The real Game of Thrones right on Banbury’s doorstep

English Tournament Society holds a battle re-enactment and medieval tournament to mark 540 years since the Battle of Edgcote
English Tournament Society holds a battle re-enactment and medieval tournament to mark 540 years since the Battle of Edgcote

Next month Northamptonshire Battlefields Society will mark the 550th anniversary of one of the county’s bloodiest days.

The 1469 Battle of Edgcote saw thousands die just six miles north east of Banbury, victims of an act of betrayal arising out of what might seem today to be a trivial incident.

Mike Ingram, local historian and chair of the society, said: “In July 1469 one of the least well understood battles of the Wars of the Roses took place in Northamptonshire.

“As a battle it has been poorly treated by historians who focus on the run up and outcome and tend to overlook the men who died for their Lord and King. We think their memory deserves better than this.”

As part of the commemorations the society is undertaking a number of activities. It has published a book on the battle as a companion to its earlier publication on the Battle of Northampton, and is organising a study day on the subject at Abington Park Museum on Saturday, July 27.

Mr Ingram said: “The War of the Roses is described as the real Game of Thrones, and Edgcote is one of the campaigns that lives up to that billing.

“It doesn’t have dragons, but it has everything else. It sees the king betrayed by his chief councillor, half of an army declining to fight over an argument in a pub, a battle decided by a bunch of rascals from Northampton in disguise, all rounded off with a couple of beheadings up by the Eleanor Cross.”

The conference will feature a range of speakers, including experts from the University of Wales, who have helped to uncover new evidence for the battle.

Other speakers from the Battlefield Trust as well as the society will cover the story of the campaign, battle, and what we know about warfare in this bloody and brutal period.

Mr Ingram said: “We are very excited at having this opportunity to highlight more of the county’s brilliant history through this conference.

“We are particularly pleased to be working with the Abington Park Museum, which is such a historic venue in the town, and to have attracted speakers from all over the country.

“This will be a unique opportunity to learn more about this fascinating and sadly overlooked period in our history. It is also a proud moment for the society as we mark our fifth anniversary, campaigning to protect our local heritage.”

The Edgcote study day conference will feature six speakers, each one an expert in their field who can shed light on this little understood but important battle.

Speaking will be Harvey Watson who will present The Battle of Edgcote, An Introduction.

Mr Watson is a trustee of the Battlefields Trust and editor of Battlefield Magazine. He will discuss the battle in general and highlight what the Battlefields Trust has done to rescue the Battle of Edgcote from obscurity.

Mike Ingram will present The Woodvilles and the War. Mr Ingram is chair of the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society and will cover the background to the Earl of Warwick’s rebellion and the tensions between him, as the most powerful noble in the realm, and Edward IV’s wife and family, that are commonly believed to have led to uprising.

Graham Evans will elucidate on The Source of the Problem, by looking at the evidence we have, and how it fits together, before challenging a number of long held views about what actually happened, to whom and where.

University of Wales professors Ann Parry Owen and Dr Jenny Day will look at Words, Weapons and Warfare; the Welsh Bards and the Battle of Banbury.

They will discuss the often overlooked evidence for the battle contained in 15th century Welsh poetry. This source is often overlooked in English studies of the battle, despite one of the armies being predominantly Welsh.

Ms Parry Owen has completed entirely new translations of poems related to the battle not previously fully available in English especially for the anniversary. Dr Day’s PhD thesis and subsequent publications have looked at weapons and warfare as perceived by Welsh poets.

Phil Steele will look at how the armies deployed and fought, going beyond conventional sources, instead looking at what the chronicles and depictions in 15th century art and artefacts tell us about what happened on the battlefield during his Edgcote and the Art of War.

Tickets to the event cost £35 for non-members and £30 for members.

For more information and how to buy tickets to the study day visit www.northantsbattles.com