Bosworth, a victory for treachery – and for cowardice, because Henry Tudor didn’t raise a finger, but lurked at the back, behind a protective screen of bodyguards
As far as Ricardians are concerned, the most important (and tragic) medieval battle was Bosworth, but 22nd August 1485 only makes it to number nine of nine! See here – and the description has Lord Stanley as the turncoat who tipped the balance. And here’s me thinking it was his reptilian brother, Sir William. Oh, but his lordship was sneaky as well. All the Stanleys were sneaky and untrustworthy. I’m certain that if Richard III’s heroic charge had sent Tudor into the hereafter, there wouldn’t have been any nobles more loyal to the Plantagenet cause than dear Thomas and William Stanley. Traitors, both of them.
I confess to not having heard of some of the other eight battles which are listed as more important than Bosworth, but I’m sure I’m in the shamed minority of readers! 🙄
I kind of wonder about the order of events at Bosworth…
A note before I continue: I’m just a casual reader of interesting stuff from the past, and the following is speculation from knowledge that is broad and not deep.
In history books, it often reads like Stanley saw Richard III charging and then decided to join on Henry Tudor’s side.
But Stanley’s men couldn’t have reached Henry Tudor in the blink of an eye.
It could have been the other way round. The king might have seen them starting to move, and that was when he decided to charge at Tudor. If he wasn’t sure what the Stanleys were going to do, he would wonder whether they’re heading over to kill Tudor or help him. If they were slower-moving, perhaps that could be interpreted as not having an aggressive purpose. Or maybe there would really be no way to tell at that distance.
So, the king charged, wanting to end things quickly. If he had retreated to fight on another day, this would plunge the kingdom into a whole lot of uncertainty. The Stanleys were powerful, and if they were on Tudor’s side… and stayed there… More war? Years of on-and-off battling? Tudor acting like a guerrilla jack-in-the-box? No more fighting, but relationships between powerful people even more seriously strained and blatantly superficial? Not just the Stanleys, but the others who couldn’t or didn’t join the king.
He might end up having all this on his mind and little resources or time to spare for the actual running and wellbeing of the kingdom.
No doubt he would manage such a situation as best he could, but why take the long detrimental way when the window for possible successful action is open *now* and closing fast?
But he might have left it a little late due to uncertainty, and/or Stanley’s army picked up the pace when they saw what was happening. So it was close, but ultimately failed.
VERY close, actually. Weirdly so. Like standing on a knife edge and the balance could have tipped either way. Almost like their lives really were ‘set upon a cast’ (hi mister Shakespeare)!
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We’ll never know, Cyuen. All we can be sure of is that Sir William Stanley was a turncoat and his brother pulled a sickie, to use the modern phrase. Sir William must have eventually wished he hadn;t done it….as he awaited execution at the Tudor’s command. I only wish his brother had come unstuck as well, but unfortunately Thomas kept his balance on the fence.
IIrc, I have read an account of Bosworth that says that when Richard’s attack reached Tudor’s bodyguards, Henry surprised his men by giving a good account of himself in the fight. Not a champion, or even a contender, but at least moderately good.
“Here are 9 important medieval battles, from the battle of Hastings in 1066 to the battle of Bosworth in 1485…”, then the article starts with the battle of Tours in AD 732. Odd list.
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