The Wars of the Roses were caused by the protracted struggle for power between the reigning dynasty of the House of Lancaster (red rose) and the competing House of York (white rose).
Following its defeat at Barnet on 14 April, the Lancastrian army of 6,000 marched westwards hoping to cross the Severn to join forces with Jasper Tudor. Exhausted, they were caught up on 3 May by 4,000 Yorkists commanded by Edward IV on the southern side of Tewkesbury.
The Yorkist's opening bombardment provoked an attack by the Lancastrian vanguard, which was repulsed. Retreating across the rain-swollen meadow, so many of the soldiers were caught and slaughtered that the area remains known as bloody meadow. Both the Lancastrian centre and left gave way to the subsequent Yorkist attack and the army fled to seek safety in the Abbey, although to no avail.
The battle was the climatic moment of the second phase of the Wars of the Roses. Queen Margaret's hopes of a Lancastrian succession were dashed and she herself was soon imprisoned. King Henry VI was executed shortly afterwards. Yorkist monarchs were to rule England for the next fourteen years.
Despite the modern southward expansion of Tewkesbury and the realignment of the Gloucester road, the heart of the battlefield remains largely undeveloped. The narrow fields follow an ancient pattern, so that the landscape character is much like that of 1471. The Abbey still dominates the backdrop to the battlefield.
An existing visitor trail gives access to much of the battlefield. An interpretive panel tells the story of Bloody Meadow. Queen Margaret'' Camp is a medieval moated manor house site, although its role in the battle is doubtful. Of particular rarity is the historic character of the area around Lincoln Green.
Much of the battlefield lies in a Landscape Protection Zone. The Abbey grounds constitute an Important Open Space. Severn Ham is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Margaret's Camp is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Gupshill Manor is Listed.