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The Tudor Society

16 June 1487 – The Battle of Stoke Field

Memorial stone commemorating those who died in the battle.

Memorial stone commemorating those who died in the battle.

The Battle of Stoke field, which was fought on 16th June 1487, is known as the last battle between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the civil war we call the Wars of the Roses. Many people think that the civil war ended with the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, when Henry VII defeated Richard III, but on the morning of 16th June 1487 the Yorkist forces of Francis, Lord Lovell, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and Thomas FitzGerald of Laccagh engaged in battle with those of Henry VII, under the command of the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor, in a field to the south west of East Stoke in Nottinghamshire.

The Yorkists were looking to remove Henry VII from the throne and replace him with pretender Lambert Simnel, who they claimed was Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of George, Duke of Clarence. Although Warwick was actually imprisoned in the Tower of London at this time, Simnel was crowned King Edward VI in Dublin on 24th May 1487. The Yorkist forces had some success against the Lancastrians in early June, but the Battle of Stoke Field was a decisive Lancastrian victory. Although the Yorkist forces were swelled by 1500-2000 German mercenaries led by Martin Schwarz, an expert commander, by the time they met Henry VII's forces at Stoke Field they were outnumbered. It is thought that Henry VII's forces numbered up to 15,000, while the rebels only had around 8,000.

Before three hours was up, the battle was over. Around 4,000 men were lost on the Yorkist side, among them Lincoln and Fitzgerald. Lovell is thought to have escaped and fled to Scotland. Lambert Simnel, who was only about ten years old, was spared by Henry VII, who put him to work in his kitchens. Simnel later became a falconer.

Photo: © Copyright Peter Mattock and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence, from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/127109.

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16 June 1487 – The Battle of Stoke Field