The Battle of Barnet
Three kings, swirling fog, a storm of arrows, new-fangled hand-guns and one side attacking their own men – this was the 1471 Battle of Barnet!
English Heritage describes it as ‘one of the most important battles’ of the Wars of the Roses, a series of English civil wars over who should be king. The claimants were Edward IV, of the house of York, and Henry VI, of the house of Lancaster. By the time the two sides lined up at Barnet, both men had been crowned and re-crowned; Edward was just back from exile and Henry was his hostage.
Henry’s army was commanded by the powerful Earl of Warwick (the ‘Kingmaker’) – who had previously been Edward’s right-hand-man. After helping Edward become king, Warwick had been frustrated by Edward ignoring his advice, and ended up changing sides!
Edward IV and the Yorkists were victorious at the Battle of Barnet, while the Earl of Warwick was killed.
Three Kings spent the night before the battle in Barnet: Edward IV, Henry VI, and the future Richard III (Edward’s younger brother).
Name: Battle of Barnet
Date: 14 April 1471 (Easter Sunday)
War: Wars of the Roses
Location: north of Chipping Barnet (North London / Herts). Only registered battlefield in greater London, and quoted in the Mayor of London’s London Plan
Opposing forces: Yorkists (led by Edward IV) and Lancastrians (led by the Earl of Warwick, representing Henry VI)
Cause: Fight for the throne
Outcome: Yorkist victory and death of Earl of Warwick
Duration: 4 hours
Terrain: open heathland
Main commanders: Yorkist: Edward IV, Lord Hastings, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III). Lancastrian: Earl of Warwick, Lord Montagu, Earl of Oxford, Duke of Exeter
Numbers: Yorkists 10,000-13,000; Lancastrians 13,000-15,000
Losses: between 1,500 and 4,000