A Nation in Conflict: The Battle of Bosworth Field

Posted on Wednesday 22nd August 2012


On 22 August 1485, the forces of the Yorkist king Richard III and his Lancastrian opponent Henry Tudor, calling himself Earl of Richmond, clashed at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire in one of the decisive battles of English history. Richard was defeated and killed. Henry took the crown as Henry VII, established the Tudor dynasty and set English history on a new course. For the last 500 years this, the most famous battle of the Wars of the Roses, has excited passionate interesting and continuing controversy.
The Battle - 22 August 1485
Tudor was some 3 miles from Richard’s chosen position at dawn on 22 August. Before setting out on his march he apparently asked Lord Stanley, who was already approaching the battle site, to take command of his van at the battle, but Stanley refused, commenting that since Henry’s company was so small he would lend him four knights together ‘with their chivalry’ from his own forces to help him. The Ballad of Bosworth Field names them as Sir Robert Tunstall, Sir John Savage, Sir Hugh Persall and Sir Humphrey Stanley. Vergil says that early on the morning of 22 August Tudor sent to Lord Stanley, whose troops were approaching the battlefield, to come and join him, but that Stanley ‘answered that the earl should set his own forces in order while he would come with his (own) army well appointed’, and meanwhile Stanley settled his forces between the two armies. This reply was ‘given contrary to what was looked for and to that which the opportunity of time and weight of cause required, though Henry were no little vexed and began to be somewhat appalled’, as well he may have been. These two requests to Lord Stanley could be descriptions of the same event.
Despite this setback, Tudor nevertheless now had no choice but to prepare for battle, so his men would have been roused, mustered into marching order and marched from Atherstone, a distance of about 3 miles from the royal army. This is no distance for fit men, especially those hardened by the long march from Milford Haven, and after two days’ rest. At a marching speed of perhaps 2 miles an hour, to allow for poor roads, this would have taken them about an hour and a half. They were doubtless bringing their French guns but not their baggage train, which they could easily retrieve if they won and would not need if they lost. They might therefore have arrived on the battlefield at about 8.00 am. Tudor is said to have used local guides on this journey. William Burton, a local man writing in the seventeenth century, said that his ancestor John de Hardwick, lord of the nearby manor of Lindley and a commissioner of array for Leicestershire, joined Tudor on the day before the battle with men and horses, and served as a guide on the morning of the battle. Two other men in the rebel army, Sir Robert Harcourt and Sir John Cheyne, were also local and may have helped to guide Tudor’s army. With Tudor on the march were most of those prominent gentry and clergy who had fled to him in 1483. They included John, Lord Welles, Tudor’s uncle, Edward Woodville, the queen’s brother, and John Cheyne, as well as Piers Courtenay, Bishop of Exeter, and Robert Morton, who had been Master of the Rolls until 1483, when he joined the Buckingham rebellion. He was the nephew of John Morton, Bishop of Ely, who had played an active part in planning the invasion. Also present were Christopher Urswick and Richard Fox, who were to be prominent in the new Tudor administration.
The route taken by Tudor to the battlefield may be traced by the payments he subsequently made to a number of villages because they sustained losses of corn and grains ‘by us and our company at our lat victorious field’, much as he also recompensed Atherstone and the Abbot of Merevale for damage. Most of the compensation was given to the village of Witherley, which was perhaps in the direct route of the army, but Fenny Drayton received a good sum, with Mancetter and Atterton receiving less. Some of the damage may have been caused by troops foraging before the battle, or perhaps some of the rebel troops were quartered in these villages (although gathering them from such scattered locations might have been difficult in the event of a sudden attack). John Fox, the parson of Witherley, together with John Atherston, ‘gentleman’, were appointed to receive the money, and presumably to disburse it. At Witherley Tudor knighted more of his followers. These included William Brandon, who would not long enjoy his new status since he was shortly to die on the battlefield at the hands of King Richard. By the time Tudor reached the battlefield, Richard must have been waiting for an hour or more. Once on the battlefield, Tudor ‘made a slender vanward for the small number of his people; before the same he placed archers of whom he made captain John Earl of Oxford, in the right wing of the vanward he placed Gilbert Talbot to defend the same, in the left verily he set John Savage and himself, trusting to the aid of Thomas Stanley, with one troop of horsemen and a few footmen did follow’. The position described, with Talbot on the right of the vanward and Savage on the left, might indicate that the rebel army was arranged in the normal way with three battles, but it is more likely that there was in fact only one battle and that ‘slender’, with Oxford in overall command.

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The royal standard of Richard III, featuring the image of a boar, Richard III's livery badge.

The positions described here for the royal and rebel armies are typical of a medieval battle, but in this case there are some oddities. It may first of all be asked why Richard placed his army at such an odd angle across Fenn Lane. Had he wished to take up a more orthodox position he could have placed his army at right angles across Fenn Lane to prevent Tudor advancing any further east or trying to reach London. Had he wished, he could have positioned it so that the marsh protected his front, and he would then have been in a position to fire at Tudor as his army came in sight, elevating his guns to give them greater range. However, from the archaeological evidence to date, which consists of finds from a limited area, it appears that the armies were lined up in the way shown on the map. It may be that Richard chose this position because the Stanleys were already stationed on the slopes of Crown Hill when the royal army reached the battlefield, and he was trying to find a position for his army that could both counter any hostile movement from there and watch for the rebel advance. Vergil describes the battle preliminaries with both armies lined up opposite one another, and the positions described would correspond to his description that there was a ‘marsh between both hosts, which Henry of purpose left on the right hand that it might serve his men instead of a fortress, by the doing thereof he left the sun on his back’. If the rebels did indeed reach the battlefield by 8.00 as suggested, the sun would probably have been sufficiently far advanced to be on their back by the time they lined up on the field, and there was certainly a marsh between the two hosts, albeit on one flank. According to Molinet, the armies were about a quarter of a league apart. If this was a French league, as seems likely from a French-speaking author, this would put the two sides about 800 yards apart. But this distance is well beyond bow shot (about 250 to 300 yards), the normal distance apart for opposing armies. If they were this distance apart, perhaps Tudor (or more likely Oxford, an experienced commander) was worried about the royal guns.
It remains a matter for conjecture where the two Stanley brothers had placed themselves. Some authors have put them together but this seems unlikely since Sir William had already been declared a traitor and even at this stage Lord Stanley would have been reluctant to openly ally himself with the anti-Richard faction. Even though there was little the king could do about it at this late stage, it would have been much better to leave him (and Tudor too, of course) guessing about the intentions of both brothers. It therefore seems likely that Lord Stanley placed himself south of the main action, on Northumberland’s flank, perhaps on the slope of Crown Hill from where he could see what was happening. There was no action at all on this part of the battle line, the Crowland Chronicler specifically stating that ‘Where the Earl of Northumberland stood, however, with a fairly large and well equipped force, there was no contest against the enemy and no blows given or received in battle’. This was not the fault of Northumberland; if he were not directly attacked, then he could not break the line without a general advance of the royal army, which did not take place. Presumably Richard, half expecting Stanley to attempt a flank attack, had to guard against such a move, hence the positioning of a valuable part of his army there. Sir William Stanley, who did intervene in the battle, may have been lower down on the slope of the hill to the west of his brother, and nearer Tudor’s forces.
Even before the fighting started – indeed, while the rebel army was still moving into position according to the Crowland Chronicler – it must have become obvious that Lord Stanley was probably against the king rather than for him, and so the king apparently ordered the execution of Lord Strange. The chronicler then says, ‘However, those to whom the task was given, seeing that the matter in hand was at a very critical stage and that it was more important than the elimination of one man, failed to carry out that king’s cruel command and on their own judgement let the man go and returned to the heart of the battle.’ The ballads agree that Strange was not executed because of lack of time, and both describe the whole scene at length in a most affecting way, and even suggest that Strange was given time to send a message to his wife. That such a minor detail is mentioned at all is perhaps an indication of the truth of the matter as a whole, since it would have been a memorable enough event. That Strange was not executed because of a shortage of time to carry out the order seems unlikely, and perhaps shows that the order was never given in the first place. Both the ballads say that Richard could see Lord Stanley’s banner, which could legitimately have been interpreted as the taking up of arms against his sovereign – that is, he was committing a treasonable act. This is perhaps the implication of the words in the Ballad of Bosworth Field: ‘I see the banner of Lord Stanley he said, Fetch hither the Lord Strange to me, for doubtless he shall die this day’.
As soon as the men of both armies saw the opposing forces, they put on their helmets and generally readied themselves for battle. Vergil says that as soon as the king saw the enemy forces pass the marsh, he ordered his men to commence the battle, which they did, with ‘great shouts’. The king ordered his artillery and also his archers to fire, and the rebels replied, certainly with arrows and we now know with guns too, although there is no reference in the sources to guns being fired by the rebel army.
During the rebel advance the French chronicler Molinet says that the royal army fired on the Tudor troops as soon as they came within range. Perhaps the king had positioned some of his guns to fire to the flank. Molinet goes on to say that ‘the French, knowing by the king’s shot the lie of the land and the order of his battle resolved in order to avoid the fire to mass their troops against the flank rather than the front of the king’s battle’. Oxford and the other commanders (the French ones, according to Molinet) would have seen that the royal army was larger than their own and the obvious danger was that they could be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. They could not rely on a Stanley intervention, so a new strategy was urgently needed. From what Molinet says, it appears that the rebels eventually launched a flank attack, although the archaeological evidence in the form of shot found on the royal position suggests that at least part of the Tudor army was ranged in front of the royal army. The fact that a large part of the rebel army was massed on one flank could have been masked by the guns and a large part of the archer contingent. It may be wondered why, if the king was already in position when the rebel army came within sight of the battlefield, the rebels did not immediately make an attack on the flank, taking advantage of the fact that the king’s guns were probably mostly sited facing the front and were difficult to move at short notice. A flank advance and attack would have had the element of surprise and would have been a difficult tactic to counter; it would also largely negate the king’s numerical superiority in artillery and men, since he could not bring his whole force to bear against the enemy.
Nevertheless, a short way into the battle Oxford put his plan into operation, ordering that ‘in every rank that no soldier should go above ten feet from the standards; which charge being known, when all men had thronged together and stayed awhile from fighting the adversaries were therewith afraid supposing some fraud and so they all forebore the fight a certain space’. The rebels were thus ordered to go into close order and while doing this the fighting slackened. It may well be that the royal army was wary of a trap. The Earl of Oxford then put his men into ‘array triangle’ (that is, in a wedge), and vigorously renewed the fight. This wedge formation was employed on the continent, where the flanks of the wedge were protected by pikemen, and so we can assume that many of the French mercenaries in the rebel army were pikemen. Such troops and formations were unfamiliar to English soldiers, and the terrifying psychological effect as the point of the wedge advanced boldly out of the left flank of the rebel army with the tall pikes sticking up like a massive hedgehog can be imagined. It is very likely that the gunners and the archers in the remaining part of Tudor’s army provided such covering fire as they could. This attack was a success, according to Vergil.

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The Battle of Bosworth by Graham Turner, www.studio88.co.uk, as reproduced on the printed book's dust jacket.

Richard had probably thought that when it came to actual combat his troops would be more than a match for the rebel army, but it seems the rebels fought better and they certainly used tactics that surprised the king. That the rebel army fought so well may be at least partly due to the fact that on their long march to Bosworth the different groups of soldiers had had time to get used to one another and their commanders, and had settled down into a cohesive force. It seems much more likely to be related to the fact that most of the troops in the rebel army were professional French and Scottish soldiers. If, as suggested, these foreign troops were indeed using the long pikes now common on continental battlefields, then the English troops would have had little or no idea of how to cope with them. Certainly Richard’s men did not have any time to come together into an army. Troops that were hastily recruited, not all well equipped and generally inexperienced would hardly have been an expert force. This would not have mattered so much had they been facing a similar group of men. Unfortunately for the king, they were not. This was dangerous for the king, because if the rebels seemed to be winning then his own men might start to panic and flee.
At some point in the hard fighting the Duke of Norfolk was killed (by Sir John Savage, according to the Ballad of Lady Bessy), perhaps while trying to rally his men. After this, the royal army’s vanguard started to collapse. Again according to the Ballad of Lady Bessy, Norfolk was killed near a windmill while fleeing with his troops. The Dadlington windmill was well over 1,000 yards from the main action, so if Norfolk was killed there it must certainly have been during a rout. No other source suggests that Norfolk was killed anywhere but in the battle. A livery badge of an eagle was discovered near the mill, so there may well have been some military action here. It seems probable, though, that Norfolk was killed in the battle. Richard, seeing this, feared that Norfolk’s death would cause a collapse of morale and thus decided that he should try to bring the battle to an end at a stroke. As Vergil says: ‘King Richard understood, first by espialls [observation] where Earl Henry was far off with a small force of soldiers about him, then after drawing nearer he knew it perfectly by evident signs and tokens that it was Henry, wherefore all inflamed with ire he struck his horse with spurs and runneth out of the one side without the vanwards against him’, probably charging right round Northumberland’s right wing and avoiding the marsh. Richard may have hoped that Northumberland would join him. It must have been a dramatic sight as the king galloped from the side of his army towards Tudor with his troop of horsemen and a ‘few footmen’. This elite body of men, formed from the royal household and bodyguard, would have numbered several hundred armed and mounted men. If the king’s ‘espials’ had shown him that Tudor was bearing the undifferenced royal arms to show his pretensions, this might account for a large part of his anger.
A charge such as the one Richard undertook was not an unknown tactic in late fifteenth-century warfare, and had it worked, it would have put an end to the battle at a stroke. The rebel army would not have stood firm if their leader had fled or been killed. Vergil says that Tudor saw King Richard coming at him but because at that stage he could do nothing but fight, he received the king with great determination. Richard overthrew Tudor’s standard (the ‘royal’ standard), together with Sir William Brandon, the standard-bearer, and beat to the ground Sir John Cheyne, a man of great height and strength. Vergil then goes on to say that Richard ‘made way with weapons on every side’. Henry ‘abode the brunt far longer than ever his own soldiers would have thought possible who were now almost out of hope of victory’, as indeed Tudor himself probably was. It seems likely that the French troops played a significant part in defending Tudor, and his footmen may well have been some of the French pikemen fighting in the continental style, although evidently there were not enough of them to form a proper defensive square to repel horsemen since Richard and at least some of his men broke through and came close enough to Tudor to kill his standard bearer, who would have been very close to him. Information on the part played by the French mercenaries comes from a letter written by one of them on the day after the battle. Only a small part of this letter is known, and in it Richard is quoted as saying, ‘These French traitors are today the cause of our realm’s ruin.’ The letter also says that Tudor was protected on foot in the middle of the mercenaries, presumably within the partial pike square.
The mercenaries sent by Charles VIII of France therefore seem to have played an essential part in helping to hold off Richard’s attack until the Stanleys finally took action. It seems Sir William Stanley decided at last that the time had come to join the battle. Unfortunately for the king, he chose Tudor’s side, and ‘he came betime unto our king’ as the Ballad of Bosworth Field has it. The muddled Castilian Report has Richard being killed while fighting the troops of the Lord Tamorlant, who had been in charge of Richard’s left wing but had turned against his lord. As we have seen, it is most likely that Tamorlant is a mistake for the Earl of Northumberland, who was indeed on Richard’s left wing. It seems probable here that he has been mistaken for one of the Stanleys, who were both separately on Richard’s left and could conceivably have been mistakenly described as the king’s left wing. It has been ingeniously argued by Oliver Harris that Sir William, who had no real reason to support Tudor, unlike his brother who was married to Tudor’s mother, had intended to intervene on the side of the king, but because both Tudor and the king were bearing the undifferenced royal arms the wrong bearer of the royal arms was killed in the heat of the battle. This may be unlikely, but Harris goes on to suggest that Tudor may have suspected this is what had happened, since Sir William did not receive the rewards that he might have expected for his action. The lack of reward might also have been caused, as was said by Lord Bacon in his life of Henry VII, by the fact that although Sir William arrived in time to save his life in the battle, Tudor must have been all too aware that he had stayed his hand quite long enough to endanger it.
The report given by Vergil was that Richard ‘could have saved himself by flight’, and this is repeated by Diego de Valera, who says that Juan de Salazar, who was present at Richard’s side during the battle, saw the treason being committed and urged the king to flee in order to fight again another day. De Valera goes on to say that at this point Richard put his royal crown over his helmet, donned his surcoat with the royal coat of arms and fought valiantly for a long time, heartening those who remained loyal and upholding the battle himself. The ballads repeat this, saying that an unnamed knight told Richard that his horse was at hand and he could with honour retreat and fight again another day. All sources except one agree that Richard died like a king, saying that when he was urged to fly he said fiercely that he would win or die that day as king. Vergil says that he ‘alone was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies’. Even the Crowland Chronicler, who was no friend to Richard, agrees. The exception is Molinet, who claims that Richard tried to flee and was killed when his horse became mired in the marsh. This seems unlikely if the suggestions given here are correct for the relative positions of the armies and the point where the struggle with Tudor took place. Only Molinet suggests that Richard died in the marsh; tellingly the eye-witness Spanish account does not, and nor do the ballads. Such a scene would have presented a marvellous opportunity for a ballad maker. Who dealt the fatal blow is not known, and certainly no one was rewarded afterwards for doing so. Molinet, rather than claiming that it was a Frenchman, as might have been expected, in fact says that it was a Welsh halberdier. It was claimed afterwards on behalf of Rhys ap Thomas that he had killed Richard, although he was certainly not a Welsh halberdier. The family of Ralph Rudyard, from Rudyard near Leek in Staffordshire, also claimed afterwards that he had killed Richard.

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Central panel from a late sixteenth century carving of the Battle of Bosworth, showing Henry VII trampling the fallen figure of Richard III holding the crown. Supporters of Richard, including the Duke of Norfolk, are on the right, and those of Henry, including the Earl of Oxford, are on the left. (Geoffrey Wheeler)

However Richard met his end, he was the only English king to die in battle. According to the proclamation issued by Henry afterwards, he died at Sandford. The fighting was then over in a matter of minutes as the royal army broke ranks and fled. As described, Oxford was already getting the better of the van after much hard fighting. The death of Norfolk would further have disheartened the royal troops, and great numbers of them are said to have thrown away their weapons with relief and submitted themselves to Henry, the new king. Most of the sources say that many of the royal troops were there reluctantly and were pleased to stop fighting. That many of the levies were reluctant is a reasonable comment but the implication in the sources is that men did not want to fight for Richard and would have fled sooner if they could have done so. That at least some members of Richard’s army did not apparently want to fight for him is shown by the petition of Roger Wake of Blisworth, Northants, against his attainder on the grounds that it was against his ‘will and mind’ to fight for King Richard (rather implausibly, as Cavill says, since he was Catesby’s brother-in-law). He also appealed on the grounds that he had a wife and eight children who were too young to be able to support themselves, and that it was contrary to his wife’s upbringing to apply for alms. Another who appealed against his attainder was Geoffrey St German, who had died the day after Bosworth, perhaps due to wounds received in the fighting. His daughter and heir said that he was only with the royal army because he was ‘so threatened by the same late duke’s [i.e., Richard III’s] letters that unless he came to the same field he should lose his life, lands and goods, that for dread of the same he was most unwillingly at the same field’. Quite why St German should have been attainted is unclear: he was only a minor land-holder of Broughton in Northants (although he had been one of those asked by Richard for a loan, so he must have been thought of by Richard or his advisers as a supporter). Wake was more prominent, having been Sheriff of Northants. Another odd aspect of the whole matter is that the words of Richard’s letter that so alarmed St German were the standard words used in any royal command, such as a commission of array, at this time. Wake used the same argument as part of his appeal. Both men, and everyone else, must have been well aware that these words were always used.
As the royal army began to flee, Northumberland and his troops were probably still standing firm in their position on the left wing of the royal army. Molinet says Northumberland should have charged the French (as he consistently describes Tudor’s army), but in fact he did nothing except flee because he had an understanding with Tudor. Northumberland was arrested after the battle but we do not know if this happened on the battlefield. He was released fairly quickly, certainly by early December, although he was not summoned to Parliament in September.32 As well as the Duke of Norfolk, Walter, Lord Ferrers, Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Sir Robert Percy (controller of the royal household), Sir Robert Brackenbury (Constable of the Tower), John Kendall, Richard’s secretary, and many others were killed. Lord Lovell fled east, because he is next heard of in sanctuary at Colchester, together with Humphrey and Thomas Stafford. The Earl of Surrey, son of the Duke of Norfolk, was arrested and attainted, but was released in 1489 and restored to his earldom. Vergil says 1,000 of the king’s troops died but only about 100 of Tudor’s. These figures may be correct as far as the royal army is concerned, but are certainly too low for Tudor’s army. The battle may have been over by mid-morning. Vergil says that it lasted more than two hours but we do not know exactly when it started.
It is unclear in which direction the royal troops fled. It seems logical that they would flee north-east, towards Sutton Cheney and away from the enemy, and it seems very unlikely that the majority would flee southwards right through the victorious army. That some at least fled towards Sutton Cheney may be indicated by the discovery of the eagle livery badge at Dadlington mill. However, that some fled south could be shown by the apparently fifteenth-century burials found in and around the churchyard at Dadlington. Here a chantry chapel was set up in 1511 by Henry VIII to pray for the souls of those killed at the battle, and there is evidence that at least some of the battlefield dead had been transferred to Dadlington churchyard by this date. It is possible that the bones were brought here from where they were originally buried, as sometimes happened when a battlefield chantry was set up, as at Towton. No large burial pits have been found. There are various records of finds of bones and armour at various times in the seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, but it is unclear where many of these were found. One of them appears to have been near Whitemoors, just under a mile south of Shenton, and another, apparently of armour only, was north of Ambion Hill.
While the slaughter of the beaten and fleeing royal army was still taking place, Henry Tudor was busy giving thanks to God for his victory. Then, ‘replenished with joy incredible’, he took himself to the nearest hill and commended his soldiers before ordering the wounded to be looked after and the dead to be buried. Bernard Andre, Henry’s French poet laureate, writing much later in his reign, says that Henry ordered the dead to be given ‘honourable burial’, and goes on to say that ‘King Richard himself should be buried with all reverence’. Henry then thanked the nobles and commanders with him and knighted some of them, including Gilbert Talbot, who had brought the Talbot levies, Rhys ap Thomas, who had brought Welsh troops, and Humphrey Stanley, a distant cousin of Lord Stanley, while all present cried ‘God save King Henry’. He was then crowned with Richard’s crown – that is, the coronet from Richard’s helmet – by Thomas Stanley. Traditionally he is said to have been crowned on the hill now known as Crown Hill, on the slopes of which the Stanleys were probably stationed. The crown is traditionally said to have been found in a thorn bush, where it had rolled when Richard was finally struck down. It may have been hidden there by a looter for later retrieval, and certainly Vergil says it was found among the spoils. The amount of plundered goods available in the markets of London after the battle must have been immense. The new king ordered the baggage to be packed up and set off in the evening for Leicester, which he entered wearing his new crown. The procession was accompanied by the naked body of the late king, treated with insufficient humanity, according to the Crowland Chronicler, and a ‘miserable spectacle in good sooth’, on the back of a horse with a rope around his neck and with his arms and legs hanging down. He may have been on the horse of one of his Pursuivants, Blanc Sanglier Pursuivant. It is unfortunate that because Richard lost the battle his heralds were not in a position to write an account of it afterwards, as they did of the next battle, at Stoke, in 1487.
The late king’s body was exposed to public view for two days to prove that Richard was dead, and was then buried with little ceremony. Vergil says that the body was exposed in the church of the Grey Friars but the later ballads say that it was exposed in the Newark (an area of Leicester), perhaps in the Lancastrian foundation of the Annunciation of Our Lady. Wherever the body was exposed, there is no doubt that it was buried in the Grey Friars’ church, perhaps in the choir, as Rous said, a place of honour. A tomb was later erected by the order of Henry VII, but there is no description of it except that it may have been made of ‘mingle coloured marble’ (that is, alabaster) and probably had an inscribed effigy of the king on the top. The tomb was destroyed and the body perhaps thrown into the river Soar during the Reformation. All trace of the tomb has vanished.
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The Lancashire rose.

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The Bosworth Cross, from the drawing by Thomas Sharp, 1793. (Geoffrey Wheeler)

'Even before the fighting started – indeed while the rebel army was still moving into position according to the Crowland Chronicler – it must have been obvious that Lord Stanley was probably against the king rather than for him, and so the king apparently ordered the execution of Lord Strange. The chronicler then says, '"However, those to whom the task was given, seeing that the matter in hand was at a very critical stage and that it was more important than the elimination of one man, failed to carry out that king's cruel command and on their own judgement let the man go and returned to the heart of the battle."'

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Richard III, portrait painted soon after 1510. This is probably the earliest surviving copy of a portrait painted in Richard's lifetime. (Society of Antiquaries of London)

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Henry VII, portrait of about 1501. (Society of Antiquaries of London)

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The cairn over King Dicks Well, Ambion Hill, photographed in the 1930s before restoration.

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The new site of the Battle of Bosworth, looking north west towards the hedge bordering Fenn Lane and across the march. (Lynda Pidgeon)

'Richard had probably thought that when it came to actual combat his troops would be more than a match for the rebel army, but it seems the rebels fought better and they certainly used tactics that surprised the king.'

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Shot and handgun pellets found on the new site of the battle. (Leicestershire County Council)

'While the slaughter of the beaten and fleeing royal army was still taking place, Henry Tudor was busy giving thanks to God for his victory. Then, "replenished with joy incredible", he took himself to the nearest hill and commended his soldiers before ordering the wounded to be looked after and the dead to be buried.'

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Memorial stone at Sandford, previously thought to be the place where Richard was killed. (Geoffrey Wheeler)

Further Reading


Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign
(Hardback - 176 pages)
ISBN: 9781844152599

by Peter Hammond
Only £19.99

On 22 August 1485 the forces of the Yorkist king Richard III and his Lancastrian opponent Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond clashed at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire in one of the decisive battles of English history. Richard was defeated and killed. Henry took the crown as Henry VII, established the Tudor dynasty and set English history on a new course. For the last 500 years this, the most famous battle of the Wars of the Roses, has excited passionate interest and continuing controversy.

Peter Hammond, in…
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