This illumination depicts the first battle of Lincoln, on 2 February 1141, in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. It comes from a copy of Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum made around the year 1200. It is included in my chapter on Ralph of Fenne, who was the ancestor the Rochfords of Fenne through his daughter and heiress, Albreda.
Ralph, and his father Alan before him, held their property at Fenne under the Honour of Richmond, the vast estates that belonged to the earl of Richmond, Alan the Black. The Victoria County History for Yorkshire relates that:
“This Alan was notorious for his cruelty even in that cruel age. He was a supporter of King Stephen against the Empress Maud, and he is said to have tried to avenge the king’s capture at Lincoln by laying an ambush for the Earl of Chester. Instead he was himself taken prisoner and compelled by torture to deliver up the county of Cornwall, which Stephen had committed to his charge.”
As vassals who owed military service to the earl, it is likely that the Fennes were drawn into the fracas one way or another, especially given their proximity to the battlefield. The chronicler Roger of Hoveden wrote of this battle:
“Then might you have seen a dreadful aspect of battle, on every quarter around the king’s troop fire flashing from the meeting of swords and helmets – a dreadful crash, a terrific clamour – at which the hills re-echoed, the city walls resounded. With horses spurred on, they charged the king’s troop, slew some, wounded others, and dragging some away, made them prisoners.”
It must have been a terrible sight.
 BL Arundel MS 48, f. 168v
 ‘The honour and castle of Richmond’, in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, ed. William Page (London, 1914), pp. 1-16. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol1/pp1-16 [accessed 3 July 2017].
 Roger de Hoveden, Translated Henry T. Riley (1853), The Annals of Roger de Hoveden: Comprising The History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201, Vol 1. H. G. Bohn. pp. 243, 244.