Battle of Radcot Bridge


Battle of Radcot Bridge

Lechlade, Gloucestershire The 18th of December 1387 AD

Richard IIís reign was rarely if ever a settled time: the Peasantís Rebellion of 1381 brought bloodshed and a real if brief threat of what we now call regime change; as a boy king he was manipulated at court, and even when of an age to govern on his own behalf the struggle for control of the kingdom continued.
In 1387 the faction known as the Lords Appellant, so called because of their demands for action against certain of the Kingís favourites, seized London and Richard, and pressured the monarch regarding the supposed treason of those loyal to him. Richard II played for time, hoping Robert de Vere, Marquess of Dublin and possibly Richardís lover, would arrive with an army gathered in the North from his power-base in Cheshire .
The Lords Appellant played a brilliant hand against de Vere, seemingly shepherding his army as it moved southwards until it had the choice of continuing south beyond London, or striking eastwards for the capital, requiring it to cross the Thames at Radcot Bridge near Lechlade. Gambling on the latter course de Vere found he had been trapped, the bridge partly broken and defended by a large force of archers and others commanded by the Earl of Derby Ė Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV . Most unusually for a medieval battle the Lords seem to have marshalled their forces very closely, the Duke of Gloucester hemming the loyalist army in from behind to prevent escape. In spite of this de Vere, once he had failed to take the bridge, did effect an escape, exchanging his charger for a more fleet-footed beast and throwing off his armour in order to cross the river and make for safety.
Few casualties were suffered by either side, the fight brief before de Vere realised it was futile. Richard was soon forced to sacrifice several of his favourites, and some lesser figures, and at the Merciless Parliament the following February de Vere and Richardís other close supporter de la Pole were sentenced to death in absentia. For the time being the Lords Appellant held sway.

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