Contemporary accounts

The value of the primary sources for the battle is discussed by various authors, most notably by Bennett, who reprints in translation all the major sources. The most important source for the battle is that by Polydor Vergil, a trained historian who, although writing some years afterwards, is believed to have interviewed a range of senior participant in the battle. The Crowland Chronicle is a well informed but not an eyewitness account. Molinet provides important additional evidence on the action, but his information on numbers of troops involved appears wildly in error. Valera’s Castillian account is an extremely confused compilation but may contain some significant evidence. A number of the other sources provide small pieces of important information, for examples as to the location and naming of the battlefield. The ballads in particular must be treated with great care. But they are put to considerable use by various authors because they seem to contain genuine facts, perhaps deriving from eye witnesses, not otherwise recorded by the written accounts. Other later sources, such as Hall, also have to be treated with care as they elaborate and distort the evidence provided by the sources closest to the action, although several, most notably Holinshed, seem to provide some important independent insights.

Overall, in terms of the primary sources for the military history, Bosworth appears to be one of the better documented of English battles of the 15th century. Several of the accounts are considered very reliable in many respects and are found to contain several pieces of topographical evidence related to the tactics and the action which may be used to great effect to accurately locate the action.

Bennet provides transcripts and translations of most of the contemporary accounts relevant to the battle:

  • Proclamation of Henry Tudor
  • York Memoranda
  • Parliamentary Record
  • Historical Notes of a Londoner
  • Town Chronicles
  • Continuation of the Crowland Chronicle
  • John Rous
  • A Castillian Report
  • Memoirs of Philippe de Commines
  • Chronicles of Jean Molinet
  • John Major’s Latin History
  • Pittscottie’s Chronicles
  • Bernard Andre
  • Robert Fabian’s Great Chronicle of London
  • Polydore Vergil
  • Hall’s Chronicle
  • Ballads:
  • The Rose of England
  • The Ballad of Bosworth Field
  • The Song of Lady Bessy

To visit the web pages of the American Branch of the Richard III Society to view copies of these CLICK HERE


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