could not hope to invade England
without financial assisstance from abroad, and this came from Charles VIII
. He was involved with a war with Britanny
and feared Richard III
may seek to defend the Bretons - so he financed Henry's invasion as a way of distracting Richard.
Henry set sail with 500 people who had been in exile with him, and 1,500 mediocre French soldiers. He landed at Milford Haven on 7 August 1485 and marched north, securing the help of the most influential landowner in South Wales and secret financial support from Lord Stanley and Sir William Stanley. They could only send money in secret because Richard III held Lord Stanley's eldest son as a hostage for his father's good behaviour.
When Henry met Richard's forces, he was outnumbered two to one with 5,000 troops. Sources do not indicate whether this included Stanley's 3,000 troops, who hung around in the wings seeing which way the battle was going.
No eye witness accounts of the battle exist, but from piecing together later accounts, it seems the battle lasted around three hours, and was an incredibly bloody affair with many casualties on both sides. The battle was won for Henry when Richard attempted to strike at him personally, slaying his standard bearer before Henry's personal guard closed ranks.
At this moment, Sir William Stanley finally picked his side and rushed to Henry's rescue. Richard was killed and the leaderless Yorkists fled. Lord Stanley picked up the crown and placed it on Henry's head.
A curious twist of policy would result in all those who fought for Richard being declared traitors - Henry backdated the official start of his reign to before the battle! This meant he could pass acts of attainder against Richard's followers, taking their lands.
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