Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why Blore Heath?

It was clear by early 1459 that there was going to be another violent clash between the armies of Lancaster and York. It came to pass that this clash was to take place in September of that year at Blore Heath.
Lancastrian soldiers marching to battle, from 'Before the Battle' by Richard SimmBlore Heath at this time was a mixture of wood and arable land, miles from any major town or city, and therefore militarily insignificant. So it is an interesting question as to how and why the two armies came to meet on Blore Heath.
In early 1459, both sides were actively recruiting armed men in preparation for the coming fight. Queen Margaret was based in Coventry, and was touring the Lancastrian heartlands of the north Midlands raising support for the royal cause. To reinforce this, she took along her five year son Edward, who was heir to the throne. Margaret handed out badges of silver swans, which was a personal badge of Henry VI, to all her noble supporters in the region.
Meanwhile, York and Salisbury were continuing their preparations for war. They were able to garner some support using their favoured tactic of anti-royal propaganda, but were finding it difficult to find men who would commit the heinous crime of treason by taking up arms against a King. The Yorkists were, however, able to draw up considerable support from their many tenants and retainers.
The Yorkists had the difficult problem of having a divided army, since York was based in Ludlow in Shropshire; and Salisbury at Middleham in Yorkshire. Right between them were the Lancastrian forces who were based in various locations in the Midlands. Warwick was also en route with an armed force from his base in Calais, France and heading towards Warwick castle, but finding his way blocked by Lancastrian forces was obliged to turn West and join York in Ludlow. In mid September, Salisbury was travelling from Middleham towards Ludlow, planning to unite with the main Yorkist force and then march on London.
In Cheshire, Margaret was informed of the movement of Salisbury's force heading towards Ludlow, and decided to try and intercept them before they reached their destination. The Queen ordered local magnates to come to the aid of the King at Eccleshall castle, whilst Lord Dudley and Lord Audley were required to raise a 'great power' of men and block Salisbury's route. As you can see from the map above, Blore Heath stood between the approaching Yorkists and their destination of Ludlow, but also had particular tactical advantages, which meant that it was selected by Audley as the location on which to forcibly halt the progress of the Yorkist army.

No comments:

Post a Comment