Archive discovery reveals the identity of Yorkist footsoldier at the Battle of Bosworth

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 August 2011
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a manuscript with writing on it
© Norfolk Record Office
As historical re-enactors descended on the site of the Battle of Bosworth this weekend for the 526th anniversary of the momentous clash between the houses of York and Lancaster, a timely archive discovery brought one of the original soldiers of the battle tangibly closer.

Historians searching through a medieval register at Norfolk Records Office last week revealed the will of Thomas Longe, made on August 16 1485, which they say gives them the first positive ID of an ordinary Yorkist soldier involved in the Battle of Bosworth.

The will, which was made just before Thomas joined the army of King Richard III, was made verbally in front of witnesses rather than written down - suggesting he was a man in a hurry and with the thought of possible impending death on his mind.

Given that the will was proven in January the following year, it is thought Longe almost certainly died at the battle.

Records office staff suspect that Longe, of Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk, fought at Bosworth as a follower of Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey, or his father John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, who were prominent supporters of King Richard III.

Richard III lost the battle to Henry Tudor, ushering in the Tudor dynasty at the expense of the Plantagenets.

Richard Knox, the curator at Leicestershire County Council’s Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, said: “Finding a name of one of the usually anonymous and long forgotten soldiers at Bosworth is a very important discovery.
 
"Although muster lists of soldiers chosen from the towns and villages of England survive from some other Wars of the Roses battles, we have none for Bosworth, only lists of lords, knights and gentlemen who took part in the battle.
 
"We are always interested to hear more about the people who fought at Bosworth, both rich and poor, as it helps to bring home the fact that these were real people that fought and died 526 years ago."

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