The Battle of Bosworth anniversary: a rainbow of stories

Richard of York gave battle in vain. That's the rhyme for a rainbow that generations of British schoolchildren have learned but today it has particular resonance. For on this day, in 1485, Richard really did give battle and lost his crown in the process. On the anniversary of the battle that ended the rule of the might Plantagenets and gave us the Tudors, below is a collection of links to some of the posts on the blog in the past few years about Richard, the king who conquered him, Henry VII, and the princess who should really have been the first regnant Queen of England, Elizabeth of York.

The story of Richard III has been revisited many times in the past few years following the discovery of his remains beneath a car park in Leicester in 2012. His reburial at Leicester Cathedral saw thousands take to the streets and millions watch at home on TV.

He got a fairly sympathetic telling in BBC One's The White Queen in 2013 but historians still debate whether the youngest son who snatched the crown on the death of his brother, Edward IV, was hero or villain. His name will forever be associated with the fate of his nephews, Edward V and Richard, who were taken into the Tower of London on his orders and never emerged again. Shakespeare's great villain is being debated all over again. On the anniversary of his death, expect more discussion.

The victor of Bosworth established perhaps the most famous royal dynasty in British history but he ended his reign as a skinny old man with a reputation for being a miser. That was all a long way in the future on this day, in 1485, when Henry Tudor became a hero of history and grabbed a crown on a muddy field in Leicestershire. 

Henry VII was in many ways the product of his mother's ambitions. Margaret Beaufort, convinced of her own right to the crown, fought tooth and nail to put her son on the throne and proved his greatest support when he did finally become a king. Henry VII laid the foundations for a dynasty that would influence England and history like no other.

The woman who linked them both is often an afterthought in their story but Elizabeth of York was so important that both men realised her central role in the consolidation of power.  The first born child of Edward IV and Elizabeth of York, the deaths of her surviving brothers, Edward and Richard, in the Tower of London in 1483 made her queen but by then uncle Richard III had declared the whole brood illegitimate. There were rumours she would marry Richard but her husband ended up being Henry VII who wed the woman who should have been queen regnant to unite the Houses of Lancaster and York after his victory at Bosworth on August 22nd 1485.  Elizabeth was finally crowned queen consort of England on November 25th 1487.

Their stories intertwined forever on this day when medieval England finally began to melt away in a brand new world as Henry VII took the crown and Richard III battled in vain at Bosworth.