Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Battle of Thoroton, 1460

Time to take to the field once again, to battle for the fate of the North of England, possibly even the crown itself!

Lancastrians deploy with Northumberland in the centre, Scots on the left and the Levies on the right. Opposite them up a shallow valley (the hills on each table-side aren't too visible) are the Yorkists - who have Norfolk in the centre, Salisbury on the right and Rutland on the left.

Some of Norfolk's boys awaiting the battle's start. (On a side-note, I'm aiming that this will be the last time any battle is fought with partially-painted figures. Things have now developed enough for me to field only finished ones from here onwards.) Anyway, enough of my modelling talk - let's see how the little plastic & lead men do!

Percy has brought some of this new-fangled "ordonnance" to the field. Now those Yorkist dogs can taste some pre-battle bombardment, yes?

...No. Looks like these gonnes are more hazardous to those behind, rather than to the fore (it'll never catch on.) The armies begin to approach, trading volleys in a more reliably destructive style.

Sir Ralph Grey of Heaton clearly has second thoughts about the whole deal, and the Newcastle levies remain strangely immobile during the advance. Percy presses on, no doubt with mounting concern & anger as his flank becomes exposed, before finally Heaton pulls himself together and commits for Lancaster. Such half-heartedness seems to infect the men however, as they swiftly see their courage dwindle against the superior archery of Rutland's retainers, and quit the field. Little loss, some would say!

Others have the guts to make a fight of it, at any rate - Northumberland's ward soon comes to blows with Norfolk's ward, producing a deadly struggle (and also - plenty of medieval swearing!)

The day could be decided elsewhere however, despite the furies of the central combat which sways back and forth inconclusively. Heaton's levies streaming off the field are an unwelcome greeting for the eventual arrival of Somerset, who comes onto the field to find the battle already far gone. He randomly enters in the right-rear of the Lancastrian army, just as Rutland on the Yorkist left wheels inwards to flank the Lancastrian battle-line. Typical: he's in perfect position to descend on Rutland's rear, but just too late to get there. Damn his caution - his fiery son must be spitting-mad at this!

Caught between the wards of Norfolk in front and increasingly Rutland on the flank, the central ward with Northumberland and Baron Greystoke begins to falter and break up. Lancastrian collapse!

Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland himself, is swept up in the rout and captured by the triumphant Yorkists. With the loss of their Vaward and Mainward, plus their main Commander lost, the Lancastrian army breaks and flees. All Somerset can do is cover the rout as best he can, while the Lancastrian fugitives are swept away.

One final deed remains however, on this bloody field. the Yorkists rejoice in their victory while Lancastrians languish, but it's time to settle some old scores: the Neville-Percy feud rears its head again, and Richard Neville (the Earl of Salisbury) ensures the captured Henry Percy (Earl of Northumberland) receives the reward of all traitors for defying the rule of King Henry VI. A short walk to: the headsman's block!

A grim day, indeed...

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