Battles and Sieges

Shrewsbury permits Henry Tudor to pass

On 15th August 1485 word reached Richard III that Henry Tudor had passed Shrewsbury. The implication is clear, loyalty to the crown in Wales had not been as strong as anticipated. Jasper Tudor had previously lost at Twt Hill and all of the Welsh Castles, barring Harlech, had fallen reasonably quickly in the 1460’s. The expectation may have been that Tudor’s advance would have been severely hampered by forces under Rhys ap Thomas and William Herbert’s command.

The significance of Henry Tudor passing Shrewsbury

Lord Stanley’s failure to respond positively to the kings summons also meant that a major hurdle to Tudor’s advance had been effectively removed. Richard, meanwhile, was continuing to raise forces for his own army. Upon hearing of the landing, urgent requests for assistance had been sent out. Sir Henry Vernon of Derbyshire received a demand to “come with such number as ye have promised… sufficiently horsed and harnessed” with an implication that land rights would be forfeited if he failed to respond also in the message.

Henry Tudor passed the well defended town of Shrewsbury on 15th August 1485. His route was not barred after interventions on his behalf, including by Sir William Stanley.
Shrewsbury Castle, 1778. Thomas Pennant – This image is available from the National Library of Wales

Commissions of Array

The Duke of Norfolk received his summons to arms on 14th August. John Paston was instructed to be at Bury St. Edmunds with his men by 16th. Messages to the north would arrive later. York exchanged messages with Richard and only decided to send men on the 19th.

Dates are unknown for lots of the other magnates or towns, but it can be surmised that many supporters heard between the 15th and 18th of August and would have needed to travel to the King in all haste.

Richard, knowing that messages and mustering would also take time, is said, by Polydor Virgil, to have “begin with grief to be in fervent rage” as a consequence of the news. Yet Henry Tudor was cautious. He was yet to have any English lord declare for his side.

Books on Henry Tudor’s invasion and the Battle of Bosworth

Phil Carradice – Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor: A Historical Guide from Pembroke to Bosworth

Christopher Gravett – Bosworth 1485: The Downfall of Richard III (Campaign)

Mike Ingram – Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth

Image Credits

Shrewsbury Castle from a manuscript version of  The History of Shrewsbury by Hugh Owen (1822).


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