August 22 marks the anniversary of one of the pivotal battles in British history. On this day in 1485, Henry Tudor defeated Richard III of England in the final and decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses.
As the last remaining Lancastrian claimant to the throne, Henry Tudor had been in exile for most of his life. Because Edward IV's (the Yorkist heir) reign was so successful, it was only England's extreme dislike of Richard III that made Henry's ascension to the throne possible. Henry was able to muster fellow exiled English troops in France, and thanks to his Uncle Jasper Tudor he gathered supportive Welsh troops (Wales was the Tudor's historic homeland) when he hit the English coast. But it was his mother, Margaret Beaufort, who gets credit for the assist. Her noble connections allowed her to secure some key allies among the nobility to fight for him. It was only the last-minute presence of her third husband, Lord Stanley, that secured the win for Henry Tudor.
With his troops abandoning him, Richard knew his end had come, and he was determined to go out in style. Having never met him, Richard had to have Henry Tudor pointed out to him on the battle field. He then charged straight at Henry, never reaching his target, but instead cut down by Henry's protective guard. Richard III was the last English monarch to die in battle. His battlefield crown was picked up out of the dirt by Lord Stanley, and placed on Henry Tudor's head.
It was a most unlikely story, a victory against all odds, and a battle that would establish the Tudor dynasty. Click here to read more about Henry Tudor, Richard III, and the Battle of Bosworth.