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1469: 26 July - Edgecote

After Hexham and the surrender of the Northumbrian castles, it seemed as though the Lancastrian cause could never recover sufficiently to become a serious threat to Edward IV. The Beauforts, the Tudor Earl of Pembroke, the Duke of Exeter - in fact almost all the Lancastrian leaders - were in exile, and in July 1465 Henry was caught on the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire and sent to the Tower. But the Yorkist strength lay in the twin pillars of the King and Warwick. Between 1465 and 1469 the King, by a series of foolish and underhand acts, estranged Warwick, who went from being his most loyal and useful adherent to his most embittered enemy.
 
The break between Warwick and Edward was signal for a big revival of Lancastrian activity on both sides of the Channel. Jasper Tudor returned to Wales and here, and elsewhere, uprising’s broke out; Warwick had crossed to Calais where he was joined by the King’s brother Clarence, who married Warwick’s daughter there. Warwick, having fermented a serious rebellion in the North of the country, then landed in Kent, where he raised a considerable army with which he marched on London. Edward, who was at Nottingham dealing with the Yorkshire rebellion, found himself between two hostile forces. He had some 15,000 men under arms with him, but the loyalty of many was suspect. However, his newly created Earls of Devon (Stafford) and Pembroke (Herbert) were marching to his assistance with 6,000 and 14,000 archers respectively. Meanwhile the northern rebels, under Sir John Conyers, had carried out a skillful march on Leicester and got between Edward and the Earls. The latter joined forces at Banbury, where Devon and Pembroke quarrelled. As a result, Devon drew off his men, leaving Pembroke with only 14,000 Welsh bowmen to face a vastly superior force under Conyers, and possibly Warwick’s army which was marching towards Towcester. On 25 July the two forces were in contact and some skirmishing for position took place round three prominent features near Danes Moor. Danes Moor is situated about five and a half miles north-east of Banbury, some two miles east of Wardington, which is on the Banbury-Chipping Warden (B4036) road. On this day the northerners lost Sir Henry Neville, son of Lord Latimer.
 
On 26 July Pembroke’s men were attacked in force, but through the efforts of their commander and his brother Sir Richard Herbert, held their own for some hours against superior numbers. Eventually, lured down from their hillside position into the valley, and betrayed by the vanguard of the King’s army under Sir Geoffrey Gate, who arrived late on the scene and then joined the enemy, the Welshmen broke. One near contemporary account puts their casualties as high as 4,000, but this is probably a considerable exaggeration. Pembroke and his brother were taken prisoner and summarily executed. The fractious Earl of Devon was captured a few days later and also executed. As a result of the battle Edward became Warwick’s prisoner but, after keeping him at Middleham Castle for a while, Warwick found it expedient to release him.