The Battle of Barnet

14th April, 1471

Principal Commanders

Lancaster York
Edward IV
Gloucester (Richard III)

In October of 1470, Warwick (the kingmaker) drove Edward IV out of England and reinstated Henry VI as king.

Edward returned in March 1471, with ships and money supplied by the Duke of Burgundy. He landed in Yorkshire, and soon asembled a small arny, and he gathered reinforcements as he marched south. On 12 April he entered London unopposed.

Warwick marched to attack him through St. Albans with a mixed force of about 9,000 men, and took up a position on Hadley Green, just north of Barnet. Edward, with 8,000 men, arrived at Barnet in the evening of 13 April. In spite of the darkness, he marched to within a short distance of Warwick. Throughout the night, Warwick had his cannons bombard where he thought his enemies were encamped, but they had moved to a closer position, so they were not hit.

The battle started early next morning in a thick ground mist. Initially, Edward’s left flank, (under Lord Hastings) was beaten from the field by the Earl of Oxford. Richard of Gloucester (the future Richard III) had some success on Edwards right. The centre ground was firercely fought, with no immediate advantage to either side. Oxford, returning from pursuing Hasting’s men, misjudged his position, and his banners were mistaken for Edward’s by Warwick’s centre. (Oxford’s symbol was a star, Edward’s was the “sunne in spleandor”) Thinking that he was being betrayed, Oxford fled the field with his men.

The overall battle lasted between three and four hours, and ended in a complete victory for Edward. The Earl of Warwick was struck down on the field, and his machinations in the politics of the time ended.

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Details of other battles: Tewkesbury, Bosworth, Blore Heath, London