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Clifford's End

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John, Lord Clifford, at Dintingdale before the Battle of Towton - painting by Graham Turner Clifford's End - original painting Ref: GT-CE

Almost within sight of the main Lancastrian army formed up near Towton, Lord Clifford and his company are cut off by a Yorkist force at Dintingdale.

For 25-year-old John, Lord Clifford - 'beyng in lusty yought, & of francke corage' - the Wars of the Roses were intensely personal. The death of his father at the Battle of St. Albans in 1455 would come to dominate the rest of his short life, as he sought vengeance on those that he held responsible. As a teenager he was involved in the skirmish at Heworth Moor, taking the side of the Percy family in their feud with the Nevilles, and, after he inherited his father's title and the family seat at Skipton Castle, he firmly attached himself to King Henry and Queen Margaret's cause. Finally, at Wakefield (where he was knighted by the duke of Somerset before the battle) he was at last able to quench some of his thirst for revenge with the deaths of duke of York and earls of Salisbury and Rutland; responsibility - or credit - for the latter being laid squarely at his door and the story, heavily embroidered with each retelling, earning him the sobriquet 'Butcher Clifford' long after the event.

Having successfully delayed the Yorkist army at Ferrybridge, Clifford's small force were forced to withdraw to avoid being outflanked, and they 'departed in great haste' back towards the main Lancastrian army at Towton, Yorkist horsemen in hot pursuit. In a shallow valley called Dintingdale, tantalisingly close to Towton and relief, Clifford's men were caught and butchered; 'the lord Clifforde, either from heat or payne, putting of his gorget, sodainly w(ith) an arrowe (as some say) without an hedde, was striken into the throte, and incontinent rendered hys spirite, and the erle of Westmerlandes brother (John Neville, the turncoat at Wakefield) and all his company almost were there slayn, at a place called Dintingdale, not farr from Towton.' (Hall's Chronicle)

The subsequent battle of Towton, fought on Palm Sunday, 29th March 1461, is widely considered to be the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.

Original gouache painting by Graham Turner - image size 16.9"x 12.3" (43cm x 31cm) Note: When framed with a mount, the overall picture size will be larger. Painting is priced unframed.

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