Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Palm Sunday Field

Today is the anniversary of the battle of Towton in 1461. Fought on Palm Sunday it was known to the later fifteenth century as Palm Sunday Field.

With Easter having an unfixed date it is not that common for the calendar anniversary and Palm Sunday to coincide. It happened in 1801,1863,1874,1885,1896, and last century in 1931, 1942, and 1953, and this century will happen next in 2026 and then in 2048.

Had there been no battle at Towton with the result it had - the clear victory of the Yorkist King Edward IV - then there would have been no Bosworth and no King Richard III to rebury this past week. There might well have been no Tudors, and no English reformation ( and all that led to ).

Towton is often considered the largest and bloodiest battle fought on English soil. Fought in snowy conditions it was a vicious political and military 'grudge match'.

The Opening Barrage, by Graham Turner

The Opening Barrage, by Graham Turner

Image:richardiii.net/© Reproduced by kind permission of the artist. www.studio88.co.uk

The Rout

The Rout, by Graham Turner
Artwork from 'Campaign 120:'Towton 1461: England's bloodiest battle' by Graham Turner

Image:richardiii.net /© Osprey Publishing Ltd

It is said that the pious Lancastrian King Henry VI, behind the lines in York, sought to prevent fighting on a feast day and a Sunday. His supplanter King Edward IV was less scrupulous - he had the Earl of Devon, a Lancastrian who was injured in the battle and unable to flee with his King and other Henrician loyalists in time, beheaded on April 3, that is on Good Friday. Nice day for an execution. Not that, as can be seen from following the links in the biography of Earl Thomas to the death of Nicholas Radford in 1455, that he and his brother were exactly squeamish when it came to political violence. 

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