Baring the Bones of History, Part V: A Nasty Blow to the Head

By: The Scribe on Monday, February 18, 2013

In Part I of this series, we mentioned how Richard III died in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth field. His army at this battle was about 8,000 to his opponent Henry Tudor’s 5,000, though some alliance-switching by the Stanley family caused Richard’s advantage to be significantly diminished and is thought to have greatly affected the battle’s outcome.

Richard’s close friend, John Howard, was also killed during the battle, which demoralized Richard and his men—and Richard decided to retaliate by leading an unexpected, fully impromptu cavalry charge deep into enemy ranks. He wanted to end the battle quickly, and take a personal blow at Henry Tudor.

It didn’t work.

Oh, the accounts read that Richard III fought bravely, that he was strong and able, and even managed to strike several significant blows: He unhorsed jousting champion Sir John Cheney, and then killed the standard bearer before coming only a sword’s length from Henry Tudor before…

Well, before he was surrounded by traitor Sir William Stanley’s men and struck by a death-blow to the head. One story is that it happened while Richard’s horse was stuck in marshy ground, and other reports say that the halberd blow he took to the head drove his helmet right into his skull!

A more romantic version of events, written by Henry Tudor’s official historian, says that “King Richard, alone, was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies.”

And while there was apparently a burial for his body at the Greyfriars Church in Leicester, and a monument erected in his honor, more than 400 years of development in the area caused the exact location of Richard III’s body to be lost… until an archaeological investigation in 2012 finally ended Richard’s game of hide-and-seek.

To be continued…

(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)


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