THE NEW KING AND HIS RIVALS
'The crown which it pleased God to give us with the victory of our enemy in our first field.'
T HE battle of Bosworth was fought on 22 August 1485. 'Ricardus inter confertissimos hostes praelians interficitur.' Richard III died like a king with his sword in his hand. He was carried stark naked from the field and hugger-mugger buried in the Grey Friars at Leicester.1 The power and the terror of him had vanished with his breath. His conqueror Henry Tudor was made king by virtue of the crown which was found under the hawthorn and placed upon his head, and by the acclamations of the soldiery. 'The coronation ceremony is older than any act of parliament', and in that ceremony the verbal assent of the people is an essential part. To Bacon, enumerating the 'three several titles' of the new king, the 'title of the sword or conquest' took its place after that of the Lady Elizabeth, secured by the 'precedent pact' of marriage, and after the 'ancient and long-disputed title' of the house of Lancaster. Certainly the 'kind of military election or recognition' which took place on the battlefield was later confirmed by more formal acts; but it was none the less decisive. The essential thing was that Richard was not only beaten but killed. Had he lived neither the crown nor the triumphant shouting would have secured Henry in his new estate, and the formal acts of confirmation might never have taken place. Though the titles enumerated by Bacon might well be placed in a different order, Henry had, apart from his personal gifts, the three assets necessary for kingship in fifteenth-century England -- a dynastic claim, some support from the rival house, and force enough to make his pretension good.
His title by inheritance was weak. His mother Margaret Beaufort was great-great-granddaughter to Edward III through John of Gaunt; but if a claim on the distaff side were once____________________