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The Battle of Bosworth

On a Leicestershire field in August 1485, a single day of bloody combat brought about monumental change in England, as one dynasty fell and another was born…


According to a Spanish servant in Richard III’s entourage, the golden coronet that Richard III wore over his helmet was worth 120,000 crowns.

WARRIOR KING This 19th-century engraving shows Richard III at Bosworth, hacking his way through the enemy ranks in a bid to reach his challenger, Henry Tudor

On 7 August 1485, a tall, pale, 28-year-old man landed near Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. Henry Tudor had come to claim his crown. The force he’d brought with him was not a large one – perhaps 2,000 French and Scottish mercenaries plus a smattering of die-hard Lancastrians and former Yorkist supporters of Edward IV. South Wales was Tudor heartland, and the deaths of so many Welsh Yorkists at the Battle of Edgcote some 15 years earlier meant he met no opposition as he headed east. On the other hand, he struggled to recruit further support for his troops either. When he faced the army of King Richard III at Bosworth a fortnight later, he probably had no more than 5,000 men under his command.

Richard is said to have been delighted at the news that Henry Tudor had landed in his realm. For now he had the opportunity to get his hands on the annoying pretender. But, like Henry, Richard was to find it difficult to get men to join his army. His regime was not popular, especially in the South of England, where many knights and nobles were unhappy at the favour the new King was showing his supporters from the North. John Howard, whom Richard had made Duke of Norfolk, joined his ranks and the Earl of Northumberland also marched down from Alnwick to join him, but relatively few other major magnates had shown up. Even so, the force he led out of Leicester on 21 August was probably twice as large as that of Henry.

6,000 The number of followers of the Stanley family, who waited to intervene at Bosworth

A third army was also present at Bosworth, and it was one that would play a crucial part in the eventual outcome of the battle. These were the troops of Sir omas and Sir William Stanley. Henry had been in contact with them before the battle and had almost certainly received promises of their support. The Stanleys had been alienated by Richard’s support of the Harringtons, their local rivals, while Sir omas was Henry Tudor’s step-father.

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About History Revealed

The August 2015 issue of History Revealed