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Chapter 4 The Battle of Lincoln

Chapter 5 Aftermath



The Battle of Lincoln seemed to be a turning point in the civil war that had broken out in England in 1135. For more than a year the two main rival armies had been moving around England, both looking for a weakness in the other, but neither willing to strike. All that ended at Lincoln in February 1141 when Earl Robert of Gloucester caught King Stephen at a disadvantage and launched an assault that he hoped would end the war in a single blow.

The battle that followed is one of the best recorded conflicts of its age. Unlike most medieval battles, the Battle of Lincoln was recorded by a chronicler who spoke to men who had been there and who were able to describe who had done what and why. The battle belies the usual image of medieval battles as a vicious free for all and instead shows just how subtle and sophisticated the tactics and strategems could be.

With its violence, fury and drama, the Battle of Lincoln was one of the most decisive battles of medieval England. It is not often that a king is captured by his rival for the throne, still less is he wrestled to the ground while hacking at his enemies with a two-handed sword able to slice a man in half. The capture of King Stephen gave his rival Empress Matilda a crucial advantage when it came to securing the throne of England. That she was not able to do so was as much her own fault as it was anyone else’s.

The battle was fought to the west of the old city walls, overlooking the Fossdyke and what is now the old racecourse. Part of the battlefield was built over in the 19th century, with roads such as Cambridge Avenue, York Avenue and Richmond Road covering the most likely site of King Stephen’s original position. But other parts of the battlefield, west of Rosebery Avenue are little different from how they were back in 1141 when a king came to Lincoln and nearly lost his crown.

This book seeks to explain why the Battle of Lincoln was fought, how it was fought and what its results turned out to be. So read on and learn how history was made in Lincoln.

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