On the 22nd of August 1485, the Tudor Dynasty began and although Henry VII traced his reign the day before so he could judge those who fought for Richard traitors, the reality was that it began on the day that Richard died. I have done a special article on Bosworth Field and what it meant for the Tudors and mentioned Henry VII’s amazing journey. But I feel it is only fair that I do one on Richard. Whatever popular opinion is of him, he was a King and the last one of two dynasties: Plantagenet and York. With his death, died an entire era.
According to various sources, the priests were unprepared to give Mass as Richard requested it, they could not find bread or wine, and the cooks were not rise yet to prepare breakfast. This goes in accordance to Shakespeare’s much later colorful tale of Richard waking up early because of his nightmares. Certainly, the Crowland Chronicles made mention of this, but we can’t know for sure what was going through Richard’s mind. Most likely he was nervous as Henry Tudor had been two days prior and was showing the first signs of doubts, this was after all The decisive battle. Richard’s words that day as he prepared his men for battle were:
“And you Lord, who reconciled the race of man and the Father, who purchased with your own precious blood the confiscated inheritance of paradise and who made peace between men and the angels, deign to make and keep concord between me and my enemies. Show me and pour over me your grace and glory. Deign to assuage, turn aside, destroy, and bring to nothing the hatred they bear towards me … Stretch out your arm to me and spread your grace over me, and deign to deliver me from all the perplexities and sorrows in which I find myself … Therefore Lord Jesus Christ son of the living God deign to free me, thy servant King Richard from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed and from all the plots of against them, and deign, Lord Jesus Christ, to bring to nothing the evil plans that they are making or which to make against me … By all these things, I ask you, most gentle Lord Jesus Christ to keep me, thy servant King Richard and defend me from all evil, from the devil and from all peril present, past and to come, and deliver me from all the tribulations, sorrows and troubles in which I am placed, and deign to console me.”
Richard took Thomas Stanley’s eldest son, Lord Strange to guarantee of his loyalty. Several historians, among them Chris Skidmore in his recent biography of Bosworth, stipulates that Strange must’ve gotten himself free, or fled from his captors as soon as everything got in disarray, Henry’s armies had surprised everyone, they arrived to Ambion Hill earlier than had been expected. Henry Tudor sent a messenger to his stepfather Thomas Stanley reminding him of his loyalties but for obvious reasons Thomas and the rest of his men stayed put. If George did escape as has been suggested, it makes sense then why as soon as Henry’s standard bearer (Brandon) fell, Stanley and his men moved against Richard. The weather and the sun shining bright on everyone’s shield and armor made possible for a greater confusion as some men started to retreat minutes before Stanley moved in; Northumberland’s troops stayed inactive the whole time. The reason for this is because they had previously rebelled against their lord and many were not happy with the regime, therefore Northumberland spent the entire time controlling them. If worse came to pass, he would not be blamed by either monarch if his troops attacked either one.
After Richard was unhorsed, Henry’s men struck deadly blows which shortly killed him. He was stripped from his armor and put back on his horse with barely anything to cover his genitals … While Henry’s victory has been criticized for its inhumane treatment of Richard’s body, one thing these critics often forget is that this was a common medieval practice. In fact Richard along with his brothers the Duke of Clarence and Edward IV, had done the same to the Earl of Warwick (Anne Neville’s father). Had Henry lost the battle, he would’ve received the same treatment.
- Richard III: Journey to Leicester by Amy Licence
- Richard III by David Baldwin
- The Rise of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore
- On This Day In Tudor History by Claire Ridgway