Battle of Bosworth Facts & Worksheets

Battle of Bosworth facts and information activity worksheet pack and fact file. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 year old (GCSE). Great for home study or to use within the classroom environment.

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Fact File:

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Historical context behind the Battle of Bosworth
  • Key figures involved in the Battle of Bosworth
  • Events that occurred during the Battle of Bosworth
  • The aftermath of the Battle of Bosworth

KEY FACTS AND INFORMATION

Let’s find out more about the Battle of Bosworth!

  • The Battle of Bosworth represents the end of the Plantagenet era. This battle put an end to decades of rivalry between the Lancaster and York families.
  • Richard III was the leader of the York family while Henry was considered the only Lancastrian heir. Richard was known for his military leadership and skill, having fought in many decisive battles during the Wars of the Roses, such as Barnet, Tewkesbury and Bosworth.

Factions

  • Henry, on the other hand, was relatively inexperienced since he lived in exile for most of his life. The battle of Bosworth is considered the first military battle of Henry Tudor’s career.
  • Apart from the skill and battle experience, there was also a discrepancy in numbers. Richard had around 15,000 men at his side, while Henry had three times fewer, around 5,000 men.
  • Despite the difference in skill and numbers, the victor was Henry Tudor. However, he had help. The battle was swayed by Sir William Stanley’s involvement.
  • During the battle, both Sir William and Sir Thomas Stanley remained on the sidelines as the Yorks and Lancastrians fought.
  • Even though Richard had Thomas Stanley’s son held as a hostage to either coerce him into joining the Yorkists or to not get involved, the two brothers, William and Thomas, chose to fight for the Lancastrians.
  • It is said that they had around 6,000 men, and they chose to enter the battle when Richard III led a direct charge on Henry Tudor, who had been separated from his main force.
  • The Stanley army attacked Richard’s back flank and effectively changed the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth.
  • Richard III died in battle and he was the last English king to do so. Many future kings would lead their men and fight in battle, but none would die.
  • Henry Tudor became Henry VII and ended the Wars of the Roses. Some accounts state that he was crowned on the battlefield with Richard’s circlet.
  • The official coronation took place on 30 October, 1485. Henry married Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York, and joined together the Houses of York and Lancaster. Though this marriage was most definitely symbolic, all accounts describe a rather happy marriage between the two.
  • The Battle of Bosworth is considered one of the final moments of the medieval period in England. The reign of Henry VII, and his dynasty who followed him, begin the early modern period of English history.

Prologue

  • In the year 1377, the then king of England and Lord of Ireland, Edward III, died of ill health.
  • He had transformed England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe, but his royal bloodline survived into two houses, the House of Lancaster, and the House of York.
  • As such, during the 15th century, civil war raged across England as the two houses fought each other for the English throne. In 1471 the Yorkists defeated their rivals in the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury.
  • The Lancastrian King Henry IV, and his son, Edward Lancaster, died in the aftermath of the Battle of Tewkesbury. Their deaths left the House of Lancaster with no direct claimants to the throne.
  • The Yorkist King, Edward IV, was in complete control of England. He detained those who refused to submit to his rule, such as Jasper Tudor, and his nephew Henry, branding them traitors and having their lands confiscated.
  • The Tudors tried to flee to France but the weather forced them to land in Brittany, which was a semi-independent duchy at the time.
  • They were taken into the custody of Duke Francis II. Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John Gaunt, uncle of King Richard II and father of King Henry IV.
  • The Beauforts were born bastards, but Henry IV legitimised them on the condition that their descendants were not eligible to inherit the throne.
  • Henry Tudor, the only remaining Lancastrian noble with a trace of the royal bloodline, had a weak claim to the throne, and Edward disregarded him.
  • The Duke of Brittany, however, viewed Henry as a valuable tool to bargain for England’s aid in conflicts with France, and so kept the Tudors under his protection. Edward IV died from a fever, 12 years after Tewkesbury in 1483.
  • His eldest son, a 12-year-old, succeeded him as King Edward V, while his younger son, Richard of Shrewsbury, a 9-year-old, was next in line to the throne. The Duke of Gloucester, also named Richard, was acting as regent during this time. However, Richard seized the throne in the same year from his nephew Edward V, and both he and his younger brother “disappeared”, after Richard kept them in the Tower of London.
  • This, together with some rumours that Richard was involved in the death of his wife, eroded his support for the throne, however, he was still crowned as Richard III, king of England, on 6 July, 1483. Across the English Channel, Henry Tudor, a descendant of the now diminished House of Lancaster, seized on Richard’s difficulties and laid claim to the throne.

The red and the white rose

  • Henry’s first attempt to invade England in 1483 failed due to a storm, however, his second arrival, in 1485, on the southwest coast of Wales, was a success. Henry marched inland and gathered support as he made for London.
  • Richard also mustered his troops and intercepted Henry’s army near Ambion Hill, south of the town of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.
  • Since many nobles opposed Richard’s rule, they swiftly joined Henry.
  • In October, the Duke of Buckingham led an armed revolt to place the Lancastrian heir – Henry, on the throne, however, he was put down by Richard.
  • The Duke’s supporters were demoralised but they didn’t give up the fight as they fled and joined Henry Tudor, being branded as traitors.
  • Though Henry’s goal was to capture London, he didn’t move directly towards the city. He knew that although there were many deserters of Richard’s army, he was still vastly outnumbered and tried to delay the direct confrontation to gather more and more men.
  • Henry had been communicating on friendly terms with the Stanleys for some time before setting foot in England.
  • The Stanleys had mobilised almost immediately after hearing about Henry’s arrival.
  • They met twice with the Lancastrian heir in secret as his army marched across the English countryside. Richard had Thomas Stanley’s son held hostage to either coerce him into joining the Yorkists or to not get involved. As such, few people knew at the time who the Stanleys would support.
  • As the two opposing armies approached each other, Lord Thomas Stanley and Sir William Stanley’s forces took a back seat while they decided which side it would be most advantageous to support.
  • The Battle of Bosworth was fought on 22 August, 1485, across a part cultivated, part moorland landscape over which ran a Roman road that was still in use. This fight was known to contemporaries as the battle of Redemore, meaning the place of the reeds. This battle was not actually fought in Bosworth Field, rather it took place three miles south of Market of Bosworth.

Richard III and Henry Tudor

  • Richard III was known for his military leadership and skill.
  • After his father died, the Duke of York, Richard was brought up by Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick.
  • He trained the young lord in many castles in the north, mainly Middleham Castle.
  • Richard led many military campaigns along the Scottish border and fought in many decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses, such as Barnet, Tewkesbury, and finally, Bosworth.
  • Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth. Regardless of how contemporaries saw him, good or bad, they all agreed that he was a capable military leader who fought valiantly, even in his last battle.
  • Henry Tudor, on the other hand, was quite inexperienced in comparison.
  • He lived much of his life in exile in Wales and then in France.
  • He was cared for by his paternal uncle, Jasper Tudor, who fought alongside him.
  • Many historians consider the Battle of Bosworth Henry’s first military battle. However, he did have the Lancastrian general, John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, to lead his vanguard. But how did Henry Tudor actually win this battle?

Battle of Bosworth

  • On 21 August, the armies set up camp to the south of Bosworth...
  • Richard took Ambion Hill, while Henry stopped at a place called White Moors.
  • Thomas Stanley seemingly promised to join both sides but instead made camp at a hill called Dadlington, to the south of Henry and Richard’s forces.
  • The Tudors were vastly outnumbered, having only around 5,000 troops, while the Yorks had almost three times more men. Stanley’s forces numbered at around 6,000.
  • On the morning of 22 August, Henry arranged most of his forces in one large unit commanded by the Lancastrian veteran, John, the Earl of Oxford. Henry only led a small reserve. The Tudor army marched towards their numerically superior enemy.
  • Richard was quite surprised by this as he expected Henry to take a defensive position. The battle was not starting how he expected. Richard managed to get his army into three groups: John of Norfolk commanded the right, Henry Percy of Northumberland the left, while Richard was leading the centre.
  • While the Tudors were getting closer, the Yorkist artillery opened fire on them.
  • Oxford was prepared for that, and his troops started shifting to attack the left flank of the Yorkist army.
  • This put his main division directly against Norfolk, and the artillery barrage stopped to prevent friendly fire.
  • Although the Yorkists had numbers on their side, Oxford widened his line on the march before the two groups finally clashed.
  • The Tudor forces started to push back their counterparts. Meanwhile, Northumberland, situated on Richard’s left flank, wasn’t moving in, either due to betrayal or in fear that Stanley, who still hadn’t made his move, might attack him from the rear.
  • Richard therefore needed to turn his centre to descend from the hill, but he was moving too slowly and this allowed the Tudor rearguard to move in and attack Norfolk from the right as well.
  • As Richard saw Henry’s dragon banner, he decided to charge against him with a thousand horsemen.
  • This charge pushed Henry’s forces back, and his unit was close to panic. However, Henry stood firm, and his bodyguards managed to stem the tide.
  • Oxford also supported them by sending a group of pikemen to attack Richard from the left. This attack managed to push the English king towards the marshes in the southeast.
  • Almost simultaneously, Stanley sent his younger brother William to join the battle, and he attacked Richard’s troops from the right. This was the final straw.
  • The knights around Richard started dying, and soon the king himself was killed with a blow to the head. The news of his death ended the battle.
  • It seems that casualties were relatively low in this battle since it lasted for less than 2 hours.

Aftermath

  • Henry seized the crown by right of conquest. After the battle, Richard’s circlet is said to have been found and brought to Henry, who was proclaimed king at the top of Crown Hill, near the village of Stoke Golding.
  • On 30 October, 1485, Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, who was Edward IV’s daughter.
  • By this act, the union between the houses of York and Lancaster had been sealed. Though this marriage was most definitely symbolic, all accounts describe a rather happy marriage between the two.
  • However, many Yorkists did not consider Henry as the rightful king of England. There were some unsuccessful uprisings, but in the end, the Tudor dynasty governed England for the following 118 years.
  • The Battle of Bosworth is considered one of the final moments of the medieval period in England. The reign of Henry VII, and his dynasty who followed him, begin the early modern period of English history.