The Battle of Bosworth

On 18 August I attended the Battle of Bosworth Re-enactment at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  For any readers not aware of the history, the Battle of Bosworth took place on 22 August 1485.  The claimant for the crown was Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII. The king he was fighting against was Richard III, who was to die in the battle. Henry had his crowning backdated to the day before the battle, so he could charge anyone who fought against him with treason, and confiscate their lands!

Henry Tudor had been in exile in Brittany and France for 14 years.  He was the last significant Lancastrian claimant to the crown, and many of his relatives had been killed in the War of the Roses.  Henry landed in South Wales with a small army of French and Scottish mercenaries, and was joined by Welsh supporters (the Tudors were a Welsh family).  His smaller force took on Richard’s larger army near Market Bosworth in the Midlands.  Rather embarrassingly, recent research backed up by metal detecting has concluded that the battle took place about 2 miles from the Battlefield Heritage Centre, which was built on the then supposed site to commemorate the battle.

Richard III was not a popular king.  He had locked his young nephews in the Tower of London (the Princes in the Tower). They were the sons of Edward IV, and the elder boy should have been reigning as Edward V.  But Richard, who was supposed to be their protector, usurped the throne, and probably had his nephews murdered.

Although Richard’s forces on paper outnumbered Henry’s, when it came to it they seemed to lack commitment.  The Earl of Northumberland and a large detachment of Henry’s forces which the Earl commanded did not get involved in the battle.

Richard didn’t lack courage though.  Seeing Henry separated from his main army and only surrounded by a small bodyguard, he led an attack aimed at killing Henry.  Richard’s force was overwhelmed and Richard killed when a detachment commanded by Lord Stanley, who had been sitting on the sidelines waiting to become involved when he knew which side was going to win, intervened.

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The re-enactment was excellent, with I estimate at least a hundred well costumed participants on each side, plus a range of displays, such as jousting.

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But photographing re-enactments has is difficulties.  It is difficult to avoid including spectators, portaloos and Ford Transits in the image, as I know to my cost!  Also participant are clearly having a great time – about 90% of my images had to be deleted because participants were laughing, smiling or talking to the opposition, rather than looking terrified and aggressive.  Out of 450 images I only got 6 or so I was happy with.

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There were many displays, including the fletcher, that is the arrow maker.  The arrowhead is made by the arrowsmith (a blacksmith who specialises in arrowheads), and the rest of the arrow by the fletcher.  There are a surprising number of types of arrowheads.

  • The top one on the panel beside the fletcher is for starting a fire.  Cloth and tar are placed in the gap in the arrowhead, and set alight.
  • The second down makes a whistling noise when travelling through the air.
  • The third down is for hunting.
  • The fourth is for going through chain mail.
  • The fifth and sixth are for piercing plate armour.
  • The seventh is another one for chain mail.

Another display was the joust.  Great fun to watch.  They were moving at some speed. so I imagine rather dangerous to take part in!

Bosworth knight

History and Me

My fascination with history has resulted in three books, which are available from Amazon and Apple’s ibooks.

MQoS for wordpress

Mary Queen of Scots – a fascinating woman trying to rule Scotland at a tumultuous time.

Exploring History book cover

Exploring History in the Scottish Borders.  The border area is now a tranquil, beautiful area, but its history is far from tranquil.  In the past it made the American “wild west” of the 19th century look like a kindergarten!

PoW book with border-copy

The true story of an ordinary soldier who fought and was captured in North Africa.  Bert was transferred from PoW camp to PoW camp, eventually gaining his freedom after the firebombing of Dresden in 1945, in the chaos of a disintegrating Germany.  I helped Hazel Spencer, Bert’s daughter, prepare Bert’s diaries for publication.