Leicester

King Richard III: Battle of Bosworth descendants meet

Battle of Bosworth 1485 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard, the last English king to die in battle, was killed at Bosworth Field in 1485

Descendants of some 20 families who fought at the Battle of Bosworth, that ended the reign of Richard III, have met for the first time.

Researchers who identified the king using DNA from his distant family used the same techniques to find descendants of those who fought in the battle.

They met family members directly related to the last Plantagenet king at a reception in Leicester.

Some have flown from Australia, South Africa and Canada for the occasion.

Richard, the last English king to die in battle, was killed at Bosworth Field in 1485, at the end of the Wars of the Roses.

The pro-vice chancellor at the University of Leicester, Prof Kevin Schürer, who conducted the research, said it was "challenging" but had "thrown up some interesting stories".


Image copyright Rex Harris
Image caption A stained glass window at Malvern Priory depicts Sir Reynold Bray, who is credited with finding Richard's golden crown on a hawthorn bush at Bosworth

Among those identified by Prof Schürer are relatives whose ancestors include:

  • Marmaduke Constable who survived at Bosworth and later fought in the Battle of Flodden, aged 71, but died after swallowing a frog while drinking a glass of water.
  • Sir John Babington of Dethick, Derbyshire who had been Sheriff of Derby and Nottingham and is reported to have fought for King Richard's cause.
  • Samuel Spriggs a Leicestershire man who accompanied Richard to battle and is reputed to have been made an esquire of his body.
  • John Hardwick who knew the local terrain and advised Henry of Richmond on the best battle positions, thus being credited as "the architect of Richard's defeat".
  • Sir Reynold Bray from Worcester who is credited with having found Richard's golden crown on a hawthorn bush on the Bosworth battlefield and handing it to Lord Stanley who placed it on Henry's head.
  • Simon Digby from Leicester who was knighted and given the manor of Coleshill, Warwickshire for his part in the battle.
  • Thomas Iden who fought for the Lancastrian cause and subsequently served as the Sheriff of Kent in 1500.

Prof Schürer said: "The stories are a mixture of continuity and change, with a fair measure of fame and glory thrown in.

"The inter-relation between some of the families from Bosworth is another interesting feature - in some regards it truly was a battle of cousins.

"Bringing together these families for the first time in over 500 years will be a remarkable event."

King Richard's reburial ceremony will be held at Leicester Cathedral on Thursday, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

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