War of the Roses Ends

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Richard has the distinction of being the last English king to die in battle (and only the second to ever do so, Harold Godwinson being the only other – at the Battle of Hastings in 1066).

On 22 August 1485 the War of the Roses reached a bloody climax at Bosworth Field. Here, Richard III, England’s most controversial king, defended his crown against the Lancastrian champion Henry Tudor.

Three armies converged on a field south of Bosworth Market, 13 miles west of Leicester: Richard’s, numbering 10,000; Henry Tudor’s army, numbering 5,000; and that of the Stanley brothers, some 6,000 strong. The Stanleys had been in close communication with Tudor, and were ostensibly his ally. However, on the day of battle, they refused to declare themselves one-way-or-another; making the Battle of Bosworth Field a three-sided affair.

Richards took up a position on Ambion Hill, a strong position dominating the battlefield. Elevation aside, it was protected (or constricted, as events would show) by a marsh in the low ground to the left. Richard’s deployment is disputed: Norfolk’s van may have been in the front or on the right of the Yorkist forces, with Richard, commanding the main behind this (or in the center) at the crest of the hill. Northumberland deployed his 4,000 man rear behind or to the left of Richard’s main.

Outnumbered, Richard’s group fought valiantly but were cut down. Richard hacked left and right with his battle axe, shouting “Treason!” with each blow.

1571660.jpgHis horse mired in the soft ground, Richard was forced to continue the fight on foot. Here Shakespeare had him shouting, “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” However, accounts indicate that Richard’s followers offered him their own mounts so he could escape. But Richard refused to quit the field. All chroniclers agree that Richard fought bravely to the end. Eventually overwhelmed, the last Plantagenet King of England died fighting.

(On September 12, 2012 skeletal remains were identified as Richard III. The remains showed some 10 wounds, evidence of Richard’s fearsome last fight. An arrowhead was found embedded in the spine. Perhaps this wound, inflicted by an enemy archer at close range, brought the battling King to his knees. The killing blow seems to have been a blow to the back of Richard’s head by a halberd or bill. Almost certainly Richard’s helmet had been knocked off first; as the blow cleaved very deeply into his skull and through the lower brain. Several postmortem wounds were also inflicted upon the dead king’s body.)

11 thoughts on “War of the Roses Ends

  1. PBS’s “Nova” series did an episode on Richard III. They found a man with much the same skeletal issues as Richard and around the same age, trained him to ride and wear armor. Apparently the armor on horseback supported him and gave him great wind, so the fake Richard was able to use both lance, sword and battleaxe from on horse. Once on the ground, the very muscular man was basically killed by his own body restricting his ability to breathe.

    Henry Tudor’s army? French, mostly, or paid by and armed by the French.

    Poor Richard, malinged by history thanks to the Tudors. He really was a nice guy, gracious, fair to his enemies (too nice, by far.) The little princes? Records prove they were alive and receiving moneys for upkeep after Richard croaked.

    The Tudors were.. bastards, bastards all. England would have been a much nicer place without them. But the Tudor brutality carried them through the Spanish Armada era, so I’ll cut them some slack.

    Harold and Richard are the only to die in battle in recent years. If you go back far enough, Arturius…

    And William the Conqueror? Died due to battle. While putting down a revolt, his horse stepped in a pothole and he ‘ruptured’ himself, yes, death by being nut-racked. It apparently was a brutal death as it took him 3-4 days to die afterwards.

    I think I would have liked to meet Richard.

    There’s a good book on him, called “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey. It’s a good book about the facts known about Richard, back in the 1960s, yet the falsehoods put out by the Tudors is what everyone believes. (Much like ‘everyone’ knows the people in 1492 all knew the world was flat, wrong, it was an argument about the diameter that was the issue.)

    1. “The Daughter of Time” was first published in 1951. Oops. I am not infallible. Something my wife tells me often. But in a good way, as I take failure too hard sometimes.

      1. Richard III was an interesting character in history. I wonder if his deformity led to humility? Maybe. The victor writes the books and tells the story their way (almost always). The Donkeys have launched a big campaign twisting history and bending it to their narrative – until it needs to be twisted and bent again.

        We have objective truth on the Tudor kings and also subjective truth. The truth about Richard III took a while to come out, but it has.

        1. I am glad, very glad, that poor Richard has been vindicated and the ‘humpback’ of Shakespeare is now a good looking man with a spinal issue.

          Truly a very noble figure whose life was full of tragedy and betrayal. Richard deserved and deserves better from us future people.

          I would love to see a good, factual mini-series or movie made about him. But it would not fly in today’s PC-SJW world. Sadly.

          Proof that nice guys finish last.

          1. It was a significant spinal issue. Today, there’d be surgery and braces at a younger age. He wasn’t a hunchback, but he suffered with significant physical limitations. Those limitations were baked into who he was as a man – and a king. Sometimes people who have troubles, the way that Richard III did, lense the world in a very different way than those who do not.

            Getting older (though I’m in good health) has been a lesson in learning where the limitations need to be set. There is a sliding scale, right?

          2. Be of good cheer. I’m sure the BBC would do a bang-up miniseries, so long as a negro portrayed Richard III. After all, the Beeb has finally revealed the truth, namely that the Duke of York was a (proud) Black man. (per The Hollow Crown, BBC2’s version of Henry V)

            The Beeb has also set the quasi-historical/quasi-mythological record straight, bravely revealing that Achilles and Aeneas were Black Africans (as was Zeus; the jury is out on Athena who is apparently mystery meat). From that brave and stunning documentary, Troy: Fall of a City.

  2. I’m with Beans on the Tudors.

    There’s a contemporary account (can’t find it…) of H8 going about London with his entourage visiting friends after he’d killed all the monks. At each stop, the drunken crew, led by the king, did a a re-enactment of the of the torture/deaths they’d dealt the monastics. A sort of bawdy, killer masque.

    Like the Bolsheviks in 1917, in spirit. Too bad the King of what had been a civilized Christian, Roman Province gave his soul to Satan. We’re paying for that now, imo.

  3. Machievelli wrote that, “A good man must necessarily come to grief.” Of course he was writing about politics and about kings – and those who would be king. He’s not wrong. As with politics today, people expected big rewards for supporting a particular candidate. The Catholic Church chose a losing side and Henry 8 made himself head of the protestant church, which has carried on through history.

    1. Only to be killed off internally by the virus of political correctness within the last 10 years (though the rot set in around the mid 70’s)

      For all purposes, the actual Church of England is dead. Well, it no longer looks to God but to Man for answers (which, of course the Morningstar himself is willing to exploit.)

      Ye Olde Roman Catholic Church is rotting from the top down, too. But that’s a whole nother 500 pages of ranting and raving between the Lavender Mafia and the Commie Pope.

      1. Loyola’s Jesuits usually found the wrong side of most political issues, but intrigue was and is their stock in trade. Now they have a Pope, and are happy about it.

  4. Yes old age even with good health is a humbling experience. My 16 year old grandson wanted to show me how strong he was. He had been working out. We decided to arm wrestle, he is as big as I am but a little short on grit. Long story short, he beat me right handed, I beat him left handed.
    I demanded a rematch as some of his buddies arrived. He again was pushing my right arm towards the table , with difficulty. I reached across the table with my left and slapped him, and pushed his arm to the table.
    “You cheated” he yelled. I said when did we discuss the rules. I then told all the boys, “Never fight an old man, he will not fight fair, he’ll just kill you.

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