Battle of Bosworth Field
Overview
 
The Battle of Bosworth Field (or the Battle of Bosworth) was the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

, the civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 between the House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 and the House of York
House of York
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

 that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 by his victory and subsequent marriage to a Yorkist princess.
Encyclopedia
The Battle of Bosworth Field (or the Battle of Bosworth) was the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

, the civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 between the House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 and the House of York
House of York
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

 that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 by his victory and subsequent marriage to a Yorkist princess. His opponent Richard III
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

, making it one of the defining moments of English history.

Richard's reign began in 1483 when he seized the throne from his twelve-year-old nephew Edward V
Edward V of England
Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

. The boy and his younger brother soon disappeared, to the distress of many, and Richard's support was further eroded by rumours of his involvement in the death of his wife. Across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 Henry Tudor, a descendant of the greatly diminished House of Lancaster, seized on Richard's difficulties and laid claim to the throne. Henry's first attempt to invade England in 1483 was frustrated by a storm, but his second arrived unopposed on 1 August 1485 on the southwest coast of Wales. Marching inland, Henry gathered support as he made for London. Richard hurriedly mustered his troops and intercepted Henry's army south of the town of Market Bosworth
Market Bosworth
Market Bosworth is a small market town and civil parish in Leicestershire, England. It formerly formed a district known as the Market Bosworth Rural District. In 1974 it merged with the Hinckley Rural District to form a new district named Hinckley and Bosworth...

 in Leicestershire
Leicestershire
Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. It takes its name from the heavily populated City of Leicester, traditionally its administrative centre, although the City of Leicester unitary authority is today administered separately from the rest of Leicestershire...

. Lord Thomas Stanley
Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby
Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, KG was titular King of Mann, an English nobleman and stepfather to King Henry VII of England...

 and Sir William Stanley
William Stanley (Battle of Bosworth)
Sir William Stanley was an English soldier and the younger brother of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Stanley fought with his troops in several battles of the Wars of the Roses.-Private life:...

 also brought a force to the battlefield, but held back while they decided which side it would be more advantageous to support.

Richard divided his army, which outnumbered Henry's, into three groups (or "battles"). One was assigned to the Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal was an English nobleman, soldier, and the first Howard Duke of Norfolk...

 and another to the Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, KG son of Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and his wife Eleanor Poynings, daughter of Richard Poynings, Lord Poynings....

. Henry kept most of his force together and placed it under the command of the experienced Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford , the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth Howard, was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses...

. Richard's vanguard, commanded by Norfolk, attacked but struggled against Oxford's men, and some of Norfolk's troops fled the field. Northumberland took no action when signalled to assist his king, so Richard decided to gamble everything on a charge across the battlefield to kill Henry and end the fight. Seeing the king's knights separated from his army, the Stanleys intervened; Sir William led his men to Henry's aid, surrounding and killing Richard. After the battle, Henry was crowned king on Crown Hill.

Henry hired chroniclers to portray his reign favourably; the Battle of Bosworth Field was popularised to represent his Tudor dynasty as the start of a new age. From the 15th to 18th centuries the battle was glamorised as a victory of good over evil, and as the climax of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's play
Richard III (play)
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

 about Richard's rise and fall, it provides a focal point for critics in later film adaptations. The exact site of the battle is disputed because of the lack of conclusive data, and memorials have been erected at different locations. The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre was built, in 1974, on a site chosen based on a theory that has been challenged by several scholars and historians in the following years. In October 2009, a team of researchers, who had performed geological surveys and archaeological digs in the area from 2003, suggested a location two miles (3 km) southwest of Ambion Hill
Ambion Hill
Ambion Hill is the hill in Leicestershire, England near the town of Market Bosworth where, traditionally, the Battle of Bosworth Field is supposed to have been fought. This has been disputed by historians and research has been started to ascertain the truth about what was called, at the time, the...

.

Background

During the 15th century, civil war raged across England as the Houses of York
House of York
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

 and Lancaster
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 fought each other for the English throne. In 1471, the Yorkists defeated their rivals in the battles of Barnet
Battle of Barnet
The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict of 15th-century England. The military action, along with the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne for Edward IV...

 and Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

. The Lancastrian King Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

 and his only son, Edward of Lancaster, died in the aftermath of the Battle of Tewkesbury. Their deaths left the House of Lancaster with no direct claimants to the throne. The Yorkist king, Edward IV
Edward IV of England
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

, was in complete control of England. He attainted
Attainder
In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura is the metaphorical 'stain' or 'corruption of blood' which arises from being condemned for a serious capital crime . It entails losing not only one's property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs...

 those who refused to submit to his rule, such as Jasper Tudor and his nephew Henry
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, naming them traitors and confiscating their lands. The Tudors tried to flee to France but strong winds forced them to land in Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, then a semi-independent duchy, where they were taken into the custody of Francis II, Duke of Brittany. Henry's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a distant descendant of John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, uncle of King Richard II
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

 and father of King Henry IV
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

. The Beauforts were originally bastards
Bastard (Law of England and Wales)
A bastard in the law of England and Wales is a person whose parents, at the time of his/her birth, were not married to each other....

, but Henry IV legitimated them on the condition that their descendants were not eligible to inherit the throne. Henry Tudor, the only remaining Lancastrian noble with a trace of the royal bloodline, had a weak claim to the throne, and Edward regarded him as "a nobody". Francis, however, viewed Henry as a valuable tool to bargain for England's aid and kept the Tudors under his protection.

Edward IV died twelve years later on 9 April 1483. His twelve-year-old elder son succeeded him as King Edward V
Edward V of England
Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

; the younger son, nine-year-old Richard of Shrewsbury
Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York
Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, 1st Duke of Norfolk, 1st Earl of Norfolk, Earl Marshal was the sixth child and second son of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville. He was born in Shrewsbury....

, was next in line to the throne. Edward V was too young to rule and a Royal Council was established to rule the country until the king's coming of age. The royal court was worried when they learned that the Woodvilles, relatives of the Queen Mother Elizabeth
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

, were plotting to seize control of the council. Having offended many in their quest for wealth and power, the Woodville family was not popular. To frustrate the Woodvilles' ambitions, Lord Hastings
William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings
William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings KG was an English nobleman. A follower of the House of York, he became a close friend and the most important courtier of King Edward IV, whom he served as Lord Chamberlain...

 and other members of the council turned to the new king's uncle—Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

, brother of Edward IV. The courtiers urged Gloucester to assume the role of Protector quickly, as had been previously requested by his now dead brother. On 29 April, Gloucester, accompanied by a contingent of guards and Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG played a major role in Richard III of England's rise and fall. He is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower...

, took Edward V into custody and arrested several prominent members of the Woodville family. After bringing the young king to London, Gloucester had the Woodvilles executed, without trial, on charges of treason.

On 13 June, Gloucester accused Hastings of plotting with the Woodvilles and had him beheaded. Nine days later, Gloucester convinced Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 to declare the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth illegal, rendering their children illegitimate and disqualifying them from the throne. With his nephews out of the way, he was next in the line of succession and was proclaimed King Richard III on 26 June. The timing and extrajudicial nature of the deeds done to obtain the throne for Richard won him no popularity, and rumours that spoke ill of the new king spread throughout England. After they were declared bastards, the two princes were confined in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 and never seen in public again. Except for those in the north, the people of England firmly believed that Richard, the "tyrant", had murdered his nephews.

Discontent with Richard's actions manifested itself in the summer after he took control of the country, as a conspiracy emerged to displace him from the throne. The rebels were mostly loyalists to Edward IV, who saw Richard as a usurper. Their plans were co-ordinated by a Lancastrian, Henry's mother Lady Margaret, who was promoting her son as a candidate for the throne. The highest-ranking conspirator was Buckingham. No chronicles tell of the duke's motive in joining the plot, although historian Charles Ross
Charles Ross (historian)
Charles Derek Ross was an English historian of the Late Middle Ages, specialising on the Wars of the Roses. He was Professor of Medieval History at the University of Bristol until his death in 1986, when he was killed by an intruder in his own home.His best known works are his biographies of...

 proposes that Buckingham was trying to distance himself from a king who was becoming increasingly unpopular with the people. Michael Jones and Malcolm Underwood suggest that Margaret deceived Buckingham into thinking the rebels supported him to be king.
The plan was to stage uprisings within a short time in southern and western England, overwhelming Richard's forces. Buckingham would support the rebels by invading from Wales, while Henry came in by sea. Bad timing and weather wrecked the plot. An uprising in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 started 10 days prematurely, alerting Richard to muster the royal army and take steps to put down the insurrections. Richard's spies informed him of Buckingham's activities, and the king's men captured and destroyed the bridges across the River Severn
River Severn
The River Severn is the longest river in Great Britain, at about , but the second longest on the British Isles, behind the River Shannon. It rises at an altitude of on Plynlimon, Ceredigion near Llanidloes, Powys, in the Cambrian Mountains of mid Wales...

. When Buckingham and his army reached the river, they found it swollen and impossible to cross because of a violent storm that broke on 15 October. Buckingham was trapped and had no safe place to retreat; his Welsh enemies seized his home castle after he had set forth with his army. The duke abandoned his plans and fled to Wem
Wem
Wem is a small market town in Shropshire, England. It is the administrative centre for the northern area committee of Shropshire Council, which has its headquarters at Edinburgh House in the centre of Wem. Wem railway station is on the Shrewsbury to Crewe railway line...

, where he was betrayed by his servant and arrested by Richard's men. On 2 November, he was executed. Henry had attempted a landing on 10 October (or 19 October), but his fleet was scattered by a storm. He reached the coast of England (at either Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

 or Poole
Poole
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

), and a group of soldiers hailed him to come ashore. They were, in truth, Richard's men, prepared to capture Henry once he set foot on English soil. Henry was not deceived and returned to Brittany, abandoning the invasion. Without Buckingham or Henry, the rebellion was easily crushed by Richard.

The survivors of the failed uprisings fled to Brittany, where they openly supported Henry's claim to the throne. At Christmas, Henry Tudor swore an oath to marry Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was Queen consort of England as spouse of King Henry VII from 1486 until 1503, and mother of King Henry VIII of England....

, to unite the warring houses of York and Lancaster. Henry's rising prominence made him a great threat to Richard, and the Yorkist king made several overtures to the Duke of Brittany to surrender the young Lancastrian. Francis refused, holding out for the possibility of better terms from Richard. In mid-1484, Francis was incapacitated by illness and while recuperating, his treasurer, Pierre Landais
Pierre Landais
Pierre Landais was a Breton politician who became the principal adviser and chief minister to Francis II, Duke of Brittany. Francis left Landais in control of the affairs of the duchy, producing resentment among local barons, who finally secured the overthrow of Landais' régime...

, took over the reins of government. Landais reached an agreement with Richard to send back Henry and his uncle in exchange for military and financial aid. John Morton, a bishop of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, learned of the scheme and warned the Tudors, who fled to France. The French court allowed them to stay; the Tudors were useful pawns to ensure that Richard's England did not interfere with French plans to annex Brittany. On 16 March 1485, Richard's queen, Anne Neville
Anne Neville
Lady Anne Neville was Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and Queen of England as the consort of King Richard III. She held the latter title for less than two years, from 26 June 1483 until her death in March 1485...

, died, and rumours spread across the country that she was murdered to pave the way for Richard to marry his niece, Elizabeth. The gossip alienated Richard from some of his northern supporters, and upset Henry across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. The loss of Elizabeth's hand in marriage could unravel the alliance between Henry's supporters who were Lancastrians and those who were loyalists to Edward IV. Anxious to secure his bride, Henry assembled approximately 2,000 men and set sail from France on 1 August.

Commanders

By the 15th century, English chivalric
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

 ideas of selfless service to the king had been corrupted
Bastard feudalism
Bastard feudalism is a term that has been used to describe feudalism in the Late Middle Ages, primarily in England. Its main characteristic is military, political, legal, or domestic service in return for money, office, and/or influence...

. Armed forces were mostly raised through musters in individual estates; every able-bodied man had to respond to their lord's call to arms, and each noble had exclusive authority over his militia
Militia (English)
- Origins :The obligation to serve in the militia in England derives from a common law tradition, and dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. The tradition was that all able-bodied males were liable to be called out to serve in one of two organisations.These were the posse comitatus, an ad hoc assembly...

. Although a king could raise personal militia from his lands, he could only muster a significantly large army through the support of his nobles. Richard, like his predecessors, had to win over these men by granting gifts and maintaining cordial relationships. Powerful nobles could demand greater incentives to remain on the liege's side or else they might turn against him. Three groups, each with its own agenda, stood on Bosworth Field: Richard III and his Yorkist army; his challenger, Henry Tudor, who championed the Lancastrian cause; and the fence-sitting Stanleys.

Yorkist

Small and slender, Richard III did not have the robust physique associated with many of his Plantagenet predecessors. However, he enjoyed rough sports and activities that were considered manly. His performances on the battlefield impressed his brother greatly, and he became Edward's right hand man. During the 1480s, Richard defended the northern borders of England. In 1482, Edward charged him to lead an army into Scotland with the aim of replacing King James III
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

 with the Duke of Albany. Richard's army broke through the Scottish defences and occupied the capital
Capture of Berwick (1482)
The Capture of Berwick was a siege that took place in 1482 during the Anglo-Scottish Wars. The future Richard III led an army to take Berwick-Upon-Tweed. He was successful, and it never fell out of English hands again. He afterwards advanced to Edinburgh, were James III of Scotland had been...

, Edinburgh, but Albany decided to give up his claim to the throne in return for the post of Lieutenant General of Scotland. As well as obtaining a guarantee that the Scottish government would concede territories and diplomatic benefits to the English crown, Richard's campaign retook the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Berwick-upon-Tweed or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border....

, which the Scots had conquered in 1460. Edward was not satisfied by these gains, which, according to Ross, could have been greater if Richard had been resolute enough to capitalise on the situation while in control of Edinburgh. In her analysis of Richard's character, Christine Carpenter sees him as a soldier who was more used to taking orders than giving them. However, he was not averse to displaying his militaristic streak; on ascending the throne he made known his desire to lead a crusade
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 against "not only the Turks, but all [his] foes".

Richard's most loyal subject was John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal was an English nobleman, soldier, and the first Howard Duke of Norfolk...

. The duke served Richard's brother for many years and was one of Edward IV's closer confidantes. He was a military veteran, having fought in the Battle of Towton
Battle of Towton
In 1461, England was in the sixth year of the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster over the English throne. The Lancastrians backed the reigning King of England, Henry VI, an indecisive man who suffered bouts of madness...

 in 1461 and served as Hastings' deputy at Calais in 1471. Ross speculates that he may have borne a grudge against Edward for depriving him of a fortune. Norfolk was due to inherit a share of the wealthy Mowbray estate on the death of eight-year-old Anne de Mowbray
Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk
Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk, later Duchess of York and Duchess of Norfolk was the child bride of Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, one of the Princes in the Tower...

, the last of her family. However, Edward convinced Parliament to circumvent the law of inheritance and transfer the estate to his younger son, who was married to Anne. Consequently, Howard supported Richard III in deposing Edward's sons, for which he received the dukedom of Norfolk and his original share of the Mowbray estate.

Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, KG son of Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and his wife Eleanor Poynings, daughter of Richard Poynings, Lord Poynings....

, also supported Richard's seizure of the throne of England. The Percys were loyal Lancastrians, but Edward IV eventually won the earl's allegiance. Northumberland had been captured and imprisoned by the Yorkists in 1461, losing his titles and estates; however, Edward released him eight years later and restored his earldom. From that time Northumberland served the Yorkist crown, helping to defend northern England and maintain its peace. Initially the earl had issues with Richard III as Edward groomed his brother to be the leading power of the north. Northumberland was mollified when he was promised he would be the Warden of the East March
Lord Warden of the Marches
The Lord Warden of the Marches was an office in the governments of Scotland and England. The holders were responsible for the security of the border between the two nations, and often took part in military action....

, a position that was formerly hereditary for the Percys. He served under Richard during the 1482 invasion of Scotland, and the allure of being in a position to dominate the north of England if Richard went south to assume the crown was his likely motivation for supporting Richard's bid for kingship. However, after becoming king, Richard began moulding his nephew, John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln
John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln
John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln was the eldest son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk. His mother was the sixth child and third daughter born to Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville...

, to manage the north, passing over Northumberland for the position. According to Carpenter, although the earl was amply compensated he despaired of any possibility of advancement under Richard.

Lancastrian

Henry Tudor was unfamiliar with the arts of war and a stranger to the land he was trying to conquer. He spent the first fourteen years of his life in Wales and the next fourteen in Brittany and France. Slender but strong and decisive, Henry lacked a penchant for battle and was not much of a warrior; chroniclers such as Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil
Polydore Vergil was an Italian historian, otherwise known as PV Castellensis. He is better known as the contemporary historian during the early Tudor dynasty. He was hired by King Henry VIII of England, who wanted to distance himself from his father Henry VII as much as possible, to document...

 and ambassadors like Pedro de Ayala
Pedro de Ayala
Don Pedro de Ayala was a 16th-century Spanish diplomat employed by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile at the courts of James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England. His mission to Scotland was concerned with the King's marriage and the international crisis caused by the pretender...

 found him more interested in commerce and finance. Having not fought in any battles, Henry recruited several experienced veterans on whom he could rely for military advice and the command of his armies.
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford , the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth Howard, was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses...

, was Henry's principal military commander. He was adept in the arts of war. At the Battle of Barnet, he commanded the Lancastrian right wing and routed the division opposing him. However, as a result of confusion over identities, Oxford's group came under friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

 from the Lancastrian main force and retreated from the field. The earl fled abroad and continued his fight against the Yorkists, raiding shipping and eventually capturing the island fort of St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount is a tidal island located off the Mount's Bay coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is a civil parish and is united with the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water....

 in 1473. He surrendered after receiving no aid or reinforcement, but in 1484 escaped from prison and joined Henry's court in France, bringing along his erstwhile gaoler Sir James Blount
James Blount
Sir James Blount was commander of the English fortress of Hammes, near Calais. When in 1484 the Earl of Oxford was imprisoned there, Blount was apparently persuaded to switch to the Lancastrian side. Blount and Oxford fled to join Henry Tudor , leaving his wife in charge...

. Oxford's presence raised morale in Henry's camp and troubled Richard III.

Stanleys

In the early stages of the Wars of the Roses the Stanleys of Cheshire were predominantly Lancastrians. Sir William Stanley
William Stanley (Battle of Bosworth)
Sir William Stanley was an English soldier and the younger brother of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Stanley fought with his troops in several battles of the Wars of the Roses.-Private life:...

, however, was a staunch Yorkist supporter, fighting in the Battle of Blore Heath
Battle of Blore Heath
The Battle of Blore Heath was the first major battle in the English Wars of the Roses. It was fought on 23 September 1459, at Blore Heath in Staffordshire, two miles east of the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, England.- Background :...

 in 1459 and helping Hastings to put down uprisings against Edward IV in 1471. When Richard took the crown, Sir William showed no inclination to turn against the new king, refraining from joining Buckingham's rebellion, for which he was amply rewarded. Sir William's elder brother, Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley
Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby
Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, KG was titular King of Mann, an English nobleman and stepfather to King Henry VII of England...

, was not as steadfast. By 1485, he had served three kings, namely Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III. Lord Stanley's skilled political manoeuvrings—vacillating between opposing sides until it was clear who would be the winner—gained him high positions; he was Henry's chamberlain and Edward's steward. His non-committal stance, until the crucial point of a battle, earned him the loyalty of his men, who felt he would not needlessly send them to their deaths.

Even though Lord Stanley had served as Edward IV's steward, his relations with the king's brother, the eventual Richard III, were not cordial. The two had conflicts with each other that erupted into violence around March 1470. Furthermore, having taken Lady Margaret as his second wife in June 1472, Stanley was Henry Tudor's stepfather, a relationship which did him nothing to win Richard's favour. Despite these differences, Stanley did not join Buckingham's revolt in 1483. When Richard executed those conspirators who were unable to flee England, he spared Lady Margaret. However, he forfeited her titles and transferred her estates to Stanley's name, to be held in trust for the Yorkist crown. Richard's act of mercy was calculated to reconcile with Stanley, but it may have been to no avail—Carpenter has identified a further cause of friction in Richard's intention to reopen an old land dispute that involved Thomas Stanley and the Harrington family. Edward IV had ruled the case in favour of Stanley in 1473, but Richard planned to overturn his brother's ruling and give the wealthy estate to the Harringtons. Wary of Stanley, Richard took his son, Lord Strange
George Stanley, 9th Baron Strange
George Stanley, 9th Baron Strange, of Knockyn, KG, KB was an English nobleman and heir of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Despite predeceasing his father in 1503, he was nevertheless a considerable soldier and aristocrat in his own right and held a number of senior offices of state.He was born...

, as hostage to discourage him from joining Henry.

Prelude

Henry's crossing of the English Channel in 1485 was without incident. He sailed from Harfleur
Harfleur
-Population:-Places of interest:* The church of St-Martin, dating from the fourteenth century.* The seventeenth century Hôtel de Ville .* Medieval ramparts * The fifteenth century museums of fishing and of archaeology and history....

 on 1 August and, with fair winds, landed at Mill Bay on the north side of Milford Haven
Milford Haven
Milford Haven is a town and community in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It is situated on the north side of the Milford Haven Waterway, a natural harbour used as a port since the Middle Ages. The town was founded in 1790 on the north side of the Waterway, from which it takes its name...

 on 7 August, easily capturing nearby Dale Castle. Although hailed by contemporary Welsh bards as the native prince to bring their country back to glory, Henry received a muted response from the local population. No joyous welcome awaited him on shore, and few individual Welshmen joined his army as it marched inland. Historian Geoffrey Elton suggests only Henry's ardent supporters felt pride over his Welsh blood. It was a different story when Henry moved to Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales and serves as the County's principal commercial and administrative centre. Haverfordwest is the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire, with a population of 13,367 in 2001; though its community boundaries make it the second most populous...

, the county town of Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

. Richard's lieutenant in South Wales, Sir Walter Herbert, failed to move against Henry, and two of his officers, Richard Griffith and Evan Morgan, deserted to Henry with their men. Another prominent local figure, Rhys Fawr ap Maredudd
Rhys Fawr ap Maredudd
Rhys Fawr ap Maredudd was a Welsh nobleman chiefly known for his valour at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, where he fought on the side of Henry VII....

, also joined Henry.

However, the most important defector to Henry in this early stage of the campaign was probably Rhys ap Thomas
Rhys ap Thomas
Rhys ap Thomas was a Welsh soldier and landholder who rose to prominence during the Wars of the Roses, and was instrumental in the victory of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He remained a faithful supporter of Henry and was rewarded with lands and offices in South Wales...

, who was the leading figure in West Wales. Richard had appointed Rhys Lieutenant in West Wales for his refusal to join Buckingham's rebellion, asking that he surrender his son Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Thomas as surety, although by some accounts Rhys had managed to evade this condition. However, Henry successfully courted Rhys, offering the lieutenancy of all Wales in exchange for his fealty. Henry marched via Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth is a historic market town, administrative centre and holiday resort within Ceredigion, Wales. Often colloquially known as Aber, it is located at the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol....

 while Rhys followed a more southerly route, recruiting 500 Welshmen en route to swell Henry's army when they reunited at Welshpool
Welshpool
Welshpool is a town in Powys, Wales, or ancient county Montgomeryshire, from the Wales-England border. The town is low-lying on the River Severn; the Welsh language name Y Trallwng literally meaning 'the marshy or sinking land'...

. By 15 or 16 August, Henry and his men had crossed the English border, making for the town of Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

.

Since 22 June 1485 Richard had been aware of Henry's impending invasion, and had ordered his lords to maintain a high level of readiness. News of Henry's landing reached Richard on 11 August, but it took three to four days for his messengers to notify his lords of their king's mobilisation. On 16 August, the Yorkist army started to gather; Norfolk set off for Leicester
Leicester
Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

, the assembly point, that night. The city of York, a traditional stronghold of Richard's family, asked the king for instructions, and receiving a reply three days later sent 80 men to join the king. Simultaneously Northumberland, whose northern territory was the most distant from the capital, had gathered his men and ridden to Leicester.

Although London was his goal, Henry did not move directly towards the city. After resting in Shrewsbury, his forces went eastwards and picked up Gilbert Talbot and other English allies, including deserters from Richard's forces. Although its size had increased substantially since the landing, Henry's army was not yet large enough to contend with the numbers Richard could muster. Henry's pace through Staffordshire
Staffordshire
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. Part of the National Forest lies within its borders...

 was slow, delaying the confrontation with Richard so that he could gather more recruits to his cause. Henry had been communicating on friendly terms with the Stanleys for some time before setting foot in England, and the Stanleys had mobilised their forces on hearing of Henry's landing. They ranged themselves ahead of Henry's march through the English countryside, meeting twice in secret with Henry as he moved through Staffordshire. At the second of these, at Atherstone
Atherstone
Atherstone is a town in Warwickshire, England. The town is located near the northernmost tip of Warwickshire, close to the border with Staffordshire and Leicestershire and is the administrative headquarters of the borough of North Warwickshire.-History:...

 in Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, they conferred "in what sort to arraign battle with King Richard, whom they heard to be not far off". On 21 August, the Stanleys were making camp on the slopes of a hill north of Dadlington
Dadlington
Dadlington is a hamlet administered by Hinckley and Bosworth District Council in Leicestershire, England. It is situated between Hinckley, Market Bosworth and Nuneaton.The village has a population of around 301 and contains a 13th century church Dadlington is a hamlet administered by Hinckley and...

, while Henry encamped his army at White Moors to the northwest of their camp.

On 20 August, Richard reached Leicester, joining Norfolk. Northumberland arrived the following day. The royal army proceeded westwards to intercept Henry's march on London. Passing Sutton Cheney
Sutton Cheney
Sutton Cheney is a village in Leicestershire, England, close to the location of the Battle of Bosworth Field.Sutton Cheney Wharf on the Ashby Canal gives access to the battlefield and is a tourist destination in its own right...

, Richard moved his army towards Ambion Hill
Ambion Hill
Ambion Hill is the hill in Leicestershire, England near the town of Market Bosworth where, traditionally, the Battle of Bosworth Field is supposed to have been fought. This has been disputed by historians and research has been started to ascertain the truth about what was called, at the time, the...

—which he thought would be of tactical value—and made camp on it. Richard's sleep was not peaceful and, according to the Croyland Chronicle
Croyland Chronicle
The Croyland Chronicle is an important, if not always reliable, primary source for English medieval history, in particular the late fifteenth century. It was written at the Benedictine Abbey of Croyland, in Lincolnshire, England, off and on from 655 to 1486, and its first author claimed to be...

, in the morning his face was "more livid and ghastly than usual".

Engagement

The Yorkist army, numbering about 10,000 men, deployed on the hilltop along the ridgeline from west to east. Norfolk's group (or "battle" in the parlance of the time) of spearmen stood on the right flank, protecting the cannon and about 1,200 archers. Richard's group, comprising 3,000 infantry, formed the centre. Northumberland's men guarded the left flank; he had approximately 4,000 men, many of them mounted. Standing on the hilltop, Richard had a wide, unobstructed view of the area. He could see the Stanleys and their 6,000 men holding their position at Dadlington Hill, while to the southwest was Henry's army.

Henry had very few Englishmen—fewer than a thousand—in his army. Between three and five hundred of them were exiles who had fled from Richard's rule, and the remainder were Talbot's men and recent deserters from Richard's army. Historian John Mackie believes that 1,800 French mercenaries, led by Philibert de Chandée, formed the core of Henry's army. John Mair
John Mair
John Mair was a Scottish philosopher, much admired in his day and an acknowledged influence on all the great thinkers of the time. He was a very renowned teacher and his works much collected and frequently republished across Europe...

, writing thirty-five years after the battle, claimed that this force contained a significant Scottish component, and this claim is accepted by some modern writers, but Mackie reasons that the French would not have released their elite Scottish knights and archers
Garde Écossaise
The Garde Écossaise was an elite Scottish military unit founded in 1418 by the Valois Charles VII of France, to be personal bodyguards to the French monarchy. They were assimilated into the Maison du Roi and later formed the first Company of the Garde du Corps du Roi...

, and concludes that there were probably few Scottish troops in the army, although he accepts the presence of captains like Bernard Stewart, Lord of Aubigny
Bernard Stewart, Lord of Aubigny
Bernard Stewart, 4rd Lord of Aubigny was a French soldier, Commander of the Garde Écossaise, and diplomat belonging to the Scottish family of Stewart of Darnley.-Early life:...

. In total, Henry's army was around 5,000 strong, a substantial portion of which was made up by the recruits picked up in Wales. Rhys ap Thomas's Welsh force was described as being large enough to have "annihilated" the rest of Henry's force.

In their interpretations of the vague mentions of the battle in the old text, historians placed areas near the foot of Ambion Hill as likely regions where the two armies clashed, and thought up possible scenarios of the engagement. In their recreations of the battle, Henry started by moving his army towards Ambion Hill where Richard and his men stood. As Henry's army advanced past the marsh at the southwestern foot of the hill, Richard sent a message to Stanley, threatening to execute his son, Strange, if Stanley did not join the attack on Henry immediately. Stanley replied that he had other sons. Incensed, Richard gave the order to behead Strange but his officers temporised, saying that battle was imminent, and it would be more convenient to carry out the execution afterwards. Henry had also sent messengers to Stanley asking him to declare his allegiance. The reply was evasive—the Stanleys would "naturally" come, after Henry had given orders to his army and arranged them for battle. Henry had no choice but to confront Richard's forces alone.

Well aware of his own military inexperience, Henry handed command of his army to Oxford and retired to the rear with his bodyguards. Oxford, seeing the vast line of Richard's army strung along the ridgeline, decided to keep his men together instead of splitting them into the traditional three battles: vanguard, centre, and rearguard. He ordered the troops to stray no further than 10 feet (3 m) from their banners, fearing that they would become enveloped. Individual groups clumped together, forming a single large mass flanked by horsemen on the wings.
The Lancastrians were harassed by Richard's cannon as they manoeuvred around the marsh, seeking firmer ground. Once Oxford and his men were clear of the marsh, Norfolk's battle and several contingents of Richard's group started to advance. Hails of arrows showered both sides as they closed. Oxford's men proved the steadier in the ensuing hand-to-hand combat; they held their ground and several of Norfolk's men, recruits from southern England, fled the field. Recognising that his force was at a disadvantage, Richard signalled for Northumberland to assist but Northumberland's group showed no signs of movement. Historians, such as Horrox and Pugh, believe Northumberland chose not to aid his king for personal reasons. Ross doubts the aspersions cast on Northumberland's loyalty, suggesting instead that Ambion Hill's narrow ridge hindered him from joining the battle. The earl would have had to either go through his allies or execute a wide flanking move—near impossible to perform given the standard of drill at the time—to engage Oxford's men.

At this juncture Henry rode off towards the Stanleys. Seeing this, Richard decided to end the fight quickly by killing the enemy commander. He led a charge of mounted men around the melee and tore into Henry's group; several accounts state that Richard's force numbered 800–1000 knights, but Ross says it was more likely that Richard was accompanied only by his household men and closest friends. Richard killed Henry's standard-bearer Sir William Brandon in the initial charge and unhorsed burly John Cheyne, Edward IV's former standard-bearer, with a blow to the head from his broken lance. Henry's bodyguards surrounded their master and succeeded in keeping him away from the Yorkist king. On seeing Richard embroiled with Henry's men and separated from his main force, William Stanley made his move. He led his men into the fight at Henry's side. Outnumbered, Richard's group was surrounded and gradually pressed back against the marsh. Richard's banner man—Sir Percival Thirwell—lost his legs but held the Yorkist banner aloft until he was hacked to death. The king's horse got mired in the soft ground and he was forced to continue the fight on foot. His followers offered him their horses to escape but Richard refused. All chroniclers agree that Richard fought bravely to the end; overwhelmed by the masses of Welsh spearmen around him, the last Yorkist king died on the battlefield. Richard's forces disintegrated as news of his death spread. Northumberland and his men fled north on seeing the king's fate, and Norfolk was killed.

Post-battle

After the battle, Richard's circlet
Circlet
A circlet is a crown with neither arches nor a cap ....

 was found and brought to Henry, who was crowned king at the top of Crown Hill, near the village of Stoke Golding. According to Vergil, Henry's official historian, Lord Stanley found the circlet. Historian Stanley Chrimes and Professor Sydney Anglo dismiss the legend of the crown's finding in a hawthorn bush
Crataegus
Crataegus , commonly called hawthorn or thornapple, is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the rose family, Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name hawthorn was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe,...

; none of the contemporary sources reported such an event. Ross, however, does not ignore the legend. He opines that the hawthorn bush would not be part of Henry's coat of arms if it did not have a strong relationship to his ascendance. In Vergil's chronicle, 100 of Henry's men, compared to 1,000 of Richard's, died in this battle—a ratio Chrimes believes to be an exaggeration. The bodies of the fallen were brought to St James Church at Dadlington for burial. However, Henry denied any immediate rest for Richard; instead the last Yorkist king's corpse was stripped naked and strapped across a horse. His body was brought to Leicester and openly exhibited in a church to show his death. After two days, the corpse was interred in a plain unmarked tomb.

Henry dismissed the mercenaries in his force, retaining only a small core of local soldiers to form the "Yeomen of his Garde
Yeomen of the Guard
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor...

", and proceeded to establish his rule of England. He convinced Parliament to reverse his attainder and record Richard's kingship as illegal, although the Yorkist king's reign remained officially in the annals of England history. The proclamation of Edward IV's children as illegitimate was also reversed, restoring Elizabeth's status to a royal princess. The marriage of Elizabeth, the heiress to the House of York, to Henry, the master of the House of Lancaster, marked the end of the feud between the two houses and the start of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

. The royal matrimony, however, was delayed until Henry was crowned king and had established his claim on the throne firmly enough to preclude that of Elizabeth and her kin. Henry further convinced Parliament to backdate his reign to the day before the battle, effectively enabling those who fought against him at Bosworth Field to be declared traitors. Northumberland, who had remained inactive during the battle, was imprisoned but later released and reinstated to pacify the north in Henry's name. The purge of those who fought for Richard occupied Henry's first two years of rule, although later he proved prepared to accept those who submitted to him regardless of their former allegiances.

Of his supporters, Henry rewarded the Stanleys the most generously. Aside from making William his chamberlain, he bestowed the earldom of Derby upon Lord Stanley along with grants and offices in other estates. Henry rewarded Oxford by restoring to him the lands and titles confiscated by the Yorkists and appointing him as Constable of the Tower
Constable of the Tower
The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London. In the middle ages a constable was the person in charge of a castle when the owner - the king or a nobleman - was not in residence...

 and admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

. For his kin, Henry created Jasper Tudor the Duke of Bedford. He returned to his mother the lands and grants stripped from her by Richard, and proved to be a filial son, installing her as Queen Mother in the palace and faithfully attending to her throughout his reign. Parliament's declaration of Margaret as femme sole effectively empowered her; she no longer needed to manage her estates through Stanley. Elton points out that despite his initial largesse, Henry's supporters at Bosworth would only enjoy his special favour for the short term; in later years, he would instead promote those who best served his interests.

Like the kings before him, Henry faced dissenters. The first open revolt occurred two years after Bosworth Field; Lambert Simnel
Lambert Simnel
Lambert Simnel was a pretender to the throne of England. His claim to be the Earl of Warwick in 1487 threatened the newly established reign of King Henry VII .-Early life:...

 claimed to be Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick
Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick
Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick was the son of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and a potential claimant to the English throne during the reigns of both Richard III and his successor, Henry VII...

, who was Edward IV's nephew. The Earl of Lincoln backed him for the throne and led rebel forces in the name of the House of York. The rebel army fended off several attacks by Northumberland's forces, before engaging Henry's army at the Battle of Stoke Field
Battle of Stoke Field
The Battle of Stoke Field may be considered the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, since it was to be the last engagement in which a Lancastrian king faced an army of Yorkist supporters, under the pretender Lambert Simnel...

 on 16 June 1487. Oxford and Bedford led Henry's men, including several former supporters of Richard III. Henry won this battle easily, but other malcontents and conspiracies would follow. A rebellion in 1489 started with Northumberland's murder; military historian Michael C. C. Adams says that the author of a note, which was left next to Northumberland's body, blamed the earl for Richard's death.

Legacy

Contemporary accounts of the Battle of Bosworth Field can be found in four main sources, one of which is the English Croyland Chronicle, written by a senior Yorkist chronicler who relied on second-hand information from nobles and soldiers. The other accounts were written by foreigners—Vergil, Jean Molinet, and Diego de Valera. Whereas Molinet was sympathetic to Richard, Vergil was in Henry's service and drew information from the king and his subjects to portray them in a good light. Diego de Valera, whose information Ross regards as unreliable, compiled his work from letters of Spanish merchants. However, other historians have used Valera's work to deduce possibly valuable insights not readily evident in other sources. Ross finds the poem, The Ballad of Bosworth Field, a useful source to ascertain certain details of the battle. The multitude of different accounts, mostly based on second- or third-hand information, has proved an obstacle to historians as they try to reconstruct the battle. Their common complaint is that, except for its outcome, very few details of the battle are found in the chronicles. According to historian Michael Hicks
Michael Hicks
Michael Hicks is an English historian, specialising on the history of late medieval England, in particular the Wars of the Roses. Hicks studied with C. A. J. Armstrong and Charles Ross while a student at the University of Bristol...

, the Battle of Bosworth Field is one of the worst-recorded clashes of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry tried to present his victory as a new beginning for the country; he hired chroniclers to portray his reign as a "modern age" with its dawn in 1485. Hicks states that the works of Vergil and the blind historian Bernard André
Bernard André
Bernard André , also known as Andreas, was a French Augustinian poet, a chronicler of the reign of Henry VII of England, and poet laureate. A native of Toulouse, he was tutor to Prince Arthur, and probably had a share in the education of the future Henry VIII. He was also a tutor at Oxford, and...

, promoted by subsequent Tudor administrations, became the authoritative sources for writers for the next four hundred years. As such, Tudor literature paints a flattering picture of Henry's reign, depicting the Battle of Bosworth Field as the final clash of the civil war and downplaying the subsequent uprisings. For England the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 ended in 1485, and English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 claims that other than William the Conqueror's successful invasion
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

 of 1066, no other year holds more significance in English history. By portraying Richard as a hunchbacked tyrant who usurped the throne by killing his nephews, the Tudor historians attached a sense of myth to the battle: it became an epic clash between good and evil with a satisfying moral outcome. According to Reader
Reader (academic rank)
The title of Reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth nations like Australia and New Zealand denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship...

 Colin Burrow, André was so overwhelmed by the historic significance of the battle that he represented it with a blank page in his Henry VII (1502). For Professor Peter Saccio, the battle was indeed a unique clash in the annals of English history, because "the victory was determined, not by those who fought, but by those who delayed fighting until they were sure of being on the winning side."

Historians such as Adams and Horrox believe that Richard lost the battle not for any mythic reasons, but because of morale and loyalty problems in his army. Most of the common soldiers found it difficult to fight for a liege whom they distrusted, and some lords believed that their situation might improve if Richard was dethroned. According to Adams, against such duplicities Richard's desperate charge was the only knightly behaviour on the field. As fellow historian Michael Bennet puts it, the attack was "the swan-song of [mediaeval] English chivalry". Adams believes this view was shared at the time by the printer William Caxton
William Caxton
William Caxton was an English merchant, diplomat, writer and printer. As far as is known, he was the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England...

, who enjoyed sponsorship from Edward IV and Richard III. Nine days after the battle, Caxton published Thomas Malory
Thomas Malory
Sir Thomas Malory was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G. L...

's story about chivalry and death by betrayal—Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

—seemingly as a response to the circumstances of Richard's death.

Elton does not believe Bosworth Field has any true significance, pointing out that the 20th century English public largely ignored the battle until its quincentennial celebration. In his view, the dearth of specific information about the battle—no-one even knows exactly where it took place—demonstrates its insignificance to English society. Elton considers the battle as just one part of Henry's struggles to establish his reign, underscoring his point by noting that the young king had to spend ten more years pacifying factions and rebellions to secure his throne. Mackie agrees that contemporary historians, wary of the three royal successions during the long Wars of the Roses, considered Bosworth Field just another in a lengthy series of such battles. It was through the works and efforts of Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 and his successors that the public started to believe the battle had decided their futures by bringing about "the fall of a tyrant". Mackie concludes that, in hindsight, Bosworth Field is notable as the decisive battle that established a dynasty which would rule unchallenged over England for more than a hundred years.

Shakespearian dramatisation

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 gives prominence to the Battle of Bosworth Field in his play, Richard III
Richard III (play)
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

. It is the "one big battle"; no other fighting scene distracts the audience from this action, represented by a one-on-one swordfight between Henry Tudor and Richard III. Shakespeare uses their duel to bring a climactic end to the play and the Wars of the Roses; he also uses it to champion morality, portraying the "unequivocal triumph of good over evil". Richard, the villainous lead character, has been built up in the battles of Shakespeare's earlier play, Henry VI, Part 3
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VI, Part 3 or The Third Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

, as a "formidable swordsman and a courageous military leader"—in contrast to the dastardly means by which he becomes king in Richard III. Although the Battle of Bosworth Field has only five sentences to direct it, three scenes and more than four hundred lines precede the action, developing the background and motivations for the characters in anticipation of the battle.

Shakespeare's account of the battle was mostly based on chroniclers Edward Hall
Edward Hall
Edward Hall , English chronicler and lawyer, was born about the end of the 15th century, being a son of John Hall of Northall, Shropshire....

's and Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed was an English chronicler, whose work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, was one of the major sources used by William Shakespeare for a number of his plays....

's dramatic versions of history, which were sourced from Vergil's chronicle. However, Shakespeare's attitude towards Richard was shaped by scholar Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

, whose writings displayed extreme bias against the Yorkist king. The result of these influences is a script that vilifies the king, and Shakespeare had few qualms about departing from history to incite drama. Margaret of Anjou died in 1482, but Shakespeare had her speak to Richard's mother before the battle to foreshadow Richard's fate and fulfil the prophecy she had given in Henry VI. Shakespeare exaggerated the cause of Richard's restless night before the battle, imagining it as a haunting by the ghosts of those whom the king had murdered, including Buckingham. Richard is portrayed as suffering a pang of conscience, but as he speaks he regains his confidence and asserts that he will be evil, if such needed to retain his crown.

The fight between the two armies is simulated by rowdy noises made off-stage (alarums or alarms) while actors walk on-stage, deliver their lines, and exit. To build anticipation for the duel, Shakespeare requests more alarums after Richard's councillor, William Catesby
William Catesby
William Catesby, esq. was one of Richard III of England's principal councillors. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Speaker of the House of Commons during Richard's reign....

, announces that the king is "[enacting] more wonders than a man". Richard punctuates his entrance with the classic line, "A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!" He refuses to withdraw, continuing to seek to slay Henry's doubles until he has killed his nemesis. There is no documentary evidence that Henry had five decoys
Political decoy
A political decoy is a person employed to impersonate a politician, in order to draw attention away from the real person or to take risks on their behalf...

 at Bosworth Field; the idea was Shakespeare's invention. He drew inspiration from Henry IV
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

's use of them at the Battle of Shrewsbury
Battle of Shrewsbury
The Battle of Shrewsbury was a battle fought on 21 July 1403, waged between an army led by the Lancastrian King, Henry IV, and a rebel army led by Henry "Hotspur" Percy from Northumberland....

 (1403) to amplify the perception of Richard's courage on the battlefield. Similarly, the single combat between Henry and Richard is Shakespeare's creation. The True Tragedy of Richard III, a play earlier than Shakespeare's, has no signs of staging such an encounter: its stage directions give not a hint of visible combat.
Despite the dramatic licences taken, Shakespeare's version of the Battle of Bosworth Field was the model of the event for English textbooks for many years during the 18th and 19th centuries. This glamorised version of history, promulgated in books and paintings and played out on stages across the country, perturbed humorist Gilbert Abbott à Beckett
Gilbert Abbott à Beckett
Gilbert Abbott à Beckett was an English humorist.He was born in London, the son of a lawyer, and belonged to a family claiming descent from Thomas Becket...

. He voiced his criticism in the form of a poem, equating the romantic view of the battle to watching a "fifth-rate production of Richard III": shabbily costumed actors fight the Battle of Bosworth Field on-stage while those with lesser roles lounge at the back, showing no interest in the proceedings.

In Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

's 1955 film adaptation
Richard III (1955 film)
Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors,...

 of Richard III, the Battle of Bosworth Field is represented not by a single duel but a general melee that became the film's most recognised scene and a regular screening at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. The film depicts the clash between the Yorkist and Lancastrian armies on an open field, focusing on individual characters amidst the savagery of hand-to-hand fighting, and received accolades for the realism portrayed. One reviewer for The Manchester Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

newspaper, however, was not impressed, finding the number of combatants too sparse for the wide plains and a lack of subtlety in Richard's death scene. The means by which Richard is shown to prepare his army for the battle also earned acclaim. As Richard speaks to his men and draws his plans in the sand using his sword, his units appear on-screen, arraying themselves according to the lines that Richard had drawn. Intimately woven together, the combination of pictorial and narrative elements effectively turns Richard into a storyteller, who acts out the plot he has constructed. Shakespearian critic Herbert Coursen extends that imagery: Richard sets himself up as a creator of men, but dies amongst the savagery of his creations. Coursen finds the depiction a contrast to that of Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 and his "band of brothers".

The adaptation of the setting for Richard III to a 1930s fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 England in Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

's 1995 film
Richard III (1995 film)
Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play of the same name, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, John Wood and Dominic West....

, however, did not sit well with historians. Adams posits that the original Shakespearian setting for Richard's fate at Bosworth teaches the moral of facing one's fate, no matter how unjust it is, "nobly and with dignity". By overshadowing the dramatic teaching with special effects, McKellen's film reduces its version of the battle to a pyrotechnic spectacle about the death of a one-dimensional villain. Coursen agrees that, in this version, the battle and Richard's end are trite and underwhelming.

Battlefield

Officially the site of the battle is deemed by Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council is the county council for the English non-metropolitan county of Leicestershire. It was originally formed in 1889 by the Local Government Act 1888. The county is divided into 52 electoral divisions, which return a total of 55 councillors. The council is controlled by...

 to be in the vicinity of the town of Market Bosworth
Market Bosworth
Market Bosworth is a small market town and civil parish in Leicestershire, England. It formerly formed a district known as the Market Bosworth Rural District. In 1974 it merged with the Hinckley Rural District to form a new district named Hinckley and Bosworth...

. The council engaged historian Daniel Williams to research the battle, and in 1974 his findings were used to build the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and the presentation it houses. Williams's interpretation, however, has since been questioned. Sparked by the battle's quincentenary celebration in 1985, a dispute among historians has led many to suspect the accuracy of Williams's theory. In particular, geological surveys conducted from 2003 to 2009 by the Battlefields Trust, a charitable organisation that protects and studies old English battlefields, show that the southern and eastern flanks of Ambion Hill were solid ground in the 15th century, contrary to Williams's claim that it was a large area of marshland. Landscape archaeologist
Landscape archaeology
Landscape archaeology is the study of the ways in which people in the past constructed and used the environment around them. Landscape archaeology is inherently multidisciplinary in its approach to the study of culture, and is used by both pre-historical, classic, and historic archaeologists...

 Glenn Foard, leader of the survey, said the collected soil samples and finds of mediaeval military equipment suggest that the battle took place two miles (3 km) southwest of Ambion Hill (52°34′41″N 1°26′02″W), contrary to the popular belief that it was fought near the foot of the hill.

English Heritage argues that the battle was named after Market Bosworth because the town was the nearest significant settlement to the battlefield in the 15th century. As explored by Professor Philip Morgan, a battle might initially be treated by society as an unremarkable event, deeming it of no memorable quality and therefore not requiring a name. As time passes, writers of administrative and historical records find it necessary to identify the battle, ascribing it a name that is usually toponymical
Toponymy
Toponymy is the scientific study of place names , their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos and ónoma . Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds...

 in nature and sourced from combatants or observers. This official name becomes accepted by society and future generations without question. Early records associated the Battle of Bosworth Field with "Brownehethe", "bellum Miravallenses", "Sandeford" and "Dadlyngton field". The earliest record, a municipal memorandum of 23 August 1485 from York, locates the battle "on the field of Redemore". This is corroborated by a 1485–86 letter that mentions "Redesmore" as its site. According to historian Peter Foss, records did not associate the battle with "Bosworth" until 1510.

Foss is named by English Heritage as the principal advocate for "Redemore" as the battlesite. He suggests the name is derived from "Hreod Mor", an Anglo-Saxon phrase that means "reedy marshland". Basing his opinion on 13th- and 16th-century church records, he believes "Redemore" was an area of wetland that lay between Ambion Hill and the village of Dadlington
Dadlington
Dadlington is a hamlet administered by Hinckley and Bosworth District Council in Leicestershire, England. It is situated between Hinckley, Market Bosworth and Nuneaton.The village has a population of around 301 and contains a 13th century church Dadlington is a hamlet administered by Hinckley and...

, and was close to the Fenn Lanes, a Roman road running east to west across the region. Foard believes this road to be the most probable route that both armies took to reach the battlefield. Williams dismisses the notion of "Redmore" as a specific location, calling the word a general term used to describe a large area of reddish soil; Foss argues that Williams's sources are local stories and flawed interpretations of records. Moreover, he proposes that Williams was influenced by William Hutton
William Hutton (Birmingham historian)
William Hutton was a poet and the first significant historian of Birmingham, England.-Biography:...

's 1788 The Battle of Bosworth-Field, which Foss blames for introducing the notion that the battle was fought west of Ambion Hill on the north side of the River Sence
River Sence
The River Sence is a river in Leicestershire, England. The tributaries of the Sence including the Saint and Tweed fan out over much of western Leicestershire from Charnwood Forest and Coalville in the north-east to Hinckley and almost to Watling Street in the south and south-west...

. Hutton, as Foss suggests, misinterpreted a passage from his source, Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed was an English chronicler, whose work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, was one of the major sources used by William Shakespeare for a number of his plays....

's 1577 Chronicle. Holinshed wrote, "King Richard pitched his field on a hill called Anne Beame, refreshed his soldiers and took his rest." Foss believes that Hutton mistook "field" to mean "field of battle", thus creating the idea that the fight took place on Anne Beame (Ambion) Hill. To "[pitch] his field", as Foss clarifies, was a period expression for setting up a camp.
Foss brings further evidence for his "Redemore" theory by quoting Edward Hall
Edward Hall
Edward Hall , English chronicler and lawyer, was born about the end of the 15th century, being a son of John Hall of Northall, Shropshire....

's 1550 Chronicle. Hall stated that Richard's army stepped onto a plain after breaking camp the next day. Furthermore, historian William Burton, author of Description of Leicestershire (1622), wrote that the battle was "fought in a large, flat, plaine, and spacious ground, three miles [5 km] distant from [Bosworth], between the Towne of Shenton, Sutton [Cheney], Dadlington and Stoke [Golding]". In Foss's opinion both sources are describing an area of flat ground north of Dadlington.

English Heritage, responsible for managing England's historic sites, used both theories to designate the site for Bosworth Field. Without preference for either theory, they constructed a single continuous battlefield boundary that encompasses the locations proposed by both Williams and Foss. The region has experienced extensive changes over the years, starting after the battle. Holinshed stated in his chronicle that he found firm ground where he expected the marsh to be, and Burton confirmed that by the end of the 16th century, areas of the battlefield were enclosed and had been improved
Land improvement
Land improvement or land amelioration refers to investments making land more usable by humans. In terms of accounting, land improvements refer to any variety of projects that increase the value of the property...

 to make them agriculturally productive. Trees were planted on the south side of Ambion Hill, forming Ambion Wood. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ashby Canal carved through the land west and south-west of Ambion Hill. Winding alongside the canal at a distance, the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway
Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway
The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway was a pre-grouping railway company in the English Midlands. It was jointly owned by the Midland Railway and the London and North Western Railway and linked Nuneaton and Coalville....

crossed the area on an embankment. The changes to the landscape were so extensive that when Hutton revisited the region in 1807 after an earlier 1788 visit, he could not readily find his way around.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre was built on Ambion Hill, near Richard's Well. According to legend, Richard III drank from one of the several springs in the region on the day of the battle. In 1788, a local pointed out one of the springs to Hutton as the one mentioned in the legend. A stone structure was later built over the location. The inscription on the well reads:

Northwest of Ambion Hill, just across the northern tributary of the Sence, a flag and memorial stone mark Richard's Field. Erected in 1973, the site was selected on the basis of Williams's theory. St James's Church at Dadlington is the only structure in the area that is reliably associated with the Battle of Bosworth Field; the bodies of those killed in the battle were buried there.

External links

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