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.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Towton videos

In my post yesterday about the battle of Towton I commented that there were a number of videos available about the battle and the battlefield but that I had not so far looked at them. Having written that it spurred me on to actually investigate some of them and to recommend a selection.

The Battle of Towton 1461 - A Battlefield Tour is a tour of the battlefield with a guide. I think this is good about the site, but would take issue with some of the presenter’s general comments - the numbers involved, the fact that the Lancastrians had been wrong footed by the Parliament of 1460 which made Richard Duke of York heir, precipitating their attack on him in December of that year at the battle of Wakefield, King Edward IV was not an ‘anointed’ king at the time of Towton, not having his coronation until June 28 th that year, and Towton did not bring a decade of stable Yorkist rule, as the 1460s were punctuated by Lancastrian interventions and Yorkist double dealing. I also wonder if the villages in 1461 were made up of ‘hovels’ - maybe to our eyes, maybe not to those around at the time. That all notwithstanding I would recommend this video.

The Battle of Towton (Britains Bloodiest Battle Documentary) has some very evocative photography of the battlefield and concentrates on the investigation of the remains found at Towton Hall in 1996. Also well worth watching. 

There is another evocative, but shorter, film about Towton here.

also looks at the skeletons of the slain with interesting details such as how one victim had already survived horrendous injury some years before.

The Face of Towton 25 Man (Artistic Reconstruction) is a facial reconstruction of a soldier which makes clear the fact that these were once living individuals.

Battlefield archaeology about the important discovery that hand cannons were used at Towton is covered in The Towton Gun Fragments - Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project and from the same team an account of the survey of Lord Dacre’s tomb in Saxton churchyard can be seen at Lord Dacre's 'Tomb' - Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project

The Society of Antiquaries has an interesting short video about an ornamented spur found on the battlefield in the eighteenth century at Unlocking Our Collections: Maurice Howard on the Towton SpurHere again the chance of its rediscovery is noteworthy and its delicacy a reminder of fifteenth century skill and style, and of the humanity of its onetime owner.

Watching them made me feel nostalgic for the area and grateful for the interest the battlefield is now receiving. They also bring home to the viewer the intensity of the conflict we call the Wars of the Roses and the particular horrors of that snowy Palm Sunday in 1461.

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