Sir William Brandon of Soham

Artists impression of the slaying of Sir William Brandon of Soham (Henry Tudor's Standard Bearer) by Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485. Painting by Graham Turner from Studio 88 Limited.

Soham is associated in a small way with The Battle of Bosworth Field which took place on the 22nd August 1485 near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire and marked the end of the War of the Roses. The Battle was fought between the supporters of King Richard III and Henry Tudor who's family, the Tudors, had been involved in a long and bitter war against the house of York.

At Bosworth Field,  the Lancastrians, led by Henry Tudor, defeated Richard III who died during the course of the battle but not before dramatically killing Sir William Brandon of Soham who was one of Henry Tudor's Standard Bearers. As the battle progressed with a stalemate to his front, Henry accompanied by a bodyguard of about 200 knights including Sir William Brandon, decided to ride across to the Stanleys to see if he could persuade them to enter into the fray on his side.

Richard observed Henry's dragon banner moving across the battlefield and saw an opportunity to end the battle at one fell stroke. Richard led the charge of his knights (approximately 1,000 men) downhill towards Henry's banner. This must have been a memorable sight, the last charge of mounted knights at the end of the age of medieval chivalry. With the whole power of the charge behind him, Richard transfixed Sir William Brandon with his lance, the lance broke and Sir William Brandon and the dragon banner crashed to the ground. The battle was eventually won by Henry Tudor with the death of Richard III and as a result he became King Henry VII of England and Wales.

Henry couldn't be certain that he was safe as King of England. For a hundred years the country had been torn apart by bloody conflicts and wars about who should rule. In order to make sure that he was not overthrown Henry married Elizabeth of York. Marrying Elizabeth would, Henry hoped, prevent the House of York trying to kill him as they now held some power.

Henry VII faced other problems though. Not only was he fearful for himself but he had become King of a country that had no money, law and order were a problem and perhaps most worrying was the fear of a Spanish invasion. He managed to make peace with Spain, his eldest son, Arthur, married Catherine of Aragon (She married Henry VIII after Arthur died) and he brought stability, law and order back to England and Wales.

Henry VII Banner

Sir William Brandon of Soham would have proudly held Henry Tudor's Dragon Banner, pictured above, before he was dramatically killed by Richard III

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