In February of this year, speculation about the identity of the body found beneath a Leicester car park – soon confirmed to be Richard III – was at its height. At the time, Chris Skidmore published an article in the Daily Telegraph entitled ‘The Hunchback is dead, long live Good King Richard’ in which he seemed to throw in his lot with the Richard III Society, the less-than-objective campaign group established in 1924 to rescue the reputation of the last Plantagenet monarch and his reign of two years and two months from the ‘black legend’ of Tudor propagandists such as Shakespeare and the proto-historian Polydore Vergil. It was a surprising contribution, as Skidmore, a young Conservative MP with a particular interest in education, had shown himself, in a notable study of Edward VI, to be a popular historian of scholarly bent. One can only assume that he was caught up in the excitement of the moment, as his latest offering is a thoughtful, well-sourced, though curiously bloodless account of one of the most famous battles in English history.
Bosworth opens with a survey of the early life of Henry Tudor, whose 28 years of peripatetic uncertainty before his victory at Bosworth in 1485 was at the root of his lifelong paranoia. Skidmore’s account suffers when compared to the vivid, bracing narrative offered by Thomas Penn’s 2011 biography, Winter