Bosworth Field, Battle of


Bosworth Field, Battle of
(1485)
   Fought on 22 August 1485 near the Leicestershire village of Market Bosworth, the Battle of Bosworth Field overthrew the house of YORK and initiated the rule of the TUDOR dynasty.
   By early 1485, RICHARD III knew that Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond (see Henry VII, King of England), the remaining Lancastrian claimant to the throne, intended to invade England. Not knowing where Richmond would land, the king based himself in Nottingham, from where he could strike quickly in any direction. On 1 August, Richmond, having finally persuaded the government of CHARLES VIII to back his enterprise, left FRANCE with a force of about 600 English exiles and about 2,000 French and Scottish MERCENARIES. Hoping to take advantage of his Welsh ancestry and the local influence of his uncle, Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke, and anxious to contact his stepfather, Thomas STANLEY, Lord Stanley, whose base was in the northwest, Richmond landed in WALES at Milford Haven on 7 August.
   The earl collected some reinforcements in Wales, but upon entering England at Shrewsbury received a message from Stanley that offered encouragement but no support. Suspicious of Stanley, who was the husband of Richmond’s mother, Margaret BEAUFORT, Richard had demanded that he leave his son, Lord Strange, as a hostage when he withdrew from COURT. Upon Richmond’s landing, the king interrogated Strange, who confessed that his uncle, Sir William STANLEY, was plotting to join Richmond. In receipt of a letter from his son begging him to join Richard, Stanley remained cautiously aloof from both armies. On 17 August, Richmond met with Sir William Stanley, whom Richard had denounced as a traitor. Three days later, the earl met both Stanleys, but, fearing for Strange’s life, neither would openly join Richmond. Doubting the loyalty of some of his supporters, such as Henry PERCY, earl of Northumberland, and relying mainly on his trusted northern adherents, Richard marched west to the town of Sutton Cheney, which he reached on 21 August (see Richard III, Northern Affinity of). That same evening, Richmond camped about four miles away at a place called Whitemoors, while the Stanleys, with about 8,000 men between them, remained at a distance from both armies. Next morning, the king, who had the larger force, was on or near Ambien Hill, high ground above Richmond’s position. As the two armies maneuvered for battle, the Stanleys arrived within sight of the field, but joined neither army, leaving both Richmond and the king to guess their intentions.
   After barrages of ARCHER and ARTILLERY fire, the two armies clashed, with John de VERE, earl of Oxford, leading Richmond’s van, and John HOWARD, duke of Norfolk, commanding the royal van. Tradition placed the fighting on the slope of Ambien Hill, but recent research suggests that the battle occurred a half mile to the south in the plain between Ambien Hill and the village of Dadlington. The course of the battle is also in doubt. Richmond, seeking to persuade Stanley to commit his forces, may have started toward his stepfather’s position, thus providing the king an opportunity to catch and destroy his opponent in the open field. Or Richard, sensing that the Stanleys were about to join Richmond, may have decided to descend rapidly on either the earl or Stanley before this conjunction could occur. Whatever his thinking, Richard led a charge of his mounted RETAINERS and became heavily engaged with Richmond’s men, the king himself slaying the earl’s standard-bearer, Sir William Brandon. Before Richard could bring his charge to a successful conclusion, Sir William Stanley’s men overwhelmed his small retinue and the king was unhorsed and killed. The death of Richard ended the fighting. Richmond was immediately proclaimed king as Henry VII, while Richard’s body was slung on a horse and paraded naked through Leicester. Dead on the field were Norfolk, Sir Robert BRACKENBURY, and Sir Richard RATCLIFFE, all Yorkists, and 3,000 soldiers, mostly Yorkists. Three other Yorkists were taken prisoner—William CATESBY, who was executed several days later;Thomas HOWARD, earl of Surrey, Norfolk’s son, who was imprisoned; and Northumberland, who was detained only briefly. Tradition says that Richard had entered battle wearing a gold circlet, which Stanley retrieved from beneath a hawthorn bush and placed on Henry’s head. While possible, this story cannot be confirmed.
   See also The Ballad of Bosworth Field;The Rose of England;The Song of Lady Bessy
   Further Reading: Bennett, Michael, The Battle of Bosworth (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985); Foss, Peter J., The Field of Redemore: The Battle of Bosworth, 1485, 2d ed. (Newtown Linford, UK: Kairos, 1998); Hammond, P.W., and Anne F. Sutton, Richard III: The Road to Bosworth Field (London: Constable, 1985); Rees, David, The Son of Prophecy: Henry Tudor’s Road to Bosworth, 2d ed. (Ruthin, UK: John Jones, 1997); Richmond, Colin,“Bosworth Field and All That,” in P.W. Hammond, ed., Richard III: Loyalty, Lordship and Law (London: Richard III and Yorkist History Trust, 1986); Rowse,A. L., Bosworth Field (Garden City,NY: Doubleday, 1966);Williams,D.T., The Battle of Bosworth (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1973); see also the Richard III Society Web site at http://www.r3.org for various sources relating to the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bosworth Field, Battle of — (Aug. 22, 1485) Final battle in the English Wars of the Roses. It was fought between the forces of King Richard III of York and the contender for the crown, Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) of Lancaster. The battle occurred when Henry returned from… …   Universalium

  • Bosworth Field — [bäz′wərth] field in Leicestershire, England: scene of the final battle (1485) in the Wars of the Roses, in which Richard III was killed; the crown passed to the victor, the Earl of Richmond (Henry VII) …   English World dictionary

  • Battle of Bosworth Field — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Bosworth Field partof=the Wars of the Roses caption= date=August 22, 1485 place=In the area of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, England result=Decisive Lancastrian victory combatant1=… …   Wikipedia

  • Bosworth Field — Battle of 22 August 1485. Battle which ended in the death of the last Plantagenet ruler, Richard III at the hand of Henry Tudor. Though Richard’s army was larger, morale was low. During the battle, troops of the Stanley family, hitherto loyal to… …   Medieval glossary

  • Bosworth Field — noun the battle that ended the Wars of the Roses (1485); Richard III was killed and Henry Tudor was crowned as Henry VII • Regions: ↑Leicestershire, ↑Leicester • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pitched battle • Part Holonyms: ↑War of the Roses, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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  • The Ballad of Bosworth Field —    The Ballad of Bosworth Field is one of the fullest poetic retellings of the 1485 Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD, and may possibly provide authentic details concerning the battle itself. The earliest surviving copy of the ballad dates to the… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • (the) Battle of Bosworth Field — the Battle of Bosworth Field [the Battle of Bosworth Field] the last battle (1485) in the ↑Wars of the Roses. It was fought near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire between King ↑Richard III of England and Henry Tudor. Richard died in the battle… …   Useful english dictionary

  • field — /feeld/, n. 1. an expanse of open or cleared ground, esp. a piece of land suitable or used for pasture or tillage. 2. Sports. a. a piece of ground devoted to sports or contests; playing field. b. (in betting) all the contestants or numbers that… …   Universalium


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