On this day in history,14th April 1471, The Battle of Barnet took place. It was a victorious battle for the Yorkists under command of Edward IV. In March 1471 hastily exiled Edward returned to England, with the assistance of his brother-in-law the Duke of Burgundy. Landing in Yorkshire Edward assembled troops and equipment and headed south, gathering more troops as he went. Edward reached London unopposed on 12 April. Aware of Edward’s movements, the Earl of Warwick, who had been in the Midlands raising troops, marched towards London to confront him. With a Lancastrian army of some 15,000 troops he took up position about a mile north of Barnet on 13 April. Edward arrived that evening with a force of between 10,000 - 12,000 troops and took up position to the south of the Lancastrians. In spite of the dark Edward chose to deploy his troops on arrival rather than wait for the morning. Whether by accident or design he deployed very close to Warwick’s lines, down in a marshy valley, instructing his men to light no fires and keep silent. The Yorkist proximity to the Lancastrians proved fortuitous as the artillery bombardment that Warwick now launched passed over the heads of Edward’s troops.
The scene was now set for a major confrontation between Edward and his erstwhile ally, the Earl of Warwick. This battle at Barnet did not resolve the Wars of the Roses but it was nethertheless of enormous significance. Edward IV secured a resounding victory and in doing so had despatched the second most powerful man in the kingdom, the Earl of Warwick. The event saw the deaths of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, his brother John Neville Marquise of Montague, Humphrey Bourchier Lord Cromwell and William Fiennes 2nd Lord Saye.
Name: Battle of Barnet War period: Wars of the Roses Outcome: Yorkist victory County: Hertfordshire / Greater London Authority Place: South Mimms / Enfield / Monken Hadley Terrain: open heath/common Date: 14th April 1471 Start: 5am Duration: 4 hours
Armies: Yorkist under King Edward VI; Lancastrians under Earl of Warwick Numbers: Yorkist: circa 10,000; Lancastrians: circa 15,000
Losses: “Casualties at Barnet reflected the evenness of the battle. Wesel thought 1500 fell on both sides. Commynes gave the same figure for the Yorkists, more among the defeated Lancastrians. These neutral estimates fall between John Paston’s 1000 ‘of both parties’ and Warkworth’s 4000.” Quoted from Cassell’s Battlefields of Britain & Ireland, Richard Brooks, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2005
Pictured: Late 15th-century artistic portrayal of the battle: Edward IV (left), wearing a circlet and mounted on a horse, leads the Yorkist charge and pierces the Earl of Warwick (right) with his lance; in reality, Warwick was not killed by Edward. Illustration on the Ghent manuscript