Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Did Richard have Breakfast?

Once again there has been a discussion during a lesson on the Battle of Bosworth about whether Richard had breakfast or not, and whether this affected the battle. The main evidence we have for this is the Crowland Chronicle, written in 1486. When describing events on the morning of 22 August 1485, the author states,

'At day-break on Monday morning there were no chaplains on King Richard's side ready to celebrate mass, nor any breakfast prepared to restore his flagging spirits. For he had seen dreadful visions in the night, in which he was surrounded by a multitude of demons, as he himself testified in the morning. He consequently presented a countenance which, always drawn, was on this occasion more livid and ghastly than ususal, and asserted that the issue of this day's battle, to whichever side the victory was granted, would be the utter destruction of the kingdom of England.

It's not the only time breakfast is mentioned in the battle. The Ballad of Bosworth Field, written in the late 16th Century, describes this exchange between Lord Stanley and Sir William Stanle, after Lord Stanley has discovered that his son, Lord Strange has been kidnapped:
"I make mine avow to Marye, that may,
& to her sonne that died on tree,
I will make him such a breakefast vpon a day
as neuer made Knight any King in Cristetntye!"

And so later on, when Sir William Stanley sees Henry in danger from Richard's final attack...
"Sir William Stanley, wise & worthie
remembred the brea[k]ffast hee hett to him;
downe att a backe then cometh hee,
& shortlye sett vpon the Kinge."

So, breakfast (or at least the promise of one) clearly played a crucial part in the battle, leading to Henry's victory and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. Does anyone know of any other crucial meal-based moments in history?

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