London Borough of Barnet

Barnet

Battle of Barnet

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The Battle of Barnet was fought on the morning of Easter Day 14 April  1471. It was an important battle in the Wars of the Roses between Edward VI and the Earl of Warwick (called the king maker). The Wars of the Roses was a series of civil wars fought between two aristocratic families, the House of York and the House of Lancaster. King Edward IV and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, had been allies during the wars and their success had led to the overthrow of Henry VI (of Lancaster) and the crowning of Edward (of York) as king. Warwick expected that his friends and favourites would be rewarded in the new court with prestigious positions. But Edward decided to favour the friends and relatives of his wife, Queen Elizabeth, instead. After much conflict Warwick drove Edward into exile, and placed Henry VI back on the throne. Edward, who returned in March 1471 with an army of Burgundian mercenaries, marched on London and took Henry prisoner.

The armies of Edward and Warwick met for the last time at Barnet at a place called Gladmore Heath. No one is sure where Gladmore Heath was, as the name has long ceased to be used. Many believe that the battle was in and around Hadley. Early in the morning of the battle there was a thick fog. The armies engaged and one of Warwick's commanders succeeded in routing one of the flanks of Edward's army, and pursued them back to Barnet. But while they were away, the push of battle swung the armies around, and on returning they mistook the badge of another of Warwick’s commanders (a star with streams of light) for the badge of their enemy Edward (a sun with rays).  They attacked their own side, which panicked and fled. Warwick lost the battle and was killed.