One of the problems in building armies for the Battle of Bosworth is that once you have fought the battle that’s it. Many of your units cannot see action again as King Richard III is dead and Henry Tudor is King Henry VII. Of course some of the troops can be used in earlier actions in the Wars of the Roses but not all. Important nobles had the unfortunate habit of getting themselves executed when the found themselves on the losing side, so distinctive flags and liveries are sometimes short-lived.
A good solution is to set up plausible what-if scenarios before or after the actual historical encounter. This is what I did before Christmas.
I set up a fictional scenario based on an actual skirmish between the advance guards of Henry Tudor and King Richard III, 2 days before Bosworth. It assumes that this skirmish, at Atherstone, developed into a more significant engagement.
It allows players to use armies raised for the Battle of Bosworth in a plausible setting other than a re-fight of the famous battle. It also places Percy and the Stanleys in the forefront, giving a chance to use troops that were relatively inactive at Bosworth.
The full scenario can be downloaded from my website in the Medieval Scenarios section.
The Royalists had a significant archery superiority. The Royalist player advanced Percy’s archers within range of Stanley’s men and began to inflict significant casualties on them. This forced Stanley off the hill he was occupying to engage Percy in hand to hand combat.
I was playing the Tudors and it seemed like all was lost before the battle had truly begun, Stanley’s levied troops had been decimated and charged forward without orders.
The arrival of Howard’s mounted men at arms presented me with a further problem when they charged Sir William Stanley’s contingent. By dismounting William Stanley’s men at arms I was able to see off Howard’s attack but could not bring up William’s contingent to support Lord Stanley’s men.
While the archery duel had favoured the Royalists the hand to hand combat turned in my favour when Lord Stanley’s men at arms cut their way through Percy’s archers. When Percy himself joined in the fray he was killed in the combat. This caused his men to waver and then fall back.
More troops arrived on the field. Tudor’s French and Scots mercenaries bearing down on the Royalists only to be countered by the Duke of Norfolk’s retainers.
When King Richard himself arrived on the field, Percy’s men were in full retreat while the other contingents were in stalemate. Tudor’s men had won the day but it was not enough to make him king.
There is still another battle to be fought.
The rules used were Tree of Battles which can also be downloaded for free here.
I will be using these rules for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day on 4 April.