February 2nd, 1461

After spending Christmas in Gloucester, Edward, Earl of March heard of his father’s death and started preparations to fall back on London. But then, news of the Earl of Pembroke’s hostile army caused him to change his plans. In order to block Pembroke’s advance and stop him from joining up with Queen Margaret’s main army, Edward marched north with his five thousand men to Mortimer’s Cross where he crossed the River Lugg and drew up in battle order. It was still early morning when Edward arrived and as dawn broke on 2 Febuary, 1461 a strange meteorological phenomenon called a parhelion occurred: three suns were seen to be rising. Edward declared it to be a sign from God of victory and later took it as his emblem, ‘the Sunne in Splendour’.

The Lancastrian army was only about four thousand strong and did not originally want to engage the Yorkists. At about midday, perceiving they had no choice but to fight if they wished to cross the Lugg, the Lancastrians went on the offensive and attacked.  The Earl of Wiltshire’s ‘battle’ (division) led the first assault, and pushed the men of Edward’s right wing straight back across the road, where they broke and scattered. Pembroke the engaged Edward’s center but was repelled and when Owen Tudor tried to encircle the Yorkist left wing his ‘battle’ was routed. Edward then repelled Pembroke a second time and the battle was won. By this time Owen Tudor’s men were already in full flight. The remnants of his men were pursued a full seventeen miles to Hereford where Tudor himself was captured and executed.

In total four thousand men are said to have died. The battle was certainly bloody if this is the case, as the two armies combined came to just nine thousand souls…

(source: War Of The Roses)

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