Battle of Stoke Field

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The Battle of Stoke Field (16 June, 1487) was the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, since it was to be the last engagement in which a Lancastrian king faced an army of Yorkist supporters, under the pretender Lambert Simnel. However, there is some dispute whether the Battle of Stoke Field was the last battle in the Wars of the Roses, as a number of historians consider the Battle of Bosworth, two years previously, as the real last remaining battle in the Wars of the Roses. Despite being the final major conflict between York and Lancaster (Tudor), it was one of the costliest in terms of life, as there was a mutual agreement that there would be a policy of no quarter for those left standing.

Later in Henry's reign emerged another pretender to the throne, Perkin Warbeck, however this was resolved without resorting to arms.

The pretender

Henry VII of England held the throne for the House of Lancaster (House of Tudor), and had tried to gain the acceptance of the Yorkist faction by his marriage to their heiress, Elizabeth of York, but his hold on power was not entirely secure.

The best surviving male claimant of the York dynasty was the queen's first cousin, Edward, Earl of Warwick (son of George, Duke of Clarence). This boy was kept confined in the Tower of London.

An impostor claiming to be Edward, whose name was Lambert Simnel, although it is difficult to say if that was his real name, came to the attention of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. Lincoln, although apparently reconciled with the Tudor king, himself had a claim on the throne; moreover, the last Plantagenet, Richard III of England, had named him as the royal heir. Although he probably had no doubt about Simnel's true identity, Lincoln saw an opportunity for revenge and reparation.

Lincoln fled the English court on 19 March, 1487 and went to the court of Mechelen (Malines) and his aunt, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret provided financial and military support in the form of 2000 Flemish mercenaries, under the commander, Martin Schwartz. Lincoln was joined by a number of rebel English Lords at Mechelen, in particular Richard III's loyal supporter, Lord Lovell, Sir Richard Harleston, the former governor of Jersey and Thomas David, a captain of the English garrison at Calais.

The Yorkist rebellion

The Yorkist fleet set sail and arrived in Dublin on 4 May, 1487. With the help of Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare and also Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Lincoln recruited 4,500 Irish mercenaries, mostly Kerns, lightly armoured but highly mobile infantry.

With the support of the Irish nobility and clergy, Lincoln had the pretender Lambert Simnel crowned "King Edward VI" in Dublin on 24 May, 1487. Although a Parliament was called for the new "King", Lincoln had no intention of remaining in Dublin and instead packed up the army and Simnel and set sail for north Lancashire.

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