THE BATTLE OF NORTHAMPTON

IN   THE   WARS   OF   THE  ROSES.



"


queen   eleanor's   cross,   hardingstone, overlooking,   the   field   of   battle.

 

THE Battle of Northampton  in the Wars of the  Roses  took   place  on July   10th,   1460. Henry  VI.   took  his  army  out  of  North­ampton to  meet  his opponents  in  the  meadows beyond the river around Delapre Abbey.    It was fatal strategy. The rain was terrific, the ground was turned into a bog, the wet prevented the cannon being used, and treachery in his camp soon led to the utter defeat of the king who was captured. The queen and her son escaped.

 

The following fairly accurate account of the conflict is taken from Michael Drayton's Polyolbion, a rhyming description of England containing thirty thousand lines. We have re­tained the original punctuation which seems to have been adopted to indicate pauses in reading and to be independent of grammatical construc­tion.



Then fair Northampton next, thy Battle place shall take

Which of th' emperial war, the third fought Field doth make,

Twixt Henry call'd our sixt, upon whose party came

His near and dear allies, the Dukes of Buckingham,

And Somerset, the Earl of Shrewsbury of account,

Stout Viscount Beaumount, and the young Lord Egremount,

'Gainst Edward Earl of March, son to the Duke of York,

With Warwicke, in that war, who set them all at work,

And Falkonbridge with him, not much unlike the other;

A Nevill nobly born, his puissant father's brother,

Who to the Yorkists' claim, had evermore been true,

And valiant brother Bourcher, Earl of Essex and of Eau.

The King from out the town, who drew his horse and foot,

As willingly to give full field-roomth to his force,

Doth pass the River Nen, near where it down doth run

From his first fountain's head, is near to Harsington,

Advised of a place, by Nature strongly wrought,

Doth there encamp his power; the Earl of March who sought

To prove by dint of sword, who should obtain the day,

From Towcester train'd on his powers in good array,

The vaward Warwicke led (whom no attempt could fear) ;

The middle March himself and Falkonbridgc the rear.

Now July entered was, and ere the restless sun,

Three hours' ascent had got the dreadful fight begun

By Warwicke, who a straight from Viscount Beaumont took,

Defeating him at first, by which he quickly broke

In, on th' emperial host, which was a furious charge,

He forc'd upon the field, itself more to enlarge.

Now English bows, and bills, and battle-axes walk,

Death up and down the field in ghastly sort doth stalk.

March in the flower of youth, like Mars himself doth bear

But Warwicke as the man whom Fortune seem'd to fear,

Did for him what he would, that whereso'er he goes,

Down like a furious storm, before him all he throws;

So Shrewsbury again of Talbot's valiant strain,

(That fatal scourge of France) as stoutly doth maintain,

The party of the King; so princely Somerset,

Whom th' others' knightly deeds, more eagerly doth whet,

Hears up with them again ; by Somerset opposed

At last King Henry's host being on three parts enclos'd,

And aids still coming in upon the Yorkists' side

The Summer being then at height in all her pride,

The husbandman, then hard upon his harvest was;

But yet the cocks of hay, nor swaths of new-shorn grass,

Strew'd not the meads so thick, as mangled bodies there,

So that upon the banks, and in the stream of Nen,

Ten thousand well resolv'd, stout native English men,

Left breathless, with the rest great Buckingham is slain,

And Shrewsbury whose loss those times did much complain,

Eagremont, and Beaumont, both found dead upon the field,

The miserable King, inforc'd again to yield.