Just two days to go until the Bosworth medieval festival begins, and this will probably be my last post before heading off back into the fifteenth century – away from all this newfangled technology…
This will be my first visit to the battlefield, and the festival, since I finished writing and then publishing The King’s Man. My last visit was in 2015, when I was very moved to see the commemoration of all the men killed at the battle by so many people, laying roses of both white and red.
I was also touched by the reading of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Richard by Philippa Langley, to whom it was dedicated after King Richard’s reburial earlier that year. (See below.)
That poem inspired a particular scene in The King’s Man which occurs not far from the site of this reading, and also prompted a leit-motif that occurs throughout both books of Matthew’s story. It also provides the foundations for a significant event that will happen in the third book…
Three years ago I had to leave before witnessing the re-enactment of the battle. (For family reasons, not because I couldn’t face it – after all, it might have been very useful for deciding how to depict the battle in my book!) But it turned out to be a particularly memorable re-enactment. Spectators cheered on King Richard’s final charge – knowing as always that, sadly, their support couldn’t change the outcome – and as the King was unhorsed, lightning flared and thunder resounded around the battlefield, before the heavens opened and torrents of rain poured down.
(Thanks to Matt Lewis for the pic.)
Some people saw it as some sort of sign. Particularly in the year of King Richard’s reinterment. Whatever the case, I was sorry to have missed it.
This year, of course, something different is planned – not only a ‘What if?’ discussion of what might have happened if Richard had won his victory that day, but also an enactment of the battle as though he had. That will be worth missing the earlier version. And I know which outcome I’d rather be witness to.
A York, A York! For Richard and England!
Richard by Carol Ann Duffy
My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.
These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead …
or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.