The Battle of Bosworth Field 22nd August 1485

The Battle of Bosworth Field, fought 22nd August 1485, ended the Wars of the Roses. Richard III was killed in the battle and Henry Tudor was proclaimed King. The victory signalled the end of the rule of the Plantagenets and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.

Background to the battle

Richard III
Richard III

In 1483, King Edward IV died. His son, Edward V was still a child so his uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester was made protector. Richard was keen to fulfil the role, but he quickly found that Edward’s Woodville relatives wanted control of the young king for themselves.

Richard arrested Edward’s uncle and grandfather then took Edward to the Tower of London where he was to await his coronation. Edward’s younger brother, Richard, soon joined him in the Tower.

Richard learned that his brother, Edward IV, had been contracted to marry Eleanor Butler at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. This meant that the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and their children illegitimate. Richard was proclaimed King Richard III because he was next in line to the throne. 

Henry Tudor
Henry VII

Henry Tudor, was the grandson of Henry V’s widow, Catherine of Valois, a Lancastrian. Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, spent her life pushing for Henry to be acknowledged in the succession and working towards him becoming King.

Henry believed that he had a better claim to the throne than Richard Duke of Gloucester. He vowed to take the throne for himself and promised to marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York once he was king. This would unite the houses of Lancaster and York and end the Wars of the Roses.

Build Up to the Battle

Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven on 7th August at the head of a large army. As he marched inland he gained support and camped at Market Rasen on 21st August with an army of 5,000.

Meanwhile, Richard III had called his army to muster at Leicester. On the eve of the battle he had an army of 8,000 men.

The Troops

Bosworth basic plan

Henry Tudor’s army included troops led by:

Richard de Vere, Earl of Oxford
Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke
Rhys ap Thomas
Sir Gilbert Talbot
Sir Philibert de Chandee

Richard’s army included troops led by:

John Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln
Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey
Francis, Viscount Lovell

The armies of Thomas Stanley and Sir William Stanley remained on a hill overlooking the battlefield. They wanted to see how the battle would go before deciding which side to declare for.

The Battle of Bosworth Field

The battle of Bosworth Field began on the morning of 22nd August. The Earl of Oxford was Henry’s main commander and he led troops to attack the Duke of Norfolk on Richard’s right flank. Norfolk was killed in the fighting. 

Richard then decided to attack Henry directly and led a cavalry charge across the battlefield. He managed to kill Henry’s standard bearer, William Brandon, but could not reach Henry.

At this point William Stanley joined the battle on Henry’s side and attacked Richard knocking him off his horse.  Richard fought on until he was killed.

Richard’s crown was found on the battlefield and placed on Henry’s head.

Crown found on Bosworth Battlefield
Engraving showing the crown of England handed to Henry Tudor after the death of Richard III

 

First published 2017; updated and re-published Dec 07 2021 @ 1:00 pm – Updated – May 21, 2022 @ 5:12 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2021). The Battle of Bosworth Field 22nd August 1485 Available: https://www.tudornation.com/the-battle-of-bosworth-field-22nd-august-1485 Last accessed [date]

 

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