Friday, 13 July 2012

Student report on the Battle of Bosworth

A student in Year 8 recently visited the site of the Battle of Bosworth and very kindly wrote a report to share on the HP blog:

The Battle that Changed the Face of England Forever – Bosworth Field 1485

During the 15th century, civil war raged across England as the Houses of York and Lancaster fought each other for the English throne. In 1471, the Yorkists defeated their rivals in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. The Lancastrian King Henry VI and his only son, Edward of Lancaster, died in the aftermath of the Battle of Tewkesbury. Their deaths left the House of Lancaster with no direct claimants to the throne. The Yorkist king, Edward IV, was in complete control of England. The Lancastrian Tudors tried to flee to France but strong winds forced them to land in Brittany. Henry Tudor’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a distant descendant of John of Gaunt, originally a bastard family. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the only remaining Lancastrian noble with a trace of the royal bloodline, had a weak claim to the throne, and Edward regarded him as "a nobody".

Richard, brother of Edward IV was proclaimed King Richard III on 26 June 1483. The timing and extrajudicial nature of the deeds done to obtain the throne for Richard won him no popularity, and rumours that spoke ill of the new king spread throughout England. After they were declared bastards, Edward’s two sons were confined in the Tower of London and never seen in public again. The people of England firmly believed that Richard, the "tyrant", had murdered his nephews. The survivors of subsequent failed uprisings fled to Brittany, where they openly supported Henry's claim to the throne. At Christmas, Henry Tudor swore an oath to marry Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York, to unite the warring houses of York and Lancaster.

The Battle of Bosworth Field (or the Battle of Bosworth) was the final battle of the Wars of the Roses. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty by his victory and subsequent marriage to Elizabeth of York. His opponent, Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Henry hired chroniclers to portray his reign favourably; the Battle of Bosworth Field was popularised to represent his Tudor dynasty as the start of a new age. From the 15th to 18th centuries the battle was glamorised as a victory of good over evil, and as the climax of William Shakespeare's play about Richard's rise and fall, it provides a focal point for critics in later film adaptations. The exact site of the battle is disputed because of the lack of conclusive data, and memorials have been erected at different locations. The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre was built, in 1974, on a site chosen based on a theory that has been challenged by several scholars and historians in the following years. In October 2009, a team of researchers, who had performed geological surveys and archaeological digs in the area from 2003, suggested a location 3 km southwest of Ambion Hill, just outside Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire.

I visited this location in June 2012 and saw evidence of the battlefield and its memorials. I have concluded that it is truly one of the most important events in English history and changed the nation that we are, the language we speak, our culture and religion.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

History and Politics Department Details

For more general information about the History and Politics Department at Nonsuch, including details on the courses we teach and the trips and activities that take place, please take a look at this new page.

Summer Reading 2012

NOTE: This has been adapted and updated from a previously published article and gives you a few ideas to get started on what books to read if you are considering history at university.

For people with UCAS and university interviews on their mind, Summer is a good time to find inspiration by reading some history books.

David Aaronovitch of The Times has helpfully made some recommendations, which include "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson, which looks at the global history of finance and "The Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800" by Jay Winik, which considers the connections between the momentous political events of the late 18th Century. Both books would obviously provide helpful parallels with our current political and economic problems.

Tudor Historians may find "Mary Tudor:England's First Queen" of interest as it takes quite a sympathetic view of her and David Starkey's "Henry-The Virtuous Prince" looks closely at the often neglected early years of Henry VIII's life. Here is a further selection of Tudor History books and here is a guide from to useful authors.

EH Carr's "What is History" is the classic introduction to the nature of the subject and some ideas of historiography. Although it was published 48 years ago, it still contains many stimulating ideas to get the historian thinking. Other books that follow similar ideas, often written in response to Carr, include Geoffrey Elton's "The Practice of History, Richard Evans' "In Defence of History" and John Tosh's "The Pursuit of History". More information about these ideas can be seen at the Institute of History's special section on "What is History" here and in the Open University's website here.

If you are looking for further inspiration on what to read, check the "History Reviews" sections of the newspapers. Here is a links to the The Guardian'sand The Telegraph's history books secions. The Institute of Historical Research also has an extensive Reviews Section

The history section of course has a vast range of books and is worth checking for the latest to be published.

Please pass on any recommendations for books you have enjoyed, and happy reading!

PS: Here is a list of books and articles recommended for old AEA course (for A Level Students who wanted to stretch themselves further) which are worth considering.