Fighting Bosworth

Chapter 4 : Rewards

Henry was keen to reward his loyal supporters, those men who had served him in exile, ‘beyond the sea’. Aside from his most obvious and noteworthy supporters, the records reveal at least 74 persons who were granted office, land or a wage for joining Henry in exile, with another 48 being rewarded for either partaking in his ‘victorious journey’ or serving on his ‘victorious field’. While we are unlikely to know all the names of every exile at Henry’s unofficial court in Brittany then France, this is nearly a quarter of the four hundred which Francis II reimbursed. Some included servants of Henry’s prominent supporters, such as Hugh Richards, Lord Welles’ servant, or Roger Penne, servant to Sir John Cheyne, who was granted the office of water bailiff of the Thames ‘for faithful true service done to the king in the parts beyond the sea.’[1]

We can get a glimpse of the individual episodes and dramas of battles from these surviving rewards made from the Exchequer and Chancery accounts in the National Archives. The Savage family, for instance, must have played an important role in the action: Henry rewarded John Savage the younger with land forfeited by the attainders of Lord Zouche and Lord Lovell, ‘in consideration of his having largely exposed himself, with a crowd of his kinsmen, servants and friends, as volunteers in the king’s service in the battle’.[2] Henry also rewarded John’s sons Christopher and James, for their service, ‘as well as for the repressing of our rebels and traitors’.[3] John Savage senior was also rewarded for his ‘good and faithful services in the king’s last victorious battle’.[4] Thomas Bevercotes, in the grant of the office of the King’s Sergeant at Arms mentioned his true and humble service, ‘in especial in our victorious field, for the subduing of our enemies’.[5]

Roger Acton petitioned Henry shortly after the battle, ‘in consideration of the true and faithful service that your humble subject Roger Acton hath done unto your highness, now in your victorious field and under your standard and there sore hurt’.[6] Hugh Browne was granted the office of forester of Lothewode, Salop, for his service ‘in our late victorious journey, to the jeapordy of his life’.[7] John Browne was rewarded with the office of bailiff of Greteham, Rutland, for his service ‘to his great costs and jeapordies’.[8] Ralph Vernon was given the bailiff of Hoton Paynell in York in consideration of his service ‘at our victorious journey to his great cost and charge’.[9] Thomas Morton was granted an annuity of 40 marks, ‘in compensation for goods and friends lost in the king’s just cause’.[10] John Farrington fought ‘to his great hurts and costs’.[11]

The part of the Stanleys in influencing the battle is well known, and is reflected in the rewards that Henry offered Thomas Lord Stanley. Referring to him as his ‘right entirely beloved father’ he was rewarded for ‘the good and praiseworthy services performed by him before now with great personal exertions and costs, in many ways and on divers occasions, and now lately in the king’s conflict within the realm of England’.[12] He was created Earl of Derby, with the patent of creation referring to ‘his distinguished services to us and indeed the great armed support recently accorded us in battle, both by himself and by all his kinsmen, not without great hazard to life and position’.[13] On 28 February 1486 he was made Constable of England with a salary of £100.[14]

The accounts also provide us with hints of how Henry Tudor was only able to win at Bosworth with foreign support. The Scotsman Alexander Bruce was rewarded with an annuity of £20, for his ‘good, faithful and approved services heretofore done by him with great trouble and recent personal service … he sustaining therein great losses’.[15] He was granted safe conduct and special protection for himself and a retinue of twenty persons, with a licence to make ‘whatever stay he pleases in England, and to go to and fro as often as he likes during this protection’.[16] Henry’s French captain, Philibert de Chande was created Earl of Bath on 6 January 1486, ‘in consideration of his laudable service to us done heretofore’, and was awarded an annuity of 100 marks.[17] He entertained the French ambassadors at Greenwich the same year, at a cost of £26, before being conducted by one of the king’s councillors, Oliver King, to Dover, stopping off at Braynford and racking up further expenses of £23 6s 8d, before heading back to France.[18]

The celebrated story of Richard’s camp not being prepared for mass before the battle is given some credence in a later Tudor account by Lord Morley, where he refers to one ‘Bigod’ who was present in Richard’s camp and who witnessed the confusion. Regardless of whether the story is true or not, Bigod provides us with an interesting example of continuity after Bosworth. Defeat need not necessarily lead to destruction, though Bigod was apparently hurt during the battle, Morley’s account admits that he would likely have been slain had not the battle ended so suddenly.[19]

Sir Ralph Bigod was related on his mother’s side to Lord Scrope of Bolton.[20] Both his father and grandfather had been killed fighting for the Yorkists at Towton. Having entered adulthood, he joined Richard’s household sometime after 1479, and served him during the Scottish wars where he was knighted by Richard in 1482. In the same year he was appointed Sheriff of Yorkshire. As king, Richard continued to bestow his favour upon Bigod, appointing him to several commissions in the Yorkshire area, as well as making him master of the ordinance.[21]

Sir Ralph Bigod was restored to favour shortly after the battle, being made a knight of the new king’s body; the following year he was granted to royal offices of constable and porter of Sheriff Hutton, as well as the bailiff of the town and keeper of the park there. He continued to be a loyal servant of the crown, being placed on commissions of the peace and array, and in 1492 served in the invasion of France. In 1503 he accompanied Princess Margaret to Scotland on her journey to marry James IV. Bigod continued to serve under Henry VIII with equal distinction: in 1513 he was ordered to seize the Scottish king’s, by then at war with England, Yorkshire properties. When he died in 1515, his grandson and heir became a ward of Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey.

[1] Materials I p.45, 151.
[2] Materials I p.365.
[3] Materials I p.10.
[4] Materials I p.605.
[5] Materials I p.177.
[6] Materials I p.89.
[7] Materials I p.39.
[8] Materials I p.56.
[9] Materials I p.71.
[10] Materials I p.80.
[11] Materials I p.340.
[12] Materials I p.76,77.
[13] Materials I p.241.
[14] Materials I p.345.
[15] Materials I p.450.
[16] Materials I p.174.
[17] Materials I pp.246-47, II p.152, 142.
[18] Materials II pp.103, 104, 105.
[19] BL Additional 12060 fo.19v: “he was hurt with hym at the fylde, and likely to ha-/ve ben slayne, and if that noble prince kynge / henry the seventh your graunfather had taken / hym in that heate he shuld have suffred for it.
[20] His mother Elizabeth was daughter to Henry, fourth Lord Scrope. He was placed in the wardship of his mother’s brother, John, who succeeded the lordship in 1459. Warnicke, ‘Sir Ralph Bigod’, p.300-301.
[21] See Warnicke, ‘Sir Ralph Bigod’ p.301.