Part Eleven: The Events of 1484 & 1485


If you missed Part Ten covering the events of 1483 you can catch up here. As a reminder, that post and this one offer a timeline of what happened and I’ll follow up with a series of posts analyzing the events that occurred within 1483-1485.



During this month the Chancellor of France delivers a speech claiming that Edward IV’s children have been “slaughtered” by Richard.

On January 23, Parliament opens at Westminster. The Bishops of Ely, Salisbury (Lionel Woodville), and Exeter are stripped of their estates for their part in the rebellion the previous autumn.

Another person singled out for an Act of Attainder is Henry Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, but Richard denies it. Instead, he strips her of her estate, but allows her to live under house arrest in the protection of her husband, Thomas, Lord Stanley. Her crime was her participation in the plot to bring her son to England in 1483.

Finally, Queen Elizabeth’s (Woodville) dower lands as Edward IV’s widow are revoked on the grounds that her marriage was bigamous.


On February 20, Parliament closes.


On March 1, Richard makes a public oath to protect Edward IV’s five daughters and pay for Elizabeth Woodville’s upkeep. Following this, Elizabeth releases her daughters from sanctuary into Richard’s care. It’s not recorded whether she left at the same time, but she likely did.

There is a rumor that Richard’s adherent, James Tyrell, hosted Elizabeth and her “children” at Gipping Hall after she left sanctuary. We’ll return to this possibility later on.

In mid-March, Richard and his wife, Queen Anne, move their court to Nottingham.


Around April 9, Prince Edward dies at Middleham Castle. This leaves Richard without an obvious heir.

On April 27, Richard and Anne leave Nottingham and travel north, visiting York, Middleham, and Barnard.


On June 8, Richard concludes a treaty with Brittany in which England provides 1,000 archers for Brittany’s defense in return for custody of Henry Tudor.

On June 20, Richard grants an annuity to Buckingham’s widow and Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Katherine Woodville.


At some point this summer, likely in July, Henry Tudor gets wind of Duke Francis’s treaty with Richard and escapes from Brittany to France. He meets his uncle, Jasper Tudor, in Anjou.

On July 24, Richard’s nephew, the Earl of Lincoln, is named Lord President of the Council of the North. Within the set of ordinances is the phrase, “My lord of Lincoln and my lord Morley to be at one breakfast, the Children together at one breakfast,” while other members of Council dined at another meal. Shortly after these ordinances are drawn up, Edward IV’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York (age 18) and George of Clarence’s son, the Earl of Warwick (age 9), would temporarily reside in Lincoln’s household.


During this month Richard arranges for Henry VI’s body to be moved from Chertsey Abbey to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, directly opposite from where Edward IV was laid to rest. Richard himself was at Windsor on August 19, possibly to visit the tomb, or possibly to be there for the internment himself.


Henry and Jasper Tudor are joined in Anjou by John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, a loyal Lancastrian adherent from the first half of the Wars of the Roses who managed to escape from Yorkist imprisonment.

On October 15, Richard write to Pope Innocent VIII congratulating him on his new appointment and telling him that ambassadors would be forthcoming.


On December 7, Richard issues a proclamation warning England about the threat of Henry Tudor invading.

On December 16, Richard again writes to Pope Innocent VIII telling him that his ambassadors are en-route to Rome.

Richard and Anne hold Christmas at Westminster. Their niece, Elizabeth of York, is an honored guest.



Henry Tudor sends a series of letters to Englishmen loyal to the him and/or the Lancastrian cause. Among the recipients is his stepfather, Thomas, Lord Stanley.

James Tyrell is named commander of the Castle of Guisnes in Calais. During this month, Richard sends him a sum of money.


During this month, Elizabeth of York writes a letter to John Howard, Duke of Norfolk discussing the possibility of a marriage and referencing Richard as her “only joy.” She further laments that Queen Anne, then ill, seems “never to die.” We’ll get into this later on.


On March 16, Queen Anne dies at the Palace of Westminster on the same day as a solar eclipse.

Rumors circulate that Richard poisoned Anne and that he plans to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York. Notably, these rumors were current in 1485, and not merely recorded during the Tudor era. Richard publicly refutes the charge that he means to marry Elizabeth of York.

A few days after Anne’s death, an English embassy leaves for Portugal to potentially negotiate a marriage between Elizabeth of York and King John’s second cousin, Manuel, Duke of Beja, and a second marriage between himself and King John’s elder sister, Princess Joanna.

At some point this month, Elizabeth Woodville writes to her eldest son via her first marriage, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, still idling in France and asks him to return to England. He attempts to do, but is captured and brought back to Henry Tudor, whose confidence he’s now lost. I like to think of Dorset as the Woodville version of George of Clarence 😉


Charles VIII’s regent, the Duchess of Bourbon, arranges for loans to support Henry Tudor’s invasion of England. Richard, in return, begins preparing a defense.


Richard issues a proclamation denouncing Henry Tudor. He meets with Thomas, Lord Stanley.


Richard arranges a marriage between Edward IV’s daughter, Cecily of York, and Ralph Scrope. A second marriage between Anne of York and the Duke of Norfolk’s grandson, Thomas Howard, is also arranged. Cecily was 15 at the time of this marriage, and so it may have been consummated, however Anne was only nine and would have remained with her mother.


On August 1, Henry Tudor sets sail from Harfleur, landing in southwest Wales. Around this same time, Thomas, Lord Stanley requests Richard’s permission to leave court and go to his own estate. Richard agrees on the condition that he leave behind his eldest son, Lord Strange, as an insurance policy for his loyalty.

On August 15, Henry enters England via Shrewsbury.

On August 19, Richard moves to Leicester.

On August 22, Richard and Henry’s armies meet at the Battle of Bosworth. Richard is killed in the fight. I’ve written a post on the details of the battle that can be found here.

Immediately after the battle, Henry orders the arrest of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the man held responsible for having shared with Richard information related to Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville…or helped concoct the lie, depending on what you believe.

Another of Henry’s first acts as king is to summon Elizabeth of York and the Earl of Warwick south. Elizabeth is ferried to London openly, while Warwick is conveyed secretly. Elizabeth meets her mother and sisters at Coldharbour, a resident arranged for them in the capital. The Earl of Lincoln is similarly summoned south.

On August 25, William Catesby, a lawyer associated with the Talbot family and a one-time supporter of Richard (and William, Lord Hastings before him) is executed. His final note includes a line hoping that Francis Lovell comes “to grace.”

A few days after the battle, Francis Lovell, who didn’t fight at Bosworth, is recorded as arriving at Colchester, about 130 miles from Bosworth and 30 miles from Gipping Hall. He’s accompanied by Humphrey and Thomas Stafford. The three men remain in sanctuary there for six months.


On September 3, the new Henry VII makes a formal procession into London.

Edward IV’s younger daughters are placed in the care of Margaret Beaufort, as well as Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham (son of the executed Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham) and Margaret of Clarence (George of Clarence’s daughter and Warwick’s sister).


On October 30, Henry is crowned king in Westminster Abbey.


On November 7, Henry opens his first session of Parliament. The “Titulus Regius,” the instrument by which Edward IV’s marriage was declared null and void and his children de-legitimized, is rescinded and destroyed.

On November 22, Henry pardons Bishop Stillington.



On January 18, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York are married in Westminster Abbey.


With that, we’ll pick up tomorrow with a closer read of some of the events detailed above (and here).

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