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"Que Cavalry at Barnet?" Topic

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martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Sep 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

Battle of Barnet WOTR.
I am looking at the battle of Barnet and considering the cavalry presence.
The Terry Wise book (Osprey) talks of a conclusive charge by Edward (Yorkists) into the Lancastrians.
I assume some of the cavalry listed as being on the flanks are prickers etc to follow up routs and keep their own army in place. Then there are usually some mounted chaps in reserve at the back to guard various things.
Most heavy troops would be in the battle line on foot.
What know we of the Yorkist cavalry charge??

Thank you.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2019 3:33 a.m. PST

Short answer is "darn little." I've got about half a shelf of WOTR military history, and of everything I own which claims to be a history, they have the highest ratio of "must have" "probably" and "usually" to contemporary or near-contemporary sources. Once or twice I find myself wondering whether dismounted men at arms had some regular system to bring up horses, either for a charge or for a retreat. There are one or two hints along those lines.

MajorB06 Sep 2019 11:38 a.m. PST

Ospreys are like the curate's egg – good in parts …

As far as I am aware there is no evidence in primary sources for the presence of mounted troops on the battlefield at Barnet.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2019 6:59 p.m. PST

I suppose it's a sad comment that I, and I'm probably not the only one, saw "WOTR" and thought "War of the Ring" and was confused until figuring out what WOTR means in this context.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Sep 2019 12:27 p.m. PST

Thank you for the input gents.

Elenderil16 Sep 2019 12:03 p.m. PST

Does definitely say this was a mounted charge? I came across a similar issue with an account of Brunanburgh in the Novel ‘Dunstan'. The evidence for a mounted attack being one line in a single source which talks of charging the Scots-Viking lines. The writer just seems to assume charge means a cavalry charge. Could this be the same issue?

Warspite125 Nov 2019 5:19 a.m. PST

I have an original language copy of The Arrivall of Edward IV. What is clear is that, for the 1471 campaign at least, Edward was served by some very good light/medium cavalry. We are talking at least hobblers, scourers or custrells. Unarmored horses, half-armour and helmets on the riders, at least a boar spear or long sword and maybe a true lance. Also called 'prickers' or 'spears'.

For example when Edward headed for London, from the Midlands, The Arrivall notes that his 'behind riders' (rearguard) successfully held off any of the enemy's aforeriders from attacking his army on the road.

Later in the same campaign, his afore-riders (scouts) detected the Lancastrian feint towards Wiltshire and London when the Lancastrians were actually heading for South Wales and the Severn river crossings. This enabled Edward to corner their army at Tewkesbury. And, of course, it was at Tewkesbury that Edward's 200 horse famously flanked Somerset's unit by charging out of an ambush position in a wooded park. This is one of the few reliably documented use of cavalry in England in this period.

With regard to Barnet we can assume that the same light horse were with Edward and were PROBABLY deployed as rear supports behind his army in the early stages – a bit like field police or provost guard – to stop any deserters from slipping away from the battlefield.

The fog at Barnet may have prevented them from seeing Hasting's unit rout and may have prevented them from thus hitting Oxford's unit in the flank as some of Oxford's men pursued Hastings to the rear. It all depends on how thick the fog really was.

If the fog lifted after the Oxford/Neville friendly fire incident then Edward might have released his light horse to pursue the routing Lancastrian army but if the fog remained down then (if I was Edward) I would have kept the light horse 'in hand' in case of nasty surprises. He was an astute lad so use your own judgement.

Short answer: "assume at least 200 good and well-motivated light/medium cavalry
with Edward at Barnet."


Atheling25 Nov 2019 5:44 a.m. PST

What Warpite said.

I have a copy of The Arrival too.

Just Add Water Painting and Wargaming Blog:

Warspite125 Nov 2019 11:06 a.m. PST

Bless you!
It's a tricky read at first but after a while you adjust to the language. I also have Warkworth's Chronicle which covers the same period.


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