The Battle of Bosworth, also called the Battle of Bosworth Field, was fought in 1485 between the rival Yorkist and Lancastrian factions of England. The battle was the last conflict of the 30-years-long Wars of the Roses between the two factions.
The conflict was decided at the Battle of Bosworth where a Lancastrian army under Henry Tudor defeated the Yorkist army of King Richard III, killing the King on the battlefield. This marked the end of the Plantagenet line of monarchs and ushered in the Tudor era of England.
Prelude to the Battle
Since the end of the Hundred Years’ War with France, England had been in a state of civil warfare known as the Wars of the Roses. The war was essentially between the rival factions of York and Lancaster both of which laid claim to the throne of England.
Richard III, a Yorkist monarch, ruled England in 1485. Although having staunch Yorkist support behind him, Richard’s reign was highly unpopular. He was originally appointed as Lord Protector of his nephew, Edward V. During his Lordship, Edward V was declared illegitimate and Richard assumed the throne.
Edward and his brother disappeared eventually, leading to rumours that Richard had them killed. All these events significantly dented Richard’s popularity in England and Henry Tudor decided to seize on the opportunity.
The Battle of Bosworth was also know as “The Battle of Bosworth Field”.
Preparations of the Battle
During most of Richard’s reign, Henry Tudor remained in Brittany where he effectively mustered the support of the Lancaster faction. In 1483, unpopularity of Richard’s reign culminated in a number of uprisings, one of them most notably led by the Duke of Buckingham and spearheaded by Henry’s mother Lade Margaret.
Richard successfully put down the rebellions, executed Buckingham and took away all titles of Lady Margaret. The conspirators who fled Richard’s wrath took refuge with Henry in Brittany. By 1485, Henry Tudor had fled from Brittany to France where, aided by 2000 French mercenaries, he set sail for England.
The armies of King Richard and Henry Tudor faced each other at the Bosworth Field. Henry’s forces comprised of 5000 men while Richard mustered 10000 men. Being an avid soldier, Richard had his army fight well and the battle was turning in favour of Richard’s army when Lord Stanley switched loyalties.
Stanley was one of the northern lords and although loyal to Richard, hadn’t been very steadfast in remaining loyal to a given person. As the battle was turning in favour of Richard III, Lord Stanley with his army of 6000 men switched to the support of Henry Tudor.
This took place at a time when Richard was fiercely pressing against Henry Tudor and was about to kill the Lancastrian leader. Stanley’s timely manoeuvre changed the battle and between Henry Tudor’s men and the men loyal to Stanley, Richard III was killed.
The death of Richard III decided the fate of the battle. Yorkists had lost and Lancastrians stood victorious under Henry Tudor. Henry was consequently crowned King and before soon, married Elizabeth of York. This marriage united the rival claims to English throne and effectively ended the feud between the two rival factions.