At a certain moment in the afternoon of August 22, 1485, King Richard III saw that things were falling apart. His army should have been mauling that of his adversary, the upstart Henry Tudor. After all, they outnumbered their opponents and they were charging downhill. But they were getting pushed back, and some fighters were ignominiously sneaking away from the fight.
Richard decided to roll the dice one last time with a wild horseback charge in full armor aimed directly at young Henry. He came roaring down the hill with a small retinue and he came close to killing Henry. But he was unhorsed and then killed on the battlefield. There was no thought of showing any mercy.
It was a historic moment that Churchill described this way
(It) may be taken as closing a long chapter in English history. Though risings and conspiracies continued throughout the next reign the strife of the Red and White Rose had in the main come to an end. Neither won. A solution was reached in which the survivors of both causes could be reconciled. The marriage of Richmond with the adaptable Princess Elizabeth produced the Tudor line, which both Yorkists and Lancastrians had a share The revengeful ghosts of two generations were laid to rest for ever. Richard’s death also ended the Plantagenet line. For over three hundred years, this strong race of warriors and statesmen kings, whose gifts and vices were on the highest scale, whose sense of authority and Empire had been persistently maintained, now vanished from the fortunes of the island. The Plantagenets and the proud, exclusive nobility which their system evolved had torn themselves to pieces. The heads of most of the noble houses had been cut off, and their branches extirpated to the second and third generations. An oligarchy whose passions, loyalties and crimes had for long written English history was subdued. Sprigs of female or bastard lines made disputable contacts with a departed age. As Coeur de Lion said of his house, “From the Devil we sprang and to the Devil we shall go. “
The reference to the Devil is apt. To exert one’s will in order to gain and wield power at all costs is the Devil’s work. And it was what kingship was all about. Gaining and holding power was a winner take all game.
have we moved on from that line of thought? My answer would be that some have and some have not.
What do you think?