News > Richard III saved by the weather?
Richard III, the last Plantagenet king whose remains were dug up in a council car park in Leicester in 2012, may have met his fateful end at Bosworth Field because of the great storms during October 1483. These are the claims of an academic, Ros Smith, a PhD student from the University of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences. Ms Smith has been studying the great storm and floods around the Severn Estuary in 1483 but was unaware of the historical significance until she read Shakespeare's Richard III.
Shakespeare's play describes how the Duke of Buckingham had amassed an army of Welshmen and aimed to cross the River Severn to confront Richard III at Salisbury but, due to flooding of the river, this became impossible: "by sudden floods and fall of waters, Buckingham's army is dispers'd and scatter'd". Ms Smith also noted that the chronicles report that the Earl of Richmond - later to become Henry VII - had set sail from Brittany at the same time, with a 5,000 strong army, in an attempt to fight Richard for the crown, but, due to a great storm off the south west coast of England: "The Bretagne navy (was) dispers'd by tempest".
Ms Smith said: "The combination of storm and flooding in the Severn Estuary was a significant event and led to the drowning of more than 200 people. Yet it would hardly have been mentioned in the chronicles if it hadn't disrupted the plans of Dukes and Earls."
The Duke of Buckingham lost his head, but in 1485 the Earl of Richmond landed safely in Pembrokeshire and, with his strengthened army defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field, to become Henry VII. Richard was the last English monarch to fall in battle and his death brought to a close the Wars of the Roses.