The Battle

More perhaps than any other English battle, the challenge at Bosworth is to strip away the decades, indeed the centuries of interpretation that have built up conjecture to the point where it has for many become fact. Did the majority of Richard's army really defect, refuse to engage or even to fight effectively? Was the battle really decided by treachery? But it is not just scholars of the last 250 years who are responsible, perhaps most of all in popular perception there is Shakespeare, with his partisan Tudor perspective on the battle.

As with most medieval battles, the two forces must each have considered that they had a chance of victory at that place and time or they would have attempted to avoid an engagement. Richard had a far larger army and he was forcing the rebels to attack him on ground of his choosing. Despite any concerns about the loyalty of some of his troops he will have had reason to feel a degree of confidence.

In contrast, Henry's rebel army was heavily outnumbered. But his situation was not as difficult as might at first appear, for he was able to count to a significant degree on the support of Lord Stanley’s forces, even though they would not join his battle array. Part were to play a decisive role in the final stages of the battle, while the rest remained a constant threat on the sidelines, which must have constrained Richard’s room for manoeuvre.


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