Even here in Bosworth Field…

“Even here in Bosworth Field…” (V.3)

Bosworth Field. Brief account of the battle and map. Principal features of the area today. Richard III at Bosworth paintings, etc. Memorials to those who fought in the battle, Yorkist and Tudor.

bosworth

The Battle of Bosworth

Landing at Milford Haven on August 7, Henry sought an early battle, after raising a Welsh army. Richard moved from Nottingham to meet him before he could add to his forces. By August 20 the two armies were seven miles apart and Henry had already established friendly contact with Sir William Stanley. Before sunrise on August 22, the King and his forces took up their battle order on Ambion Hill. Besides superiority of numbers, Richard had the advantage of position, both from the elevation of the hill and the marsh on its south side. At daybreak Stanley’s troops became visible and were ordered by Richard to move, but his commands were ignored. With the doubtful loyalty — and eventual nonparticipation — of Northumberland, Richard had to rely solely on his main body of men-at-arms and archers, under Norfolk, and the cavalry, which he himself commanded.

Also looking for Stanley support, that was still unforthcoming, Henry, in his dilemma, chose to advance. With Gilbert Talbot leading the right wing, Oxford the centre, and himself with Sir John Savage commanding the left wing, Henry skirted the marsh and swung to face the Royal forces. Richard gave the order to attack and Norfolk’s powerful force charged down the hill. But Henry’s army, not to be overcome, contracted into a close, defensive wedge, dividing and deflecting their opponent’s attack. There was a brief lull but then bitter close fighting was resumed during which Norfolk was killed. Aware that hope of victory depended on enlisting Stanley’s reinforcement, Henry, with a small bodyguard, rode out toward them. This movement was observed by Richard, who, with his household knights, charged down on horseback to intercept them and possibly end the conflict in personal combat with Henry. He came close to success, killing Sir William Brandon, Henry’s standard bearer, unhorsing Sir John Cheyney, and Henry himself was brought into great danger; but at the crucial moment the Stanley forces rode to Henry’s rescue. Richard was unhorsed, but continued to defend himself, valiantly refusing to flee, until at the last ‘pierced with numerous and deadly wounds, he fell in the field like a brave and valiant Prince’, according to the Croyland Chronicler. Even the hostile John Rous says ‘he bore himself like a noble soldier and despite his little body and feeble strength, honourably defended himself to his last breath, often exclaiming he was betrayed and crying Treason! Treason! Treason!’ Vergil, too, admits that ‘King Richard alone was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies.’

Further reading:–

  • The Battle of Bosworth, D. T. Williams, Leicester University Press, 1973.
  • The Wars of the Roses, John Gillingham, Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1981.
  • The Wars of the Roses, Anthony Goodman. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.
  • Richard III, Charles Ross, Eyre Methuen, 1981.
  • The Battle of Bosworth, Michael Bennett. Alan Sutton, 1985.
  • The Field of Redemore, Peter J. Foss, 1990.

Illustrations:

  1. York records entry on the death of Richard
  2. Stowe carving of the Battle of Bosworth
  3. Painting, A. Cooper
  4. Painting, E. Kruger
  5. Southwark Cathedral Glass
  6. “Look and Learn” magazine cover
  7. Bosworth Field, 1930s
  8. Bosworth field, 1930s
  9. King Richard’s Well and memorial stone, Sandeford
  10. Crown Hill. Henry crowned on battlefield; Henry retrieves crown, Selsea glass
  11. Map
  12. Richard III, Modern brass by Ian Kestle.
  13. Memorials to Yorkist fighters. Left to right: Norfolk (glass), Sacheverell (brass) Wake (brass) Catesby (brass), Clifton (brass), Talbot, Wake (tomb), Markenfield, Conyers, Pierrepont
  14. Memorials to Tudor fighters. Left to right: Bray (glass), Stanley, Savage, Stanley (brass), Rhys ap Thomas, Cheney, Harcourt, Willoughby de Broke, Digby, Mordaunt.
  15. Henry VII. Modern brass by Ian Kestle.

Related link: Richard III Society, American Branch web pages on the Battle of Bosworth.