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Battle of Bosworth : 22 August 1485


Principal Commanders:

  • Richard III of Gloucester (York),
  • Norfolk (York),
  • Northumberland (York),
  • Stanley (York, then Tudor),
  • Henry Tudor (Tudor),
  • Oxford (Tudor)

Situation Report

Edward IV died in 1485. His son, Edward V, was only twelve years old, so Edward IV had designated his brother Richard as Protector. Richard had Edward's two sons taken to the Tower of London, where they vanished, so Richard was proclaimed king as Richard III. It is not known what actually happened to the boys, but most likely they were killed. The mystery remains as to who killed them, and if it was done on Richard's orders.


Richard had many enemies, and on 7 August, Henry Tudor landed near Milford Haven with about 2,000 French mercenaries and a handful of Lancastrian lords and knights. He gathered reinforcements as he marched through Wales, then through Shrewsbury, Stafford and Atherstone. Richard was at Nottingham, and moved from there to to Leicester on 19 August, and by 21 August the two armies were facing each other about two and a half miles south of Market Bosworth.

Richard's army was just under 12,000 strong, but 4,000 of his troops were commanded by the Stanley brothers, whose loyalty was suspect. Henry had only 5,000 troops. During the battle Both the Stanleys changed allegiance to Henry, swinging the numerical advantage to his favour.

Battle is Joined

The battle was fought on and around Ambion Hill, close to Sutton Cheney, and lasted only two hours. Richard had the better position, but did not take advantage by attacking Oxford while he was still deploying his troops. This allowed Oxford to launch the first attack and the Duke of Norfolk, who was commanding Richard's forward battle division, was soon killed. For the first hour, the fighting was evenly matched, but Richard lost the battle through the treachery of the the Stanleys, who deserted his cause. Even more damaging was of the Earl of Northumberland's failure to bring Richard's reserves into action when he saw the Stanleys go over to the enemy.

Richard made a last attempt to win victory by directly attacking Henry with is personal guard, and almost succeeded, having cut down Henry's standard bearer. Richard's gamble failed, and he was struck down. The battle ended because his followers had no other definite leader. Richard was the last king of England to die on the battlefield. His death effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, and Henry VII started a new dynasty, the Tudors.

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