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The Tudor Society

Battle of Clyst Heath – 6 August 1549

Man thought to be William Grey, 13th Baron Grey de Wilton (Lord Grey)

Man thought to be William Grey, 13th Baron Grey de Wilton (Lord Grey)

The Battle of Clyst Heath was another battle fought between the rebels of the Prayer Book Rebellion and Edward VI's forces.

Upon hearing of the news of the massacre the previous day, two thousand rebels made their way to Clyst Heath where the Lords Russell and Grey were camped, and opened fire. The battle lasted all day, but the rebels were defeated in the end. The 18th century historian, John Hooker, wrote of the battle:

"The Rebels which lay about Exeter, hearing of the many Defeats given to the Malecontents, their neighbours, assembled together as many men as they could raise, and in all haste came to Clyst-Heath; and on the Lower Side thereof, next the High-way, entrenched themselves, and fortified a place fast by a hedge, where they secretly planted their Ordnance in the Night, and put all Things in Readiness, being resolved to abide the Brunt. At Break of day, having therefore discharged their pieces against the Army encamped upon the Top of the Hill, the Lords and Captains, the sooner to end the Quarrel, determined to give the Onset, accordingly they divided themselves into three parts, every one having his proper place assigned him.

Lord Russell having no way open before him caused his pioneers to cut thro' the hedges of inclosed grounds; by which means he at length came upon the very Back of the Enemy; and they were so entrapped on every Side, that they could not any Way escape, but must either yield or Fight. The one they would not, and in the other they prevailed not; tho' indeed they fought most stoutly, nor would give out as long as life and limb lasted; so that few or none were left alive. Great was the slaughter and cruel was the fight; and such was the Valour of these men, that the Lord Grey declared, that he never, in all the wars that he had been, knew the like."

Russell marched on to Exeter to relieve the city, which had been under siege for five weeks.

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Battle of Clyst Heath – 6 August 1549