On the morning of 22 August 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. The might of Richard III's army was pitted against the inferior forces of the upstart pretender to the crown, Henry Tudor, a 28-year-old Welshman who had just arrived back on British soil after 14 years in exile. Yet this was to be a fight to the death - only one man could survive;
only one could claim the throne.
The story of the Battle of Bosworth has to be one of the great examples of why we need to keep our wits about us when we study history. Supporters of Richard III argue that the record of events that summer’s day was distorted by the Tudors and, as Chris Skidmore points out, few of the chroniclers were present (or even alive at the time) and relied on the testimony of men such as Sir John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had good reason to emphasise the importance of his own role.
The Welsh bards were also soon reaching for their quills to compose stirring poems about how Henry marched under the red dragon of Cadwallader and hailed him as ‘Y Mab Darogan’, the son of prophecy. Talking of bards, Shakespeare has also influenced public perceptions of the battle, with his unforgettable line, ‘My kingdom for a horse!’
If all this were not enough, Chris Skidmore was writing the book when in 2010 the site of the battlefield was ‘rediscovered’, with new evidence uncovered in the form of numerous cannonballs. Then in 2012, King Richard’s skeleton was discovered in a Leicester car park, again casting new light on our understanding of events.
This book takes a fresh look at the original sources and offers a balanced view of what might have actually happened on that fateful day. Chris Skidmore has a lively, engaging style and a good eye for the fascinating details hidden in the ancient texts. Highly recommended.
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About the Author
Chris Skidmore gained a double first in History at Christ Church, Oxford, where he continued with postgraduate research. Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and in 2010 was elected Member of Parliament for Kingswood. He is Vice-Chairman of the All Party Group for History and Archives and a member of the Education Select Committee. Chris is currently working on a full biography of Richard III, to be published in August 2016. For more information please see Chris' Author website www.chrisskidmore.co.uk and find him on Twitter @bosworthbattle.