Today, 25 August, in 1485, execution by beheading of William Catesby in Leicester, at the age of about 35. He was the son of Sir William Catesby of Ashby St Ledgers and Philippa Bishopston.
Catesby and one of Richard III closest friends and advisors. Catesby had been captured at the Battle of Bosworth or soon after.
Just before his execution Catesby made his last will, leaving its fulfilment entirely to his wife, 'to whom, I have ever been true of my body.' He wished his wife to restore all the land he had wrongfully purchased, and to divide the rest of his property among their children. 'I doubt not, the king will be good and gracious lord to them; for he is called a full gracious prince, and I never offended him by my good and free will, for God I take to my judge I have ever loved him.' And even more remarkable he wrote : 'My lords Stanley, Strange, and all that blood, help and pray for my soul, for ye have not for my body as I trusted in you. Perhaps suggesting he had surrendered to the Stanleys who had promised him protection but broke word and handed him to Henry for execution.
Catesby lands were confiscated but eventually in 1496 restored to his son George. Catesby was buried in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin and Leodigarius in Ashby-St-Ledgers.
I'm very excited and pleased to announce that, to commemorate the Battle of Bosworth, you can now order a limited-edition print of a unique Richard III painting exclusively done for The Wars of the Roses Catalogue by the amazing artist Dmitry Yakhovsky. There are only 50 prints available, so don't miss out and order one now on the website! To order it click HERE
Here you can see the process of painting:
Without encountering any obstacle at sea, Henry Tudor and his c. 4000 followers had sailed from the coast of Harfleur arriving safely at Mill Bay, along the rocky Pembrokeshire coastline after a 6-days journey on 7 August 1485.
Preparations had been going on for their arrival and amongst those waiting on the shore was Jasper’s half-brother and Henry’s uncle, the 26-year-old David Owen, illegitimate son of Owen Tudor who had spent the first years of his life with Henry at Pembroke Castle.
Henry’s mixed sense of relief and anxiety was obvious. He then ‘kissed the ground meekly, and reverently made the sign of the cross upon him’. Soon after their landing Henry also decided to knight eight of his foremost followers – his uncles David Owen and John, Lord Welles, Philibert de Chandée, James Blount, Edward Courtenay, John Cheyne, Edward Poynings and John Fort.
Their first task was to climb up the steep sea cliff, followed by the decision to go the village of Dale and its castle and set up camp in the village. According to Henry’s biographer Bernard André, Henry, perhaps especially mindful of his French troops, reprimanded his men not to do anything to others, ‘either by word or by deed, which you not wish to have done to yourselves’. Rules of war were crucial if authority was to be maintained and order kept.
Both Jasper and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford inspected the French troops in order to determine what gear and weaponry they were short of. It was probably, the constable of Pembroke, Richard Williams, who hastened 200 miles over 4 days, to King Richard at Nottingham and told him the news about their landing. Good news also came, the people of Pembroke ‘were ready to serve Jaspar ther erle’.
'"A battle was fought. King Richard was killed on the battlefield and the Earl of Richmond was crowned King of England on the field with Richard's crown." Philippe de Commines.
Amongst Richard III’s men casualties were ofcourse heavy. Amid his closest supporters the elderly John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, Walter Devereux (the younger), Lord Ferrers, Richard’s close companion Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Keeper of the Tower of London Sir Robert Brackenbury, Controller of the King’s household Sir Robert Percy and the King’s secretary John Kendall were all killed in battle. Richard’s other close friend Sir William Catesby fled but was soon captured and executed. Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (son of the slain Duke of Norfolk) were both taken into custody and imprisoned but later restored to their lands and titles. John de la pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln, Francis Viscount Lovell and the brothers Humphrey and Thomas Stafford all escaped.
Polydore Vergil reported that a 1,000 men were slain amongst Richard III’s men and about 100 on Henry Tudor’s side. According to Vergil Henry’s standard bearer Sir William Brandon was ‘the only one from the nobility’ who had fallen on the victor’s side. For my second book (The Wars of the Roses Visitors Companion: Wales and the Borders, Book 1) I recently travelled through Wales and the borders and discovered that this is not the case. Sir Humphrey Cotes (or Coates) of Woodcote joint Henry’s army on route between Shrewsbury to Bosworth around 19 August, at Muster Hill near Woodcote, Shropshire. While on the winning side Sir Humphrey Cotes did not return home, he was killed during battle. He was buried at the church on the grounds of his home Woodcote Hall. Eventhough kept locked I was very lucky to visit the church and see the beautiful incised slab to Sir Humphrey Coted and his wife Eleanora Blount.
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