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England under the Tudors 1485-1603

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IN AUGUST of 1485, Henry Tudor landed on the Welsh coast to fight King Richard III for the crown of England. Henry was twenty-nine years old, lean and golden-haired, with a merry face. He was head of the Lancaster family, which had so far been defeated by King Richard’s family, York, in the Wars of the Roses. Henry was counting on help from many Englishmen and Welshmen who hated Richard. They believed Richard had hacked his way to the throne by murdering his nephews, they resented his taxes and rich living and they called him the “great hog” or “great boar.” Many Welshmen immediately joined the Lancaster chief, hopefully shouting, “King Henry! King Henry!” and “Down with the bragging white boar!” Henry marched north into England, gathering new followers. Richard mocked Henry’s troops as a few “faint hearted Frenchmen and beggarly Britons.” Even so, he raised a large army and advanced to Bosworth Field near Henry’s camp. When Richard roused his troops for battle on the morning of August 21, they stretched out, as a chronicler said, “a wonderful length,” so that the sight of the massed footmen and horsemen sent a thrill of horror through Henry’s camp. On a knoll overlooking the countryside, Henry stirred his men to fight. He told them not to be dismayed by Richard’s large army. Painting to Richard’s camp, he said that there was a thief who had stolen the crown and now must surely fail. Against “yonder tyrant” his soldiers must advance “like true men against traitors . . . scourges of God against tyrants.” Then Henry led his men to the attack. They marched with the archers in the centre and the foot soldiers on the right protected by a marshy bog. They advanced so that the sun was behind them and …

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