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Richard Victorious!

Photo of Richard III statue

This is how the Richard III Society Facebook page described the forthcoming Bosworth Mediaeval Festival/re-enactment weekend (18-19th August 2018):

“BOSWORTH MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL TO STAGE ALTERNATIVE ‘WHAT IF RICHARD WON?’ BATTLE.

This year’s Bosworth Medieval Festival is set to present a twist on the history changing Battle of Bosworth – by exploring what would have happened if the outcome had been different and King Richard III had won the day.

The Festival takes place this year on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August with lots of activities for all ages.

Both days of the Bosworth Medieval Festival end with a minute’s silence, followed by a full re-enactment of the famous battle of 22 August 1485, complete with massed infantry, archers, cannon cavalry and commentary, to commemorate those who fought and died in 1485.

Photo of Bosworth reenactment

In the re-enactment – as in reality – Richard III dies fighting surrounded by his enemies and Henry Tudor, with help from the Stanleys, wins the day and the crown of England.

This year there will also be an alternative look at the battle at 11am on both mornings. The Wars of the Roses Federation, in conjunction with Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, will explore what led to King Richard III’s defeat by presenting an alternative Battle of Bosworth, in which the Plantagenet monarch manages to win the day and successfully defends his crown.

Photo of Richard III standard

The true outcome of Bosworth was a turning point in English, European and international history, but in a special interactive 30-minute debate session on each day, the audience will be led in a discussion about what might be different today if Richard had been the victor on 22 August 1485. These debates will be at 10.15am on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday and are available to Medieval Festival ticket holders at an extra cost of £3.”

Let’s all go along and cheer for our king! (And leave before the ‘real’ battle is re-enacted – then maybe they’ll change history, permanently!)  🙂

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Towton battlefield – the future

As you can see from this post, the protected area near Tadcaster has now been extended by Historic England. This means that, every time it rains or snows near March 29, the annual re-enactment  can be cancelled for health and safety reasons in the knowledge that it can go ahead on future occasions and that further archaeological discoveries are possible:

Information board near the battlefield

Annual Re-enactment of the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross….

Croft Castle

I’m posting this courtesy of the Mortimer History Society.

“The annual re-enactment of the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross (February 1460/1) will take place on Saturday & Sunday 10th & 11th September at Croft Castle, near Yarpole, Herefordshire. Croft Castle is owned by the National Trust. Normal NT charges apply but there is no extra charge for seeing the re-enactment.

“As the organisers say…..’Join us for a living history weekend full of gunpowder, battles, archery and swordfights, bringing to life one of the most significant battles of the Wars of the Roses’.”

It sounds an excellent and exciting weekend!

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croft-castle-and-parkland

Bosworth Re-enactment: the moral maze.

Giaconda's Blog

I have been considering various angles for a blog about Bosworth this year. I think there is an interesting debate to be had about the ‘re-enactment’ phenomenon that seems to be increasingly popular and to what extent these events are a tribute to the fallen warriors of long ago, a commercial merry-go-round, a deeply serious lifestyle choice for the people taking part or a bit of harmless fun for all the family for spectators? People attend these events for so many reasons but when they are enacted on the same soil as the original battle is there a ‘moral’ dimension which needs to be considered amidst the picnics and face painting?

Is it partly a question of the distance of time? Could we imagine a D-Day re-enactment with our children dressed in WWII costume? Is there a romance about watching knights in armour and massed archers which removes the action sufficiently from reality to disconnect…

View original post 1,225 more words

The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2015

 

King Edward's camp above Bloody Meadow.

King Edward’s camp above Bloody Meadow.

I’ve been wanting to attend this festival for at least 20 years and finally everything came together this year and I was able to take my family with me for an orgy of medieval shopping, weaponry, costumes and merchandising followed by the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury on part of the original site of the battlefield and later ‘storming of the Abbey’ in the evening. People attend for many reasons – many to soak up the atmosphere and watch the weird and wonderful sights as the weekend unfolds, some for the history and some for the crac. Re-enactors travel across Europe – I saw stall holders from Prague, Lithuania, Germany and France this year and many take it seriously, making their own costumes with great attention to detail and demonstrating artisan skills such as wood carving, metal working, armoury and medieval crafts as well as the obligatory plastic sword and shield sellers for the many children who come to exercise their imaginations.

The hard-core re-enactors camp in two areas – King Edward’s Yorkist camp on the slope above the battlefield area or in Queen Margaret’s Lancastrian encampment close to the line of ditches where men were cut down in the rout across Bloody Meadow. Their tents and pavilions are fascinating to walk around with glimpses of wooden camp beds and carved chests, goblets and cooking fires as well as heraldic banners and pennants fluttering in the breeze and the sound of medieval bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy man adding to the atmosphere.

Re-enactor's camp

Re-enactor’s camp

It requires a complex accommodation though to visit the festival, especially with children and maintain contact with the real history which is being commemorated over this weekend. The scale for one thing. The festival guide explains that the real battle was fought over a larger area than the arena and showground and parts have been subsequently built on or turned into the nearby golf course yet Gupshill Manor, where Queen Marguerite spent the night prior to the battle, seems incredibly close to the action. You wonder what her personal bodyguard consisted of and whether much sleep was had by this woman who had fought so hard for so long and was about to lose everything. The manor house is now a pub and looks comfortable enough for a queen who had survived many changes of fortune, fled and re-grouped, lead armies and gone into exile. It was built in 1408 and we can imagine the kind of facilities it might have offered to Marguerite. You imagine her fatigue, racing up country from Weymouth, spooked by the news of Warwick’s defeat at Barnet and fearful for her son’s safety as he sought to prove himself on the field. Bath, Bristol – to get much needed but cumbersome ordinance, then Gloucester, which had kept the gates shut against her. Did she still feel like the outsider, the unpopular French princess, mistrusted by the English people who had landed in England as a strategic piece in the wider power-play of European politics. Where did her loyalties lie and how had they changed over time? A French agent at the English court, loyal to her French family who became the living symbol of the end of English glory in France through the terms of her marriage, a queen consort faced with a frighteningly unworldly husband who needed to lead from behind the throne, to live multiple lives in one in order to survive and protect her son’s interests and surrounded by ambitious men with their own agenda for gaining power. Had the English people ever factored highly in her consciousness? They had fought and died in their thousands for her cause and against her cause and tomorrow she would watch anxiously again from the side lines as her destiny was decided by men hacking each other to death and her son was either crowned with glory as the new hope for the House of Lancaster or destroyed during the attempt. What if Edward, Prince of Wales was captured alive and imprisoned, what if he was betrayed by another turncoat, as Clarence and Warwick had turned out to be? If her army was defeated could she run and live to fight another day or would she wait on news of her son’s fate for without him what was there to fight for? Everyone knew that Henry VI would never be more than a tormented pawn for the next strong man to step up to mark. Marguerite must have been completely aware that if her son died that his blood would sign her husband’s death warrant. Edward IV had held off from the cardinal sin of regicide for a decade for a number of reasons – he didn’t want to kill an anointed and ‘saintly’ king, he knew that popular sympathy would make a martyr of Henry once he was safely dead. Henry was a weak point rather than a figurehead for Lancastrian hopes, his son increasingly posed a more significant threat to the Yorkist regime, even if he remained in exile. However, in the all-or-nothing push to re-assert her claims, Marguerite was risking her husband’s life as well as her son’s. Edward IV was fresh from victory at Barnet and he wanted it finished and was prepared to make unpalatable decisions to secure ultimate victory. He had allowed Warwick to undermine his kingship, to manipulate his younger brother into open treason, had been imprisoned and sanctioned, suffered exile and humiliation and now he had a baby son to fight for too.

Troops advance.

Troops advance.

Tewkesbury would be no Towton – estimated numbers are a fraction of the bloodbath which ushered Edward IV to power in 1461. The Lancastrians had a slight numerical advantage – approximately 5-6000 against 4-5000 hastily mustered Yorkist troops. Both armies were tired after the chase up-country and the weather was hot for May. Marguerite’s hopes lay in a victory on the field that would buy her time to rendezvous with loyal forces in the Welsh marches, a dream of hearing the news that her hated rival had been killed on the field and, perhaps most importantly, a moment for her son and heir to shine and prove God’s favour for the House of Lancaster in such terms that public opinion would shift. If Edward, Prince of Wales could only emerge as a plausible military commander, the strong male heir so longed for since Henry Vth died prematurely and left a power vacuum at the heart of the monarchy.

Of course Marguerite’s hopes were dashed into a thousand pieces. By the end of the battle her son was dead, the Lancastrians routed or penned in the Abbey church and her great chance to re-gain power, status and what she saw as her God-given position as Queen of England lay in ruins. It is hard not to feel sympathy for Marguerite at this devastating point of her life or to fail to consider just how much choice she had in the path that her life had taken whatever you make of the contemporary sources about her decisions and character.

Lancastrian prisoners are taken from Tewkesbury Abbey for trial and summary execution in the marketplace.

Lancastrian prisoners are taken from Tewkesbury Abbey for trial and summary execution in the marketplace.

So, we return to a parched meadow, just outside a small English market town. The re-enactors look like a Graham Turner painting brought to life, the smoke drifts across the field of battle and the canons make the children jump and hold their ears. After the battle people drift off, mostly unconscious that bones may still lie buried beneath their feet.

Queen Marguerite's long journey to Tewkesbury.

Queen Marguerite’s long journey to Tewkesbury.

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