Monday, February 4, 2013

What If...Richard III Had Won the Battle of Bosworth?

With the recent discovery of Richard III's remains, I thought it would be fun to play "What if..." What if Richard III hadn't been killed at Bosworth. He hadn't been pulled off his horse and killed by angry soldiers, then paraded, naked, through the camp, only to be hurriedly buried in an ancient priory. What if he had won, and Henry Tudor had been either killed in battle or later executed for treason?

What events do you think would have followed Richard's victory?

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9 comments:

  1. (ahem, for the record, I am a Ricardian. Full disclosure and all that. And I have been giving this some thought.)

    He would have had a long reign, probably fairly peaceful on the domestic side (what other Lancastrians were there?). Hard to say on the foreign end--wasn't he the one who was upset that Edward IV took the French King's bribe and thus there was no war?
    He would have married again, although I'm not sure who was available. (what does anyone think of the rumor that he was to marry his niece Elizabeth? It was done--see some of the later Hapsburgs) Hopefully had children, etc.

    Margaret Beaufort would have been executed. Something more severe than house arrest under her husband, 'tany rate.

    Edward's daughters--their fate probably wouldn't have changed, except for the names. Married well and to the benefit of the family within England.

    Elizabeth Woodville--gracious and FUNDED retirement. More Court appearances than under Henry VII, especially if Richard did indeed marry his niece.

    On the other hand--no Henry VIII, no Elizabeth I (not as we know them). Would there have been anything resembling the Elizabehan era, the birth of drama? What about the Reformation? Colonization of the Americas? The mind boggles...

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    1. The idea of no Henry VIII is really interesting. If Britain doesn't end up at war with Spain in what was Elizabeth I reign. Would Britain have become the naval power that undoubtedly led to the creation of the Empire! its a massive leap I know but surely if the threat was diminished or none existent why go to sea? And if we are in the realm of massive leaps of faith how about a Spanish or French North America? with a reduced seafaring British nation would they have had such a big influence on present day America?

      JT

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  2. Its an interesting idea! presumably no Henry the viii n split from the Catholic Church,no Spanish Armada. The permutations are endless but the concept of English and British would be very different wouldn't they?

    JT

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  3. It is indeed an idea full of endless possibilities! Richard wouldn't have necessarily had to marry Elizabeth of York (as Henry VII did). He might have had a foreign bride.

    He would have arranged marriages between his (supposed future) children. Perhaps Katherine of Aragon would have still become Queen of England...

    The possibilities are really endless. I bet it would make a fun novel!

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  4. I think he could have been a really good king, given the chance.But I suspect at the time of Bosworth, he was already doomed..getting too paranoid and having lost both wife and son, i think it would have taken something extraordinary to get him back on "the right track".

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  5. Here is my prediction - no English reformation and no Spanish armada, the future of the Royal navy was already sealed by the actions of previous Kings and as for a global Empire, who knows. Oh and Henry Tudor is portrayed as the evil hunchback in the renaissance plays.

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  6. *ahem* Ricardian here ...
    Actually, at the time of Bosworth, Richard was negociating a pair or marriages: his own, to the King of Portugal's sister Joanna -- who happened to be the senior Lancastrian claimant; while Elizabeth was to marry Manuel, Duke of Beja, a cousin of the King.
    So if he *h*ad survived, he likely would've had other children. Young Elizabeth would've ended up a queen anyway, as the Duke of Beja eventually succeeded his cousin on Portugal's throne. I doubt Margaret Tudor would've been executed(Richard doesn't seem to have used such punishments for women), but perhaps *she*'s the one who'd've ended up locked up in a nunnery!

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  7. Richard was a tyrant wasn't he? or is that Tudor propaganda?

    If he'd have won,the the Tudor dynasty would have never been founded. No Elizabeth the 1st or Henry 8, no break with Rome( or not with Henry 8, anyway) and Britain remains a Catholic country. We'd have been spared that awful TV series "The Tudors".
    No armada, no empire, and the renaissance would have been less enlightening. No visit by Erasmus.

    Stanley killed Richard because it was to tempting an opportunity for revenge for the land grabbing politics that went on in that time.
    As for other children, Richard declared his nephew Edward his successor and Edward was supposedly insane so, Richard 3 would have gone down in history as a terrible king, and Edward would have been worse. Richard was only 32 when he died, so he would have had other children if he'd have probably remarried.

    The Plantagenet line had run its course, and its Anjou powerbase had been eroded, and the last French Anjou King Réne died around the same time as Richard. Besides the wars of the Roses was won by the remote Lancastrian victor, Henry. Is this because Richard had killed the others off? yes and no.
    Richard's paranoia was the cause of a civil war! But did he really kill the princes in the tower?
    Personally then, I think that the Plantagenet line had run its course, and that Bosworth wouldn't have been the end of plots against Richard(he'd seen a Buckingham's rebellion just before Bosworth) and Richard's grab for power would have ended badly.
    Richard also had scoliosis so was probably handicapped. This would have been seen as a weakness by enemies, or evidence of divine punishment(the eclipse before the death of his wife was also divine punishment)

    So those thoughts of a peaceful and long reign, I doubt it somehow. Who knows, I'll be fanciful and perhaps if he had won, he would have reneged on his promise to recognize his illegitimate son Richard Plantagenet, and he'd have been killed by the master builder, or more probably been killed by another of his many enemies.

    Margret Tudor wouldn't have been born!(1489 is her birthdate)

    Boars would have been a big symbol! Pub names would be different!

    Bosworth would be a bigger English battle than it is now remembered

    (like Hastings, forgotten then remembered.)

    History so often turns on a storm or a tide, an infection or disease.Here its battle.

    I rather admire the idea of a king fighting to the death, throwing away the numerical advantage. History is written by the winners, and the Tudor propaganda casts a veil over Richard's reputation.


    Richard lost his wife in 1485, his son in 1484. Imagine his state of mind! Perhaps in the battle when he saw the game was up he charged and then refused to take his supporter's horses, being hacked to death seemed rather a better fate than that of escaping to Brittany.(as Henry did). His entourage were spooked by king they didn't trust and lost morale, and to disprove that he bravely rode into death (or victory)!

    Henry had to spend the next decade keeping the throne he'd won!

    Anyway, didn't Blackadder tell a similar story!

    Henry won because he'd bribed those retainers in Richard's camp enough as the note on John Howard's Duke of Norfolk's tent before the battle testified ,and afterwards, William Stanley got some rewards, but ultimately the chop for supporting a pretender..... Howard had been made Duke 1483 and probably had enemies too.(John de Vere, earl of oxford being one who wanted land and titles back!) Killing the pawns, killing the king.

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  8. I think it is important to remember how young Richard was when he died. 32. I'm 30 now and can't imagine someone like Richard being so young... mostly because of how he portrayed in Shakespeare. The idea of what history would be like had any battle gone differently boggles the mind. A world without the Tudors, Boleyns, Howards (at least without them being infamous) is almost impossible to comprehend. Shakespeare would have had a very different story to write, that's for sure!

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