Encampments before the battle

Henry arrived in Atherstone sometime on the 21st and later that day he and his commanders met with the Stanleys to agree the tactics for the coming battle. Most authors have placed Henry’s army in camp that night close to the battlefield, but the evidence in the primary sources is equivocal. It seems more likely that the bulk of his army was quartered in and around Merevale Abbey on the night of 21st August, with Henry himself probably at the abbey itself. This would accord well with the common practice of senior commanders choosing well appointed quarters, ideally a monastery, great house or castle. Meanwhile other of his cavalry troops, or more likely Lord Stanley’s troops, were probably quartered in and about villages to the east of Atherstone. These places were all later compensated by Henry for the losses they sustained at this time of the battle.

According to Holinshed, writing in the 16th century, Richard’s camp was on Ambion Hill on the 21st, which is in close proximity to the battlefield, but none of the contemporary sources identify the location. One might expect an army of the size of Richard’s to have been quartered on a number of villages, with the infantry concentrated at the headquarters. However it is possible that, because he was close to the enemy, Richard concentrated all his forces in one location, with just a screen of scouts between his and Henry’s army. The next morning Richard’s forces deployed close by, on ground of their choosing and awaited the rebel attack.


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