Assessment of the Battle

Charles Oman, in his influential book The Art of War in the Middle Ages, dismissed Bosworth in a few words, saying: ‘this can hardly be taken for serious military study – since it was not settled by strategy or tactics, but by mere treachery.’

If the primary evidence of the action is placed within the historic terrain, in so far as it is currently understood, this battle seems far from being a foregone conclusion decided by treachery. Bosworth was probably a hard won battle decided by the tactical brilliance of the senior rebel commander, perhaps exploiting a disastrous miscalculation by Richard in the form and position of his battle array. Richard, although he had the advantage of numbers and the choice of the ground on which the battle was to be fought, seems to have made the most basic of mistakes, failing to adequately protect his flanks from attack. It is likely that he had placed his unusually wide battle array, intended to overwing the enemy, in a position where it was not just unwieldy but constrained by the terrain and unable to adequately respond to the rebels’ outflanking move.

Bosworth is thus a battle well worth detailed study, where the understanding of the historic terrain, of the initial deployments within it, and of the movement of the action across that landscape may cast valuable light not just on this most important of battles, but also more generally on the nature of warfare in the 15th century.


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