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The Battle of Bosworth by Michael Bennett

The Battle of Bosworth

by Michael Bennett

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Not really about The Battle of Bosworth; about the whole reign of Richard III and the beginning of the reign of Henry VII. Fair enough; there really is very much known about the battle, just the general location and a few vague accounts (ironically, the best accounts are from foreign writers; none were present at the battle but they must have had local, contemporary sources). There’s a slight suggestion that Henry VII may have suppressed accounts.

Well written, and what’s known about the pre-battle, battle, and post battle is very well documented and analyzed, with detailed explanations about where the data comes from and what it might mean. The illustrations are kind of sparse and often not terribly relevant to the text, but there’s really not much to illustrate – there are quite a few pictures of random medieval weapons, some effigy bronzes, and some maps that can’t really show much because there isn’t much to show other than vague lines about how the forces might possibly converged to the battlefield and equally vague lines about how they might have moved around tactically.

The actual battle was pretty mysterious – Henry Tudor was seemingly overmatched in troop strength (perhaps by as much as 5:1) and commitment (most of his force was foreign mercenaries). As near as anybody can tell from what’s recorded, more than half of Richard III’s force just decided to wait and see how things were going and found excuses to hang back. Richard decided on a death-or-glory charge against Henry (the Shakespeare contention that Henry had several people scattered around the field dressed as him is apparently false, or didn’t fool Richard a minute). Richard and the small force that charged with him got close enough to kill Henry’s standard bearer, but somebody hit Richard with a poleaxe and that was that. Richard had always been a pretty good military leader so his decision here might seem foolish, but with his force wavering he might have felt that it was best to set an example. The remaining Ricardians drifted off – casualties may have been as few as 15 out of as many as 15000. (Henry did have some of the more prominent Ricardian lords executed later).

Contemporary and near-contemporary sources almost unanimously agree that Henry’s handling of Richard’s corpse after the battle – dragging it to a nearby church, exposing it to view, then abandoning it without burial – was reprehensible. It’s not even know if it ever got buried – author Michael Bennet goes with the general opinion that Richard is buried at Leicester but other sources claim other locations or just thrown in handy river.

A pretty good history – although not really military despite the “battle” in the title.

(Added later: in 2011, archaeologists found a skeleton under a parking lot (car park for people who speak English) in Leicester; various lines of evidence confirmed this was Richard III. In 2015 the remains were formally reburied in Leicester Cathedral). ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 20, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312069723, Hardcover)

In August, 500 years ago, Richard III lost his life and the Plantagenet name came to an end. This volume provides the background to the Battle of Bosworth - of the war and politics in the previous years and the various combatants.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

On an August morning more that five hundred years ago, to the sound of thundering hooves, gunshot, the clash of steel and the cries of men in battle, Richard III, King of England, lost his life and the Plantagenet name came to an end. But what do we really know of the battle which became known as Bosworth Field? How do we separate fact from legend when our knowledge is based on sources which by any reckoning are meagre, garbled or partisan?In this classic account Michael Bennett provides as detailed and authoritative a reconstruction of the battle, and the events that led up to it, as is possible. It is an enthralling detective story uncovering the real facts behind one of the most famous of British battles.… (more)

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