When news of the Battle of Bosworth reached Westminster the Common Council of London met at the Guildhall to consider its response to the Tudor victory over Richard III. In 1461 and 1471, the city of London acted as a kind of kingmaker, determining which claimant it would support, Yorkist on both occasions, and backing them with finance, manpower, and simple refusal to let the Lancastrians into the city. 1485 was different, and Henry Tudor made his state entry into London on 3rd September 1485.
From the battlefield at Bosworth the victor had travelled to Leicester. In Leicester the body of Richard III had been laid out, and then handed to the monks at Greyfriars for burial. Henry Tudor then travelled to Coventry. Here, he celebrated his victory with a feast. The Coventry Leet Book records that 33 dignitaries and merchants from Coventry provided goods for a feast held by the new king. It was a hastily arranged but quite lavish celebration. The people of Coventry provided 2 oxen, 20 muttons, 7 fishes, 42 dozen breads, ale and nearly 1,000 litres of red wine, £100 and a precious cup as gifts from the city to the new king [source].
Henry Tudor as a fresh start for the citizens and merchants of London
In 1485 the situation was politically quite different to 1483. The scenario of 3 kings in 3 months was fresh in the memory. So too was the rebellion against Richard’s rule and the resultant plantation of northern lords into southern estates.
Henry Tudor offered a fresh start, one backed by influential nobles and merchants. So, the Council agreed to greet Henry Tudor as their King. The Mayor, aldermen and others dressed in the City of London livery met the new King outside London and escorted him triumphantly into the city.
Henry Tudor’s triumphal entrance into London
The King rested on the night of the 22nd August, and on the 23rd proceeded to Leicester, where he was entertained by the Earl of Northumberland on the 24th. Henry was proclaimed King of England in the presence of the united armies, a host of nobles, the people of the town and countryside, on the 25th August, 1485. The next day the King commenced his triumphant march to the south.
He marched to Coventry and lodged with Robert Olney, the Mayor of the old town, on whom he conferred the honour of knighthood. From thence we have not been able to trace his route with any certainty, but if an obscure reference to Northampton is to be relied on, it lay, after leaving this county town on the 29th, through Newport-Pagnel, Stony Stratford to Dunstable, and thence on to St. Albans, where the King evidently rested and received the deputies of the City of London, and heard from them the arrangements for his royal reception. On the 3rd September King Henry was met at Shoreditch by the Mayor and Corporation, and entered London in state at the head of his army, and attended a thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral and deposited therein the three standards which he had carried or captured on the battlefield of Bosworth. On the 30th of October following he was crowned in Westminster Abbey.
The History Of The King’s Body Guard Of The Yeomen Of The Guard (Valecti Gard Domini Regis) The Oldest Permanent Body Guard Of The Sovereigns Of England, 1485 To 1904. Hennell, Reginald, Sir. [Source]
Henry VII’s Bodyguard
When Henry Tudor entered London he was protected by a newly formed bodyguard. The title given to this band of guards was The Yeomen of the Guard of our Lord the King. That body of guards has remained in place for the monarch of England, then Great Britain, ever since. The Yeomen of the Guard, often referred to as Beefeaters in modern parlance, were the men responsible for the monarchs safety. Today they are best known for their work as wardens of the Tower of London.
A warm welcome?
This is not to say that Henry Tudor was warmly welcomed or secure. Keith Dockray noted that Tudor was less secure than his predecessor had been in 1483. There was hope though, DeLoyd Guth noted that ‘normalcy would return to the realm‘ and a feeling that ‘the city could now begin to relax‘.
For Henry, the ceremonial entry was important. He needed to be seen and seen to be a fair and just monarch. He followed this entry up with a carefully staged coronation then, the following year, his marriage to Elizabeth of York.