Mike Ingram, Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth (Helion, 2019)
The momentous Battle of Bosworth fought on 22 August 1485 was a significant turning point in English history. In the first of a new series by Helion Publishing, From Retinue to Regiment, historian Mike Ingram takes on the task of narrating a new version of the battle based on historical sources and recent archaeology.
Ingram lays out his groundwork with a detailed survey of his sources, the family trees of the Houses of York and Lancaster, and an annotated timeline of the Wars of the Roses. He then provides a detailed background to the Wars as a series of connected events rather than a continuous conflict. Ingram goes back into the 14th Century to untangle the roots of this complex dynastic struggle that also involved France and Burgundy. Events accelerated with the accession of the utterly inept Henry VI. Then with the English defeat at Castillon in 1453 the storm broke and open warfare erupted between competing nobles while Henry VI lay catatonic. Many battles were fought, and the Throne changed hands several times, but by 1485 the crisis was coming to a head with Richard III as King and Henry Tudor landing in Wales with a small force.
Here Ingram breaks off with an illuminating chapter on 15th Century warfare, and biographies of Richard and Henry, an overview of the connections between Henry, France, and Burgundy, and an account of the events leading up to the Battle of Bosworth. Henry landed on 1 August 1485 near Milford Haven and marched into England, gathering troops as he went. Richard III mustered his army and advanced to meet him. That encounter took place at Bosworth where Richard died in battle and Henry emerged triumphant. By then events were already disappearing into misty legend and historians ever since have attempted to reconstruct the battle.
The general story of Bosworth is well known – a kingdom for my horse, and all that – but we are short on details. Or we were until battlefield archaeology conducted in the 2000s changed the game completely. Ingram has jumped on the new evidence to describe a very different Bosworth but one that makes sense of the physical and source evidence. His interpretation is convincing and likely to stand the test of time. Ingram concludes with three appendices on finding the battlefield, Richard III’s grave, and the likely order of battle.
Ingram’s book is well written and nicely illustrated throughout, with some plates in colour. His expertise in the area of battlefield reconstruction shows through clearly, and his analysis of the evidence is skilful. This is not only an enjoyable book therefore, it is authoritative. Highly recommended. 9/10