announced that he intended to lead a large army north in person to deal with the rebels.

Edward's presence wouldn’t be needed - Montagu would win two battles that ended the Lancastrian threat before the king could reach the north.

Montague was heading into dangerous territory. The Lancastrians attempted to ambush him while he was heading north to Newcastle, with a force of archers and 80 men at arms. Montague was able to elude this force and reached Newcastle, where he picked up reinforcements. From Newcastle he moved north to Alnwick, then north-west towards Wooler. The Lancastrians decided to make a major effort to intercept him and Somerset led their main army south-west from Bamburgh. The two armies clashed at Hedgeley Moor (now close to the A697 just to the south-east of Wooler).

The events of the battle are fairly obscure. The Lancastrians may have had as many as 5,000 men, and were led by Somerset, Percy, Robert Hungerford, Lord Hungerford, Thomas Roos, Lord Roos, Lord Grey and Sir William Tailboys. Before the two sides came to blows the Lancastrian left fled the field, leaving Somerset outnumbered. At some point during the battle Sir Ralph Percy was killed and the main Lancastrian force withdrew. Somerset pulled back to Alnwick, while Montague was able to continue on to the Scottish borders, met the envoys and escort them to York.

Hedgeley Moor had been a significant blow to the Lancastrians, and they were aware that Edward IV was preparing a large army at Leicester. Somerset and the Lancastrian leaders decided that they needed a quick victory over the local Yorkists before the king arrived. They marched into the Tyne valley, but Montague was up to the challenge. On 15 May he caught the Lancastrians at Hexham and inflicted a second victory that effectively ended the Lancastrian uprising in Northumberland. Montague was rewarded with the earldom of Newcastle for these two victories, although this would only last until 1470.

Books on the Middle Ages -Subject Index: War of the Roses


At the beginning of 1464, after setbacks in 1463, the Lancastrians were hoping that the Welsh Marches and the West Country would rise in their support. The Yorkists wanted to remove the threat of Scottish invasion, by reaching an agreement with the Scots. The English parliament was due to meet at York on 5 May to discuss terms with a party from Scotland, but a burst of Lancastrian activity in Northumberland and North Yorkshire meant that it would be difficult for the Scottish party to travel safely to York. Lord Montagu was therefore sent north with a small force to escort them to York.

The Duke of Somerset tried to ambush Montagu near Newcastle but the latter was able to evade this attempt. He continued his journey northwards, gathering troops as he went. When Montagu reached Hedgeley Moor he had an army of five or six thousand men. There he met a Lancastrian army of five thousand men commanded by Somerset. The Lancastrian army also included Lords Ros and Hungerford and Sir Ralph Percy

Battle of Hedgeley Moor

The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464, was a battle of the Wars of the Roses. In mid April of 1464, John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu was marching North to attend meetings with Scottish envoys at Newcastle. His popularity meant that supporters flocked to his banner throughout the journey and by the time he left Newcastle, he was in charge of an army numbering five or six thousand men.

At Hedgley Moor in Northumberland he met a rebel force, consisting mainly of Lancastrians the King had pardoned, returned to their true colors. The Lancastrians were commanded by the Duke of Somerset and amongst their number were Sir Ralph Percy, Lords Roos and Hungerford, and Sir Ralph Grey. The Lancastrian army was five thousand strong, but morale was not as high as in the Yorkist camp.

The battle began with the normal exchange of archer fire between the two armies. Montagu then advanced across the 1,500 yards of moorland, only to be forced to halt and readjust his lines when the Lancastrian left flank, under Lords Roos and Hungerford, (some 2,000 men) faltered, broke and scattered.

The whole Lancastrian force gave way when the Yorkists clashed with their line. Pushed back by weight of numbers all but a few of the remaining Lancastrians fled the field. Sir Ralph Percy stayed with his household retainers and made a brave last stand. But, deserted by the rest of the army, including all the other commanders, he was soon slain.

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Hedgeley Moor ( )

On his way to the border of Scotland to meet a group of envoys to discuss peace, John Neville (Lord Montagu), brother of Warwick, clashed with a Lancastrian force of similar size. During the battle, the Lancastrian wings commanded by Lords Hungerford and Roos fled leaving Sir Ralph Percy with the only holding force. Percy's troops were crushed. Montagu continued north and the Duke of Somerset led the remaining Lancastrian army south to Hexham.

York Leadership: Lord Montagu

Lancaster Leadership: Duke of Somerset

Size of forces: Yorks - 5,000 Lancasters - 5,000

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Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, fought in Northumberland on 25 April 1464, checked the growth of Lancastrian insurgency in the far north and allowed the continuation of peace talks between SCOTLAND, a former Lancastrian refuge, and the Yorkist government of EDWARD IV.

Early in 1464, Henry BEAUFORT, the Lancastrian duke of Somerset, whom Edward IV had pardoned in the previous year, left his post in WALES and fled into the Lancastrian north, where he declared openly for HENRY VI. After a failed attempt to seize the Yorkist supply base at Newcastle, Somerset appeared at the Northumbrian castle of BAMBURGH, then in Lancastrian hands. Joining forces with Sir Ralph Percy and other recently pardoned Lancastrians, Somerset launched a two-month campaign that by late March had turned northeastern England into a Lancastrian enclave. With Norham Castle and the towns of Bywell, Hexham, Langley, and Prudhoe all in Somerset’s hands, the Anglo-Scottish talks that were set to resume in Newcastle on 6 March had to be rescheduled for late April in York. To safely escort the Scottish commissioners from the border to York, Edward IV dispatched John NEVILLE, Lord Montagu, into Northumbria.

Collecting strength as he moved north, Montagu evaded a Lancastrian ambush and came safely to Newcastle. Resuming his march to the Scottish border, Montagu encountered a force under Somerset about nine miles northwest of ALNWICK on Hedgeley Moor. Although accounts of the battle are sketchy, fighting seems to have begun with the usual exchange of ARCHER fire. But before the two armies could engage, the left wing of Somerset’s force suddenly broke and ran, perhaps because of poor morale. Montagu shifted his position to attack the remaining Lancastrians, who were quickly overwhelmed by the larger Yorkist army. At some point during the fighting, Somerset and most of the Lancastrian army disengaged and scattered, leaving Sir Ralph Percy and his household RETAINERS on the field to be slaughtered. After the battle, Montagu reformed his army and continued his march to the border, where he met the Scottish envoys and conducted them safely to York to resume their talks with Edward IV’s commissioners.

Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995).

1 comment:

Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464 - History

THE BATTLE OF HEDGELEY MOOR (April 25th, 1464), was fought during the Wars of the Roses, between Margaret of Anjou and the Yorkists under Lord Montague.

Margaret, who had retired to Scotland after the battle of Towton, collected forces and invaded England in the early part of 1464. She took several northern castles, and was joined by Somerset and the Percies but Montague, who was sent against the Lancastrians, totally defeated and slew Sir Ralph Percy at Hedgeley Moor, some miles south of Wooler in Nortumberland.

The Dictionary of English History. Sidney J. Low and F. S. Pulling, eds.
London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1910. 545.

Books for further study: Hicks, Michael. The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485.
New York: Routledge, 2003.

Weir, Alison. The Wars of the Roses.
New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

to the Wars of the Roses
to Luminarium Encyclopedia

Site ©1996-2007 Anniina Jokinen. All rights reserved.
This page was created on April 19, 2007.

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Battle of Hexam, May 15, 1464

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Hedgeley Moor

The Battle of Hedgeley Moor took place in April 1464 and was one of the smaller battles of the Wars of the Roses, with just over 6000 men slugging it out. It followed a long period of peace following the Towton campaign. Lord Montagu was sent north by Edward IV to make contact with Scottish supporters at Newcastle. At Hedgeley Moor he met a rebel force under the Duke of Somerset. Morale was low in the Lancastrian camp. It was an untried force that had only just come togethr from stragglers and those recentley pardoned by the King. As Montagu advanced, Lord Roos withdrew from the field with his men. The rest of the Lancastrians stood for a while but as contact was made, their cnetre also buckled and ran leaving Sir Ralph Percy standing. He was on home soil and saw a heroic last stand with Percy being cut down. The Yorkists continued on their way unopposed until a firther clash less than a month later at Hexham.

John B came over to Chez Sean for a game on Wednesday. It was our first game of Bloody Barons together. Having played other RFCM games, the mechanisms soon became familiar and we had a right Royal ding dong. John in the guise of Montague really played a blinder and true to history swept away the Lancastrian forces under Roos and Somerset. Although Percy survived by the end of the battle he was cut off from any line of retreat and in reality would in all probablitiy have been captured.

Montagu behind his command at the sentre of the Yorkist line.

The Yorkists prepare for slaughter on the moor.

Facing the rather nervous Lancastrians with Roos closest to the camera.

Percy's command facing Lord Scrope on the Yorkist right.

John chose the yellow dice this time after having bad memories of the orange dice during a game of CWB. Not sure how this happened after one particular roll of about 10 dice. Had to take a picture though. Its evil magic I tell you. We need to find a witch to burn!

A shaky picture of Montagus command looking pretty confident.

The end. Percy is to the right of the wood with Monatgu about to fall on his rear. It looks bad for old Percy. Bottom right shows the Yorkist command under the Bishop of Exeter who swept Roos and most of Somersets command from the field.

Watch the video: BATTLE OF TRIANGLE HILL (July 2022).


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