This Day in History: 1322-03-01

In early March 1322, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and his remaining supporters held a council at Pontefract, where Lancaster was advised to retreat north to his castle at Dunstanburgh to evade capture by Edward II, in his rebellion against the king. Believing his royal status would secure him immunity from harm, it was only the ‘ferocity’ of Lord Clifford that persuaded Lancaster to flee to Northumberland. However, Edward’s 4,000-strong second army moving up from the south, under the command of Sir Andrew Harclay, halted Thomas’s forces at Boroughbridge (crossing the River Ure twenty miles north-east of York). Lancaster’s defeat and capture at the Battle of Boroughbridge resulted in his beheading and the drawing and hanging of six northern barons at Pontefract immediately. In addition to the northern barons, more than a dozen peers were killed or executed ( including Roger Clifford hanged in chains from the walls of York and possibly giving his name to Clifford’s Tower) and many more knights were killed or died in prison with hundreds facing crippling fines.