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Clifford's Revenge

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Clifford's Revenge - the Battle of Wakefield - Drawing by Graham Turner Clifford's Revenge - original drawing Ref: GT-CR

John, Lord Clifford, stares down on the body of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, beside the chapel on Wakefield Bridge, after the crushing defeat of the duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield.

Pencil Drawing by Graham Turner - drawn on an A3 sheet of paper (30cm x 42cm)

click on image to enlarge

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'And the xxxth day of Decembre they met with the Quenys party at Wakefeld, where the Duke of York, and therle of Rutland, and Sir Thomas Nevill were slayne, and many other.' Chronicles of London, Vitellius A XVI
Excerpt from Graham Turner's forthcoming book -

The Yorkists fought hard but were eventually overwhelmed by the superior numbers that they faced, and York himself was killed as his army collapsed around him. As the survivors tried to find ways of escape, York's son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was caught and killed, probably as he crossed Wakefield Bridge. His death was to become embellished by later writers such as Edward Hall to suggest that Rutland 'scarce of the age of xii. (12) yeres, a faire gentleman and a maydenlike person...' was cold-bloodedly murdered by a vengeful Lord 'Butcher' Clifford in revenge for the death of his father at St Albans, pronouncing as he did the foul deed; 'by Gods blode, thy father slew myne, and so wil I do thee and all thy kyn...'

As well as putting these words into Clifford's mouth, Hall is wrong about Rutland's age; he was actually 17, just a year younger than his brother Edward, who had fought at Northampton earlier the same year and was at this time commanding an army on the Welsh border. At a similar age a decade later their youngest brother Richard would fight in the thick of the action at Barnet and Tewkesbury, and in 1403 Henry V had been just 16 when he fought and was wounded at Shrewsbury. As was typical with boys of their class, the martial attributes of a warrior were instilled in them from a very early age, so Rutland would have been well prepared for war and fully armoured - for all the melodramatic notions of his death being an act of cruel revenge against a defenceless child, the reality, while still tragic, is that he was perhaps most likely cut down alongside his comrades in the horror of the rout that followed the battle. Hall's embroidered account has stuck though, no doubt helped by Shakespeare's retelling of his version of events in Henry VI: Part 3, which in turn inspired several romantic paintings in the 19th century.
Wakefield Bridge, with its chantry chapel at its centre. Built in the mid-14th century, it was restored five centuries later by Sir Gilbert Scott.

Photo by Graham Turner.
Wakefield Bridge
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