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The Bloody Battle of Towton

Towton Battle Skull

A Towton Battle victim, with multiple head wounds. Credit: Bradford University

Towton BattleImagine a battle so vicious that opposing sides agreed to a time-out to drag bodies out of the way to better facilitate killing each other.  Not just killing, but slaughtering, butchering; some of the skeletons found at the battlefield of Towton, England, have as many as 20 injuries to the skulls.  Some skulls have been sliced in half, or pierced with a square spearhead, or both; noses chopped off, eyes gouged out, ears removed.  The battle occurred on 29 March 1461, and within 12 hours, from dawn to dusk, 28,000 men would lose their lives in brutal deaths, hacked to death and beyond.  That’s an average of 2,333 an hour.  The figure of 28,000 is disputed, however; though it appeared in letters from Edward VI and the Bishop of Salisbury, other contemporary sources gave the figures ranging between 30,000 to 38,000, while the 16th century chronicler Edward Hall gave the exact figure of 36,776.  Why was it so vicious?  It was a decisive battle in the War of the Roses (1455–1487), between the opposing forces of the Lancastrians and the Yorkists; it was north against south; the Lancastrians were the strong arm of King Henry VI, and the Yorkists, that of 18-year-old Edward IV, who would go on to win the battle and claim the English throne.  At the time of the battle, the War of Roses had been going on for six years, and nerves were raw – they just wanted it to end.  Little did they know that it would continue for another 26 years… in other words, two generations (reckoning in shorter life spans) of young men would rise and fall in the War of Roses, and the Battle of Towton was one of the largest, if not the largest, battle fought on English soil.

Sources:  BBC; Wikipedia; University of York.

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About Trinity

A melancholic pragmatist with a wide streak of mischief and an active imagination that turns into novels.

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