Battles and SiegesRevolts

Battle of Empingham / Losecote Field

Battle of Empingham / Losecote Field

On 12th March 1470 King Edward IV faced a rebellious army led by Sir Robert Welles. The clash took place at Empringham, Rutland and has become known as the Battle of Losecote Field. Welles’ force were motivated by grievances that had come to the fore the previous year. The resurgence of rebellion was fuelled by the Earl of Warwick and Duke of Clarence, who seemingly were telling both the king and the rebels that they were supportive of the cause.

“‘ . . . the Lincolnshire men  . . .  threw away their coats the lighter to run away . . .’  Holingshed;s Chronicle

Welles’ Rebellion

On 4th March Sir Robert Welles issued summons to the people of Lincolnshire. It called for them to join him in a campaign against the king. To encourage men to join his band, Welles had word spread that the pardons given by the king the previous year were worthless. Many joined Welles’ force, believing that Edward IV intended to execute those who had risen the previous year.

Commissions of Array

Word of Welles raising an army reached the king on 7th March. The response was for urgent commissions of array to be issued, including one to the Earl of Warwick who could raise a substantial experienced force.

Now both sides were gathering forces and moving into position. Welles’ force headed south towards Leicester. Edward learnt of the movements of the rebels and the forces raised by the Duke of Clarence and Earl of Warwick. The king moved his force towards the rebel army, and a series of letters was exchanged between the parties.

Evidence of betrayal

Letters from the Earl of Warwick apparently promised the king that his force was on its way to join him. Scouting had shown otherwise. Sir Robert Welles therefore received an ultimatum. Robert’s father, Lord Welles, was held as a hostage by King Edward. Should the rebel army not disperse, Lord Welles would be executed.

Welles’ force did retreat because of the ultimatum, but it had not dispersed. Edward knew that the Earl of Warwick’s army was not yet able to join with Welles’ force. The royal army advanced up the Great North Road and arrayed for battle near the village of Empingham in Rutland.

Source material on the Battle of Empringham / Losecote Field

The Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire

Contemporary account. believed to be authored by a Royal Official. It describes the events of the battle, or rout, as follows:

‘The King . . . took the field, where he understood the said Sir Robert Welles to be in arms with banners displayed against him, disposed to fight . . . wherefore his Highness in the field under his banner displayed commanded the said Lord Welles and Sir Thomas Dymoke to be executed; and so forthwith proceeding against his said rebels, by the help of All Mighty God, achieved the victory and distressed more than XXX.Ml men [30,000 men], using therewith plenteously? his mercy in saving of the lives of his poor and wretched commons . . . Where it is so to be remembered that, at such time as the battles were toward joining, the King with his host setting upon (the rebels), and they advancing themselves, their cry was ‘A Clarence! . .  a Warwick!  . . . This victory thus had, the King returned to Stanford late in the night, giving laud and praise to almighty God.’

Warkworth Chronicle

Near Contemporary.

The King ‘. . . and all his host went toward Lincolnshire, the Lord Welles and all the other people were gathered together . . . And so the King took his host and went toward his enemies, and loosed his guns of his ordnance upon them, and fought with them, and anon the commons fled away; but there was many slain of Lincolnshire’.

Site of the Battle of Empingham / Losecote Field

The battle took place:

 ‘at Empynghame, in a feld called Hornefeld in Empynghame aforeseid in the counte of Rutland’ {Parliamentary Roll, Oct 1472)

Hornfield was an abandoned village, known to have been deserted by the end of the 14th Century. If the battlefield was in Hornfield, this would place the battle to the west of the Great North Road near Tickencote.

The area now known as Bloody Oaks has an OS Grid Reference of SK 97026 11383.

The abandoned village of Hornfield is a little further to the north west, turning off the Great North Road onto North Road Spinney towards Fort Henry Lake where you will find Hornfield at OS Grid Reference SK9505 1160.

Consequences of the battle of Empringham / Losecote Field

The most significant consequence in relation to the Wars of the Roses was that the defeat of Sir Robert’s army caused the Duke of Clarence and Earl of Warwick to flee. Firstly to the north west where they failed to gain the support of the Stanley’s, before sailing to France.

The rebels of note were attainted. An extract from the Act of Attainder is below:

…Robert Welles, late of Belleau in the county of Lincoln, knight, and the said Thomas Delalaunde, late of Horbling in the same county, knight, falsely, feloniously and traitorously assembled with many other of his subjects, rebels and traitors on 12 March in the tenth year of the reign of our said sovereign lord [1470], at Empingham, on a field called Hornfield in Empingham aforesaid in the county of Rutland… feloniously, falsely and traitorously waged war against King Edward IV, their natural liege lord, his royal person then present and his banner displayed, intending traitorously then and there the final destruction of his most royal person. [Parliamentary Roll, October 1472, Third Roll]

Empingham, site of the Battle of Losecoat Field in 1470
The Gallery of Geography, a pictorial and descriptive tour of the world”

Further Reading

British History Online. Parliamentary Roll for October 1472, in which the Attainders for those who rebelled can be found [Subscription required]

Empingham Local History. Local history groups research into the battle.

Ordinance Survey Map of the area in which the Battle took place.

Battle of Losecote Field. From my Education website. Brief narrative of the battle.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Edward IV. Scanned from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson. Public Domain. Sourced from wikipedia.

Empingham scan from Milner, Thomas, M.A., F.R.G.S.. The Gallery of Geography, a pictorial and descriptive tour of the world. 1884. British Library Digitisation. Marked as No known copyright restrictions.

Leave a Reply