What a remarkable weekend! I think the Bosworth Medieval Festival 2018 will go down in history. Well, at least in my personal history. It certainly was memorable for those who were able to attend. Perhaps particularly as it was the first ever time that the event had staged an alternative to the usual straightforward battle re-enactment.
Alternative history isn’t to everyone’s taste. But I got the impression that very many people at the festival this past weekend would prefer that history had actually gone the way that it was portrayed on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 11 o’clock.
Headline news: King Richard III has won the Battle of Bosworth… twice. Huzzah!
Not for the purists perhaps, but the cheers for King Richard’s victory over the craven pretender Henry Tudor were as loud as the boos that usually accompany his more ‘traditional’ defeat when it’s staged in the afternoon. I suspect Ricardians and Yorkists outnumber Lancastrians and Tudorites at this and other festivals – as I’m sure they do in real life! Who wouldn’t rather support the dashing York brothers, and the maligned, ill-fated King Richard, rather than the cowardly, miserly Tudor and his traitorous allies?
Uncertain quite what to expect – would Northumberland actually show up this time? Or would the Stanleys charge to King Richard’s assistance as he advanced on Tudor to end the battle? – we watched with anticipation. As the King mustered his troops ready to advance, the Earl of Northumberland sauntered up with a stool and jugs of drink and various comestibles – a veritable picnic to accompany what he intended no doubt to be a fine view of the coming battle … which he had no intention of joining, of course.
Until the Stanleys had a moment of collective insanity, which brought the spectators new hope. They started to advance their troops on . . . none other than the Earl of Northumberland’s men.
Chaos ensued of course, and in the fierce fighting (I guess the Earl abandoned his repast quite quickly), Sir William Stanley was felled – fatally (cue cheers!).
The clash of the armies at last left Henry Tudor exposed – well behind the main body of his troops of course (that was one thing the ‘alternative’ version didn’t change – it didn’t somehow make Tudor into a warrior who was going to fight on to his last breath in his attempt to steal the throne from King Richard).
It was a doddle for King Richard and his loyal companions then. No need for a cavalry charge this time – they simply strolled across the field to Tudor on foot, past the otherwise occupied Stanley forces.
In minutes the craven pretender was surrounded. A few of his troops dropped back to try and protect him, but most didn’t seem very interested – perhaps not particularly devoted to his (now lost) cause – certainly not enough to risk their own lives.
It wasn’t long before the banner of the Dragon of Cadwallader had fallen. Tudor was taken alive. He didn’t fall fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies. Not that you would have expected that, of course…
The traitor was last seen being herded off the field by King Richard himself, to languish in the Tower of London, presumably until he could be tried and beheaded for his treacherous crimes.
And what of Lord Stanley, traitor extraordinaire? He was given a good kicking by the victorious troops (cue more cheers!)
Ever magnanimous in victory, good King Richard refrained from topping Lord Stanley on sight (but he did also land a stealthy kick when he thought no one was looking….)
After all that the ‘real’ battle was always going to a bit of a downer. But it was still worth watching. But I don’t need to offer the details here as they’re pretty well known. I’ll just offer up a few representative photos and some others from around the festival.
Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). A third book in the ‘White Boar’ sequence, King in Waiting, will be published 17 September 2021. Alex has also published a standalone timeslip novel for readers aged 10+, Time out of Time.
Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at: