The Battle of Bosworth Field

Early in August 1485 the would-be Lancastrian king, Henry Tudor sailed across the English Channel from France to south Wales…

One of the most important battles in English and Welsh history took place at Bosworth during the 15th century Wars of the Roses.

Early in August 1485 the would-be Lancastrian king, Henry Tudor sailed across the English Channel from France to south Wales with a force of around 2,000 men.

Marching through the Welsh countryside the ranks of the Lancastrian army swelled, until by the time they crossed the border into Shrewsbury their number had more than doubled in size.

On hearing the news of Henry’s landing, King Richard III began to muster his Yorkist army at Leicester. With his royal army now almost 10,000 strong, the king deployed his troops on a hill top, just south of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.

On an adjacent hilltop stood the forces of Henry’s stepfather Thomas, Lord Stanley, with a fairly substantial private army totalling around 6,000 men. In the bloody battle that followed, Stanley elected to simply stand and spectate.

As the battle swayed first one way and then the other, Richard appears to have decided to bring the encounter to a swift end by leading a charge aimed directly at Henry.

Click here for a battlefield map.

On seeing Richard separated from his main force, Lord Stanley finally decided to join the battle on the side of his stepson. After his horse became trapped in boggy ground, the king continued to fight on foot before he was finally overwhelmed.

Richard was the last Plantagenet king of England, and the last English monarch to be killed in battle. On seeing their leader’s fate, the Yorkist army abandoned the field. Richard’s crown was brought to Henry who was proclaimed king on the nearby Crown Hill.

The new Tudor dynasty would rule England for the next hundred years. Richard’s body was interred in a plain unmarked tomb at Greyfriars in Leicester and forgotten about, until it was rediscovered under a car park by archaeologists in September 2012.

Key Facts:

Date: 22nd August, 1485

War: Wars of the Roses

Location: near Market Bosworth, Leicestershire

Belligerents: Lancastrians and Yorkists (and the Stanley family who remained at the edge of the battlefield until they decided which side to support)

Victors: Lancastrians

Numbers: Lancastrians 5,000, Yorkists around 10,000, Stanley family 6,000

Casualties: Lancastrians around 100, Yorkists around 1,000

Commanders: King Richard III of England (Yorkists), Henry Tudor (Lancastrians), Thomas Stanley (Stanley family)


The Battle of Bosworth

More Battles in the Wars of the Roses

The First Battle of St Albans 22 May, 1455
Battle of Blore Heath 23 September, 1459
Battle of Northampton (1460) 10 July, 1460
The Second Battle of St Albans 17 February, 1461
Battle of Towton 29 March, 1461
Battle of Barnet 14 April, 1471
Battle of Tewkesbury 4 May, 1471
Battle of Bosworth Field 22 August, 1485
Battle of Stoke Field 16 June, 1487
Background to the Wars of the Roses  

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The Wars of the Roses

By Ben Johnson

A chronology of the major events during the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York 1455 to 1485

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