This Day in History: 1322-03-10

In the bitter feuding between the king and some of his nobles, Edward II’s troops were able to cross the Trent at Walton on 10th March 1322 and advanced upon Burton from the south. Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was outflanked and moved from his positions at the bridge to a field outside of Burton, firing the town as he went. Once he realised how badly outnumbered his men were, and that Sir Robert Holland was not moving to his aid, Lancaster decided to withdraw and was pursued by Edward’s forces. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘When, therefore, the whole strength of the king’s party south of Trent was assembled at Burton-upon-Trent, some 60,000 fighting men, in the second week of Lent, about the feast of the Forty Martyr Saints, the Earl of Lancaster and the Earl of Hereford (who had married the king’s sister) attacked them with barons, knights and other cavalry, and with foot archers ; but the earl’s forces were soon thrown into confusion and retired before the king’s army, taking their way towards Pontefract, where the earl usually dwelt. The king followed him with his army at a leisurely pace, but there was no slaughter to speak of on either side ; and although the earl would have awaited the king there and given him battle, yet on the advice of his people he retired, with his army into the northern district.’