Battle of Bosworth Field

The Wars of the Roses was a series of battles fought over a thirty, year period between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Battle of Bosworth is deemed to be the final battle of this war.

It took place on 22 August 1485 between the Yorkist King Richard III of England and the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond.

Henry Tudor sailed from Harfleur in France, landing at Milford Haven in South Wales on 7 August 1485. As he marched inland he continued to gain support and swell his numbers.

Richard marched to meet Henry. His army vastly outnumbering Henry’s by maybe three to one. They met on 22 August, south of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.

Richard divided his army into 3 groups on Ambion Hill, south of Market Bosworth. His vanguard led by John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, the rearguard led by Henry Percy 4th Earl of Northumberland and the centre led by Richard himself.

Henrys army were positioned on more marshy ground, having to charge uphill to fight. As his army was not as substantial as Richard’s he kept them together as one force. Henry personally knew little about the art of war but he recruited experienced battle veterans to take charge of his army and to give military advice.

Henrys army was led by John De Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, with Henry staying at the rear with his bodyguards.

To gain extra support Henry turned to his step-father Thomas, Lord Stanley as he had his own army of 6,000 men, however Lord Stanley was not known to be trusted. He was known for his political manoeuvrings between opposing sides. He would often stand neutral until he could clearly see who would be victorious, then choose the victorious side to support. He positioned his army on a hilltop and watched the battle commence.

Lord Stanley had previously served 3 kings, but his relationship with Richard wasn’t good and his loyalty could not be relied upon. Hoping to deter Lord Stanley from opposing him, to took his son Lord Strange hostage.

Richard attacked with cannon fire as Henrys men tried to clear the marshland. Norfolks men and some of Richards advanced. Although outnumbered Oxfords Lancastrian army fought better at hand-to-hand combat, taking the advantage and many of Norfolks men fled the field.

Richard signalled for his rearguard, led by Northumberland to give support, however Northumberland did not move.

Henry had distanced himself from his force; Richard noticed this and led a mounted charge at Henry, hoping to kill him and end the fight quickly. Seeing the attack Lord Stanley finally decided which side to support and he went to Henrys aid.

Lord Stanleys men surrounded Richard and his horse lost its footing dismounting Richard. He continued to fight on foot, but was killed by Stanleys men.

As news of Richards death spread, his forces started to disintegrate. Northumberland and his forces fled and Norfolk was killed in battle.

Henry was crowned King Henry VII of England, heralding the start of the Tudor Dynasty.

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