|King Richard’s standard flying at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre|
|‘King Richard’ presenting copies of his life story, The Order of the White Boar, to local primary school leavers at Middleham Castle, July 2018|
|King Richard in the front line with his men as Tudor’s troops attack.|
But there were no such problems at Bosworth 2018. Perhaps because the combatants had a deep-down appreciation that really King Richard should have won the day – that he came very close to it despite the actual no-show of his supposed ally the Earl of Northumberland – and that he was only defeated owing to the despicable treachery of the Stanley brothers, Thomas and William. (If those words sound strong, can I just say that I don’t usually bear grudges – but I make an exception in this case: 533 years just isn’t long enough to expunge the guilt of those two men!) Or maybe the re-enactors just wanted to be invited back next year.
|Giving my first talk at Bosworth (but perhaps with half an eye on when the alternative version battle will commence....).|
It was a marvellous, celebratory half an hour or so. No one outside the re-enactor companies themselves had known quite what to expect. How would King Richard’s victory be brought about? Would the Earl of Northumberland send his rearguard troops into action as ordered this time? Would Lord Stanley renege on his treacherous deal with Tudor and back King Richard? (Richard had his son, Lord Strange, as a ‘guest’ in his camp after all.) Would Sir William Stanley’s cavalry charge be aimed at supporting King Richard and helping him fight his way through to capture or kill Tudor, rather than ploughing into the King’s rear to wreak destruction and death before Richard can quite reach the pretender?
|The Earl of Northumberland enters the field of battle ... with his comfy stool.|
|King Richard advances on the traitor, Henry Tudor.|
Many were the cheers that rose from the spectators (though perhaps not as many or as loud as would have occurred had the beer tent been open longer by then...) as Henry Tudor was marched off to the Tower (‘for the rest of his short and miserable life’, as the commentary said) and both he and the surviving Stanley received a good kicking from the victorious troops (and I believe a swift one from the King in passing).
|King Richard, triumphant, addresses his troops, over the grovelling Thomas, Lord Stanley.|
Of course, we were all brought back down to earth in the afternoon when the ‘traditional’ version of the battle was staged – as usual – with King Richard’s glorious, but ultimately ill-fated cavalry charge leading to his brutal demise. But it certainly offered a talking point for the rest of the weekend as Ricardians and soon-to-be-Ricardians (as I like to think of everyone else) got together and discussed the event. I often heard people saying that what they’d seen or heard during the festival had made them question the Shakespearian version of events – which, after all, was written more than a hundred years after Richard’s death, during the reign of Henry Tudor’s grand-daughter, Elizabeth I; I doubt it would have been polite – or indeed, politic – for the Bard to point out that it was Tudor, not Richard, who was in fact the usurper.
|King Richard prepares to charge... ‘traditional version’.|