The War of the Roses (1455–1487) was a nasty business all around. The Battle of Towton, fought on Palm Sunday of 1461, was said to have cost 28,000 lives. Forty-three individuals found in a mass grave at the battle site have been studied by the Towton Mass Grave Project. They reveal the incredible brutality of the fighting -- photos at the link:
Most of these individuals had sustained multiple perimortem (around the time of death) injuries from a variety of projectiles and hand-held weapons, many of which bear resemblance to those curated by the National Armouries Museum, Leeds (collaborators on the project), and dating to the late Medieval period. . . . Many of the individuals suffered multiple injuries that are far in excess of those necessary to cause disability and death. From the distribution of cuts, chops, incisions, and punctures, it appears that blows cluster in the craniofacial area, in some cases bisecting the face and cranial vault of some individuals and detaching bone in others. Series of cuts and incisions found in the vicinity of the nasal and aural areas appear to have been directed toward removal of the nose and ears. There are few infra-cranial (torso and limb) injuries, which may suggest that these areas were not targeted, that these individuals were wearing armour, or that they sustained their injuries while in a position that did not allow them to defend themselves. The pattern, distribution, and number of these insults argues for perimortem mutilation. Many were left in a state that would have made identification difficult, even more so as they had been stripped of identifiable weapons and clothing prior to interment (a normal practice in the Medieval period).