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August 21, 1485 – The Start of the Tudor Era

The Battle of Bosworth Field, by an unknown artist (public domain via Wikimedia commons)
The Battle of Bosworth Field, by an unknown artist (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Wait – what?? We all know that it was on August 22 that the Battle of Bosworth took place, where Henry Tudor defeated Richard III and became King of England. How could the Tudor Era begin before then?

Aha. In fact, the new Henry VII was careful to mark the start of his reign as the day before the crown was plucked from the hawthorn bush and placed on his head – so that anyone who fought for Richard could be charged with treason (even though they were fighting for their then-anointed king, the argument that Thomas Howard successfully used to keep from being executed…but that’s another story). Still, a legal technicality would not really merit its own separate post…except that it gives me the opportunity to share an excerpt from Polydore Vergil’s Historie of England, the account of Richard III’s arrival in the village of Bosworth on August 21 and his dream that night…

In the meantime King Richard, hearing that the enemy drew near, came first to the place of fight, a little beyond Leicester (the name of that village is Bosworth) and there, pitching his tents, refreshed his soldiers that night from their travel and with many words exhorted them to the fight to come. It is reported that King Richard had that night a terrible dream: for he thought in his sleep that he saw horrible images as it were of evil spirits haunting evidently around him, as it were before his eyes, and that they would not let him rest, which vision truly did not so much strike into his breast a sudden fear, as replenished the same with heavy cares; for forthwith after, being troubled in mind, his heart gave him thereupon that the event of the battel following would be grievous, and he did not buckle himself to the conflict with such levelness of courage and countenance as before, which heaviness that it should not be said he showed as appalled with fear of his enemies, he reported his dream to many in the morning. But (I believe) it was no dream, but a conscience guilty of heinous offenses, a conscience (I say) so much the ore grievous as the offenses were great, which, though at none other time, yet in the last day of our life is wont to represent to us the memory of our sins committed, and withal to show unto us the pains imminent for the same, that, being upon good cause penitent at that instant for our evil led life, we may be compelled to go hence in heaviness of heart…. – page 217


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August 21, 1485 - The Start of the Tudor Era
Published inOn This Day


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