LIC Blog

None dare call it treason!

On 22nd August 1485 the Battle of Bosworth took place. The location and actions of the participants in that combat are, to this day, a matter of conjecture and speculation.

But some things are clear and beyond question.

King Richard III arrived at Bosworth with three battles or battalions. The vanguard was commanded by the ever loyal John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, accompanied by his son Thomas. The rearguard was under the banner of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, whilst the King and his household knights directed the centre.

The enemy were led, in name, by Henry Tudor, only son of the venomous Margaret Beaufort. She was descended from the debauched John of Gaunt and his mistress Swynford. The Beauforts had no right or title to the crown of England.

Tudor brought with him a rag-bag of English renegades and malcontents together with a body of French "mercenaries". 

According to the Tudor-lover Griffiths (The Making of the Tudor Dynasty page 129) Tudor raised some 4000 men to sail from Honfleur to Wales. About 3600 men were French, half joining the expedition at the eleventh hour. 

Philippe de Commynes described them as:

the worst kind which could be found anywhere

The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes, Kinser (ed) Volume 2, page 415, University of South Carolina Press, 1973

The French government provided the ships and a commander together with 40,000 livres. The brigands, who landed in Wales, were an invasion force backed by Charles VIII of France.

400 English exiles made up the rest of Tudor's force, including the multiple rapist William Brandon.

Scottish writers claim that 1000 Scots also fought with their French allies and English traitors at Bosworth [Griffiths pages 130-1].

But Tudor's real strength lay with the debased traitors in England itself.


Tudor was met by Sir William Stanley and 3000 men from Cheshire and North Wales outside the town of Shrewsbury about 18th August. Stanley was the killer of the clan, a professional soldier, who was his brother's Rottweiller. They were joined by Sir Gilbert Talbot and some 500 armed men. Talbot's aunt was Lady Eleanor Butler, who had been so cruelly abused by Edward IV and whose shame Parliament made public in 1484 in the Act establishing Richard's title to the crown. He was joined by some 800 men under Sir Richard Corbet, who just happened to be Stanley's stepson.

These men - Stanley, Talbot and Corbet - had all sworn an oath of allegiance to Richard III. They took the benefits of his rule and protection, whilst harbouring hatred in their hearts. They remain a disgrace to their nation. These English traitors shepherded Tudor's French army across the Midlands acting as a protective shield.

On 21st August Tudor linked up with his step-father, Thomas Stanley and his 5000 men. He donated Sir John Savage to Tudor. Savage was the nephew of William and Thomas Stanley. Killing a king was very much a family affair. Next day Savage would lead the left flank and Talbot the right on Bosworth field.

The brothers Stanley now arrived at the field of Combat with Tudor safely between them. As usual the craven Thomas took no part in the fighting. He left that to his vicious brother.

As Richard faced Tudor, he knew exactly what he was up against. He had been holding George Stanley as hostage for his father - Thomas' - good behaviour. On 15th August George had admitted that his uncle William was plotting with Tudor, but vowed that his father was true.

That day William Stanley and John Savage were proclaimed traitors.

And Thomas?

He and his vile wife had conspired against the King from the moment he arrived in London May 1483, but the proof only appeared by his stand at Bosworth.

If the Stanleys had remained true to their oath, they would have destroyed the Tudor upstart and his French men.

They did not and the King died together with many other good men.

Humanists often poke fun at Richard for his "rash" charge to kill Tudor on the field of battle. They enjoy comparing his charge to the "rash" charge of his father at Sandal Castle. Each man, it is claimed, lost his life through folly.

But both men died through treachery.

And every monarch, who has occupied the throne of England since, has benefited from the treason of Tudor and the Stanleys. But men do not make oaths to a man. Oaths are made to God. He is the ultimate judge of how we keep them. It is not the judgment of history or historians that ultimately matters, but the judgment of God in Christ at the Last Day.

Then, on that day, I would hate to be Henry Tudor or a Stanley.