Countdown to Bosworth – Bosworth Eve…
On (Sunday) the 21st August, the whole royal army was assembled, with the exception of Stanley’s contingent – it is estimated that the force was at least twice the size of Tudor’s. The force was gathered outside Leicester, and on the Sunday, King Richard III marched out of the city, with Norfolk, Northumberland, and the rest of his army, ready to meet Tudor and his rebels.
He spent the night camped near Market Bosworth.
And so back to those myths…
According to legend, as Richard left the city, crossing Bow Bridge over the River Soar, his heel struck the bridge’s stonework, and an elderly lady declared that “where the spurre struck, his head should be broken.”
His final night’s sleep has also been the topic of some discussion, with the King apparently having a restless night, tormented by visions and nightmares. However, most of those reporting these tales were not physically present at the royal camp; therefore, how could they have known what went on in Richard’s private tent? And besides, if it’s acknowledged that Richard was somebody who didn’t sleep well when not in his own bed, is it really surprising that he didn’t have a good night when having to make do with a small camp bed, which wouldn’t have been anywhere near as comfortable as his own?
Rumours were also spread that the King had looked drawn on the morning of the 22nd August, further backing up the notion that he had not slept well.
The ‘bad night’ was taken up by Shakespeare in his play, as ‘Richard’ played over his crimes he had committed to make his way to the throne – showing his true villainy. But perhaps it was nothing more than an uncomfortable bed. And really, who would sleep well, knowing that a major battle lay ahead of them, the very next morning?