The Battle of Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485
Jasper Tudor leaned back in his saddle and muttered encouragement to steady his horse. He closed his eyes for a moment and said a prayer, not for himself but for his young nephew Henry. He felt strangely calm for someone facing death. All his worries slipped away with the certainty that, one way or another, he would meet his destiny at last.
He opened his eyes again. He had never seen so many men so still, so silent, as on that morning, on a broad field south of the market town of Bosworth, in Leicestershire, bordered by the River Tweed. Sir John de Vere, chosen as commander, had persuaded Henry to form his army in a wide line, archers to the front. Jasper glanced across at Henry, who decided to remain on foot with his guards.
Henry was old enough to be his own man, make his own decisions. Jasper fastened the thick leather strap under his helmet and pulled it tight, then pulled on the black leather gloves he’d chosen instead of steel gauntlets, in deference to the heat.
Across the field the deadly ranks of King Richard’s army shimmered with a dreamlike quality in the sunshine. Jasper shielded his eyes with his hand and made out Richard’s standard bearer, with the long pennant of the white boar. Richard could not be far away. He glanced across at Henry’s standard, the red dragon of Cadwallader, carried by William Brandon, surrounded by loyal mounted knights.
With a shout, Sir John de Vere committed them to battle. The air filled with arrows, spurring the enemy into action, as they returned an equally devastating volley and closed the ground between them with alarming speed. The clash of steel and cries of wounded and dying men brought deeply buried memories back for Jasper and he drew his sword. The blade flashed in the sun as he held it high, the signal for the next wave of men to attack.
From his position at the rear of the battlefield Jasper could see they were outnumbered by more than two to one. The ground under him vibrated then his ears rang with the booming thunder of Richard’s guns. With a jolt he realised they had been holding their fire until Sir John de Vere’s vanguard was at close range.
Cannonballs cut swathes through the ranks of Henry’s mercenaries. Men cried out and one gave a blood-curdling scream but the ranks closed and continued to press forward as if nothing had happened. The sun, which had been behind their enemy, moved overhead and the savage, hand-to-hand fighting ebbed and flowed like a tide as fighting men gained ground then lost it as others pressed forward.
|Illustration of Richard III (2 October 1452 - 22 August 1485) at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, from a Chronicle of England by James Doyle, printed by Edmund Evans, 19th century.|
Image Credit: © CM Dixon via Heritage Images
Continued From the perspective of King Richard III:
Richard fought savagely through the knights around the rebel Henry Tudor’s standard, slashing with his sword at the standard bearer. The flowing banner with its proud red dragon fell to the ground as the man died without letting go of it to defend himself.
Fighting for his life, his throne and all he cared for, Richard shouted in fury as he charged onward into the rebel men-at-arms, unhorsing one knight and thrusting at another. He spurred his horse to higher ground and looked back to see he’d been cut off from his men. He cursed their failure to follow him and knew he must turn back, but then he saw his enemy, the man who had dared to challenge his crown.
In a flash of insight Richard understood. The banner had been a ruse, as Henry Tudor watched the fighting from a safe distance. Surrounded by foot soldiers wearing the blue and gold fleur-de-lis surcoats of France, it was unmistakably his challenger, Henry Tudor, looking surprisingly young and thin, his face pale.
Richard heard an order shouted in a confident voice over the noise of battle, and turned in time to recognise the tall, bearded figure of Henry’s uncle, Jasper Tudor.
‘Pikemen, take position!’
The Frenchmen moved with swift precision, forming a circle around Henry, their long sharpened pikes linked in an impenetrable forest. As Richard closed the ground between them he saw Henry draw his sword, his lips moving as if in silent prayer.
Then with pounding hooves, and a fierce battle cry, mounted knights carrying the banner of the black raven surrounded Richard. The thought of surrender flashed through his mind, then he cursed and raised his sword defiantly, charging the man nearest to him. On a shouted command from their commander the Welshmen attacked. Richard felt the blow as a sword clanged against his fine armour and lunged back as a halberd struck him deep in the temple. He felt the merciful release of unconsciousness as he fell from his horse.
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Following the best-selling historical fiction novel Owen – Book One of The Tudor Trilogy, this is the story, based on actual events, of Owen’s son Jasper Tudor, who changes the history of England forever.
England 1461: The young King Edward of York has taken the country by force from King Henry VI of Lancaster. Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, flees the massacre of his Welsh army at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and plans a rebellion to return his half-brother King Henry to the throne.
When King Henry is imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London and murdered, Jasper escapes to Brittany with his young nephew, Henry Tudor. Then after the sudden death of King Edward and the mysterious disappearance of his sons, a new king, Edward’s brother Richard III takes the English Throne. With nothing but his wits and charm, Jasper sees his chance to make young Henry Tudor king with a daring and reckless invasion of England.
Set in the often brutal world of fifteenth century England, Wales, Scotland, France, Burgundy and Brittany, during the Wars of the Roses, this fast-paced story is one of courage and adventure, love and belief in the destiny of the Tudors.
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