The last battle of the Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Stoke Field, which took place on 16th June in 1487, was the Yorkist's last throw of the dice in the Wars of the Roses. 

With Richard III dead at Bosworth and the first Tudor king, Henry VII, on the throne, the Earl of Lincoln led an army of mercenaries recruited from Europe, and brought with him a young boy he claimed was Edward, Earl of Warwick, the rightful heir to the throne.

Henry Tudor's claim to England's throne was tenuous, and the Yorkists hoped to gain support for their man.

But the supposed Earl of Warwick was an imposter called Lambert Simnel, used as a pawn by Lincoln and his allies. 

Simnel had been spotted by a Yorkist-supporting Oxford priest who took the boy to Ireland, where support for the House of York was strong, and Simnel was crowned at Dublin as King Edward VI. 

The Earl of Lincoln brought the new ‘king’ back to England with 2,000 German mercenaries, and the Yorkist army grew to around 8,000 as they picked up supporters in England. But the army was poorly equipped and much smaller than the Tudor force.  

Henry's men killed many of the Yorkist commanders, including the Earl of Lincoln, and the troops fled towards the River Trent. Many were chased down and slain as the ground dropped down to the river, in an area that became known as The Red Gutter.       

With the Yorkists finally defeated, King Henry showed leniency to Lambert Simnel and gave him a job in the royal kitchen. He later progressed to the role of falconer and enjoyed a modest career. 

Although less famous, Stoke Field saw more combatants than Bosworth, which had taken place two years earlier, and there were many more casualties, with sources claiming there were 7,000 killed.

The battle marked the end of the House of York’s claim to England’s throne and the final shot in the decade's-long Wars of the Roses. 

The Tudors would rule England for another 125 years. 

Want to know more? Explore our Wars of the Roses tours, focusing on the battle of the North with Julian Humphrys, and the events at Northampton and Bosworth, with Mike Ingram. 

Picture credit, Lamber Simnel, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0