On this day in Tudor history, 16th June 1487, nearly two years after the Battle of Bosworth, the final battle between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the civil war that we call the Wars of the Roses took place.
It was the Battle of Stoke Field and it was between Henry VII and the Yorkist forces of Lord Lovell and John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, who supported pretender Lambert Simnel.
Here’s my short video on the battle, along with transcript below, but you can enjoy a detailed 45-minute video by battlefield historian Julian Humphrys here.
On this day in Tudor history, 16th June 1487, the Battle of Stoke Field took place in a field to the south west of East Stoke in Nottinghamshire.
It was fought between Henry VII’s forces and the Yorkist forces of Lord Lovell and John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln.
It is known as the last battle between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the civil war that we call the Wars of the Roses. Many people think that the civil war ended with the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485, when Henry Tudor’s forces defeated those of Richard III, and Richard was killed, but that’s not true. On the morning of 16th June 1487, the Yorkist forces of Francis, Lord Lovell; John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and Thomas FitzGerald engaged in battle with those of Henry VII, under the command of the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor, the king’s uncle.
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 1500-2,000 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.
The battle was over before three hours was up. The Yorkists lost around 4,000 men, among them Lincoln and Fitzgerald. Lovell is thought to have escaped and fled to Scotland, and 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. Simnel died a natural death sometime between 1525 and 1535.