Battle of Barnet

[mid-March - April 14] 1471

And in the second week of March, the 49th year of the reign of King Harry the VIth, and in the 10th year of the reign of King Edward the IVth, the same King Edward took his shipping in Flanders, and had with him the Lord Hastings and the Lord Say, and 900 Englishmen and 300 Flemings with hand-guns, and sailed towards England. And they had great trouble upon the sea with storms, and lost a ship with horses. And they purposed to have landed in Norfolk, but one of the brothers of the Earl of Oxford with the commons of the country rose up together, and put him back to the sea again. And after that, he was so troubled in the sea that he was fain to land in Yorkshire at Ravenspur. And there rose against him all the country of Holderness, whose captain was a priest, and a parson in the same country called Sir John Westerdale, who afterwards for his hostile disposition was cast into prison in the Marshalsea at London by the same King Edward. For the same priest met King Edward and asked the cause of his landing; and he answered that he came thither by the Earl of Northumberland's advice, and showed the earl's letter sent to him under his seal, and also he came to claim the Duchy of York, which was his inheritance of right. And so he passed on to the city of York, where Thomas Clifford let him in, and there he was examined again. And he said to the mayor and aldermen and to all the commons of the city the same as he had done in Holderness at his landing; that was to say, that he would never claim any title, nor take upon him to be King of England, and that he would not have done so before that time, but for the incitement and stirring of the Earl of Warwick. And thereupon before all the people he cried "Hurrah! King Harry! Hurrah! King and Prince Edward!" and wore an ostrich feather, Prince Edward's livery. And after this he was suffered to pass the city, and so held his way southwards, and no man hindered him nor hurt him.

After that he came to Nottingham, and there Sir William Stanley came to him with 300 men and Sir William Norris, and various other men and tenants of Lord Hastings, so that he had 2,000 men and more; and immediately after this he made his proclamation and called himself King of England and France. Then he took his way to Leicester, where were the Earl of Warwick and the lord marquis his brother, with 4,000 men or more. And King Edward sent a messenger to them that if they would come out, he would fight with them. But the Earl of Warwick had a letter from the Duke of Clarence that he should not fight with the king until the duke came himself; and all was to the destruction of the Earl of Warwick, as it happened afterwards. Yet so the Earl of Warwick kept still the gates of the town shut, and suffered King Edward to pass towards London, and a little way out of Warwick the Duke of Clarence met with King Edward, with 7,000 men, and there they were reconciled, and made a proclamation forthwith in King Edward's name. And so all covenants of fidelity, made between the Duke of Clarence, and the Earl of Warwick, Queen Margaret, and Prince Edward her son, both in England and in France, were clearly broken and forsaken of the said Duke of Clarence; which, in the end, brought destruction both to him and them, for perjury shall never have a better end, without the grace of God.

King Harry was then in London, and the Archbishop of York, in the palace of the Bishop of London. And on the Wednesday next before Easter Day King Harry and the Archbishop of York with him rode about London, and desired the people to be true to him; and every man said they would. Nevertheless, Christopher Urswick, Recorder of London, and divers aldermen, who had the government of the city, commanded all the people who were in arms, protecting the city and King Harry, to go home to dinner; and during the dinner time King Edward was let in, and so went to the palace of the Bishop of London and there took King Harry and the Archbishop of York and put them in ward, the Thursday next before Easter Day. And the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Essex, Lord Berners, and such others as bore towards King Edward good will, as well in London as in other places, produced as many men as they could to strengthen the said King Edward; so then he had 7,000 men and there they refreshed themselves well all that day and Good Friday.

And upon Easter Eve he and all his host went towards Barnet and he took King Harry with him; for he understood that the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Exeter, the Marquis Montagu, the Earl of Oxford, and many other knights, squires, and commons, to the number of 20,000 men, were gathered together to fight against King Edward. But it happened that he with his host entered the town of Barnet before the Earl of Warwick and his host. And so the Earl of Warwick and his host lay outside the town all night, and each of them fired guns at the other all night. And on Easter Day in the morning, the 14th April, right early, each of them came upon the other; and there was such a thick mist that neither of them might see the other perfectly. There they fought, from 4 o'clock in the morning unto 10 o'clock of the forenoon. And at various times the Earl of Warwick's party had the victory, and supposed that they had won the field. But it happened so that the Earl of Oxford's men had upon them their lord's livery, both in front and behind, which was a star with streams, which was much like King Edward's livery, a sun with streams. And the mist was so thick that a man might not properly judge one thing from another; so the Earl of Warwick's men shot and fought against the Earl of Oxford's men, thinking and supposing that they had been King Edward's men. And at once the Earl of Oxford and his men cried "Treason! Treason!" and fled away from the field with 800 men. The lord Marquis Montagu had an agreement and understanding with King Edward and put upon him King Edward's livery; and a man of the Earl of Warwick saw that and fell upon him and killed him. And when the Earl of Warwick saw his brother dead, and the Earl of Oxford fled, he leapt upon his horse, and fled to a wood by the field of Barnet, from which there was no road. And one of King Edward's men had espied him and came upon him and killed him and despoiled him naked. And so King Edward won that field.

And there were slain of the Earl of Warwick's party the Earl himself, Marquis Montagu, Sir William Tyrell, knight, and many others. The Duke of Exeter fought manfully there that day, and was greatly despoiled and wounded, and left naked for dead on the field, and so lay there from 7 o'clock until 4 in the afternoon; but he was taken up and brought to a house by a man of his own, and a physician was brought to him, and so afterwards he was brought into sanctuary at Westminster. And on King Edward's side were slain the Lord Cromwell, son and heir to the Earl of Essex, Lord Berners's son and heir, Lord Say, and various others, to the number of 4,000. And after the battle was over, King Edward commanded both the Earl of Warwick's body and the marquis's body to be put in a cart, and he returned with all his host again to London. And there he commanded the said two bodies to be laid in the church of St Paul's, on the pavement, that every man might see them. And so they lay three or four days, and afterwards were buried. And King Harry, being in the van during the battle, was not hurt, but he was brought again to the Tower of London, there to be kept.

John Warkworth. Chronicle. (London: 1839)

This document was originally stored at Hillsdale College (original URL). That version seems to have expired; this copy was retrieved from the Internet Archive. (HTML formatting modified by Andrew Plotkin, Aug 17 2007.)