Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Some Truth, Some Truth, My Kingdom for the Truth

We struggled on up the Ashby Canal, weaving our way round oncoming boats and reversing our way off shallow silt banks.

It truly is a beautiful waterway and is completely lock-less.

Our only regret is that we did not have the time to reach it's terminus.

Our objective this trip, was to reach the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field.

I have a penchant for history, but am no anorak.

We located Bridge 34A - this makes me smile because it reminds me of platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter.

Quite appropriate really and this is a subcutaneous link, because the bridge used to carry an old railway and there are still visible signs of this, even though the tracks have long gone.

The bridge is important because it now carries a footpath across the canal and there is a pleasant light-dappled walk to the Bosworth Visitors Centre.

For those of you not acquainted with English history, Bosworth Field was fought on 22 August 1485 as the penultimate battle in the War of the Roses.

In the red corner, we had Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and in the white corner, we had Richard III, the last King of England from the House of York.

Richard III (AKA the Duke of Gloucester) was arguably, not a nice man.

He reputedly had his two young nephews murdered in the Tower of London as they posed a threat to his path to the throne and had he lived today, "dirty deeds done cheap" would probably have been his signature tune.

Bosworth Field saw the last charge of mounted knights in Britain and Richard III was the last English King to die in battle.  

Ironically, only 400 of Henry's men were English. Most of his 3000 troops were French or Welsh.

Richard had around 10,000 men and despite superior forces, decided to seek out Henry for single combat.

Henry was protected by his encircled loyal guard and Richard was cut down by a Welsh pikeman whilst trying to fight his way in.

Richard was stripped naked and thrown across a horse. His body was taken to Leicester and openly exhibited in a church to prove his death to the people of England.

After two days, the corpse was taken by the friars and interred in a plain unmarked tomb.

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is built on Ambion Hill, a five minute walk from the mooring.

There is a lot of controversy concerning whether the battle was actually fought at Ambion, although it is certain that the battle was fought in the local area somewhere.

King Dick's Well is located near the Centre.

According to legend, Richard III, supposedly drank from this spring on the day of the battle and a stone structure was later built over the location.

The inscription on the well reads:

"Near this spot, on August 22nd 1485, at the age of 32, King Richard III fell fighting gallantly in defence of his realm & his crown against the usurper Henry Tudor.

The Cairn was erected by Dr. Samuel Parr in 1813 to mark the well from which the king is said to have drunk during the battle.

It is maintained by the Fellowship of the White Boar."

It has the most beautiful and sweet-smelling white roses growing alongside it.

1 comment:

  1. and of course if you saw that programme a while ago Richard III was a much maligned man of strong convictions. The reason he wouldn't allow his nephews to be crowned and therefore locked them up and/or murdered them (not proven) was that they were not of true royal blood. I think his brother was actually the son of a bowman in France whilst 'daddy' was away at the Crusades during the conception.

    I get confused but I can well believe that History is written by people near the time who want to appear on the correct side and therefore things that do not support their view are altered. Richard III was also not ugly or a hunchback but portrayed as such to support claims that he was not a nice man.


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