It may have been one of the most important, and famous, battles in English history.

The trouble is, there is now controversy over where it actually took place.

The Wars of the Roses was a complex English civil war fought between two branches of the Plantagenet royal dynasty, the House of York and the House of Lancaster. They fought over the Throne of England.

On 14th April 1471, during the Wars of the Roses, King Edward IV - the grandfather of England's most famous king, King Henry VIII - led his Yorkist troops into battle against the Lancastrians, led by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the second most powerful man in England. Neville was known as the Kingmaker, due to the fact that he had helped Edward IV become king after Henry VI was ousted, and due to the fact that in 1470, after Edward IV fled England, he reinstated Henry VI as king! (Neville switched allegiance from Yorkist to Lancastrian).

The next year, Edward returned, and fought the Kingmaker for his place on the Throne once again.

The battle took place in Barnet, now a part of London, then a small town just north of London.

The Battle of Barnet was a decisive Yorkist victory, and it secured King Edward IV's place on the Throne. England then had 14 years of Yorkist rule.

Edward IV and Henry VI are the only two English monarchs to have each been on the Throne twice.

But now it has emerged that the battle may have taken place one mile further north than originally thought.

Battle of Barnet may be mile north of accepted site

Wednesday 10th March 2010
By Sarah Cosgrove
The Times

King Edward IV, the grandfather of King Henry VIII, was the victor of the Battle of Barnet

THE BATTLE of Barnet may be one mile to the north of the accepted site, according to an archaeological group.

The Battlefields Trust is launching an appeal to raise money for an archaeological survey to be undertaken near Kitts End, where they think the battle really took place.

The battle on April 14, 1471 has foxed archaeologists until now because no evidence of it has ever been found.

A similar issue had effected the site of the Battle of Bosworth, which took place on August 22 1485 in Leicestershire.

However, the Battlefields Trust, which is based in St Albans, made headlines earlier this year when members found evidence of the real site of the Battle of Bosworth, two miles away from where people had thought it was.

Archaeologists were amazed when more artillery shot was found on this site than at all the battlefields in Europe in 15th and 16th centuries put together.

Now they think Barnet could be the earliest battle to use artillery on a large scale, making it even more historically significant.

Chairman of the Battlefields Trust, Frank Baldwin, said: “The story of Bosworth is probably also true of the story of Barnet.

“The reason we couldn't find any evidence is because it wasn't there.”

He said the confusion may have come because people who listed the current site, were not clear of the size of Barnet at the time.

But recent research by Potters Bar historian, Brian Warren, determined that in the 15th century Barnet's boundaries reached further than previously thought.

Field archaeologist and battlefield specialist, Dr Glenn Foard from the University of Leeds, said: "The registered battlefield in Hadley Green is completely wrong, there is no doubt about that. "Brian Warren demonstrated quite clearly where the chapel to the dead was constructed after the battle.”

A family with a bloody history and a complex civil war

The Wars of the Roses was an English civil war fought between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, two rivals branches of the Plantagenet royal dynasty. They both fought for the Crown.

King Edward IV is one of only two English monarchs (the other was his enemy Henry VI) to reign twice. Edward IV, a Yorkist, originally reigned from 1461 to 1470 after the overthrowing of Henry VI, but in 1470, during the Wars of the Roses, he fled England to the Netherlands after Margaret of Anjou's Lancastrian army invaded England from France and successfully reinstored her husband Henry VI to the Throne. Edward returned to England in 1471 and fought his way back to the Throne. Both Henry VI and Edward IV had, at one point or another, been helped to the Throne by Richard Neville, the 16th earl of Warwick, also known as the Kingmaker, who switched sides from the Yorkists to the Lancastrians. In 1471, Edward IV cemented his place on the Throne once and for all by beating the Lancastrians, led by the Kingmaker, at Barnet. Henry VI died in the Tower of London in 1471 due, according to some, of a broken heart following the death of his son, Edward, Prince of Wales, during the Battle of Tewkesbury which followed Barnet.

Edward IV, meanwhile, had married Elizabeth Woodville. He also had two brothers - George, the Duke of Clarence, and Richard of Gloucester, who were also Yorkist. Both brothers wanted Edward's Throne - leading to arguments over the Crown not only between the Yorkist and the Lancastrians but also amongst the Yorkists themselves. Clarence was caught plotting against Edward, and was duly imprisoned. He was put on trial for treason (the jury filled with supporters of Edward IV), and was not surprisingly found guilty. On 18th February 1478, Clarence was duly executed by, unusually, being drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine in the Tower of London.

Richard, on the other hand, waited until Edward's death in 1483. His death allowed Edward's son, also called Edward, to take to the Throne as Edward V, despite him being just 12 years old. On his way to London from Ludlow for his coronation, Edward was met and kidnapped by Richard (who was ruling England as Lord Protector for the young Edward), and was imprisoned in the Tower. Edward V's younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, soon joined him. Richard had himself crowned Richard III. The two Princes in the Tower later mysteriously disappeared, leading to rumours that they were murdered by their uncle Richard. It's still a mystery which remains to this day. Edward V is one of just four English monarchs since the Norman Conquest never to have been crowned. The others were Queen Matilda, Lady Jane Grey and King Edward VIII.

A guy called Henry Tudor then appeared on the scene and fought Richard at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Richard was killed, and Henry became Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch after uniting the two warring Yorkist and Lancastrian factions together.

Henry then married Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York. The couple had four children together, one of them the future Henry VIII.

Therefore Henry VIII was the nephew of the two Princes in the Tower, the grandson of Edward IV and the great-nephew of the evil Richard III.

Dr Foard said the chapel, or chantry, alongside lead shot found by a resident nearby gave the group a good idea of where they think the real site is.

Both battles were important dates in the Wars of the Roses, an epic fight between royal contenders from the House of Lancaster and the House of York, which determined who is on the throne today.

The group is keen for residents to get involved and to report any finds from the area which may have come from the battle, even if previously they had been thought to come from the English Civil War.

The Battlefields Trust is also holding a historical walk around the area on April 12 to raise money.

The Battle of Barnet, 14th April 1471

In October of 1470, Warwick (the Kingmaker) drove Edward IV out of England and reinstated Henry VI as king.

Edward returned in March 1471, with ships and money supplied by the Duke of Burgundy. He landed in Yorkshire, and soon asembled a small army, and he gathered reinforcements as he marched south. On 12 April he entered London unopposed.

Warwick marched to attack him through St. Albans with a mixed force of about 9,000 men, and took up a position on Hadley Green, just north of Barnet. Edward, with 8,000 men, arrived at Barnet in the evening of 13 April. In spite of the darkness, he marched to within a short distance of Warwick. Throughout the night, Warwick had his cannons bombard where he thought his enemies were encamped, but they had moved to a closer position, so they were not hit.

The battle started early next morning in a thick ground mist. Initially, Edward’s left flank, (under Lord Hastings) was beaten from the field by the Earl of Oxford. Richard of Gloucester (the future Richard III) had some success on Edward's right. The centre ground was fiercely fought, with no immediate advantage to either side. Oxford, returning from pursuing Hasting’s men, misjudged his position, and his banners were mistaken for Edward’s by Warwick’s centre. (Oxford’s symbol was a star, Edward’s was the “sunne in spleandor”) Thinking that he was being betrayed, Oxford fled the field with his men.

The overall battle lasted between three and four hours, and ended in a complete victory for Edward. The Earl of Warwick was struck down on the field, and his machinations in the politics of the time ended.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 11th, 2010 at 03:00 PM..