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Roses, Stars and the Sun

Medieval England. War of the Roses. On April 13th, 1471 Yorkist troops, under the command of the king, Edward IV, and Lancastrian forces led by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford met near the town of Barnet some twelve miles North of London. At four o'clock in the morning on April 14th the soldiers of both armies were awakened and started preparing for the decisive battle. Warwick's army heavily outnumbered Edward's, although sources differ on exact numbers. However, according to some historians, Lancastrian strength ranged from 10,000 to 30,000 men, with 7,000 to 15,000 on the Yorkist side.

warofroses1The major problem that both armies had to deal with was a heavy fog that covered the entire battlefield thus making any kind of monitoring or communications with their units somewhat problematic.

Medieval battles have never been known for their orderliness and organization; however because of the heavy fog, the confusion that existed on the field on that warofroses2particular day dwarfed anything that was seen in military campaigns before and since that memorable day. In this mayhem at one point of time John de Vere's forces ended up behind their allies, a part of Lancastrian force led by Warwick's younger brother John Neville. Neville's regiments for reasons to be explained a bit later mistook their comrades-in-arms for enemies - Edward's reserve forces - and unleashed a volley of arrows on them. De Vere, in his turn quite logically assumed treachery and attacked Neville's troops ... The cries of treason quickly spread throughout the entire battlefield and as the fog started to dissipate, Edward saw the Lancastrian centre in disarray and sent in his reserves, hastening its collapse. One by one, first John Neville, then de Vere and finally Warwick were killed by Yorkists.

Some historians claim that as many as 6,500 Lancastrians perished in that engagement - a mind-boggling number of casualties by the 15th century standards. As for Edward, he retained his crown and ruled England for the next twelve years.