Since the First Battle of St Albans in 1455 the Houses of York and Lancaster had endured an uneasy peace, however their suspicion of each other in 1459 led to them recruiting for their respective armies.
Margaret of Anjou started recruiting forces for her husband, the Lancastrian Henry VI. The Yorkist Edward, Earl of March joined forces with Richard, Earl of Salisbury.
The Earl of Salisbury’s force was based at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire, from here he led his force south-west to join up with the main Yorkist army at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire.
Aware of this, Margaret ordered Lord Audley to intercept them.
James Tuchet, Lord Audley decided to set up an ambush on heathland at Blore Heath and on 23 September 1459 he laid in wait for Salisbury.
Yorkist scouts spotted the Lancastrian army in wait and reported to Salisbury, he then positioned his soldiers in battle lines even though they were outnumbered.
Yorkist soldiers are believed to have kissed the ground beneath them, believing this would be where they would meet their deaths.
Both sides tried to negotiate to avoid bloodshed, but this was unsuccessful and both sides set their archers to bombard the enemy, but due to the distance between the armies this proved fruitless.
The armies were separated by a fast-flowing brook. Salisbury employed a ruse withdrawing some of his army. Believing they were retreating Lord Audley attacked with a cavalry charge. Salisbury ordered his men to turn back and they caught the Lancastrian’s as they crossed the brook. The battle turned in Salisbury’s favour and the Lancastrian’s suffered heavy losses.
The Lancastrian’s attacked again and fierce fighting ensued, at which point Lord Audley was killed.
John Sutton, Lord Dudley now attacked the Yorkist army but this also failed.
The Lancastrian resistance collapsed and started to flee but Yorkist forces pursued them through the night.
The Earl of Salisbury camped at Market Drayton before continuing to Ludlow Castle. He paid a local friar to stay on the battlefield overnight and fire a cannon at regular intervals to make it seem like the battle was continuing.