22 August: Battle of Bosworth Field

This was the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field, during which King Richard, third of that name, was slain.

Did you know that Richard III was found not guilty in a mock trial presided over by three Justices of the United States Supreme Court in 1997?

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen G. Breyer, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that the prosecution had not met the burden of proof that "it was more likely than not" that the Princes in the Tower had been murdered; that the bones found in 1674 in the Tower were those of the Princes; and that Richard III had ordered or was complicitous in their deaths.

If any of you have been in jail and got out on bond, you probably have Dicken to thank for it.

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25 Responses to 22 August: Battle of Bosworth Field

  1. Syriacus says:

    «A lawyer! a lawyer! my kingdom for a lawyer!»

  2. Paul Priest says:

    Not the face of a murderer;
    A man who tried to unite his country after generations of war,
    extending the hand of mercy to his enemies;
    regrettably treachery was all around him,
    greedy opportunists destroyed everything this country stood for when they
    betrayed their king and violated his dead body…
    Maybe not a saint on this earth to emulate, but assuredly no great sinner….

  3. Fr K says:

    The ‘Black Legend’ about Richard III arose during the reign of the Tudors: now there was a dysfunctional family if ever there was one. The founder of the dynasty Henry VII who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field had a tenuous claim to the English throne, to say the least. To consolidate his position all sorts of stories were put out about his predecessor, including the erroneous story that he was a hunchback, hence the sobriquet, ‘Richard Crookback.’
    His ‘ghost’ wss used to frighten naughty children, a sort of 15th century bogey man.

    The lies continued on and were given added credence and wider dissemination by one Sir Thomas More, of all people, who wrote very negatively about Richard III, probably to gain favour with King Henry VIII. [Just shows how dangerous that can be!].

    His history of Richard III probably formed the basis for Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III,’ which portrays him as a blackhearted, deformed monster of a man. No doubt, Shakespeare did this to curry favour with the last of the Tudors, Queen Elizabeth I, who was a powerful and generous patron of the arts, especially the dramatic arts.

    In truth, Richard was a splendid example, as was his brother, Edward IV, of the Renaissance Prince: he was wise, shrewd, courageous, just and well educated. He was, it is now certain, nothing like the monster portrayed by the Tudors.

  4. Christian says:

    I live in the area on and around Bosworth field and around here all the Churches are filled with white Roses and plaques to ‘our Murdered king’. How does such love descend through over 500 years if the man was the monster he is often portrayed as. You can bet you bottom dollar that if he had won that battle their would have been no Reformation in England – he was a man of extreme religiosity and came from the ancient kings of England – the Plantagenets – who over saw the glories of medieval English Catholicism ‘Mary’s dowry’.

  5. Aelianus says:

    This rehabilitation business is silly. It is hardly surprising that it is difficult to prove Richard killed the ‘Princes in the Tower’ five hundred years after the event. Nevertheless, it looks like someone killed them doesn’t it? He had the means and the motive and he was the last one to have them in his care before they permanently disappeared. Whether he killed them or not he stole their throne. The man was unquestionably a traitor and a usurper. Even if one tries to claim Edward IV was illegitimate that would still make the children of Richard’s elder brother the Duke of Clarence the rightful heirs not Richard himself. True, Henry VII had an almost Hanoverianly poor claim to the throne but his wife (whom he sworn to marry before embarking for England) was, on the assumption the princes were dead and Edward IV legitimate, the rightful heir. Deposing and bumping off Henry VI may have not been very nice but it did seem to settle the dynastic problem created by Henry IV’s usurpation. I can’t see how a further round of usurpation and probable murder leading inevitably to another civil war constitutes an attempt “to unite his country after generations of war”.

  6. RBrown says:

    One of my professors at KU, Paul Murray Kendall, wrote on Richard III. I had Prof Kendall for a Shakespeare class–he had already been diagnosed with cancer. He was one of the rarae aves of academia, superb both as a scholar and teacher.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/002-3356215-0184852?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Dbeauty&field-keywords=paul+murray+kendall&Go.x=8&Go.y=12&Go=Go

  7. David says:

    You know, the Tudors (except poor Mary I), and indeed, the Stewarts, always had the best propagandists…

  8. Jordan Potter says:

    For myself, I’ve long favored the theory that it was Henry Tudor who offed the Princes in the Tower. Yes, Richard III had motive and may have had opportunity, since even though the princes had been declared bastards and ineligible to succeed to the throne, nevertheless the princes could have eventually caused problems. They could initiate or be the pawns of attempts to overthrow Richard.

    Nevertheless, Henry Tudor had motive also, and may have had opportunity, since we don’t know if the Princes in the Tower were killed before Bosworth Field or after. But we do know that their sister Elizabeth of York was legitimated after Henry Tudor killed Richard and usurped the throne. Elizabeth, like her brothers, had been declared illegitimate. But Henry Tudor himself was descended from a legitimated Lancastrian bastard whose descendants had been explicitly and permanently excluded from ever succeeding to the throne. Since Henry Tudor was a usurper, he needed to secure a right to the throne, and the easiest way to do that was to marry a lawful heiress. Elizabeth, though legally declared a bastard, was the best candidate and therefore had to be re-legitimated. But to do that would mean her brothers would also be re-legitimated, which means they would have a superior right to the throne than Elizabeth’s husband Henry Tudor.

    So I’m not surprised that the Princes in the Tower were murdered and the Tudor propagandists were very intent on making everyone believed Richard had done it. In fact Henry had greater reason to have the princes killed than Richard did.

    But of course this is something we’ll never know this side of heaven. Still, as vile and as disastrous as the House of Tudor proved to be for England and for the world, it makes sense that their accession was secured by the killing of Richard III as well as the killing of the Princes in the Tower.

  9. Jordan Potter says:

    Aelianus said: The man was unquestionably a traitor and a usurper. Even if one tries to claim Edward IV was illegitimate that would still make the children of Richard’s elder brother the Duke of Clarence the rightful heirs not Richard himself. True, Henry VII had an almost Hanoverianly poor claim to the throne but his wife (whom he sworn to marry before embarking for England) was, on the assumption the princes were dead and Edward IV legitimate, the rightful heir.

    Yes, Richard III was a usurper, and his older brother George’s children had a superior right to the throne. I think Edward IV’s legitimacy is settled. But the legitimacy of Edward IV’s children was in disputed, and whether they were legitimate or not in fact, by law they were in fact declared illegitimate.

    The Hanoverians were usurpers also, but unlike Henry Tudor they actually had a legitimate descent from the previous dynasty, whereas Henry VII was of a family that had no rights to the throne at all.

  10. danphunter1 says:

    I would tend to believe what St Thomas More wrote about King Richard III.
    After all More is a saint.
    God bless you.

  11. Maureen says:

    Supporting Richard III is not historical revisionism.
    It’s the reform of the revision. :)

    The Plantagenets had their problems, but you really couldn’t trust a Tudor. And Dickon was one of the best of the Plantagenets. So yeah, me for the White Rose and the White Boar.

  12. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Hello, everyone, and to those who believe that Richard was a murderer, “a plague on all your houses”. Jordan Potter, in ascribing probable guilt to HVII, you’re right on the money. Mr “Tydder” was cold-blooded and malicious enough to have snuffed out the Princes w/out a qualm, whereas RIII worshipped his older brother Edward IV, and since the kids were Edward’s sons, Richard would never have harmed them. In her trilogy of novels based on the events of Richard’s life, Rosemary Hawley Jarman posits the interesting idea that Richard might have hidden Edward’s children in one of his northern castles such as Sheriff Hutton or Barnard Castle to actually protect them from the Tudor. I’ve read a lot about RIII, and visited Bosworth, York, Notthingham, and Leicester a few years ago. Actually, it was Prof. Kendall’s biography which got me interested in the whole Ricardian issue. R. Brown, it must have been wonderful to have had Prof. Kendall as a teacher — he’s a wonderful writer, and inspired me as a 13-year-old wih the dream of visiting England some day and seeing those places for myself. Maureen, I’m with you — hurrah for the White Rose and the White Boar! BTW, there is a Richard III Society based in the UK with brances world-wide, including Canada and the US. If anyone else would like to check this out, the URL is riii.net. Happy reading!

  13. RBrown says:

    I would tend to believe what St Thomas More wrote about King Richard III.
    After all More is a saint.
    God bless you.
    Comment by danphunter1

    I believe More wrote what he thought was true.

  14. Jayne K says:

    St. Thomas More was 8 years old when Richard III died at Bosworth. It is unlikely that he had any first hand knowledge of events. Probably the source of his information was John Morton, a supporter of Henry VII and enemy of Richard III. Another point to consider is presented by Josephine Tey in _The Daughter of Time_ (which I recommend as a readable introduction to this topic):”The account of Richard III is called Sir Thomas More’s not because he wrote it but because the manuscript was found among his papers. It was an unfinished copy of an acount that appears elsewhere in finished form.” In other words, he may have been copying by hand an account written by someone else, a common practice in those days. If this were the case, he might not been writing things that he believed to be true.

  15. Aelianus says:

    ‘Those Tudors were a bad lot’ is not really evidence. Yes, Henry VII had motive to kill Edward V and his brother, but we don’t know if he had the opportunity. We know Richard III had the motive and the opportunity. The Princes didn’t disappear on Henry VII’s watch they disappeared on Richard III’s watch. Richard had Edward IV’s children declared illegitimate while he was usurping the throne. The flimsy basis for this declaration was an alleged prior engagement of Edward IV. If this declaration of illegitimacy was well founded it should have been made by a parliament summoned by the Earl of Warwick (who would therefore have been King) in an Act of Parliament signed by him as ‘Edward VI’. This did not happen and so this declaration has no force. This is rather different from John Beaufort’s illegitimacy which was uncontested at birth and was reversed by a Papal Bull and by Parliament on the ecclesiastical basis that his mother subsequently married John of Gaunt. Even ignoring the fact that a subsequent Act of Henry IV excluded the Beaufort line from the throne this is a weak claim to throne as the surviving female children of Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick would still have had better claims than Henry VII. However, the question is not whether Henry VII had a good claim or was a nice man but whether Richard III was a regicide and usurper. The fact remains that Richard III committed high treason and usurped the throne (either from Edward V or from the Earl of Warwick). No one seems to contest this charge, which is rather serious. Henry VII was under oath to marry Elizabeth of York (an oath he fulfilled). If the Princes were killed by Richard III then Henry VII may technically be a usurper but he also put the rightful heir on the throne next to him (as consort as least).

  16. Jordan Potter says:

    ‘Those Tudors were a bad lot’ is not really evidence.

    Yes, but knowing his character establishes what Henry Tudor was capable of. He coveted a throne to which he had no right, and he did what he had to do to get his desire. Did that include the murder of the Princes in the Tower? God only knows.

    Yes, Henry VII had motive to kill Edward V and his brother, but we don’t know if he had the opportunity. We know Richard III had the motive and the opportunity. The Princes didn’t disappear on Henry VII’s watch they disappeared on Richard III’s watch.

    We don’t know that they disappeared on Richard III’s watch. They are last mentioned in historical documents before Henry Tudor’s usurpation of the throne, but that doesn’t mean they disappeared prior to Bosworth Field. For all we know they were still alive after Richard’s death.

    Richard had Edward IV’s children declared illegitimate while he was usurping the throne. The flimsy basis for this declaration was an alleged prior engagement of Edward IV.

    Not just a prior engagement, a prior marriage: a bishop testified that he had married Edward to Eleanor Butler, who was still alive at the time he married Elizabeth Woodville. If that bishop was telling the truth, then regardless of the legal standing of the parliament that issued the decree, the children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville would obviously have been bastards.

    If this declaration of illegitimacy was well founded it should have been made by a parliament summoned by the Earl of Warwick (who would therefore have been King) in an Act of Parliament signed by him as ‘Edward VI’. This did not happen and so this declaration has no force.

    Whether or not the parliamentary decree declaring Edward IV’s children bastards had any legal force, the fact is that parliament issued the decree, and one of the first acts of Henry VII’s parliament was to repeal that decree. That provided Henry VII’s only legal basis for his claim to the throne. He acquired the throne by force, by conquest, but lawfully he was only king jure uxoris. Unless, of course, Elizabeth of York was a bastard, in which case he had no right to the throne at all.

    In any case, there is no way Elizabeth of York could be re-legitimated if her brothers were still alive, as that would immediately have re-established Edward V as the rightful king and Henry VII as the usurping thug he was. Since we don’t know when the Princes were killed, Henry VII will always remain a suspect in their deaths.

    This is rather different from John Beaufort’s illegitimacy which was uncontested at birth and was reversed by a Papal Bull and by Parliament on the ecclesiastical basis that his mother subsequently married John of Gaunt. Even ignoring the fact that a subsequent Act of Henry IV excluded the Beaufort line from the throne this is a weak claim to the throne as the surviving female children of Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick would still have had better claims than Henry VII.

    Yep.

    However, the question is not whether Henry VII had a good claim or was a nice man but whether Richard III was a regicide and usurper.

    No, the question is whether or not Richard III murdered his nephews. There’s no doubt that Richard III and Henry VII were both usurpers and never had any lawful rights to the thrones they had seized.

    The fact remains that Richard III committed high treason and usurped the throne (either from Edward V or from the Earl of Warwick).

    As did Henry VII commit high treason and usurp the throne.

    No one seems to contest this charge, which is rather serious. Henry VII was under oath to marry Elizabeth of York (an oath he fulfilled). If the Princes were killed by Richard III then Henry VII may technically be a usurper but he also put the rightful heir on the throne next to him (as consort as least).

    And if Richard didn’t kill the princes and they survived Richard’s death at Bosworth Field, then Henry VII is the prime suspect.

  17. englishcatholic says:

    We have to be careful not to view history backwards. To attempt to lay the guilt of Prince’s death at the door of Henry VII because of the way his dynasty turned out is absurd. Henry VII was himself a faithful Catholic, as was his eldest son Prince Arthur, and as was Henry VIII in the first part of his reign. Later events are precisely that, later events. It is likely that the Reformation would not have happened had the Tudor’s not ascended to the throne but Henry VII can hardly have foreseen it! It is irrelevant to the question of the Princes in the Tower.

    As for St Thomas More he wrote only a few decades after the event. It is true that in the south of England, and particularly in London, Richard III was very unpopular and this may have coloured his account. Similarly he was very popular in the north which has always given impetus to the counter-theory. More never finished his History of Richard III, perhaps he was unwilling to given the dynasty a propaganda coup, the manuscript will have been circulated in learned circles.

    His outline is probably correct. After all Richard III needed his nephews dead if he was to secure his throne. I think it most likely that he was responsible.

  18. Jordan Potter says:

    To attempt to lay the guilt of Prince’s death at the door of Henry VII because of the way his dynasty turned out is absurd.

    True, but nobody is arguing that later sins of Henry Tudor and his children and grandchildren is any sort of proof that he killed the Princes. Richard III may have killed them or ordered their deaths, but there isn’t any evidence that he did, and Henry Tudor’s motive would be more compelling than Richard III’s motive.

    After all Richard III needed his nephews dead if he was to secure his throne.

    Similarly, Henry VII needed his wife’s brothers dead to secure his throne. The question is whether they had already been eliminated as a threat by Richard III.

    I forget: has Richard III ever been accused of killing or trying to kill his older brother George’s children, who had a better claim to the throne than Richard? I’m not aware that he ever was so accused, and it makes one wonder, if he really offed his nephews because they were a threat to his undoubtedly unlawful succession, would he not also seek to eliminate the daughter and son of George, Duke of Clarence?

  19. And now for an ENTIRELY different approach.

    July 3, 1983 was the five hundredth anniversary of the coronation of Richard III. In Toronto there is(was?) an active chapter of the Richard III Society. They decided to commemorate the event with a re-enacment of the ceremony. A number of us who were known to have liturgical experience were approached to take roles as bishops and abbots etc. and I ended up as Thomas Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury who, during his reign crowned three kings.

    It was arranged that the ceremony would take place in St. Michael’s Cathedral. The only restrictions were that we could not do the Coronation Mass (which in the 15th cent. came after the Coronation Ceremony) and I could not sit on the Cardinal’s throne (hardly a privation since it faced the people from behind the Altar). Oddly, if the throne was too sacred for me to sit on the altar was by no means too sacred for me to stand at to bless the coronation regalia which were laid thereon.

    The ceremony was entirely in Latin in the English local pronunciation of the times. The exceptions were the coronation oaths and the sermon. I had to administer the oaths in the English of 1483, vastly different from the “Thee Thou” English with which we are all familiar. I didn’t preach the sermon.

    Given my liturgical background I insisted on wearing ALL of the correct vestments whch meant buskins and sandals, red cassock, rochet, amice, alb, cincture, pectoral cross, stole, tunicle, dalmatic, gloves (with gauntlets) chasuble, pallium and mitre. Some of these e.g. the buskins and sandals and the palium had to be homemade but most of the stuff was genuine. The vestments came from various churches and from the Cathedral sacristy from whence I was given the Cardinal’s best mitre to wear.

    As might be expected, the day was extraordinarily hot and humid. The tunicle was silk but the dalmatic and chasuble were both heavy cloth of gold and you have no idea how much heat escapes though the top of the head until you have covered that escape route with a mitre. The deacon was ready with Lavabo towels with which to wipe my brow as I chanted the long latin prayers in the Sarum Tone. The event was videotaped and telecast on one of the cable channels. I still have the video-tape somewhere.

    To this day I have no interest in the true story of Richard III. My friends use to tell me that it was appropriate that that the last man to ever wear full pontificals in St. Michael’s Cathedral was me.

    Now, with the advent of Summorum Pontificum I hope that that distinction will be lost.

  20. Jordan Potter says:

    David, you should find that video and have copies and DVDs made of it, and maybe even circulate it on YouTube or something. That would definitely be worth seeing.

  21. Aelianus says:

    The only clear evidence is circumstantial. It consists in,

    1. The disappearance of the sons of Edward IV
    2. The usurpations of Richard III and Henry VII (Which gave both of them motive to eliminate the sons of Edwad IV)

    The disappearance of the sons of Edward IV occurred in the reign of Richard III (i.e. that was the last time they were seen). Their sister then married Henry VII. If Henry VII killed the sons of Edward IV why did he not announce his discovery of the bodies of the princes when a rebellion was launched by Perkin Warbeck who impersonated the younger of these two brothers? If he was the murderer he would have known where the bodies were buried. He could only have foreseen advantage from ‘discovering’ the bodies and so ‘exposing’ the wickedness of Richard III and the fraud of Perkin Warbeck. When Lambert Simnel impersonated the Earl of Warwick Henry VII paraded the real Earl through the streets of London, even though this young man was a threat to his own (and his wife’s) claim to the throne. The bones of Edward V and his brother had all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of the living Warwick. Had he produced them even greater dividends could be expected. Yet he did not produce them.

    It is impossible to determine who murdered the princes in the tower. Indeed, unless and until DNA tests are performed upon all the appropriate remains it will be impossible to determine if they were murdered at all. The balance of the evidence continues to point towards Richard III as it always has. What on earth is the point of getting aggravated about Richard’s ‘innocence’ and founding societies in his honour? Let alone performing mock re-coronations! He was a traitor and a usurper whether or not he was actually a regicide. Put not your trust in princes!

  22. Jordan Potter says:

    Aelianus said: If Henry VII killed the sons of Edward IV why did he not announce his discovery of the bodies of the princes when a rebellion was launched by Perkin Warbeck who impersonated the younger of these two brothers? If he was the murderer he would have known where the bodies were buried.

    Do I understand you correctly? Are you arguing that if Henry VII were guilty of murdering Edward V and his brother Richard, then he would have produced their bodies and thereby implicated himself in their deaths in order to take the wind out of Warbeck’s fraud? No, if Henry had ordered their deaths, there’s no way he would do something that would make people wonder how it is that he knew the location of their bodies.

    Richard III was a usurper since his brother George’s daughter and retarded son had a better claim to the throne than he (apart from the question fo the legitimacy of Edward IV’s children), but the blackening of his reputation by the Tudor propagandists does strike one as protesting too much. I’m not a “fan” of Richard III, but I do think it more likely that Henry Tudor was the one who got rid of his soon-to-be wife’s brothers. But as I’ve said, we’ll never know for sure this side of heaven.

    When Lambert Simnel impersonated the Earl of Warwick Henry VII paraded the real Earl through the streets of London, even though this young man was a threat to his own (and his wife’s) claim to the throne.

    Not too much later, however, Henry VII had the young Earl of Warwick executed, I think because he had attempted to escape his prison.

  23. Aelianus says:

    I was suggesting that (were he the murderer) Henry VII might have gained a double benefit by ‘discovering’ the bodies of the princes wickedly murdered by their uncle exposing any potential frauds and further blackening the name of his predecessor. If the discovery of the body needed an explanation he could easily have extracted a ‘confession’ from one of Richard’s servants. The execution of Warwick looks very much like a judicial murder.

  24. Fr K says:

    ‘I would tend to believe what St Thomas More wrote about King Richard III.
    After all More is a saint.’

    Come now, since when does being a saint make one an authority on historical matters? Even the Pope himself doesn’t claim that charism. Talk about ‘creeping infallibility.’ Read some of the more enlightened comments on both sides of the argument, but please, leave out pietistic waffle.

    Fr K

  25. K. A. D'Souza says:

    David O’Rourke,

    If you are still in Toronto, I would love to borrow that video from you, if you can find it. Please e-mail me at kadsouza at G mail dot com or give me a phone call at 768-0782.

    Thanks,
    K. A. D’Souza

    P.S. The Archbishops of Toronto – both Cardinal Ambrozic and Archbishop Collins – have kept the tradition of wearing the pontifical dalmatic when celebrating major liturgies in the Cathedral, so perhaps your wish for the full pontificals of the older use is well founded… Hope and pray!