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The Battle of Sandeford: Henry Tudor's understanding of the meaning of Bosworth Field

Thornton, Tim (2005) The Battle of Sandeford: Henry Tudor's understanding of the meaning of Bosworth Field. Historical Research, 78 (201). pp. 436-442. ISSN 0951-3471

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This article considers the way in which Henry Tudor understood the significance of his victory on 22 August 1485 at Bosworth Field. It does so by examining the reasons why the battle was initially associated with the name 'Sandeford', relating these to the prophetic traditions of the time. This allows a direct insight into the new king's understanding of his place in history: at the end of a long period of civil strife, and potentially at the beginning of a new phase of expansion and crusade.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: UoA 62 (History) © Institute of Historical Research 2005. Published by Blackwell Synergy.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
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References: 1 Francis Drake, Eboracum: or the History and Antiquities of the City of York: Together with the History of the Cathedral Church and the Lives of the Archbishops of that See (1736), pp. 121–2 (also L. C. Attreed, The York House Books, 1461–90 (2 vols., Gloucester, 1991), ii. 734–5); J. O. Halliwell Phillips, Letters of the Kings of England now First Collected from the Originals in Royal Archives, and from other Authentic Sources, Private as well as Public (2 vols., 1846), i. 169– 70). The author would like to thank Philip Morgan for his generous advice on the material covered in this article; the overall argument and any errors are the author’s. 2 S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII (1977), p. 51; A. Hanham, Richard III and his Early Historians 1483–1535 (Oxford, 1975), p. 59. Chrimes says it is of interest for this reference, without exploring further.3 E.g., D. Williams, ‘ “A place mete for twoo battayles to encounter”: the siting of the battle of Bosworth, 1485’, The Ricardian , vii (1985), 86–96; C. Richmond, ‘The battle of Bosworth’, History Today , xxxv (Aug. 1985), 17–22; D. Starkey, ‘Or Merevale?’, History Today , xxxv (Oct. 1985), 62; O. D. Harris, ‘The Bosworth commemoration at Dadlington’, The Ricardian , vii (1985), 115–31; O. D. Harris, ‘ “. . . even here, in Bosworth Field”: a disputed site of battle’, The Ricardian , vii (1986), 194–207; P. J. Foss, The Field of Redemore: the Battle of Bosworth, 1485 (2nd edn., Newtown Linford, 1998), pp. 30–4; M. K. Jones, Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle (Stroud, 2002), pp. 133–70. 4 P. Morgan, ‘The naming of battlefields in the middle ages’, in War and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Britain , ed. D. Dunn (Liverpool, 2000), pp. 34–52. 5 York City Archives (hereafer Y.C.A.), House Books 2–4, fos. 169r–v; Drake, p. 121 ( printed in Attreed, i. 368– 9; ii. 734– 5). 6 Hanham, Richard III , pp. 58–9; M. J. Bennett, The Battle of Bosworth (Gloucester, 1985), p. 14; Foss (although Foss is chiefly concerned to establish an authoritative topographical name). 7 For Windsor herald’s rewards in the months after Bosworth, see Materials for a History of the Reign of Henry VII: from Original Documents Preserved in the Public Record Office , ed. W. Campbell (2 vols., Rolls ser., lx, 1873–7), i. 86, 230, 406, 437, ii. 57; M. Noble, A History of the College of Arms and the Lives of all the Kings, Heralds, and Pursuivants from the Reign of Richard III, Founder of the College, until the Present Time (1804), p. 89. ‘Sandeferth’ had already appeared in the Latin note enrolled in the House Books under 22 Aug. (Y.C.A., House Books 2–4, fo. 169 (Attreed, i. 368)), which may represent an independent report, but there is no denying the royal initiative behind the proclamation itself. 8 If one discounts the suggestion of Jones, p. 154, that marshy land around Fenny Drayton might have been the site of a place so named, without offering any specific examples of such a place-name there. 9 Philip Morgan discusses one example of this: Shrewsbury (1403). This was named Berwick by Adam Usk, in reference to a prediction that Sir Henry Percy would die at Berwick, and Bull Field in other sources, which Morgan sees as relating to Galfridian prophetic tradition (P. Morgan, p. 45). This remains, however, an explanation rooted in the alleged fate of one individual, not in a prophetic understanding of the course of history. 10 Lancelot of the Laik, and Sir Tristrem , ed. A. Lupack (Kalamazoo, Mich., 1994), pp. 156, 167 ( The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS. 19.2.1 , ed. D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (1977), fo. 281 r a ). 11 Robert Mannyng of Brunne, The Chronicle , ed. I. Sullens (Binghamton, N.Y., 1996), ll. 93–110. Cf. I. Nixon, Thomas of Erceldoune (2 vols., Publications of the Dept. of English, University of Copenhagen, ix, pts. i–ii, 1980–3), ii. 33–4, for appearances c .1340 in Brit. Libr., Harleian MS. 2253 fo. 127 and Arundel MS. 57 fo. 8. 12 Barbour’s Bruce: a Fredome is a Noble Thing! , ed. M. P. McDiarmid and J. A. C. Stevenson (3 vols., Scottish Text Soc., 4th ser., xii–xiv, Edinburgh, 1980–5), i. 27–8; John Barbour, The Bruce , ed. A. A. M. Duncan (Edinburgh, 1997), pp. 82–3. 13 Andrew of Wyntoun, The Original Chronicle , vi, ed. F. J. Amours (Scottish Text Soc., 1st ser., lxiii, Edinburgh, 1914), p. 71, bk. viii, ch. 27, ll. 4718–22 (written c. 1420 (Nixon, ii. 88)). 14 Walter Bower, Scotichronicon , v: Books 9 and 10 , ed. S. Taylor and D. E. R. Watt, with B. Scott (Aberdeen, 1990), pp. 426–9. 15 E. B. Lyle, ‘The relationship between Thomas the Rhymer and Thomas of Erceldoun’, Leeds Studies in English , new ser., iv (1970), 23–30. Nixon, ii. 42, notes that the appearance of the romance version in print in 1652, as Sundry Strange Prophecies of Merline, Bede, Becket, and Others; Foretelling many Things of Consequence that have Happened in England, Scotland, and Ireland, Since these Late Wars , could have influenced the transmission of the ballad version. 16 Nixon, ii. 44–5. The Thornton Manuscript (Lincoln Cathedral MS. 91) , ed. D. S. Brewer and A. E. B. Owen (1977). Thornton was probably the man who became lord of East Newton in the parish of Stonegrave (Rydale wapentake) in 1418 (see J. J. Thompson, Robert Thornton and the London Thornton Manuscript: British Library MS. Additional 31042 (Manuscript Stud., ii, Cambridge, 1987); J. J. Thompson, ‘Robert Thornton and his book producing activities’ (unpublished University of York D.Phil. thesis, 1983); G. R. Keiser, ‘Lincoln cathedral MS. 91: life and milieu of the scribe’, Studies in Bibliography , xxxii (1979), 158–79; G. R. Keiser, ‘More light on the life and milieu of Robert Thornton’, Studies in Bibliography , xxxvi (1983), 111–19). 17 Cf. the Welsh origins of the trio of prophecies known as the ‘Prophecy of the eagle’, that is, the ‘prophecia Merlini’ and the ‘mortuo leone justicie’ and ‘sicut rubeum draconem’ prophecies (B. L. McCauley, ‘Giraldus “Silvester” of Wales and his prophetic history of Ireland: Merlin’s role in the Expugnatio Hibernica ’, Quondam et Futurus , iii (1993), 41–62, at p. 46; L. A. Coote, Prophecy and Public Affairs in Later Medieval England (Woodbridge, 2000), p. 61; A. F. Sutton and L. Visser-Fuchs, Richard III’s Books: Ideal and Reality in the Life of a Medieval Prince (Stroud, 1997), pp. 190–5). 18 Coote, p. 199. 19 A. J. Fletcher, Preaching, Politics and Poetry in Late Medieval England (Dublin, 1998), p. 162; Coote, pp. 165–6. 20 Often called the ‘First Scottish prophecy’ (C. Brown and R. Hope Robbins, The Index of Middle English Verse (New York, 1943), no. 4029; A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500, v, ed. J. Burke Severs (New Haven, Conn., 1975), p. 281). 21 ‘At sondyford, for-sothe, on the southe side,/ A prowde prince in a prese lordly shall he light’; ‘pe same bore shall wynne pe beme,/ At sondyford that degre’ (British Library, Cotton Rolls, ii. 23, art. 9, repr. in Historical Poems of the 14th and 15th Centuries, ed. R. H. Robbins (New York, 1959), pp. 115–17, at p. 115, ll. 19–20, and p. 117, ll. 67–8); Coote, pp. 198–200; S. L. Jansen, Political Protest and Prophecy under Henry VIII (Woodbridge, 1991), pp. 98–104; M. M. O’Sullivan, ‘The treatment of political themes in late medieval English verse, with special reference to BM Cotton Roll ii. 23’ (unpublished University of London Ph.D. thesis, 1972). 22 Nixon, i. 11–13. 23 Nixon, i. 14. This MS. includes the dictated notes for Bishop Russell’s 1483 parliamentary sermons (A. Hanham, ‘Text and subtext: Bishop John Russell’s parliamentary sermons’, Traditio, liv (1999), 301–22). The prophecy also appears in the later, 16th-century, versions in Brit. Libr., Lansdowne MS. 792, and in Brit. Libr., Sloane MS. 2578 (Nixon, i. 15–16; S. L. Jansen, ‘BL MS. Sloane 2578 and popular unrest in England, 1554–6’, Manuscripta, xxix (1985), 30 –41). 24 Nixon, i. 76–9. 25 This was still to be seen in Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland [1587], p. 684 (‘Gladmore heath’). 26 Nixon, i. 73. Unfortunately both the Thornton and Cotton MSS. are deficient at this point, but appear to be following a similar line. By the time of the Sloane MS., the battle is called Claydon Moor. 27 B. F. Roberts, ‘The Historia Regum Britanniae in Wales’, in Brut y Brenhinedd. Llanstephan MS. 1 Version: Selections, ed. B. F. Roberts (Medieval and Modern Welsh Ser., v, Dublin, 1971), pp. 55–74; G. A. Williams, ‘The bardic road to Bosworth: a Welsh view of Henry Tudor’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1986), 7–31. For the six kings to follow John, see, e.g., Brit. Libr., Cotton MS. Julius A v fos. 177–9; Harleian MS. 746; Cotton MS. Galba E ix fos. 49, 50; C. L. Kingsford, English Historical Literature in the 15th Century (Oxford, 1913), p. 236. 28 C. L. Morgan, ‘Prophecy and Welsh nationhood in the 15th century’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1985), 9–26. 29 Brit. Libr., Arundel MS. 66 fos. 267–91b, summarized in H. D. Ward and J. A. Herbert, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum (3 vols., 1883–1910), i. 301–2. K. L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390–1490 (2 vols., 1996), ii. 365–6; Sutton and Visser-Fuchs, pp. 195–202. 30 Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII, i. 231–40; The Reign of Henry VII from Contemporary Sources, ed. A. F. Pollard (3 vols., 1913–14), i. 240–50 (for the dating of this document, see D. A. Luckett, ‘Crown patronage and political morality in early Tudor England: the case of Giles, Lord Daubeney’, Eng. Hist. Rev., cx (1995), 578–95, at p. 589 (placing it between June 1504 and early 1506)); The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, ed. R. A. Griffiths and R. S. Thomas (Gloucester, 1985), pp. 93, 95–6, 175; Chrimes, pp. 22–3. 31 This is evident after 19 Aug., when dating is by Richard’s regnal year: the first date given without a regnal year was 23 Aug. This continues until, on 27 Aug., dating by Henry VII’s regnal year commenced (Attreed, ii. 734–7). 32 T. Rymer, Foedera (20 vols., 1704–35), x. 317. 33 J. Webb, ‘A survey of Egypt and Syria, undertaken in the year 1422, by Sir Gilbert de Lannoy, Knt. translated from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library in Oxford’, Archaeologia, xxi (1827), 281–444. 34 Brit. Libr., Cotton Rolls, ii. 23, art. 9 (Robbins, Historical Poems, pp. 115–17, at p. 117, ll. 61–76).
Depositing User: Sara Taylor
Date Deposited: 10 May 2007
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 23:36


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