Solem a Tergo Reliquit: The Troublesome Battle of Bosworth Field
Ricardian Register, Summer, (2002)
In a recent issue of the Ricardian Register, Geoffrey Richardson (2001) was kind enough to reply to some of the observations that I had made on the representations of Bosworth Field on a selection of the earliest County maps of England (Hancock, 2000). In so doing, he raised a number of points about the Battle upon which I would like to take the opportunity to comment further. As one who seeks consensus, I would first like to note some of our major points of agreement. The first of these is a shared interest in retaining a common name for the Battle. It is possible that a name acts as an important descriptor and so in it- self a name is not unimportant. For example, the 1996 edition of the Pitkin Guide to the ‘Wars of the Roses’ shows the Battle of Stoke (1487) as occurring near Stoke on Trent, not close to the actual site near Newark in Nottinghamshire. This error is corrected in the later 1999 edition but shows what problems can arise from names and their misinterpretation. So naming, which some might consider mundane, is not necessarily a trivial matter. How- ever, at the present time, there is little direct benefit in generating greater confusion by a proliferation of names and Bosworth Field is surely the preferred appellation.
Even Foss (1998), in his text that presents a new perspective on the Battle, continues to use Bosworth Field as a subtitle to his work. Richardson and I, also in concert with many other commentators, agree on the importance of the Battle. At one stroke, the path of English history and possible world history, took a sudden turn, for we cannot forget that Henry VIII’s division with the Catholic Church caused radical change in the landscape of the sixteenth century and arguably in life since. Given this pivotal nature of the Battle of Bosworth, much frustration subsequently arises from the unsatisfactory state of knowledge concerning what precisely transpired on August 22nd 1485.