England and the Closing of the Middle Ages: the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485
The death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth is the culminating event of the literary cycle, eight plays long, developed by William Shakespeare during the decade 1590-1600. The historical demise of Richard III on 22 August 1485, and the subsequent coronation of Henry Tudor as Henry VII, marked the conclusion of the bitter, century-long, dynastic struggle between Lancaster and York that has since become known as the Wars of the Roses. The cultural memory of those violent years of civil strife during the middle of the 15th century still haunts our modern imagination. What happened at Bosworth over a half millennium ago? How was it that the feudal contest was finally settled, and why is the outcome still discussed today?
The sequence of events that produced this watershed in English history is, however, shrouded in the fog of war. Tumultuous record keeping and aggressive propaganda during a period of devastating civil war has long obscured the events of the battle. Only in the last decade has modern battlefield archaeology been combined with systematic analysis of the source material to produce a scientific perspective on what happened on that epoch defining day in August more than 530 years ago. This post examines the military events of the battle, the dynastic political background, and the socioeconomic factors, that combined to ultimately bring to a close the Middle Ages in English history.
Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth began in England the process of consolidation and state formation that was already underway in France, Spain, and Central Europe. A cultural revolution was spreading across the continent, the result of more than 400 years of feudal warfare, as European societies were newly energized by the Humanist movement of northern Europe, and the Italian Renaissance in the Mediterranean. At the dawn of the 16th century England had become a unified kingdom, somewhat parochial and backward, but on the frontier of a new Age of Discovery.
The story of how the British Isles arrived at that point requires, first, looking back a thousand years to the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain.
Part One: The Sons of Edward III & The Hundred Years War
King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, was killed at the Battle of Hastings, 1066, as recorded by the Bayeux Tapestry. The death of Harold is the marker for a period, ultimately longer than 500 years, during which the Kings of England laid claim to a cross-Channel polity that connected the emerging Kingdoms of England and France.
Territorial holdings of the Normans under King William in 1087, & the Angevin Empire inherited by King Henry II, in 1172.
The Kingdom administered by the successors of William the Conqueror slowly declined relative to its continental competitors. The Norman dynasty was soon eclipsed by the rising Plantagenet family, originating from the House of Anjou. In 1153 King Stephen the Norman was forced to recognize Henry of Anjou as his heir designate, formalized by the Treaty of Westminster. When Stephen died the following year, Henry Plantagenet inherited the English crown as Henry II. 88 years had passed since the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
After Henry II’s death in 1189, Philip II Auguste, the Capetian, over the course of his 43 year-long reign, reconquered most of the Angevin territory in France. England retained only Aquitaine (Gascony) when Philip II died in 1223.
Louis IX (r. 1226 – 1270), Philip III (r. 1270 – 1285) and Philip IV (r. 1285 – 1314) consolidated France’s state lands for nearly 90 years. England, meanwhile, was weakened by internal strife, exemplified by the Second Baron’s War (1264 – 1267) during the reign of Henry III (r. 1216 – 1272), followed by the struggles with Scotland and Wales during the reigns of Edward I (r. 1272 – 1307) and Edward II (r. 1307 – 1327).
Edward III, painted in the late 16th c.
On 24 May 1337, 271 years after Hastings, King Philip VI declared Aquitaine forfeit, a major blow to Edward III who was also Duke of Aquitaine and thus heir to the Plantagenet family’s claims in France. Edward formally set claim to the French throne on 6 July 1339.
Top: Battle of Crecy, 26 August 1346. Lower: Battle of Poitiers, 19 September 1356, by Eugene Delacroix, 1830.
Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince invaded France and won decisive victories at Crecy, in August 1346, and at Poitiers, in September 1356. Edward eventually settled for the Treaty of Bretigny and recognition of England’s dominion over Gascony.
English holdings in France after Edward III secured the treaties of Bretigny, 8 May 1360, and Calais, 24 October 1360. Charles V (r. 1364 – 1380) of France rolled back the English conquests, and by 1380 the land holdings of Edward’s successor Richard II (r. 1377 – 1399) had been reduced to only the rump of Bordeaux and Calais.
Lineage of Henry III Plantagenet and the houses of Lancaster and York.
The century long succession struggle that culminated in the Wars of the Roses originated, in its immediate sense, with Edward III’s sons. Edward’s first son, the Prince of Wales, Edward the Black Prince, the Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall, was heir to Edward’s claim as King of both England and France. The Black Prince died before Edward III, however, and upon the King’s death in 1377 the throne passed to the Prince of Wales’ son, Richard II.
Richard II, son of the Black Prince, engraving by George Vertue, 1718
The new King was surrounded by his uncles, although his eldest uncle, Edward’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence, died in 1368 to be succeeded by his only daughter, Phillippa.
John of Gaunt (Ghent) was Edward’s third son, holder of the Duchy of Lancaster, with estates in Derby, Leicester and Lincoln. Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was the youngest son of Edward III, & held estates in Buckingham, Northampton and Essex.[i] Edmund of Langley was fourth, the Duke of York, whose descendants would inherit Lionel of Antwerp’s claim (and estates) through the marriage of his son, Richard the Earl of Cambridge, to Anne Mortimer, daughter of Phillippa, the Countess of Ulster. Their son, born in 1411, was Richard Plantagenet, the father of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III.
The struggle for power became apparent in 1388 when Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, with the support of John of Gaunt’s son, the Earl of Derby, assembled with the Earls of Arundel, Nottingham and Warwick, and mobilized against the 23 year-old King’s supporters. Richard II’s circle of power included the archbishop of York, the Duke of Ireland, the Earl of Suffolk, and Sirs Robert Tresilian and Nicholas Brembre.[ii] This force, under the Duke of Ireland, was defeated by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, at Oxfordshire, resulting in the King’s virtual subjugation to his powerful uncle. Richard’s followers, including Lord Beauchamp of Holt, Sir Simon Burley, Sir James Berners and John Salisbury, were all purged, being arbitrarily condemned for high treason.
John of Gaunt (Ghent), Duke of Lancaster & Aquitaine, by George Yate, c. early 17th century. Effigy of Edmund of Langley, First Duke of York, at Westminster Abbey. & Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, engraving by Richard Godfrey, 1776.
Richard II, however, succeeded at expelling Gloucester’s various supporters from his Royal Council, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was Chancellor, the Bishop of Hereford, the Treasurer, and the Earl of Arundel, who was High Admiral. The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Gloucester himself were both reduced in power and status.[iii] A general pardon was issued by Parliament and then proclaimed by the King (except for the Duke of Ireland) to normalize government affairs, and soon the powerful Duke of Lancaster, who had been overseas attempting to promote his claim to the throne of Castile, returned to England. In 1396 a 25-year truce was arranged between England and France, and Richard, in a royal arrangement with the French court, married Charles Valois daughter, Isabella, then only seven years old.
By 1397 the Duke of Gloucester was conspiring for war with France, a position that put him at odds with Richard II’s peaceful policy. With the support of the Dukes of Lancaster and York, as well as their sons, the Earls of Derby and Rutland, Gloucester was arrested and conveyed to Calais where he was unceremoniously executed. Parliament was elected along lines more favourable to Richard and the pardons previously issued were annulled. Gloucester’s chief lieutenants, the Earls of Arundel and Warwick were likewise arrested, the former executed afterwards. Warwick was banished to the Isle of Man.[iv]
In 1398, with his power waning, and his former allies turning against him, Richard banished the Duke of Lancaster’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, and when the Duke died in 1399, the King attempted to confiscate all of his Lancastrian property. At this delicate juncture Richard II made the mistake of departing for a campaign in Ireland, enabling Henry Bloingbroke, the Lancastrian, to land at Ravenspur, Yorkshire, with a contingent of 60, including the Earl of Arundel. Within days their force was swollen by reinforcements. Now supported by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland,[v] the Duke of York opened London’s gates to his nephew Lancaster, and when Richard II returned from Ireland he was confronted by Henry’s party, led by Northumberland, and captured.
Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV (r. 1399 – 1413), c. late 16th century.
On 30 September Henry, claiming descent from Henry III, was crowned Henry IV, King of England. Parliament, with no other realistic options, recognized Henry as the legitimate monarch, disavowing the deposed Richard II, who died a prisoner the following year, possibly starved to death by Henry IV, at the age of 34.
Henry quickly rid himself of Richard’s supporters and in 1400 the Earls of Rutland (Albermarle), Kent (Surrey), Huntingdon (Exeter), Lord Spenser (Gloucester), Salisbury and Lord Lumley, were all executed, save for Rutland, the future Duke of York, who betrayed and murdered Lord Spenser in a demonstration of loyalty to Henry IV.[vi] The Earl of Worcester was dispatched to maintain order in Gascony, although the French made little effort to take advantage of the disorder in England.
Battle of Shrewsbury, 21 July 1403, illustrated by Thomas Pennant in 1781.
In 1402, Henry Percy (Hotspur), with support from the Earls of Northumberland (his father), Worcester and Douglas, raised an army to oppose Henry IV. Percy and Douglas were met by Henry IV at Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, where in bloody fighting their armies were destroyed and Percy slain. Worcester, after his capture, was executed, although Douglas was given quarter due to his great status and past service. Northumberland, upon hearing of his son’s death, disbanded his army and traveled to York where he met with King Henry, who granted a royal pardon, although Henry Percy’s recantation was not to last long.[vii]
Henry Percy, father of Hotspur, the Earl of Northumberland, engraving by R. Clamp, 1792
In 1405 the Earl of Nottingham and the Archbishop of York, with the Earl of Northumberland’s support, rebelled against the King. These rebels were captured by the Earl of Westmoreland and their executions ordered by Henry. Northumberland fled to Scotland from where he conducted raids into England. It was on one such adventure into Yorkshire that Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, was slain in 1407.[viii]
Having consolidated his power, Henry IV began to increase his interest in foreign affairs. In 1411 he sent forces to support the Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans against the King of France. When Henry IV died in 1413, his son, Henry the Prince of Wales, carried on his mission.
Henry V, engraving, c. 18th century. & Catherine of Valois, engraving by Silvester Harding, 1792. Ascending to the throne in 1413, Henry V attempted to end the war by forcing the outright military conquest of France. His victory at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, decisively weakened France in the struggle against England and Burgundy, and in his second campaign in 1418 succeeded in annexing Normandy.
Henry V’s objectives were multifaceted. First, he sought to reverse the conquests of Phillip Augustus, second, in doing so, to assert his legitimacy through the adoption of Edward III’s mission to acquire for England the Kingdom of France. Third, the best means of securing this arrangement, would be the English King’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine, at cost of 2 million crowns. Another 1.6 million crowns would be paid on the outstanding debt owed for King Jean’s 14th century ransom.[ix] Through these means, military and matrimonial, Henry V sought to secure his claim to the thrones of England and France.
Descendants of Edward III
Weakness in the French crown made concessions possible. Henry’s diplomatic objective was merely to stall for time while he marshalled his forces. Before he could embark on his campaign of conquest, Henry ordered the executions of the traitorous Lord Scrope of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, and Earl of Cambridge (father of Richard of York), the plotters of the infamous Southampton plot to assassinate Henry before he embarked for France.
Modern illustration of southampton in 1415, & Royal army transported across the Channel, from Froissart’s Chroniques, c. 1480.
With England secure behind him the King departed on 11 August, landing in Normandy three days later and marching against the port of Harfleur, immediately placed under siege on the 19th of August. A month of bombardment from Henry’s siege artillery forced the port to surrender, but this effort had absorbed most of the fall campaign season.[x] Henry, with his supply lines at Harfleur reduced to only a trickle, now determined to make for Calais. This base was far more secure than Harfleur, nearly impervious to French attack by land or sea, where he could draw on stockpiled supplies over the winter and prepare for further activity the following spring.[xi] Victualing as they raided through the Norman country side en route, Henry was however outmaneuvered by a large French army under the command of the Constable D’Albert who now blocked the approach to Calais.
Henry V’s 1415 campaign
Henry in effect had attempted to repeat Edward III’s 1346 campaign, with the expected result that the French would confront him near the conclusion. With the French army blocking the road to Calais, Henry had no choice but battle. In the ensuing battle at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, the French were foolish enough to play into Henry’s offensive-defensive tactics, and were cut down by massed longbow arrows amidst confined and muddy ground that rendered the French cavalry useless.[xii] Although the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk were both slain in the battle, the French, a number of whose prisoners Henry had ordered killed during a moment of crisis,[xiii] suffered far greater losses in men and nobles, amongst whom were the Dukes of Alencon, Bar, Brabant, Admiral Jacques de Chatillon, and Counts of Marle, Vaudemont, Blamont, Roucy, Dammartin, Vaucourt, Fauquembergue, Nevers, and others, including the Constable D’Albert and 1,500 knights.[xiv] Captured by Henry were the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon, and the Counts Vendome, Richemont and d’Eu.[xv]
Henry’s position and approach at Agincourt, from Oman, England and the Hundred Years War, Chapter 10, & Keegan, Face of Battle, p. 64.
Renderings of the Battle of Agincourt 25 October 1415; from St. Alban’s Chronicle by Thomas Walsingham, c. 15th century. & Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s 15th century miniature.
Although this initial campaign had met with the luck of tactical success at Agincourt,[xvi] with long-term implications for the stability of the French crown, Henry was actually faced with operational defeat. His expeditionary army had been reduced by disease and lack of supplies, and then exhausted by a long and difficult march culminating in the slaughter at Agincourt. Henry thus withdrew from the continent on 16 November. Less than a year later, on 15 August 1416, Henry’s eldest brother the Duke of Bedford defeated a Franco-Genoese fleet in the Channel in a battle near Harfleur, capturing three of the enemy’s eight carracks in the process.[xvii] On 25 July 1417 the Earl of Huntingdon won another important naval battle in the Bay of the Seine, capturing a further four Genoese carracks and effectively winning control of the sea for the English, clearing Henry’s supply lines for a second invasion.[xviii] The French nation was soon at its weakest point. Invaded by the Duke of Burgundy, with Charles VI increasingly delusional, the death of his elder sons left only the seventeen year-old Dauphin, Charles, as heir to the throne.
The Treaty of Troyes, 21 May 1420, as ratified by the Estates-General, proclaimed Henry V Lancaster, and his heirs, as inheritors of the throne of France.
Henry took advantage of this situation to land another army in 1418. Henry maintained negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy to arrange for the return of the territory ceded to Edward III by the Treaty of Bretigny (1360), however, the Duke was himself negotiating with the Dauphin in opposition to Henry, and, although progress was being made, the Duke was assassinated by the Dauphin’s men in 1419. The Duke’s successor, Phillip, Count of Charolais, now changed sides to support Henry’s claim and a treaty between the two was concluded at Arras, with Henry, Gloucester, and Clarence, meeting the Duke at Troyes.[xix] Henry’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine of Valois, soon followed, and upon entering Paris the Estates-General ratified the treaty of Troyes. Henry left Paris under guard of the Duke of Exeter and departed to suppress the Dauphin, whose supporters rejected Henry’s claim.
The conquests of Henry V & English holdings and alliances in France after the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, & European political map c. 1422
Henry VI, engraving, c. 18th century.
Henry V died on 31 August 1422 and hardly two months later Charles VI was dead, leaving the combined Anglo-Franco crown to nine month old Henry VI.[xx] The Kingdom was placed under a regency headed by Henry VI’s oldest uncle, the Duke of Bedford, while responsibility for England went his youngest uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. The Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, would act as Henry VI’s tutor. The English military was led by able generals, including the Earls of Somerset, Warwick, Salisbury, Suffolk, Arundel and knights including Sir John Talbot and Sir John Fastolf.[xxi] Meanwhile Catherine, Henry V’s widow, married Sir Owen Tudor and with him had two sons, Edmund, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper, the Earl of Pembroke.
John of Lancaster, the Duke of Bedford, Regent to Henry VI. Humphrey, his brother, Duke of Gloucester, & Henry Beaufort the Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, Henry VI’s tutor. Although Henry VI was crowned King of France in Paris on 16 December 1431, the Dauphin, who by then had been crowned Charles VII, continued to fight a determined campaign to oppose the English and their Burgundian allies.
Bedford continued the conquest of France, winning the decisive battle at Verneuil, 17 August 1424.
Although final victory was within sight, a poorly timed campaign by the Duke of Gloucester against Holland and Brabant diverted forces that should have been sent to support Bedford and he was forced to return to England, where he discovered further disunion. The Bishop of Winchester had consolidated power around himself. As a result of these affairs, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany began to withdraw their support for England. In France in 1426, meanwhile, the Count of Donois succeeded in raising Warwick’s siege of Montargis, signalling the beginning of a series of reversals that within thirty years would lead to England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War.
Orleans in 1428-9, by Anatole France.
In 1428 Bedford despatched the Earl of Salisbury to lay siege to Orleans. Realizing that Orleans would become the focal point of resistance to the English invasion (similar in significance to Verdun nearly a half millennium later), the Dauphin rushed in reinforcements. Salisbury was killed by a cannon ball during the siege and replaced by Suffolk. Sir John Fastolf was able to reinforce the English, despite intervention by Dunois.
The Duke of Burgundy, the alliance with England slipping as a result of a disagreement with Bedford, recalled his forces from the siege and thus dramatically weakened the English position. The timely arrival of Joan of Arc invigorated the French forces, and Suffolk was captured in a side-action. The English were successfully expelled from Orleans, an operation that was complete by 8 May 1429. The English forces remaining were under the command of Fastolf, Scales and Talbot who now hastened their retreat, the latter two were captured, and Fastolf was stripped of his knighthood for cowardice.
Joan of Arc enters Orleans, by Jean-Jacques Scherrer, 1887.
France in 1430, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.
The Dauphin Charles now hastened to Rheims, chasing the English as they fled before him, and was there crowned Charles VII on 17 July 1429, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Troyes from the French perspective. Militarily the war was not yet over, and Bedford was able to prevent Charles from regaining the capital. Bedford now invested Henry VI with the crown of France.
Phillip III, the Good, Duke of Burgundy. & Charles VII of France, painted by Jean Fouquet, c. 1445 – 1450.
The Burgundian capture and ransom of Joan of Arc to the English was a minor coup, although her witchcraft trial and execution only served to martyr the French heroine. Bedford’s position in France was weakening, his credit reserves nearly exhausted, and with his allies turning against him, he died on 14 September 1435. Eight days later Charles VII, King of France, and Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, signed the Treaty of Arras, sealing the fate of Bedford’s decades long struggle to complete his brother’s conquest of France.
Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester quickly consolidated power, only for the Duke of York to slip through their fingers and emerge as the Protector of the Kingdom. When York returned to France he found that Paris had turned against England, and Burgundy was laying siege to Calais. Gloucester raised the siege of Calais, and Talbot was promoted Earl of Shrewsbury. York’s continuation of Bedford’s policy was noble, but the cause was lost, the nail in the coffin symbolized by the death of Warwick, the Lieutenant of France, in 1439. Richard Duke of York arranged a truce with Burgundy, and in 1443 the Earl of Suffolk began negotiations with Charles VII. These laudable acts of diplomacy resulted in the Treaty of Tours, 28 May 1444, by which Henry VI would marry Margaret of Anjou, a Princess descending from ancient Frankish crusading families whose father was titular King of Naples and of the Templar kingdom of Jerusalem. Henry and Margaret were married on 23 April 1445, ensuring the maintenance of peace until 1446.[xxii]
Margaret of Anjou, who, by her marriage to Henry VI (24 years-old) as a result of the Treaty of Tours in May 1445, became Queen of England at the age of 15. Reproduced here in George Goodwin, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011).
Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, negotiating his surrender at Rouen, 1449 & the Siege of Caen, 1450, from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Reproduced in George Goodwins, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011). Cannons notable.
With the crown unable to bankroll the cost of maintaining England’s position in France, Somerest, the new Lieutenant of France, had the disappointing duty of overseeing the collapse of the war effort as the half century approached. The French invaded and conquered Normandy, although Somerset was allowed to withdraw to Harfleur after he arranged to pay 56,000 crowns in ransom for his surrender at Rouen.[xxiii] Cherbourg fell in December 1450, and then Dunois led the inevitable invasion of English Gascony. This string of victories reasserted the status quo as established by the conquests of Charles V eighty years prior.
The death of John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, at Castillon, 17 July 1453, illustrated manuscript by Martial d’Auvergne (c. 1493). Note presence of cannons. With the English now retaining only Calais, this battle finalized England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War. Constantinople had fallen to the Turks only a month before on 29 May. 387 years had passed since King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings.
National consolidation: France in 1453, when only Calais remained in English possession, & cosmopolitan Paris in 1460.
Part Two: Wars of the Roses, Lancaster & York, 1453 – 1485
Illustration of London from Charles d’Orleans poetry, c. 1450 – 1500, looking west from the Tower towards the customs house and London Bridge. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999).
France, with York & Lancastrian estates in England between 1455 – 85. England during the Wars of the Roses. Map of English Counties, & Landholdings of the principal noble families of England and Wales in c. 1450, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.
Book printing, literacy, and the legal system all flourished during Henry VI’s reign. Note the number of clerks processing legal writs. Based on Gutenberg’s movable type press, mass publication spread from Bravia, where it was invented in the 1450s, to Nuremberg, Cologne, Paris, Venice, and Rome, before reaching London around 1470. Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian epic Le Morte D’arthur appeared post-humously on 31 July 1485, published by Claxton’s press. The feudal era in Britain was thawing as Humanism spread from the Renaissance in Italy and Flanders.
Cloth exports surpassed wool as pastoral commodities were purchased for textile production. England’s textile craft industry heralded a rise in living standards for the artisanal class and was tightly controlled by the English crown.
Stages of medieval cloth production; agrarian decline leads to rise in pastoralism. Sheep rearing, wool shearing, weaving on the loom, dyeing, tailoring, and sale of the finished products at market.
Despite frequent markets across Great Britain, Wales in the west and Yorkshire in the north remained relatively sparsely populated. Populations were concentrated in the London area and in coastal townships dotting the English coast; from Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce (2002).
Over all currency deflation in this period caused by peak silver conditions in Europe, combined with the introduction of gold as a specie supplement, conspired to keep wages low, despite labour scarcity resulting from the Black Death (1347-51). Wages and prices remained remarkably stable from the reigns of Richard II to Richard III, as the nation slowly grew and its war-debt was repaid over the course of a century. Note price inflation in the 1431-40 decade, when England was financing distant siege operations and ultimately losing the war in France. Commodities were sold cheaply but in bulk, and merchants were getting rich on export trade. Life expectancy remained low while the wealth and power of the landed nobility increased until the largest land and title holders determined the fate of kings. See, Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: the People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale University Press, 2013), p. 266-8. Diagrams from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century (1993), p. 383 et seq
Blacksmithing & armouring in the 14th and 15th centuries
The cost and complexity of warfare continued to increase. The proliferation of gunpowder weapons and increase in cost and sophistication of body-armour was beginning to revolutionize battle. The immense expense of a century of warfare had accumulated to the point that Henry VI, after the loss of Castillion, had no choice but to recognize defeat in France. The national debt had grown to the figure of £372,000, an immense sum, considering that Henry V’s pre-invasion income amounted to only £55,700 per annum.[xxiv]
French, Italian or Gothic-type full-plate men-at-arms and knight’s armour, popular between 1450-1500.
Late 15th c. organ-gun and cannon. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 7.31. Burgundian-type cannons, including organ guns, were popular in Flanders and with Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The Duke had deployed large siege trains during his disastrous Swiss campaign of 1476.
Illustration of the Battle of Grandson, made c. 1515
Cannons had first been introduced into European arsenals in the middle of the 14th century. Over the following century the European monarchs accumulated a variety of handguns, arquebuses, field guns and siege cannons. At Castillon in July 1453, French artillery had outranged John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and inflicted a disastrous defeat for the English that effectively terminated the Hundred Years War. Seventy-two years later at the battle of Pavia in 1525, pike, field cannon and the arquebus had become the decisive instrument in battle.
The Wars of the Roses occurred during a transitional phase in Europe’s military history. New weapons, such as handguns and field cannon, and rediscovered tactics, such as pike and halberd formations, reduced the importance of heavy cavalry and emphasized the renewed importance of mobile infantry. Battle of Pavia tapestry woven in Brussels, c. 1528-31.
Wars of the Roses Genealogy, the descendants of the Henry V
Castles of England and battles of the Wars of the Roses, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.
Richard Plantagenet, the son of Anne Mortimer (great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp) and Richard, Earl of Cambridge. As Duke of York, Richard had claim to the throne through Edward III’s line from his second son Lionel, Duke of Clarence. In Ireland, the star of York was rising as Somerset’s was falling in Normandy.
Richard’s father, the Earl of Cambridge, had been executed at the order of Henry V for charge of treason as one of the conspirators in the Southampton plot of 1415. Richard’s descent from Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, made his claim to the throne more immediate than Henry VI’s, whose grandfather Henry Bolingbroke was descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. Richard’s interests were advanced by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Salisbury and by the Earl of Warwick, both of the family Neville. For its part the Lancastrian claim was generally supported by the Earls of Westmoreland, Shrewsbury and Northumberland, and by the Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter, and the Duke of Buckingham.[xxv]
Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, father of Richard, 6th Earl of Salisbury.
Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 6th Earl of Salisbury, the Kingmaker. 16th c.
In 1452 Richard, eager to assert his claim and with his power solidified, led an army against London where he was met by the King. Unsupported by Warwick and Salisbury, on this occasion, Richard was dismissed by the King and forced to retreat to Wigmore on the border of Wales. Richard did not have to wait long, as the death of Shrewsbury and the final loss of Gascony in 1453 weakened the crown such that in 1454 Henry was forced to agree to concessions and promote Richard to Lieutenant of the Kingdom, a power soon confirmed by Parliament.[xxvi] Resistance from the Lancastrian faction was crushed by Warwick and Salisbury on 22 May 1455 at the First Battle of St. Albans. Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy the Earl of Northumberland, and the Earl of Stafford were all slain.
First Battle of St. Albans, 22 May 1455, York in red, Lancaster in blue.
This was such a disaster for the Lancastrian forces that Henry VI was forced to agree to all of York’s demands, which effectively amount to his promotion to Protector of the Realm, until the coronation of Edward, the Prince of Wales. Although Henry, with Margaret’s support, was able to moderate Richard’s power, the Duke of York’s claim was now too strong to be realistically opposed.
The Queen, established in Cheshire, and supported by the new Duke of Somerset, rallied support to her cause.[xxvii] Warwick, however, with the fleet now unified under his command, landed at Sandwich in Kent with a force led by Sir John Blount and Andrew Trollop. Warwick reached London on 21 September and made his start towards Ludlow where he was to rendezvous with Salisbury and Edward, the Earl of Marche, son of Richard of York.
Margaret summoned Lord Stanley to raise his force and join the King who was at Eccleshall Castle. The Lancastrian army on this occasion was led by James Touchet, Lord Audley, supported by Lord Dudley, although nominally under the authority of the Prince of Wales. This force was to intercept Salisbury before he could join forces with York or Warwick. Salisbury had with him between 3,000 – 4,000 men, mainly spearmen and some cannon, and was outnumbered by Audley with between 6,000 – 12,000, including quality archers but also many conscripts.[xxviii] Salisbury, in a strong defensive position supported by cannon, won a victory over Audley at Blore Heath on 23 September 1459, in which 2,000 Lancastrian soldiers were killed and Audley himself was overtaken and slain.
Battle of Blore Heath, 23 September 1459
This was sour news for Margaret, although the sting of defeat was somewhat lessened when Salisbury left his cannon on the field and withdrew, the cannon captured shortly afterwards by Margaret’s main force, as were Salisbury’s sons, Thomas and Sir John Neville.
Salisbury nevertheless made his connection with Warwick at Ludlow, where the Duke of York was scheduled to join them. Already assembled were the Earls Somerset, Northumberland, with Lords Buckingham, Egremont, Exeter, Devon, Arundel, Shrewsbury, Wiltshire and Beaumont.[xxix] The Yorkist force perhaps numbered as many as 25,000 men, about half the size of the Royal army’s 40,000 – 60,000. York was further frustrated by the defection of a number of his Calais veterans, in particular Sir Andrew Trollop.[xxx]
York, Warwick and Salisbury, recognizing the weakness of their position, deserted their army on 13 October and fled, leaving Ludlow Castle, along with Richard’s wife the Duchess Cecily Neville, to be captured by the Royal force. York fled once again to Ireland. Warwick, March and Salisbury had by November retired to Calais where they began a campaign of piracy against the lucrative Channel wool and textile trade. On 20 November Margaret arranged for a Parliament at Coventry, in which all the Yorkist commanders were declared guilty of high treason. Somerset sailed with a small force to harass Warwick and impose an embargo on Calais and succeeded in capturing a castle near Calais, although Warwick captured the new Lord Audley, and Humphrey Stafford, in the process.[xxxi] Over the winter Lord Rivers assembled a fleet to invade Calais, but on 15 January Sir John Dynham raided Sandwich and captured Rivers and his ships, hauling them off to Calais, another demonstration of the importance of sea control during the 15th century.
In March 1460 Warwick sailed to Ireland to join with York, while Somerset made another effort to capture Calais, but was defeated at Newham Bridge. Pressure was maintained on the Yorkist forces when the Duke of Exeter was made Admiral of England and given fifteen ships. On 25 May he sailed to intercept Warwick but was unsure of the loyalty of his men and so put in at Dartmouth, leaving the channel to Warwick, lately returned to Calais. In June Warwick raided Sandwich and captured the entire Lancastrian fleet (see N. A. M. Rodger, Safeguard of the Sea, p. 153). On 26 June Warwick, Salisbury and March, with 2,000 men, landed at Sandwich and on the 27th entered Canterbury. On 2 July London threw open its gates to the Yorkist force.
Warwick marched north with an entourage that included Lord Fauconberg, Edward Earl of March, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishops of Ely, Exeter, Rochester, Lincoln and Salisbury, and the papal legate Coppini – who carried a letter from Pope Pius II urging Henry VI to accept the Yorkist demands.[xxxii] Salisbury, Cobham and Wenlock, with 2,000 men, were left in London to finish the siege of the Tower.
Rome in the 15th century. Papal intervention attempted to moderate the conflict, evidence of ongoing international diplomacy.
Henry VI marshalled his forces under the Duke of Buckingham, and then departed to march on Northampton. The Royal army blocked the road from London with their cannon and prepared other defensive measures in anticipation of Warwick, who promptly arrived at Northampton on 10 July. Warwick attempted to bargain with Henry through the Bishop of Salisbury and papal legate Coppini, but was rebuffed. Warwick’s force was double the size of the King’s, who is said to have marshalled 20,000 men, but did not receive the full reinforcements he expected.
Edward, Earl of March, led Warwick’s vanguard, supported by Lord Scrope, with Fauconberg in the rear. Lord Grey de Ruthin commanded Henry’s vanguard, but had been promised concessions if he were to desert and join Warwick. In the event the Royal cannon were inundated with rain and so rendered useless, although the Lancastrian archers inflicted many casualties.[xxxiii]
Battle of Northampton, 10 July 1460
Lord Grey’s treachery and the loss of several thousand men in battle was a blow to the Lancastrian war effort. Lord de la Warre and the Earl of Kendal switched sides, joining the Yorkist cause.[xxxiv] The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lords Beaumont and Egremont and Sir William Lucie were all slain, while the Royal Personage, Henry VI himself, was captured. Proceeding to Westminster, Warwick, with Henry VI in tow, entered London on 16 July and soon forced Lord Scales to surrender the Tower, during which that Lancastrian commander was captured and murdered while attempting escape.
Queen Margaret, with her young son Edward, escaped to Wales where they met Jasper Tudor at Harlech Castle. From there Maragret proceeded to Denbigh Castle where she was joined by Exeter and Pembroke. She wrote to Somerset and Devon to raise an army, while she sailed to Scotland to meet with Queen Mary of Gueldres, who was sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause and made arrangements for the Earls Douglas and Angus to support Margaret.
York now returned from Ireland, landing near Chester in Wales on 8 September 1460. He collected his wife, the Duchess Cecily, who had been freed after the Battle of Northampton. Together they marched to London and arrived on 10 October, in time for the meeting of Parliament. Although Parliament approved further concessions they did not completely endorse Richard’s claim to the throne.
By the Act of Settlement (“of Accord”) of 24 October 1460, Henry VI was to remain as King, although power of governance was completely vested in the Duke of York, who, or his sons, it was determined, would inherit the kingdom upon Henry VI’s death. The attainders against York were reversed, he was made Protector of England, while Lord Bourchier was made Treasurer and Warwick’s brother George was made Bishop of Exeter and Chancellor.[xxxv]
Margaret was naturally infuriated by these developments and soon marched south to join with her allies. Her army when it reached Yorkshire numbered 20,000, under the generalship of Somerset, Northumberland, Devon, Exeter and Clifford. Margaret issued a challenge to Richard to settle his claim by force of arms.
York, raiding the Tower Arsenal for cannon to take with him and with about 5,000 – 6,000 men, left Warwick in charge of the capital and hastened out of London on 9 December with his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the Earl of Salisbury, to confront Margaret.
Sandal Castle, a traditional holding of the York family, granted from Edward III to Lionel of Antwerp, reputed to be both formidable and luxurious.
Richard’s force is said to have swollen to 12,000 when he arrived at Sandal Castle on 21 December, although this, like most military figures for the period, is likely an exaggeration. York most likely intended to await the arrival of his son Edward with reinforcements. The Lancastrians however deployed a significantly larger force, increased by the desertion of Lord Neville with 8,000 men who joined Margaret.
Outnumbered and with supplies dwindling, Richard, for reasons that have never been completely explained, rode from the castle with his vanguard and was immediately surrounded by the Lancastrians.[xxxvi] The Duke of York, 50 years of age, and 1,000 – 2,000 of his men, including Sir Thomas Neville, Sir Thomas Parr and Sir Edward Bourchier, were therefore destroyed at the Battle of Wakefield, 30 December 1460. Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was handed over to Lord Clifford, who murdered him.[xxxvii] Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, was captured and executed.[xxxviii]
Battle of Wakefield, by Graham Turner for Osprey©, where Richard of York met his demise on 30 December 1460.
The death of Salisbury, Warwick’s father, resulted in Warwick inheriting that wealthy Earl’s land, effectively doubling the size of Warwick’s holdings and making him by far the wealthiest man in the Kingdom. Edward, the 18 year-old Earl of March, now inherited his father’s title as Duke of York, making him heir to the throne by the Act of Accord. Edward’s brothers, George and Richard, were sent to Burgundy to live under the protection of Duke Phillip, although the widowed Duchess of York remained in London.[xxxix]
Margaret, who had wintered in Scotland and signed an agreement with Queen Mary by which Edward the Prince of Wales was to be married to Mary’s daughter, Margaret Stewart, now despatched Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, alongside James Butler, Earl of Whiltshire, and Sir Owen Tudor, to defeat Edward while she took the main force to London to confront Warwick.
Second Battle of St. Albans, Henry VI is re-captured by the Lancastrian forces in their greatest victory.
At the Second Battle of St. Albans, 17 February 1461, Margaret’s force, led by Exeter, Somerset, Devon, Shrewsbury, Northumberland, Clifford, Grey, Roos, and Sir Trollop, defeated Warwick’s army, led by Norfolk, Suffolk, Arundel, Lords Fauconberg, Bourchier and Bonville. Warwick’s army included 500 Burgundian archers, various mercenaries, crossbowman and indeed some handgunners firing ribaudkins in addition to a few cannon.[xl] Prior to the battle Sir Henry Lovelace, who had been Warwick’s steward and in command of his vanguard but had promised his loyalty to Henry VI, deserted the Yorkists. Falling snow negated Warwick’s advantage in gunpowder (although not in archers, who inflicted many casualties on the Lancastrians), and the King was re-captured by Margaret while Warwick was forced to flee. A number of Warwick’s supporters were captured and executed, including Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriell. With Richard of York slain at Wakefield, and Warwick defeated at St. Albans, the Lancastrians were riding on a swell of victory, however, this good fortune was to prove illusionary.
Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, 2 February 1461, Edward Duke of York destroys Pembroke and Owen Tudor’s army and clears the route to London.
Richard Plantagenet’s eldest son Edward, now the Duke of York, with Lord Audley, Sir William Herbert, Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Grey de Wilton, Lord FitzWalter and Sir William Hastings, with a force of 5,000 had meanwhile, on 2 February, destroyed Pembroke and Whiltshire’s Lancastrian army of between 4,000 – 8,000 at Mortimer’s Cross. Although Pembroke and Whiltshire escaped, Owen Tudor – the old husband of Catherine Valois – was captured and beheaded.[xli] While Pembroke fled to France, Henry Tudor, grandson of Owen Tudor and son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, was deposited at Pembroke Castle and later captured by the Yorkists, being subsequently imprisoned at Raglan Castle.
Edward of York advanced from his victory against Pembroke and collected Warwick at Oxfordshire with his remaining force of 4,000 on the 19th of February. Edward was able to stay ahead of Margaret in the race to the capital. The Lancastrian army was short on money and victuals and therefore withdrew, leaving London open to Edward. This was a decisive mistake for the Lancastrian cause as not yet nineteen year-old Edward Plantagenet entered London with his army on 27 February and shortly thereafter on 3 March, with great enthusiasm and church support (for his claim was considered the legitimate return to Plantagenet rule that had been usurped by Henry IV in 1399), was proclaimed King Edward IV.
Edward, son of Richard, Duke of York, became King Edward IV
A ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey where Edward was presented with the crown and the sceptre of St. Edward the Confessor.[xlii] Warwick, already the wealthiest man in the Kingdom and not yet 32 years old, was now raised to colossal proportions, being made Great Chamberlain, Captain of Dover, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, that is, controller of the lucrative cloth trade, a situation that was formally recognized in 1465.[xliii]
Queen Margaret led a strategic retreat north, continuing to accumulate her army, still under the command of Somerset, Northumberland, Rivers, and Clifford, a force now estimated to be as large as 30,000 – 60,000.
Edward did not waste time and on 5 March despatched Norfolk to East Anglia to raise men. The King left London on 13 March to lead his force, estimated at 25,000, expecting to be joined by significant detachments under Warwick and Norfolk as he set out to confront the Lancastrians.
The total size of the two forces now approached 100,000 men – as much as 2% of the total population of the Kingdom in 1461.[xliv] The Lancastrian force was commanded by the 24 year-old Duke of Somerset and supported by Exeter, Northumberland, Devon, Trollop, and Lords Fitzhugh, Hungerford, Beaumont, Dacre of Gilsland, Roos, and Grey of Codnor. The Yorkist force was commanded by Warwick, Norfolk, Bourchier, Grey de Wilton, Clinton, Fauconberg, and Lords Scrope and Dacre (Richard Fiennes), and the young king himself, Edward IV.
Graham Turner painting of longbowmen at Towton.
In a preliminary engagement on 28 March, while attempting to cross a bridge over the River Aire, Lord Clifford ambushed Lord FitzWalter and Warwick, slaying the former and wounding the latter in the leg, although Warwick was able to escape and rejoin Edward’s army. A melee developed as Edward rushed reinforcements to support the crossing but the Lancastrians destroyed the bridge. Edward moved his army upstream and crossed at Castleford. Clifford marched there to block Fauconberg but was outnumbered and the murderer of Rutland was thus slain by an arrow as he retreated.[xlv]
Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461. From A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002). Edward and Warwick annihilate a large Lancastrian army under Somerset and Northumberland, & the field at Towton from Goodwin, Fatal Colours (2011).
With lines established outside of Towton on 29 March, in the midst of a blizzard, the two factions confronted each other. The initial Lancastrian arrow volleys were ineffective as Fauconberg’s archers were masked by the snow while being able to recover the arrows fired at them. In turn they launched back effective volleys. With losses mounting, Somerset urged his men to rush in a general melee, which the Yorkists immediately joined, and the butchery of Towton commenced.[xlvi] The outcome of the battle was hard fought, with Edward IV and Warwick fighting on foot in the thick of the action, joined as evening descended by Norfolk’s detachment. Norfolk had arrived at a timely juncture and flanked the Lancastrian position. Margaret’s army fled and was destroyed in detail, Edward encouraged the Yorkists to give no quarter. Somewhere between 28,000 and 40,000 men were killed, the majority on the side of the Lancastrians.
This was a crushing defeat for Maragert. Among those slain were the Duke of Devonshire, Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, Lords Dacre and Welles, Sir John Neville, and Sir Andrew Trollop. The Duke of Somerset, however, escaped the carnage and re-joined Margaret and Henry, who, learning of the devastation, fled to Scotland. Edward IV, vowing to destroy Henry VI, ordered the deaths of 42 Lancastrian knights, and later the Earl of Oxford and Whiltshire, who were both executed, although the Plantagenet king pardoned others including Northumberland’s brother, Sir Ralph Percy.[xlvii] Lord Rivers surrendered himself and joined Edward.
Edward’s party was now riding a wave of victory, having secured the crown and effectively reversed the outcome of Wakefield and St. Albans. Edward thus entered Yorkshire in triumph, where he removed the skulls of his father, brother, and his uncle Salisbury, which had been displayed on the walls of York as a Lancastrian provocation since Wakefield the year before.[xlviii] Edward, leaving Warwick and his brother, John Neville, Lord Montague, in charge of pacifying the north, returned to London on 2 May, from which he prepared to campaign in Wales and reduce the last areas loyal to the Lancastrians. Edward promoted his brother George to Duke of Clarence (who also received Henry Tudor’s Earldom of Richmond) and in 1462 made young Richard the Duke of Gloucester, sending him to live at Warwick’s Middleham estate.[xlix]
Edward IV was formally crowned in Westminster Abbey on 28 June 1461. His symbols of the triple sun and white rose of York were displayed prominently, and he was lavish with his subjects, yet economical in governance.[l] Noted for his proven warrior virtue, enormous gastronomical and sexual appetites – “voluptuous” was what Winston Churchill called him[li] – the young King’s reign was at first generally mild and peaceful, certainly a welcome change from the preceding years of violence and calamity. Edward enjoyed a royal income of £50,000, late in 1461 increased to £80,000 by confiscation of Henry VI’s estates and other properties including the Duchy of Lancaster, awarded directly to the crown. In 1465 Parliament granted Edward lifetime duties on English ports, which brought in another £25,000 a year.[lii] With Warwick, whose income soon skyrocketed from £3,900 to £15,000 a year,[liii] and Fauconberg, who had been promoted Admiral of England in 1462, Edward was in firm control of the seas and reaping great profit from the wool and cloth trade. Edward used these regal incomes to begin repaying the vast outstanding national debt that had worsened under Henry VI. Upon his death in 1483 Edward had repaid £97,000 to London and Italian bankers.[liv]
Campaign in the North, 1464. Map 5 from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485 (2017).
Although the dynastic war in England now entered a period of relative calm, political developments on the continent conspired to keep the flame of civil strife alive. Charles VII of France died on 22 July 1461 and was succeeded by Louis XI, from whom the defeated and impoverished Margaret now sought whatever support she could gain. Louis’ main political ambitions were to secure Burgundy and Brittany for France, and he perceived Margaret’s request for support as a chance to destabilize relations between England and Burgundy,[lv] thus opening an avenue for French intervention. In England, after spending the early 1460s quashing Lancastrian rebellion, Edward IV had indeed intended to cultivate closer relations with Burgundy, whose merchants controlled the cloth trade throughout Belgium and Holland. Edward IV was a fan of everything Burgundian and in fact modelled his court and army on the Burgundian pattern.
Louis XI of France
Granted a small force financed by Louis, in exchange for forfeiting Calais, Margaret now sailed from Normandy and landed, after tribulations caused by the weather, in Northumberland, where she began once again to consolidate her position.
Warwick and Edward IV soon arrived with a large army, and Margaret, with nowhere near enough forces to oppose them, was forced to retreat to Scotland. On 24 December 1462 Somerset changed sides by agreement with Warwick.[lvi] In spring 1463 the Lancastrians sallied forth from Scotland to invest castles in Northumberland, beginning with Bamburgh where Sir Ralph Percy opened the gates, and on 1 May Margaret secured Alnwick Castle, where Sir Ralph Grey turned to her side. Again Warwick marched north with an army and again Margaret was forced to flee, now seeking to make her way, with the Duke of Exeter and Sir John Fortescue, to Burgundy where she intended to plead with Phillip for support.[lvii] Although Phillip warily agreed to meet her, and paid her a gift of gold, he could not endorse her efforts and sent her instead to Bruges to be entertained by his son Charles. Margaret eventually traveled to meet her father, Rene of Anjou, who granted her a small stipend of 6,000 crowns per annum, reducing somewhat her financial straits.[lviii] In December 1463 Somerset again defected, and traveled to the Anjou court at Bar where he rejoined Margaret.
In the north Henry VI was rallying his forces, including Humphrey Neville, Roos, Hungerford, Sir Ralph Grey and Sir Ralph Percy, who were then rejoined by Somerset after his voyage to the continent. Sir Ralph Percy, however, was trapped and killed in battle by Montague’s men on 25 April 1464 at Hedgeley Moor.[lix] Montague then rode to York where he met Scottish envoys and with them secured a 15 year truce, another blow to the Lancastrian cause.[lx]
Montague finally caught up with Somerset and defeated him at Hexham, 15 May 1464. The Duke was beheaded upon capture, amongst others condemned by Montagu and John Tiptoft, the Constable of England, including Roos, Robert Hungerford, Sir Philip Wentworth, Sir Thomas Finderne, Sir Edmund Fish, Sir William Tailboys, and Sir Ralph Grey.[lxi] Warwick captured Alnwick Castle on 23 June and Montague was promoted Earl of Northumberland.[lxii]
Harlech Castle today. The last Lancastrian stronghold after the 1464 campaign.
Only Harlech Castle in Wales now remained in Lancastrian hands. Edward IV appointed Lord Herbert constable of Harlech, entrusting him with persecuting and concluding the siege of that place, which finally fell in 1468.[lxiii] In 1465 Henry VI, until then hiding in various rebel settlements in the north, was captured and brought to London for imprisonment in the Tower.[lxiv]
Elizabeth Wydville (Woodville), wife of Edward IV and Queen of England. John Faber Sr., early 18th c. & from Queen’s College Cambridge.
Edward, with the Lancastrian cause crushed and Henry VI once again his prisoner, returned to the pursuit of his pet-project: an alliance with Burgundy. This was an annoyance for Warwick, still the most powerful man in the country, who supported Louis XI of France. Warwick’s power had been encroached upon by the rising Wydville (Woodville) family, to whom Edward was intimately connected through his marriage to Elizabeth Wydville in May 1464.[lxv] In 1466 Edward dismissed Warwick’s uncle, Lord Mountjoy, who had been Treasurer of England, and replaced him with Richard Wydville, Elizabeth’s father, who Edward also promoted to Earl Rivers. This was a particular insult to Warwick, who had once captured Wydville during the upstart’s career as a Lancastrian.[lxvi]
In October of that year, despite Warwick’s opposition, Edward IV and Philip of Burgundy reached an understanding. A number of trade barriers were cleared between the English and Flanders merchants, and certain protections were granted for Channel shipping. These entirely sensible proposals were certain to alienate Warwick, whose income was always supplemented by tacitly acknowledged Channel piracy.[lxvii] In 1467 Warwick hatched a scheme wherein his two daughters, Isabel and Anne, would marry Edward’s brothers, the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester. Edward, wary of Warwick’s effort to gain royal power for the Neville family, continued to pursue his Burundian alliance, at last concluded in November 1467. Philip of Burgundy had been succeeded by Charles the Bold that June. Another diplomatic success was scored the following spring through alliance with Brittany.
This progress with Burgundy and increase of the Wydvilles was deeply frustrating to Warwick, who was still keen to see England allied with France.[lxviii] In retaliation for Edward IV’s support for Burgundy and Britany, Louis XI agreed to finance the Earl Pembroke, Jasper Tudor, so that he could return to England and assemble a Lancastrian army. After landing in Wales Pembroke began his march towards Harlech Castle, intending to raise Edward’s four year-long marathon siege. Unfortunately for the Lancastrians, Harlech fell on 14 August 1468 and so Pembroke’s rebellion was halted before it could truly get underway.[lxix] With Louis XI now openly supporting the Lancastrians, Parliament granted Edward IV £62,000 in 1469 to finance an invasion of France.[lxx]
By late 1468 Warwick, “bitterly vexed” in Charles Oman’s phrase,[lxxi] had exhausted his patience with Edward, and thus began to turn against the Plantagenet King he had done so much to install.[lxxii] Edward continued to purge potential sources of Lancastrian support, and in January 1469 Henry Courtenay and Thomas Hungerford were both tried as traitors and condemned to death. Sir Richard Roos was able to sneak out a coded message to the Earl of Oxford, entreating the Lancastrians to rally with Warwick against Edward.[lxxiii] Warwick, along with Oxford and Clarence – Edward IV’s brother who Warwick still planned to marry to his daughter Isabel – retired to Calais where they could negotiate with Louis and organize their planned coup against Edward. Warwick clearly intended to reverse his decline under Edward by loading the deck in favour of Lancaster – a weak cause he could control. On 11 July Clarence was married to Isabel, and the following day Warwick issued a manifesto decrying Edward’s supporters.[lxxiv]
Warwick landed in Kent on 16 July 1469 and quickly rallied a sizeable force. He marched on London with ease and entered the city on 20 July. Edward was at this time in the north. The Earl of Pembroke (York: William Herbert, ie, not Jasper Tudor) meanwhile, supported by the Earl of Devon, rallied forces to confront a small rebel group led by Robin of Redesdale while they were enroute to joining Edward at Nottingham. Pembroke forced a bridgehead over the River Cherwell and was then joined by Sir William Parr and Sir Geoffrey Gate. Not long afterwards, however, they spotted the vanguard of Warwick’s force approaching. Devon promptly deserted to join Warwick and a battle ensued that the Yorkists were winning, but the tide turned when Warwick arrived personally with his main force and scattered Pembroke’s remaining forces.[lxxv] William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, was captured as a result, and he and his brother were both condemned to death by the all conquering Warwick.[lxxvi]
Infographic near battle-site describing the Battle of Edgecote, 26 July 1469.
Warwick’s army caught up with Edward IV on 2 August and in a major coup the King was captured. With Edward IV in his custody, Warwick now attempted to summon Parliament so as to justify his blatant usurpation, but was forced to cancel this summons not long afterwards. While these arrangements were being made Warwick cleaned house, exacting revenge on the detested Wydville family on 12 August by condemning to death Sir John Wydville, and Lord Rivers, respectively Queen Elizabeth Wydville’s father and brother. Warwick’s raw displays of power caused chaos, a situation that was exploited in the north by Humphrey Neville of Brancepeth, who raised a pro-Lancastrian rebellion. Warwick marched to suppress this revolt but in doing so was forced to agree to liberate Edward IV. Edward was soon joined by his loyalists and Warwick had no choice but to set him free, whence the King returned to London. Although the Lancastrian rebellion was crushed and Humphrey Neville captured and beheaded, Warwick’s power had been exposed for what it was – a flagrant appropriation of the King’s authority driven essentially by the Earl’s lust for power.[lxxvii]
Edward pardoned both Clarence and Warwick, but the action during 1469 had destroyed Warwick’s position as the arbiter of the realm. Edward feigned forgiveness for the Kingmaker but wasted little time isolating him. Warwick now had only one card left to play, namely, to somehow depose Edward IV and promote Clarence as King. In the meantime the King appointed his 17 year-old brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to set out for Wales and suppress any rebellion found there.[lxxviii]
Warwick for his part set about fomenting rebellion while maintaining a façade of loyalty. By March 1470 Warwick had convinced Sir Robert Welles to lead a rebellion with the objective of deposing Edward in favour of Clarence, although the rebels themselves were clearly unaware that they were being used as pawns in Warwick’s game, being led to believe that they were supporting the cause of Henry VI.[lxxix] Edward took this affair seriously – it could have been the prelude to a French invasion – and brought his artillery with him to Stamford, where he ordered the execution of Lord Welles, Sir Robert’s father, to demonstrate his intention to quash the rebellion. In the ensuing battle at Empingham the rebels were decimated by Edward’s artillery, and the rebel leaders, Welles, de la Lande and Dymoke were all captured and executed.[lxxx]
Edward, his position now more secure, on 24 March denounced Warwick and Clarence as traitors. The two conspirators ignored Edward’s royal summons and instead made for the coast. Although Warwick’s ships were soon captured, the two outlaws were nevertheless able to depart from Exeter on 3 April.[lxxxi] Warwick and Clarence arrived off Honfleur on 1 May and on 8 June were given an audience with King Louis. Warwick was convinced by Louis that his best chance of recovering his position was through Margaret and Henry VI, who Warwick now agreed to support.[lxxxii] To sweeten the deal, Anne, Warwick’s younger daughter, would marry Edward Lancaster, Henry VI’s son, and in the interim Warwick would become Regent and Governor of England, a pattern that had played out under York and Bedford before him. On 25 July Edward Lancaster was betrothed to Anne Neville.[lxxxiii]
A Burgundian and English blockade was dispersed by storm and Warwick, Jasper Tudor, with Oxford and Clarence, returned to England. Edward was in Yorkshire suppressing rebellion and marshalling his forces when, on 13 September 1470, Warwick’s fleet landed his army at Dartmouth and Plymouth.[lxxxiv]
Warwick quickly assembled a large force estimated at between 30,000 and 60,000, joined by Lord Stanley and the Earl of Shrewsbury. Edward was at this point betrayed by Lord Montague, and realizing he now no longer possessed any chance of confronting Warwick on even terms, the King fled to Norfolk where, on 30 September, with Gloucester and Hastings, he departed for Burgundian Holland. On 6 October Warwick and his force entered London and promptly restored Henry VI, who had been confined to the Tower since his capture several years prior, and proclaimed him their lawful King.[lxxxv] The Earl of Oxford bore Henry’s Sword of State at the King’s ceremonial restoration on 13 October.[lxxxvi] The hated Tiptoft was captured and executed – a trial overseen by the 13th Earl of Oxford – being replaced as Treasurer by John Langstrother.[lxxxvii] Jasper Tudor arrived at Hereford where he liberated Henry Tudor, 13, who was now brought to London to meet Henry VI before he returned to Wales. With Warwick’s powerful support the Lancastrian cause was once again riding high. Edward’s usurpation was declared invalid, and all of the titles issued by him were revoked, including that of his brother Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.
Rogier van der Weyden’s c. 1460 portrait of Charles the Bold. Charles was defeated and killed at the Battle of Nancy, 5 January 1477.
Having toppled the pro-Burgundian Yorkists, Louis XI now took advantage of his position and declared war against Burgundy, hoping to drag England along with him. Warwick had no choice but to support the French alliance, which unfortunately for the Lancastrian cause imperilled London’s business interests. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, immediately agreed to finance Edward IV’s return to the English throne.[lxxxviii]
On 2 March 1471 Edward departed Flushing in his flagship the Anthony, and although supported by a fleet of 36 Burgundian and Hanseatic ships, was denied a landing on 12 March at Norfolk due to the Earl of Oxford’s presence, and so landed two days later at Ravenspur, Yorkshire.[lxxxix]
Edward entered York on 18 March and was soon at the head of an army significant enough to confront Warwick, who had hastened with an army to Leicester. Edward confronted Warwick at Coventry, but Warwick refused to accept Edward’s challenges. Edward eventually withdrew, despatching a covering force to block Oxford at Leicester, who was marching to join Warwick. Oxford’s force was defeated on 3 April.[xc] Clarence, encouraged by Burgundy and Gloucester, now betrayed Warwick and deserted to Edward with as many as 12,000 men.
Margaret meanwhile prepared her army (Fortescue, Wenlock, Morton, and 3,000 French knights) and sailed from Harfleur on 24 March.[xci]
Death of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, 14 April 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript. & 1885 lithograph of Warwick’s defeat.
Map of Barnet from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)
Edward marched to the capital and entered London. Warwick’s brother, the Archbishop Neville of York, facilitated Edward’s entry into the city.[xcii] Edward, after restoring himself to the crown, secured Henry VI and departed London with the army, intending to intercept Warwick. The two forces met at Barnet on 14 April, Warwick with 20,000 – 30,000 men, Edward IV with perhaps 10,000. The King commanded the center, 18 year-old Gloucester the right and Hastings the left.[xciii] Warwick’s center was commanded by Somerset, Oxford and Montagu took the right, while Exeter, supported by Warwick himself, held the left.[xciv] Both sides possessed a number of hand-gunners and cannon, with Warwick holding a slight advantage in artillery. In the ensuing battle, in which both Edward and Warwick fought on foot, a highly confused state of affairs developed due to mist that covered the field. Both Oxford and Gloucester won their respective flank battles, while Montague was killed and the Yorkist forces launched a devastating cavalry charge that broke the Lancastrian lines. Warwick, attempting to flee, was overrun and killed. Nearly 1,000 Lancastrians were killed to 500 Yorkists, including Lord Cromwell, Lord Say, Humphrey Bourchier, Sir John Paston and others.[xcv] Oxford, although he personally fought well, had “pursued recklessly” according to Charles Oman, and failed to tightly control his division, which at least partly contributed to the chaos in the Lancastrian lines that produced the defeat at Barnet.[xcvi] The Earl now fled to Scotland, but was captured several years later. He would yet play an unexpected and decisive role in the rebellion against Richard III.
Unfortunately for Queen Margaret the demise of her principal champion, Warwick, was unbeknownst when she landed with Prince Edward at Weymouth, where they were joined by Jasper Tudor (Pembroke) and the Earls of Devonshire, Courtney and the Duke of Somerset. Edward IV, immediately changing gears following his victory over Warwick, left Windsor Castle on 23 April to seek out Margaret and destroy her. After a long and exhausting chase Edward’s army confronted Margaret at Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. Somerset led the Lancastrian army, and commanded the right wing. Prince Edward under Wenlock took the center, and Devon the left. Edward IV commanded the Yorkist center himself, with Gloucester, now Constable of England, the left, and Hastings the right.
Tewkesbury approach from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)
Field sketch from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002) & Battle of Tewkesbury, 4 May 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript.
The two armies were very nearly matched, about 5,000 strong, although Edward, who had captured Warwick’s artillery, by far possessed the larger train of gunpowder weapons. Gloucester led the Yorkists forward, developing a heavy fire with arrows and cannon and then feigned a retreat. Somerest ordered a charge but was soon caught in the trap and surrounded. Wenlock refused to move in support and Somerset’s men were destroyed. Managing to escape and return to the Lancastrian lines, Somerset located Wenlock and, in a fit of anger, killed him.[xcvii] Gloucester and King Edward meanwhile led a devastating charge that routed the Lancastrians, leaving 2,000 of their enemy slain on the field.
The Earl of Devonshire and Lord Wenlock were dead, as was John Beaufort, Sir Walter Courtenay, Sir William Vaux, Sir Robert Wittingham, Sir William Roos and Sir Edmund Hampden.[xcviii] The Duke of Somerset was captured and, under the auspices of the Gloucester, beheaded along with a dozen others on 6 May.[xcix] Prince Edward was either killed on the field, or captured and then murdered by the Dukes of Clarence, Gloucester, Lord Hastings and Sir Thomas Gray.
Beheading of Somerset, 6 May 1471, at King Edward’s orders.
Margaret was captured by Lord Stanley, and when Edward IV returned to London on 21 May, she was confined to the Tower. King Henry VI, 50 years old, son of Henry V, his cause utterly lost, was now murdered at Edward’s behest, possibly by 19 year-old Richard, Duke of Gloucester.[c] Whatever happened, it should be noted that in 1484 Richard, now Richard III, ordered Henry VI’s reburial at Windsor.[ci]
Pembroke and Henry Tudor, the exiled Earl of Richmond, were now the last remaining Lancastrian loyalists alive and at liberty, and for this reason they quickly fled to Brittany. Henry Tudor, upon whom the remainder of the civil war now focused, had a claim that derived initially from two sources: his mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the daughter of John Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, descendant of John of Gaunt, and therefore Tudor’s mother was the great-great granddaughter of Edward III. In 1455 at the age of 12 she was married to Edmund Tudor, son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, the former Queen of England and France. Edmund Tudor died in 1456 and Margaret gave birth on 27 January 1457 (at age 13) to Henry, her only son.[cii]
Jean de Waurin presenting his book to Edward IV, c. 1470-80. The figure at the bottom left wearing the Garter is believed to represent Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999). Edward IV’s court was noted for his patronage of printing, a rapidly expanding industry in 1470s England. See John Harvey, The Plantagenets (1972), p. 203
In England Edward IV was, for the moment, again triumphant, all his enemies having been crushed or driven before him. Henry VI and Warwick were dead and Margaret, her son killed and his claim extinguished, was imprisoned in the Tower. Edward, joined in alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, now prepared for his much delayed war with France. In 1475 Edward landed at Calais with an army of 1,500 men-at-arms and 15,000 archers. Burgundy did not uphold his end of the agreement, however, and when Edward marched to confront Louis, the latter agreed to terms that effectively paid off Edward, with the promise of money and marriage of the Dauphin to Edward’s daughter. Louis also agreed to pay Queen Margaret’s ransom, and she was released from the Tower and returned to France where she eventually died in 1482. Charles the Duke of Burgundy, for his part, foolishly struggled against the Swiss and then the French until he was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. Louis promptly invaded and conquered Burgundy, a pivotal event in the national formation of France that likewise pushed the Netherlands towards Austria’s sphere of influence. The rump of Dutch Burgundy was swallowed by Maximillian I.
Albrecht Durer’s 1519 portrait of Maximilian I, son of Emperor Frederick III, and husband of Mary, Charles the Bold’s only daughter, inheritor of the Burgundian estates.
Edward and Richard meanwhile consolidated their power. The Duke of Clarence was condemned to death by Parliamentary vote and forced to commit suicide in 1478.[ciii] Richard, accompanied by the Duke of Albany, invaded Scotland in 1481 and won a decisive victory at Berwick. The final phase of this century-long drama opens with Edward IV’s death in 1483 at the age of 42, leaving his two young sons, Edward, the Prince of Wales, and Richard Plantagenet. Edward, at age 13, thus became Edward V, although not yet crowned, and within three months he was deposed by his Regent and Protector, Richard of Gloucester.
Edward V was protected by the Earl of Rivers, who, at the time of the King’s death, had been campaigning in Wales. Both parties now set out for London, with Gloucester departing York whence he was joined by the Duke of Buckingham. Edward and Rivers were caught at Stony Stratford and, together with Sir Richard Gray and Sir Thomas Vaughan, were arrested by Richard’s authority.
Edward IV’s wife, the Queen Elizabeth, with her supporters and the young Duke of York, fled to Westminster Abbey when Gloucester entered London. The Queen however was soon compelled to turn over both herself and her son, and once these personages were secured, Gloucester ordered the execution of Rivers, Gray and Vaughan, who were despatched by the authority of Lord Hastings.[civ] Richard than struck the Wydvilles and Warwick’s brother-in-law, Lord Stanley, on 13 June 1483. As the purges accelerated Hastings was brought before Richard and condemned for treason, paying the usual toll for that offense. Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Ely, were all imprisoned in the Tower. Edward IV’s sons were soon murdered.[cv]
In the course of a few weeks what effectively amounted to a dynastic coup was orchestrated and, with the support of the Duke of Buckingham, Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III. The deaths of Edward Lancaster, Henry VI, Edward V and his brother, made it clear that Richard would stop at nothing, including regicide, to achieve power. He was soon known as one of the most infamous tyrants in Europe.[cvi]
Richard III surrounded himself with supporters. Lord Thomas Howard was created Duke of Norfolk, his son Sir Thomas Howard, was made Earl of Surrey. Lord Lovel was made Viscount, and Lord Stanley was made Steward of the Household. Buckingham regained several estates and was promoted to Constable.
Henry Stafford, Second Duke of Buckingham, by William Sherlock, 18th C.
Buckingham, like so many others in this story of civil strife, soon changed sides and vowed to support the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, who was then living under the custody of the Duke of Brittany. In November 1483 Tudor’s party had attempted a landing, with six ships and 390 Breton soldiers, but was delayed due to bad weather and forced to return to Brittany.
On 24 December 1483 Henry was pledged into marriage with the Princess Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, a marriage that would effectively unite the claims of Lancaster and York under the Tudor name. Thus, in his person, after more than a century, the old dilemma of which of the descendants of Edward III would inherit the crown was solved. All Henry Tudor now had to do was land in Wales, gather up support, defeat Richard, and march on London.
Richard III continued his tyrannical regime, brutally centralizing power through the execution of Buckingham, who was confronted by Richard and charged with treason, on 2 November 1483. Richard summoned parliament in 1484 to formalize his kingship, hoping to appoint his young son Edward as Prince of Wales. Edward did not live long, however, and died at age 10 in April 1484.
In March of that year, to prevent another attempt by Henry, Richard ordered Lord Scrope, with Arundel’s son, to patrol the Channel,[cvii] and Lord Bergavenny was ordered to sea in the spring of 1485, likewise with orders to prevent invasion.[cviii] Richard was also pressuring Brittany to turn over Henry. On 16 May 1485 Anne Neville, the mother of Richard’s son Edward, died. She may have been murdered so that Richard could arrange his marriage to the Princess Elizabeth, his niece, upon whom the legitimacy of the Yorkist claims were focused.[cix] However, it is also possible Richard was attempting to foist off Elizabeth on Portugal in exchange for a royal marriage and that Anne died of natural causes.[cx]
Stained glass depiction of Richard III and Anne Neville from Cardiff castle, & Late 16th c. painting of Richard III. From Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses, (2017), & Richard III and Queen Anne from St. Stephen’s Hall statues, New Palace of Westminster
Castle Nottingham, the stronghold nearest to Richard’s HQ at Bestwood Lodge, from whence he summoned his retainers, prior to marching to Leicester to intercept Henry Tudor.
In the summer of 1485 Richard was planning to raise a force to support Brittany against France, however, Charles VIII arranged a truce with Brittany on 9 August 1485. Richard, expecting a French landing, had been waiting in Nottingham since 22 June. Henry Tudor was on his way, having set out from Harfleur and/or Honfleur on 31 July – 1 August, to land at in Wales at Milford Haven six days later.[cxi]
Tudor, and his small but determined and experienced army, landed at Milford Haven on 7 August 1485.
Part Three: Battle at Bosworth, 22 August 1485
Battles of the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, loc. 312
Reconstruction of Richard & Henry’s forces, specifying the various nobility brought by each region and including the Stanley’s, who ultimately sided with Henry, but not including Tudor’s 2,000 French & Scottish mercenaries. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 389 et seq.
The Forces of Richard III
19th c. etching of the Rous Roll, also showing Queen Anne & original 1483 illumination of Richard III showing the king in Gothic armour.
London granted Richard £2,000 for protection of the realm and raised 3,178 men to guard the capital while the King set out to confront Henry Tudor.[cxii] With action imminent, Richard ordered the Great Seal to be brought to him, and so it was delivered on 1 August in the presence of the Archbishop of York – John the Earl of Lincoln – Lord Scrope, Lord Strange and John Kendall, Richard’s secretary.[cxiii] On 11 August Richard was informed of Henry’s landing and the King now issued summons to his nobles to join him, beginning with Northumberland, and including Sir Robert Brackenbury, Constable of the Tower and keeper of the Royal artillery, and John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, plus Henry Vernon and others.[cxiv]
Oddly, until this point, Richard had waited to assemble his army, and instead of relying on the mass shire-levy, preferred summoning veterans he could trust. As he had learned at Barnet, 14 years before, ill-disciplined conscripts could be as much of a burden as they were a numerical advantage. The late feudal system of pay for English levies relied on small groups raised for only a few weeks.
Richard needed only to send out writs of summons and his lords would arrange themselves. Of these major peers, so critical to his cause, Richard assembled certainly seven or more at Bosworth: Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, commanding the rearguard, his retinue in 1475 had consisted of 9 knights, 51 men-at-arms and 350 archers. John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, whose military capacity in 1484 was between 760 – 1,000 men, commanded the vanguard.[cxv] Also present was Norfolk’s son, the Earl of Surrey, plus Richard’s nephew, the Earl of Lincoln, with Francis the Viscount Lovell, Baron Walter Devereux, John Lord Zouche of Haringworth and Lord Ferres of Chartley, the last who in 1475 had raised 20 men at arms and 200 archers.[cxvi]
John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, commanded Richard III’s vanguard, the right wing, while Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, commanded the left, rearguard.
Six others may have been present: the Earl of Westmoreland (Ralph Neville), the Earl of Shrewsbury (George Talbot), Baron John Tuchet (Lord Audley), Lord Grey of Codnor – 20 men-at-arms, 160 archers in 1475, Lord Scrope of Bolton – 20 men-at-arms, 200 archers in 1475, and Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham.[cxvii] Individual knights were accounted as anyone owning a single manor, or £5 per annum, to more than a dozen properties valued at £100 per annum, as was the case amongst small barons.[cxviii] These knights and gentry typically brought with them a collection of ean-at-arms and two or three dozen archers. A man-at-arms was usually paid 12d a day.[cxix]
Knight and squire, 1435 by Konrad Witz.
The Stanleys, who would play a critical role in the battle, can also be accounted based on their contributions to Edward IV’s 1475 French expedition. At that time Lord Stanley marshalled 40 men-at-arms and 300 archers while his brother, Sir William Stanley, provided 3 men-at-arms and 20 archers. At Bosworth it is likely they had marshalled somewhere around 1,000 soldiers, arranged in two battles, or sections, each.[cxx]
Richard’s household establishment numbered 600 various servants, significantly including 50 picked knights, 108 esquires, and 138 Royal Yeomen (bowmen and archers).[cxxi] These knights comprised Richard’s bodyguard and headquarters and included Thomas Dalande, in charge of tents and pavilions, Sir Robert Percy, controller of the household, and Sir Ralph Bigod of Yorkshire.[cxxii] Sir Juan Salazar, a Basque knight, was in the service of Maximilian of Hapsburg and accompanied Richard as a foreign ambassador.[cxxiii] Salazar may also have commanded a small contingent of Flemish mercenaries.[cxxiv]
The King’s contingents originated from Yorkshire, Norfolk, and the North. Richard had little time for his summons to be fulfilled after Henry’s landing, and the support of certain magnates, including the Stanleys, was suspect. Henry’s strongest echelons came from Wales, the Midlands, and Oxfordshire.
The Forces of Henry Tudor
Henry was joined by John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, in November 1484 to begin planning for the next invasion. Charles VIII, to make the planned invasion legitimate, on 12 May 1485 promoted Tudor to Princeps Angli, with rank in the French royalty after the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon and Lorraine.[cxxv]
Charles VIII was eager to leverage Henry Tudor’s claim to negate Richard III’s scheming in Brittany. Henry was thus financed by a grant of £4,400 (40,000 livres) after Charles’ formal entry into Rouen with Henry on 14 April 1485. In the event Charles, strapped for cash, was only able to pay £1,100 upfront and Henry was forced to loan a further £3,300 (30,000 livres) from Philippe Luilllier, Captain of the Bastille.[cxxvi]
The expedition force was soon assembled, the core being composed of nearly 2,000 soldiers, mainly French and Scottish mercenaries. The French-financed and Lancastrian-backed force included a mix of professionals, trained in the Swiss pike style that Charles VIII was to use in his Italian campaigns a decade hence.[cxxvii] Henry also had his share of freebooters, Channel pirates, and hired swords, such as the rebellious knights, Sir Robert Willoughby, Edmund Hampden, and Sir Richard Edgecumbe [cxxviii] Henry’s retinue was composed of the 300 to 500 elites who supported his claim to the throne.[cxxix]
Charles VIII of France.
The most powerful echelon in Henry’s army was under the command of the Earl of Oxford, who was a kind of 15th century English Odysseus. Described by one historian as a “tactical genius” and “wily and experienced” by another, Oxford’s role at Bosworth was of decisive importance.[cxxxi] [cxxx] Following his imprisonment in the Tower during 1468 for suspected loyalties to the Lancastrians, not surprising since Edward IV had ordered the execution of his father and brother in February 1462,[cxxxii] Oxford had in fact, after a pardon granted for a confession, sided with Warwick and Clarence in 1469.[cxxxiii] John de Vere had married Warwick’s sister Margaret, and so his fortunes were intimately connected with both the Lancastrian and Neville causes.[cxxxiv]
Oxford commanded a wing at Barnet and, after Warwick’s demise, led pirate raids against Edward IV’s shipping in the Channel.[cxxxv] Wounded in the face by an arrow while besieged at St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, he surrendered to John Fortescue on 15 February 1474 and was shortly thereafter imprisoned at Hammes Castle outside Calais. Although imprisoned in relative comfort, the Earl’s fortune seemed to have reached a nadir. In early October 1484 he escaped with the aid of his gaoler, Sir James Blount, so that both could join Henry the following month. Not a moment too soon in fact as Richard’s agent William Bolton arrived at Hammes on 28 October with orders to collect Oxford for re-imprisonment in England.[cxxxvi] Oxford, free again at the age of 43 and with a powerful vendetta against Richard, was now appointed by a grateful Henry Tudor to command the vanguard.
Shortly before Bosworth, Oxford was joined by Sir Gilbert Talbot, Sir John Savage, “that hardy knight” with Sir Humphrey Stanley, Sir Robert Tunstall, Sir Hugh Persall, “with shield and spear” amongst others.[cxxxvii] These were all actually Lord Thomas Stanley’s retainers, who had joined Tudor the day before the battle when the Stanley’s met with Henry at Atherstone.[cxxxviii] These were key reinforcements as Oxford needed experienced captains to take command of his various contingents. Talbot, with 500 men, was given the right, while Savage took the left.
Other late joiners included Sir Richard Corbet, who brought 800 men, accompanied by Roger Acton.[cxxxix] Thomas Croft arrived with a contingent from Herefordshire, John Hanley one from Worcester, and Robert Pointz led men from Gloucestershire.[cxl] Also present were Lord John Wells, Henry Tudor’s uncle, and Edward Wydville, Elizabeth of York’s brother, “a most valiant knight.” Others named in the Croyland Chronicle are William Berkeley, Thomas Arundel, Edward Poynings and Richard Guilford.[cxli]
A Scottish contingent of perhaps a thousand men, primarily longbowmen, was led by John de Coningham, but also included knights, under Sir Alexander Bruce, and men-at-arms under Captain Henderson, son of Robert Henderson.[cxlii] Henry’s Welsh contingent, more than a thousand strong, included Rhys ap Thomas, “with a goodly bande of Welshmen” according to Holinshed, plus Arnold Butler, Richard ap Gruffydd, Rhys ap Maredudd, John Morgan of Tredegar and others.[cxliii]
Henry was not interested in simply assuming the mantel of the Lancastrians in their essentially lost-cause struggle with York, but rather in uniting both houses under his personal, Tudor, leadership. As a result the Tudor cause became the haven not only for old Lancastrian defenders but also for anyone displeased with Richard III’s tumultuous rule.[cxliv] John Mortimer, one of Richard’s esquires, defected to join Henry. Likewise, Thomas Bourgchier and Walter Hungerford, hostages held by Sir Robert Brackenbury, escaped imprisonment on 20 August to join with Henry.[cxlv] The night before the battle Brian Sandford, Simon Digby and John Savage “the younger” deserted from Richard’s army, with their fighters, to join the Tudor army.[cxlvi] A number of banished clergy and clerks were also present, including Peter, Bishop of Exeter, Master Robert Morton, Clerk of the Rolls of Chancery, Christopher Urswyk, afterwards Henry’s almoner, and Richard Fox, afterwards Henry’s secretary.[cxlvii] From these high-profile desertions it should be clear that Richard’s support was waning even before he took to the field.
Henry and the Earl of Pembroke, for their part, fought on foot, behind the battle line. Henry’s standards were prominently displayed, both the banner of St. George and the Red Dragon of Cadwallader.[cxlviii] While he was still making preparations in France, Henry ordered William Bret, his merchant in London, to purchase six sets of armour, 12 brigandines (mail coats) and 24 sallets (helmets), to provide Henry and his guard with appropriate English armour upon their landing.[cxlix]
Henry’s army could have been supplied with cannon by the French,[cl] although his quick moving amphibious force was reliant on infantry rather than guns or cavalry. At any rate, had he wanted cannon, Henry could have raided the Calais garrison, which included 233 guns then under the command of Sir James Tyrell.[cli] Shortly after Bosworth one Sir Richard Guildford, who had traveled with Henry during the campaign, was made master of ordnance, suggesting his probable role in command of whatever artillery Henry did possess.[clii] A. H. Burne pointed out that the rate of Henry’s march slowed after he reached Lichfield, and this may have been from collecting heavier cannon (and other reinforcements) as the army advanced.[cliii] Whatever the case it is certain that Henry’s artillery was far outnumbered by Richard’s.
Roads in England, c. 15th century.
The exact location of the battlefield has been a subject of controversy in the historiography. By 2004 the probable location based on archaeological recoveries and historical analysis, in particular of early modern maps, narrowed the probable battle location to a 6 km survey area.
The approach of the Tudor and Yorkist armies in 1485. Henry Tudor’s approach (red) from his Calais – Wales landing, Lord Stanley (green) joining him. Richard marches from Nottingham (blue), his forces assembling in Leicester.
Brackenberry marches from London with Richard’s artillery, Howard comes from Kent, and Percy from the north to join Richard at Leicester. Henry lands near Pembroke and is joined by Welsh supporters before arriving at Shrewbury and marching inland. Richard moves to intercept Henry before he can advance on the capital. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388
On 19 – 20 August Richard moved to Leicester as his force continued to assemble. It was at this time that Henry Tudor met with Sir William Stanley, no doubt to discuss the Stanley’s potential support in the coming battle. Henry’s army, about 5,000 strong, had been marching 16 miles a day (Henry V averaged 14.5 miles per day between Harfleur and Agincourt), for over 225 miles, in the two weeks since their landing.[cliv] Richard’s scouts soon located Henry’s force and reported back to the King. On 21 August Richard marched his army, about 8,000 or 9,000 men, roughly twice that of Henry’s,[clv] to intercept Tudor as the pretender marched down the Roman road just north of Dadlington.
Both sides camped on the night of 21 August. Richard no doubt camped near or on Ambion Hill with at least part of his force. The Stanleys, in all probability, camped near Crown Hill from where they would be well positioned both to observe the battle and decide upon their moment of intervention. The following morning the Royal artillery and gunners were deployed so that they covered the Fenn Lane and approaches. It would be necessary for Henry to fight if he intended to continue his march towards London.
The probable battle locations within Leicestershire by 2005, survey by the Battlefield Trust.
Advance, Deployment & Contact
Approach phase map, Figure 8.1 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry (2013), also showing round shot scatter. See also, Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388
Townships in battle-area where Henry VII paid compensation incurred by his army’s movement, Figure 3.2 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry
Alternative version of the advance by Michael Jones, Bosworth, 1485: Psychology of a Battle (2014). & map by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.
View west from Sutton Cheney Ridge into Redemore basin, & looking north on Redemore from Crown Hill, Stoke Golding, photographs by Glenn Foard.
Field sketch by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.
This battle near Bosworth Market, although completely decisive, possesses an illusive quality. Tudor supporters suppressed information about Richard III after the battle, while Yorkists no longer had any reason to prove their allegiance to Richard through incriminating written documents. What can be pieced together is done so from various contemporaneous historical chroniclers, county records, and fragments of letters. Analysis of the battlefield, only in the last quarter decade, has added the crucial archaeological evidence. What is known is that Richard outnumbered Henry, although both sides produced comparable numbers of elites, knights and men-at-arms. Richard possessed a large artillery train including a great number of cannon of various kinds, although how much ammunition he had for these guns is questionable. Henry, although outnumbered and lacking in artillery and horses, had the advantage of possessing a more highly motivated and professional army. Henry’s commanders, crucially, proved to be a caliber above anyone willing to support the King.
Lord Stanley and his brother Sir William waited for their moment to intervene. Richard III certainly knew Stanley’s commitment was uncertain, most of all because Thomas, Lord Stanley, was married to Henry Tudor’s mother and was thus Tudor’s stepfather. Born c. 1433, Stanley had been made a squire by the time he was nine. The mercurial Stanley changed allegiance with the weather during the civil war. Although he initially supported Queen Margaret, his close family connections with the Yorkists soon drew him into Warwick’s orbit. Stanley supported Warwick when he turned against Edward IV in 1470, but was forgiven by Edward after the rebellion and even made Steward of the King’s Household later in 1471.[clvii] In 1475 Stanley collected 40 knights and 300 archers for the planned French campaign, and later took part in the re-conquest of Berwick from Scotland with Richard Duke of Gloucester in 1482.[clviii] Richard, to insure the Stanley’s loyalty, was holding Lord Strange, Thomas Stanley’s son, as a hostage. Stanley, as we have seen however, had already met with Henry Tudor and in fact loaned him several of his picked knights.
Richard, after deploying his intimidating yet disunited force, delivered a speech to encourage his men. The King had drawn up his army in a long line, with Norfolk on the right, in the vanguard, supported by the Earl of Shrewsbury, on the left, and Northumberland in the rear. The cannon were deployed along the line in their great variety, “seven scores Serpentines without doubt,” and “many bombards that were stout”.
Bicheno’s version of the approach, from Blood Royal
Richard’s potential deployment positions, Figure 8.2 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.
The Cannonade and Melee
Oxford’s opening charge and Richard’s cannonade. Bicheno suggests that Northumberland’s position was along the Fenn Lane road, from where he could screen the Stanleys.
What happened next is perhaps best described in Molinet’s Chroniques: “The king had the artillery of his army fire on the Earl of Richmond [Henry Tudor], and so the French, knowing by the king’s shot the lie of the land and the order of his battle, resolved, in order to avoid the fire, to mass their troops against the flank rather than the front of the king’s battle.”[clix]
At the critical moment Oxford’s compact vanguard developed its oblique attack against Richard’s flank, quickly closing the distance with Norfolk’s vanguard (Richard’s right wing).[clxii] Oxford, as Captain of Archers, led Henry’s left wing forward, approaching Richard’s lines while avoiding the worst of the King’s firepower.[clxi] Oxford’s concentrated longbow and infantry formation would have broken through the flank of Richard III’s extended defensive line. As Peter Hammond and others have pointed out, Oxford’s arrangement of his battle in close order was a continental technique that took advantage of a combined pike and halberd formation learned in France from the Swiss during their wars with the Burgundians.[clxiii]
A particularly ‘clean’ version of the battle, showing Richard’s position covering the Fenn Lane (Roman road), Oxford’s decisive flank attack around the King’s guns, and Richard’s desperate charge against Henry’s HQ beside the Fenn Hole marsh. Reproduced in Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (2010), Chapter 6, Map 3.
For roughly fifty years (1470-1520) the Swiss pike formations – like massed longbows a century prior – were the dominant paradigm of battle in central Europe.[clxiv] If Oxford, who had every reason to maintain tight control over his force given his experience at Barnet, had indeed formed his lead echelon into such a pike wedge, or similar formation, the Royalists opposing him would no doubt have been surprised by the dense mass attacking in this audacious manner. Whatever happened next, it is clear that Norfolk’s division was destroyed, his men fleeing. Norfolk was either slain in battle, or captured and killed in the ensuing pursuit, possibly by Sir John Savage near the Dadlington windmill.[clxv] Northumberland, either because of prior arrangement with Henry or because he was engaged screening Sir William Stanley, failed to relieve Norfolk in time.[clxvi]
Location of battle related finds: artifacts, bullets and round shot, from all eras. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 5, loc. 4050
Metal detectorist Simon Richardson, photographed by Glenn Foard while scanning the Bosworth survey area for the £154,000 Leicestershire County Council and Heritage Lottery Fund archaeological study.
A systematic metal detector survey, using the same methods as deployed in surveys of Towton (1461), as well as US and UK Civil War battlefields, was carried out between September 2005 – December 2010. The survey produced significant findings that firmly located the battlefield in the region Upton – Shenton – Dadlington – Stoke Golding, covering an area roughly 2 kms in size.
Projectiles recovered from the Bosworth battle site demonstrated a mixture of weapons, including guns and small cannon. Gun bullets are counted as those projectiles below 20 mm in size, and of the 251 lead or lead composite projectiles of all sizes recovered, it was determined that most of the smaller calibres originated from post-Bosworth dates, in particular, from a Civil War era cavalry skirmish that took place in 1644.
Distribution of bullets, coins and spurs originating from Civil War era, c. 1644
Distribution of medieval artillery shot, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 8.4, calibre in mm.
The larger projectiles, however, were found to represent ammunition for late 15th century cannon types. Of the 31 projectiles above 28 mm in size, 52% were of solid lead, 32% were of lead wrapped around a stone ball, and 16% were of lead wrapped around an iron cube or “dice” – all types favoured during the later 15th century but prior to the replacement of lead and stone with iron spheres in the 16th & 17th centuries.
15th c. handgunners, from Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, chapter 5.
19th century drawing of a 15th c. serpentine-type cannon
3D model of a 15th c. Burgundian muzzle-loading falconet, & diagram of 15th c. breech-loading cannon.
Calibre distribution of medieval era round-shot recovered from the Bosworth battlefield. Note the demi-culverin or saker ball at upper right. Figure 7.26 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.
Foard & Curry conclude, based on the analysis of the larger projectiles, that a number of unique muzzle and breech loading cannon were used at Bosworth, ranging from small 28.6 mm “base” guns, to 35 mm “robinet” guns, also in 38, 43, & 44 mm varieties, 56-58 mm “falconets“, 63 mm “falcons” (there were 31 in the Tower of London in 1495, and Henry VII ordered a further 28 in 1496-7), and at least one demi-culverin firing a 97 mm ball. English cannon from this period were primarily derived from Burgundian models, manufactured in Flanders and Brabant, Calais, and in England proper. See, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 7: Gunpowder Weapons, loc., 4641, 5408-5448 & Appendix One, Catalogue of Round Shot and Large Calibre Bullets
The various medieval artifacts recovered from the battlefield, including pendants, straps, buckles, buttons, spurs, studs and other military implements. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.
The 97mm shot recovered. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, various figures.
A Warrior’s Death
“Every man’s conscience is a thousand swords,
To fight against that bloody homicide.”
The Earl of Oxford, William Shakespeare’s Richard III
Map of Richard’s desperate charge, from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 390
Richard, with his cannon ineffective and Norfolk slain, was at this point desperate to secure the support of the Stanleys, but Lord Stanley made no indication that he was going to side with Richard. The King thus ordered the execution of Stanley’s son, his hostage, Lord Strange, although this was not in fact carried out. There had been a break in the fighting, either caused by a feigned retreat from Oxford or as a result of exhaustion after the action in which Norfolk was killed (pauses in battles were common at this time), and as a result a slight gap had opened on Henry’s right flank. It was now that Richard spotted Henry’s standard. Seizing the moment with the commitment of desperation, Richard led a cavalry charge against Henry’s guard.
At Barnet in 1471 Edward IV had won the day despite early setbacks with an audacious charge that Richard had been an instrumental figure in. No doubt also the memory of his father’s demise against insurmountable odds at Wakefield influenced Richard’s thinking at this moment. Richard and his bodyguard slipped around the right-hand side of Oxford’s battle, the flank covered by Sir Gilbert Talbot’s men. Sir Gilbert saw what was happening and attempted to block Richard’s charge, but his men were overrun, Talbot being injured in the process.[clxvii] Richard plowed into Henry’s guard, unhorsed Sir John Cheyne “a man of surpassing bravery” and killed Henry’s standard bearer, Sir William Brandon.[clxviii] Henry Tudor was out of reach, and behind Richard the trap was closed by Sir William Stanley. Pressed back against the Fenn Hole marsh with no chance of escape Richard’s guard was whittled down.
The King was at last unhorsed and then killed by a Welsh halberdier, perhaps one Thomas Woodshawe, later a member of Henry VII’s Yeomen of the Guard, or by Ralph Rudyard of Staffordshire,[clxix] or by someone in the retinue of baron Rhys ap Thomas, whose prominent role in the battle was recognized when Henry knighted him three days later.[clxx] One such individual was Rhys ap Maredudd, subsequently known as Rhys Fawr (the mighty), who was recorded as carrying Henry’s standard following the death of William Brandon.[clxxi] Richard’s retinue, including Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Thomas Pilkington, Thomas Gower, Thomas Markenfield, Alan Fulthorpe, William Conyers, Sir Robert Percy, Sir Robert Brackenbury, and John Kendell, were all slain in the fighting.[clxxii] With Richard slain there was now no longer any cause to fight for, and so the Royal army melted away.
In addition to the King and his guard, the Yorkist losses varied from a few hundred to more than a thousand, including the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Ferrars of Chartley. Sir William Catesby was captured and executed on 25 August while Henry was at Leicester, becoming the only senior Ricardian so condemned.[clxxiii] John, the Earl of Lincoln, along with Thomas, Earl of Surrey (Norfolk’s son), and Francis Viscount Lovell, managed to escape, although Surrey and Lincoln were rounded up when Catesby was captured and Northumberland surrendered to Henry after the battle. Some years later Northumberland was killed by an anti-Tudor mob.[clxxvii]
After the battle, Lord Stanley presented Henry Tudor with King Richard III’s crown, and the new King and his army advanced to Leicester with Richard’s body in tow. Richard was then buried at the Franciscan Greyfriars church after Henry VII departed Leicester three days later.
Greyfriar’s church (circled) in 15th century Leicester, location of the skeleton exhumed from the church ruins, beneath a modern carpark.
Skeleton believed to be that of Richard III.
On 4 September 2012 an excavation at the site of the Greyfriar’s church in Leicester exhumed a skeleton that was identified, after a battery of scientific tests, as almost certainly being that of Richard III. The skeleton was determined to be that of a 30 to 34 year-old male, who had been living most likely between 1450 and 1540. The skeleton was described by the team of scientists responsible for the investigation as, “an adult man with a gracile build and sever scoliosis of the thoracic…”[clxxiv] The cranium of the skeleton had received nine blows, with an additional two wounds to the body, these latter both being post-mortem blows to the pelvis. The blows to the skull included a sword blow through the back of the head. The scientists concluded that, due to the lack of defensive wounds, the skeleton had most likely still been armoured at the time of death, with the helmet crucially missing.
Skull of the skeleton suspected to be that of Richard III, showing fatal sword and halberd blows to the back of the head.
The findings suggest that Richard had been unhorsed, his helmet removed or lost, before he was overwhelmed by his enemies who proceeded to stab him to death, careful to leave his face un-damaged for later identification. Such was the end of the last Plantagenet King, that “child of a violent age” destined to become the last King of England killed in battle.[clxxv] Almost 419 years had passed since Harold Godwinson had been killed at the Battle of Hastings.
Lord Stanley presents Richard III’s crown, retrieved after the battle, to Henry VII, copy of 15th c. Castle Rushen tapestry.
The Tudor King
Painting of Henry VII by unknown Dutch artist, made in October 1505 by order of Herman Rink, agent of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Note the Tudor rose, combining both Lancastrian (red) and York (white). See also engraving, drawn by J. Robert.
Henry arrived outside the capital on 28 August and was formally welcomed into London on 3 September. On the 15th he summoned Parliament, to assemble on 7 November. Henry then issued a general pardon, on 24 September, with the exceptions of Sir Richard Radcliff, Sir James Harrington, Sir Robert Harrington, Sir Thomas Pilkington, Sir Thomas Broughton, Sir Robert Middleton, Thomas Metcalf and Miles Metcalfe.[clxxvi] Only 29 individuals, including Richard III, were dispossessed by attainder, a relatively low number that stressed Henry Tudor’s policy of reconciliation rather than revenge.
On 30 October Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Tudor married Elizabeth of York on 18 January 1486.
Elizabeth of York, 16th c. copy of 15th c. painting.
Spoils were distributed to the victors. Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, was promoted to Duke of Bedford. Sir William Stanley, whose timely intervention on 22 August had in all probability saved Henry Tudor’s life, was made Chamberlain of the King’s Household.[clxxviii] Thomas, Lord Stanley, was made Earl of Derby, and Edward Courtney the Earl of Devonshire.[clxxix] Chandos of Brittany was made Earl of Bath, Sir Giles Daubeny was made Lord Daubeny and Sir Robert Willoughby was promoted Lord Broke.[clxxx] John Morton was made Bishop of Ely and then Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Fox was promoted Bishop of Exeter and eventually Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester. Edward Stafford, Henry Stafford’s son, was returned to his title as Duke of Buckingham.
Oxford, whose “adroit leadership” in the oblique attack at Bosworth had made the Tudor dynasty possible, was promoted to Admiral of England and then Constable of the Tower.[clxxxi] The King would now be protected at the state’s expense, represented by the creation of the Yeomen of the Guard, 50 picked archers to attend to the King’s safety. The demise of Richard III was met with international approval and in 1486 Innocent VIII granted Henry VII a papal bull that verified all of his claims. Richard’s former supporters were denounced and demoted, but pardoned, except for the Earl of Surrey and the son of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV’s nephew, young Edward (Plantagenet), the Earl of Warwick, whose existence was dangerous to the Tudor claim and who was therefore imprisoned in the Tower. On 16 June 1487 the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor led the Royal army that annihilated the Earl of Lincoln’s rebellion in Edward Plantagenet’s name at Stoke Field. Edward, the last Plantagenet, was executed, after being condemned on 21 November 1499, by the Constable of the Tower, Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral, Sir John de Vere.[clxxxii]
John Rous (1420-1492), author of the History of the Kings of England, 18th c. engraving from 15th century illumination
Poet and chronicler Jean Molinet presents his translation of the Roman de la Rose to Philip of Cleves, c. 1500. Molinet wrote an important historical Chronique covering the years 1474 – 1504, as published in Paris in 1828.
Polydore Vergil wrote his Anglicae Historiae manuscript in 1512, which was later published in 1534.
The Croyland Chronicle & Continuations, record of the Benedictine Abbey of Croyland, Lincolnshire, published in 1908. The Second Continuation covers 1459-1486 and is suspected to have been written by John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln. The ruins of the Abbey church as they appeared prior to reconstruction and restoration in 1860. The church today.
In 1548 Reginald Wolfe began work on a universal history of England. The project was finally completed by Wolfe’s assistant, Raphael Holinshed, and published in 1577, & again in 1587. Holinshed’s Chronicles were immensely influential, not least upon William Shakespeare.
Drawing for painting of Henry VII and Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Henry VIII from the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537-47. The original was destroyed in the Whitehall Palace fire of 1698.
View towards London (left) and Greenwich (right) in 1620. Map of London c.1579, made in Colonge & Detail of London in 1559, print from copper plate engraved in the Netherlands. & Claes Visscher panorama of London, 1616 compared with 2016 view & The Tower as it appears today.
[i] David Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., p. 148. Robert Balmain Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471, Kindle ebook (London, 1914)., Chapter 1, loc. 78
[ii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 156.
[iii] Hume., p. 157.
[iv] Hume., p. 160-1.
[v] Hume., p. 163
[vi] Hume., p. 172-3
[vii] Hume., p. 176
[viii] Hume., p. 177
[ix] Hume., p. 186
[x] E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485, The Oxford History of England 6 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)., p. 150-2.
[xi] Jacob., p. 157.
[xii] John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme, Random House eBooks (London: Pimlico, 2004). p. 64-6.
[xiii] Keegan., p. 66-7
[xiv] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 156.
[xv] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 188
[xvi] Charles W. C. Oman, England and the Hundred Years’ War (1327-1485), Kindle ebook (Uckfield: Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1898)., Chapter 10, loc. 1605-39.
[xvii] N. A. M. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998)., p. 143-4.
[xviii] Rodger., p. 144.
[xix] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 191
[xx] Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471., Chapter 3, loc. 240.
[xxi] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 197; Shakespeare’s John Falstaff is based in part on Sir John Oldcastle (1378 – 1417). https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Oldcastle
[xxii] Hume., p. 213
[xxiii] Hume., p. 216
[xxiv] Hume., p. 195 & 219
[xxv] Hume., p. 223
[xxvi] Hume., p. 225
[xxvii] Alison Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses, Kindle ebook (London: Vintage, 2011)., Chapter 15, loc. 4034
[xxviii] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4072
[xxix] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4149
[xxx] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 227
[xxxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 15, loc. 4225
[xxxii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4372
[xxxiii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4409
[xxxiv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4439
[xxxv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4554
[xxxvi] Matthew Lewis, Richard Duke of York: King by Right, Kindle ebook (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2016)., Chapter 25, loc. 5185
[xxxvii] Lewis., Chapter 25, loc. 5209
[xxxviii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 229
[xxxix] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4955
[xl] Weir., Chapter 17, loc. 4832
[xli] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 228-9
[xlii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4992
[xliii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5013; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 565
[xliv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 18, loc. 5050
[xlv] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5078
[xlvi] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5107
[xlvii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5174 – 84
[xlviii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5194
[xlix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5568
[l] Weir., Chapter 19, loc. 5348 – 77
[li] Winston S. Churchill, The Birth of Britain, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, vol. 1, 4 vols., (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1956)., p. 452
[lii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5415.
[liii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 564
[liv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5425.
[lv] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5540
[lvi] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5675
[lvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 530
[lviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 20, loc. 5780
[lix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5827
[lx] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531
[lxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5898
[lxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531
[lxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5918
[lxiv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 6032-43
[lxv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 5870
[lxvi] David Grummitt, A Short History of The Wars of the Roses (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013)., p. 87-8
[lxvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 554-5; see also, Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649., p. 154
[lxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 6167
[lxix] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6226 – 35.
[lxx] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6245
[lxxi] Charles W. C. Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker, Kindle ebook (Perennial Press, 2015)., Chapter 13, loc. 1890
[lxxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 553
[lxxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 22, loc. 6293
[lxxiv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6331-41
[lxxv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6369
[lxxvi] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6379
[lxxvii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6445
[lxxviii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6454
[lxxix] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6504; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 558
[lxxx] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 23, loc. 6533
[lxxxi] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6570
[lxxxii] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6608
[lxxxiii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 466
[lxxxiv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6737
[lxxxv] Weir., Chapter 24, loc. 6792
[lxxxvi] S. J. Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).
[lxxxvii] Cora L. Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford,” The English Historical Review 29, no. 114 (April 1914): 228–45., p. 234
[lxxxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6963
[lxxxix] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 6989.
[xc] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7057
[xci] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7048
[xcii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 243-4
[xciii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7155
[xciv] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2511
[xcv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7203
[xcvi] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2531
[xcvii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7334
[xcviii] Weir., Chapter 26, loc. 7353
[xcix] Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (London: Folio Society, 1999)., p. 27
[c] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 245; Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7469; see also, Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 25-6
[ci] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7548
[cii] Michael Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?,” in The English Experience in France c. 1450-1558: War, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange, ed. David Grummitt (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2002), 85–105.
[ciii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 249-50
[civ] Hume., p. 254
[cv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 138-42
[cvi] Keith Dockray and Peter Hammond, Richard III From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters & Records, Kindle ebook (Croydon: Fonthill Media LLC, 2013)., Chapter 9, loc. 2007-164
[cvii] Glenn Foard and Anne Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered, Kindle ebook (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013)., Chapter 2, loc. 1019
[cviii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1031
[cix] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 198-9
[cx] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1041
[cxi] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 496; Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1489, 1554
[cxii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 998 – 1071, 1206
[cxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1113
[cxiv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1227 & 4559
[cxv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1323
[cxvi] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354
[cxvii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354
[cxviii] Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale: Yale University Press, 2013)., p. 148
[cxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1196
[cxx] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Joshua Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.” (MA Thesis, University of Huddersfield, 2014).
[cxxi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1426
[cxxii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1437
[cxxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1468
[cxxiv] Ralph A. Griffiths and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, Kindle ebook (Stroud: The History Press, 2005)., Chapter 11, loc. 2624
[cxxv] Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?”
[cxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554
[cxxvii] Stephen Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War, Kindle ebook (Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2018). Chapter 4, loc. 995
[cxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554
[cxxix] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1521
[cxxx] James Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513) (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2011)., p. 85
[cxxxi] Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and Hte Rise of the Tudors (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 2014)., Chapter 19, loc. 4986
[cxxxii] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”
[cxxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered.
[cxxxiv] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”, p. 230
[cxxxv] Scofield., p. 238
[cxxxvi] Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 82
[cxxxvii] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”
[cxxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2564-72
[cxxxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2503
[cxl] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709
[cxli] Henry T. Riley, trans., Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations (London: George Bell and Sons, 1908)., p. 502
[cxlii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1621
[cxliii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1676; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327
[cxliv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1447
[cxlv] Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty., Chapter 11, loc. 2555
[cxlvi] Griffiths and Thomas., Chapter 11, loc. 2572; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327
[cxlvii] Riley, Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations., p. 503
[cxlviii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 497
[cxlix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1532
[cl] Foard and Curry., loc. 4605
[cli] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1510
[clii] Foard and Curry., loc. 4611
[cliii] A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (London: Penguin Books, 1996)., p. 304
[cliv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 3, loc. 1963
[clv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1815
[clvi] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).
[clvii] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Thomas, First Earl of Derby (c. 1433-1504),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).
[clix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2247
[clx] Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2010)., Chapter 6, loc. 1671
[clxi] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”
[clxii] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6
[clxiii] Hammond., Chapter 6; See also, Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War., Chapter 2, loc. 611.
[clxiv] Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution, Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500 – 1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)., p. 18
[clxv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2501
[clxvi] Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, Kindle ebook (New York: Pegasus Books, 2017)., Chapter 33.
[clxvii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.
[clxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2343; see also Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.
[clxix] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6
[clxx] J. Molinet, Chroniques of Jean de Molinet (1474 – 1506), ed., M. Bennett, Battle of Bosworth, (Stroud, 1985), p. 138. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”; see also, Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1543, 1697
[clxxi] Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.
[clxxii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.
[clxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2611
[clxxiv] Jo Appleby et al., “Perimortem Trauma in King Richard III: A Skeletal Analysis,” The Lancet 385, no. 9964 (January 17, 2015): 253–59.
[clxxv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 27
[clxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1396
[clxxvii] Steven G. Ellis, “Percy, Henry, Fourth Earl of Northumberland (c. 1449-1489),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).
[clxxviii] Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495).”
[clxxix] David Hume, The History of England, Henry VII to Mary, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., loc. 125
[clxxx] Hume., loc. 188
[clxxxi] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).” & Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 86
[clxxxii] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).”