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EDWARD IV.

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an engagement, by which their fate was likely A. C. 1461. to be decided for ever. Somerset being informed that Fitzwalter had seized the pass of Ferrybridge, concluded that Edward's design was to give him batele; and that he might attack him with less advantage, he resolved to repel the troops of Fitzwalter to the other side of the river. For this purpose he sent a detachment under lord Clifford, who surprised the Yorkists, and drove them from the pass with great Naughter, after an obftinate action, in which Fitzwalter and the Bastard of Salisbury lost their lives. The earl of Warwick was extremely alarmed at the news of this disaster, which he no sooner received than hę rode full speed to Edward, and communicated the tidings with marks of uncommon emotion; but, to convince his sovereign that his confusion did not proceed from any fear of his own personal danger, he killed his horse on the spot, and kissing the hilt of his sword, which was made in the form of a cross, swore that even if the whole army should forsake the king, he would remain alone, and spend the last drop of his blood in defence of his majesty. Edward, far from being dispirited by this check, which seemed to disorder Warwick so much, ordered proclamation to be made in his army, that all persons who were afraid of staying should have free leave to retire : That he would reward those who should do their duty ; but that he would shew no mercy to any person who should Ay from the battle. Then he ordered lord Falconbridge to pass the Aire at Castleford, about a league above Ferrybridge, and retake the post which the enemy had won. This order was executed with such diligence and secrecy, that . the detachment had crossed the river before the Lancastrians had the least intimation of their defign; chen attacking Clifford by surprize, that

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The queen

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Towton,

A.C. 1461. nobleman and the brother of the earl of Westmore

land were slain, and their forces intirely routed.

The pass of Ferrybridge being thus regained,

Edward crossed the river, and, early in the morning Naughter at of Palm-funday, advanced towards the Lancal

trians, who, to the number of fixty thousand, occupied the fields between Towton and Saxton. Tho' the Yorkists did not exceed nine and forty thousand, they were chosen men, and Edward did not entertain the least doubt of victory; but, before the battle joined, he published an order through his army, that his soldiers should not encumber themselves with prisoners. About nine in the morning it began to snow, and a sharp wind drove the feet full in the faces of the Lancastrians, difordering their sight in such a manner, that they could not judge the distance between themselves and the enemy. The lord Falconbridge, who commanded the van of Edward's army, taking advantage of this accident, ordered his archers to advance within shot of Henry's line, and let fly a shower of arrows, which were no sooner discharged than they retired again to their former station. The Lancaftrians feeling the effects of this flight, believed the Yorkists were within their reach, and plied their bows until their quivers were quite exhausted, without having done the least execution. Then Falconbridge advanced again with his archers, who now shot their arrows without opposition, and new a vast number of the enemy, even with the shafts which they picked from the field, after their own quivers were emptied. The earl of Northumberland and Sir Andrew Trollop, who commanded the van of Henry's army, seeing the disadvantage under which they laboured, in this way of fighting, advanced to clofe combat, and each side fought with equal cou. sage, obstinacy, and rancour. The battle raged with great fury from morning till night; and Ed

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ward exhibited such proofs of surprising courage,

A, C. 1461 activity, and conduct, that the fate of the day de. pended in a great measure on his personal behaviour, and that of the earl of Warwick. Towards the evening, the Lancastrians being discouraged by the death of the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, the lords Dacres and Willes, Sir Andrew Trollop, and many other officers of distinction, began to give ground, though not in great disorder, ; intending to retreat to the bridge of Tadcaster. They accordingly preserved their ranks, and wheeled about occasionally as they retired, until Edward and Warwick animating their men to render the action decisive, they redoubled their efforts, and charged with such impetuolity, that the Lancas. trians were broken and intirely routed. Great numbers were slain in the field of battle and in the pursuit; but the chief carnage happened at the small river Coc, which disembogues itself into the Warf. Thither the fugitives fed in hope of fording the stream ; but it was so swelled with the rains as to be rendered impassable, until a kind of bridge or mound was formed by the dead bodies of the Lancaftrians, who were slaughtered on the banks, or drowned in the river, which ran purple with their blood. Nor will this circumstance appear incredible, when we consider, that above six and thirty thousand men were killed in this battle. The dukes Stowe. of Somerset and Exeter escaped with great difficulty; Biondi. but the earl of Devonshire was taken. Immedia- Speed. tely after this great victory, Edward advanced to York, in hope of seizing the persons of Henry and Margaret ; but this princess had retired with her husband to Berwick. There being joined by the dukes of Somerset and Exeter, she concluded a treaty with the Scottish ministry, and repaired to that kingdom, where she and her husband met with a very hospitable reception. This, however,

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