Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch (1485-1509), was crowned at the end of the battle at Bosworth Field on the morning of Monday the 22nd August in 1485.
After taking the body of Richard III to Leicester for display/burial there, Henry and his entourage rode to Coventry, presumably without much warning! The Coventry Leet Book entry for 1486 shows 33 Coventry citizens and traders had between them provided 2 oxen, 20 muttons, 7 fishes, 42 dozen breads, ale and nearly 1,000 litres of red wine (plus £100 and a precious cup) as gifts from the city to the new king. Thus Coventry hosted the first royal feast of the Tudor dynasty.
After his stay Henry progressed to London, making his state entry to the capital on Saturday 3rd September, issuing a summons to Bishops and Lords on the 15th for them to attend the first parliament of the Tudor dynasty in London on the 7th November 1485.
Research of the Coventry Leet Book and all the available copies of the City Annals (historical accounts of events in Coventry and nationally from the 14th to the 17th century) fails to establish more exact details of the dates of Henry's arrival and departure after the 22nd August and before the 3rd September, but it is suggested he arrived here 2 days after the battle on the 24th August.
Published in London and Burgay
by Richard Clay & sons Ltd
'The officials' account 1486
In the time of Master Onley beying Maire ...
...ffirst, where the wardes of pis Cite were cessed pe laste yere in the tyme of Maister Onley beyng Maire to recontent & paye theym that made chevisshans perof for the tyme of pe present pat was gyffen unto Kyng Henre the Vij th at his comyng first to pis cite which remained ungadered & nowe be pis Maire gadered, as appereth hereafter, of every warde. ...
... of which somme the seid wardeyns be the commaundement of the seid Maire & be the advice of his Brethern made repayement unto such persones pat made pep rest as sueth:-
Ffirst paide to Laur. Saunders etc. iij li. x s. x d.|
Mem. That the seid Wardens paid for brede, ale & wyn & other vitailes pat was hadde to Maister Onleys, he then beying Maire at the coming of Kyng Henre
|'In primis to Potell, Baker, for ij dossen bredde||ij s (2s)|
|Item, paid to Bredon for iiij dossen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||Iiij s|
|Item, paid to Joh. Edwardes for ij dossen bredde . . . . . .||ij s|
|Item, to Harryngton for iij dossen bredde & dimidium . . .||iij s vj d|
|Item, paid to Cramp for iiij dossen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||Iiij s|
|Item, paid to Dav. Vgan for j dosen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||vij d|
|Item, paid to Joh. Alyn for v dosen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||v s|
|Item, paid to Laur. Beke for iiij dosen & ij pennyworth . .||iiij s. ij d|
|Item, paid to Tho Oures for j dossen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||xij d|
|Item, paid to Jas. Baker for x dossen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||x s|
|Item, paid to Pipe for ij dossen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||Ij s|
|Item, paid to Joh.Smyth in Gosforde-strete for iiij dossen .||iiij s|
|Summa xlij s. viij d. £2 2s 8d|
|(42 dozen = 504 breddes)|
|Paid, for wyn.|
|In primis paid to Will. Webbe pur j pype Claret wyn . . . . . . . .||Iij li.|
|Item, paid to Will. Ekffurth pur j pype Redde-wyn . . . . . . . . . .||iij li.|
|(2 pypes of wine = 1 tun = 210 gallons = 948 litres of wine)|
|Summa vj li. £6 0s 0d|
|Paid for ale.|
|In primis to Maister Marchall for iij Cestre . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||v s|
|Item, paid to Ric. Lokyer for ij Cestre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||iij s|
|Item, paid to Tho. Hadley for j Cestre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||xviij d|
Item, paid to Joh. Buter for j Cestre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xviij d
|(26 sesters/cestres = 108 gallons = 491 litres of ale) . . . Summa totalis xlj s. iiij d. total|
|£2 11s 4d|
|Paid for vitels.|
|In primis, to Hen. Colyns for xx motons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||l s (£2 10s 0d)|
|Item, paid to Tho. Turnoux & Tho Wardlowe for ij Oxen . . . . .||Xl s (£0 11s 0d)|
|Item, paid to Maister Marchall for iiij stokffysshes . . . . . . . . . .||ij s (£0 2s 0d)|
|Item, paid to Rob. Colman for iij stokffysshes . . . . . . . . . . . . .||xviij d (£0 1s 6d)|
|Summa totalis iiij li. xiij s.vj d. total|
|£4 13s. 6d.|
The names of the mayors of Coventry and the xij men that purchased the Fredome of Coventre
Coventrye Carta Rotula Constat Robbe Freyreman
DR37-box123/7 folios3-11 recto, 15-24 verso in Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
(this copy of the city annals ends at 1588)
In his time sir Roger Clifford was taken to Fowey and brought to London and there had his judgement and was headed on on Philipp Jacob at Towor Hill, And at wy wyssontyd after King Richard came to Kenelworth And there keeped his Whitsontide and at corpus Christi time he came to Coventee and saw the ple play and on Saturday after he went to Kennelworth again and on Monday after he removed to maxstoke castell and certayne workmen were commanded to take a (indecipherable) downe and carry hit to Kenelworth Castell as fast as they could and so he went forth to notingham and to Boswood Parke and there he laye and then he sente fourth my lord Lyle and my lord Powes to Southampton and certayne men with them And then then came king Henre to milfford haven and landed on Sunday after Saynt Lawrences Day (10 Aug) and divers lords and knights came to him and strengthen him and so came downe to Shrewsburye and to Lichfield And so down to Atherston and this aforesaid King Richard came downe thorow Leycester and the Earl of Northumberland with him with a great Hoost of people and they came unto Bosworth
And there pitched there ffield on (gap) on Sonday at night afore Saynt Bartholomew daye and on monday in the morning they mett and there King Rich was slayed and brought to Leycester and there was buryed at (gap) grey ffrerers And the Duke of Norfolk was slayne in the field and Catisby was taken and brought to Leycester and had his hed smitten of there and so Kinge Harry toke his hoost and came to Coventre and was lodged at Sir Robt Onley that tyme being Mayor, that time the city payd a C li and a cuppe.'
A copy of the rolls of the mayors of Coventry remaining in the custody of John Hales of Coventry esq as followeth differing in some particulars from the roll in the custody of Mr Butler of Coventry"
DR37-box123/7 folios3-11 recto, 15-24 verso in Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
(this copy of the city annals ends at 1597)
Robert Onley in his year was Bosworth field and there was K Richard slain and then King Harry came to Coventry and lodged with the mayor and laid certain points of treason to the mayor but he avoided them all full well and the city gave the king 100 l in a cuppe' (page 19)
'Account of the Mayors and Sheriffs of
The Citty of Coventry:
& of some remarkable things which hapned in their years
written by Humphrey Wanley
referred to as manuscript (MS) 'B' as one of several varying copies of the
City Annals or Mayors Lists
'Old Coventry and Lady Godiva
Being some flowers of Coventry history gathered and arranged'
by F. Bliss Burbidge
Cornish Brothers Limited, Birmingham
'1485 ... K Rich 3rd Came to Kenellworth & att Corpus Christy Came to Coventry to see their playes, the 22nd of Aug: the Battle att Bosworth Fields was fought between K Rich: & the Earle of Richmond, wherein the King with Divers others was slain, K Rich was shamefully Carryed to Leicester & Buryed their when he had Reigned 2 years & 2 Months & one day, the Earle being proclaimed King in the fields Came to Coventry & the Citty gave him A Hundred pounds & a Cup and soe hee departed.'
as given by T Hearne
in an appendix to Fordun's Scotichronicon
'The King laye att Sir Robert Onlie's house, over against the Bull Cunduitt'
'The Battle of Bosworth Field:
Between Richard the third and Henry Earl of Richmond
August 22, 1485
wherein is described
THE APPROACH OF BOTH ARMIES
A PLAN OF THE BATTLE, ITS CONSEQUENCES, THE
FALL, TREATMENT, AND CHARACTER OF RICHARD
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED, BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION,
A HISTORY OF HIS LIFE TILL HE ASSUMED THE
W. Hutton, F.A.S.S.
Pearson + Rollason, Birmingham 1788
'Richard's body ... was carried to Leicester in triumph, that afternoon.'
'...for Henry staid two days at Leicester, and then pursued his course to London, where he arrived on Sunday the 28th, ...'
History And Antiquities
City of Coventry
Earliest authentic Period to the present Time
A description of the
Remarkable occurrences &c,
Embellished with Engravings'
By William Reader
Rollason and Reader, Coventry 1810
'In 1485, Henry vii. With his army, came to this City, after his signal victory over Richard iii. At Bosworth field, and lodged at the mayor's house. The mayor (Robert Onley) presented him with a cup and an 100l. and received the dignity of knighthood in return.'
Compiled by Benjamin Poole,
From authentic publications, ancient manuscripts and charters, corporation records, original contributions, etc.
William Frederic Taunton, Coventry
1485.- Henry vii came to this city, after his victory over Richard iii at Bosworth field, and lodged at the house of the Mayor, Robert Onley, Esq., of the Black Bull Inn, Smithford Street, conferring on the Mayor the honour of Knighthood. The worthy magistrate had presented to the King on the part of the City, £100 and a cup, and also provided for his majesty what was at that time considered a sumptuous entertainment, at a cost of £23 15s. 11d.'
'The Earlier mayors of Coventry'
by W. G. Fretton
'...after a triumphal entry into Leicester the victorious Henry visited Coventry, and stayed at the house of the mayor, which occupied the site of the Times office, in Smithford-street. The citizens shewed their welcome, and remembrance of the Lancastrian cause by giving him a cup and £100. Two years afterwards, in the mayoralty of Thomas Bayley, Henry 7th came to Coventry again, and lodged with Robert Onley, whom he knighted .'
Historical street map of 1610 overlaid on recent street map 2018
From www.historiccoventry.co.uk created and maintained by Rob Orland
'Story of Coventry'
Mary Dormer Harris
J M Dent & Sons Ltd, London
'Henry Vll., after a triumphal entry into Leicester on his way from Bosworth field, came to Coventry, and took up his lodging in the house of Robert Onley, the mayor, at the Bull, in Smithfield Street, a visit he repeated in two years' time, when he conferred on his host the honour of knighthood'
Six hundred years of municipal life'
by Frederick Smith
(Town Clerk and Clerk of the Peace of Coventry and Solicitor to the Corporation)
The Corporation of the City of Coventry in association with the Coventry Evening Telegraph
'...In 1485, two days after Richard's defeat and death at Bosworth Field, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, the new king, marched with his victorious army into Coventry, he was received by the citizens with the utmost joy and enthusiasm .'
In summary, The Leet book record from 1486 (pages 3-5), combined with the earliest remaining copy of the City Annals from 1588 (page 6), and the other versions listed, suggest a clear narrative of Henry arriving at one of the City's gates with his troops/supporters on August 24th 1485, two days after the battle at Bosworth Field, staying with Mayor Onley at the Black Bull Inn on Smithford Street and holding the first feast of the Tudor dynasty here in this city.
Polydore Vergil 'Anglica Historia' 1534
'Interea Henricus iter Londinium versus facere coepit, ingenti passim rura incolentium laetitia et congratulatione eum regem apellantium, sed ubi appropinquavit urbi; Thomas Hylle praetor etc. ...' (page 717)
(Meanwhile Henry began to make a journey towards London, through the country of a great number of inhabitants calling him King with rejoicings and congratulations, but when he approached the city; Thomas Hill Mayor etc. ...)
Leicester and Coventry are both described as Lancastrian fortresses at this time although Leicester received favours from the Yorkist King Edward lV during his reign.
Coventry was clearly the capital city of the Midlands at that time (Coventry population 6,000+ in 1523, Worcester 4,000+, Lichfield 2,000+, Leicester 2,000+, Warwick 1,000+, Birmingham 800+ etc.) and the obvious and necessary first staging post for any royal progress towards the capital starting from Bosworth Field.
Coventry had experienced extensive royal/political traffic in the 100 years before Henry's progress in 1485 and would have been regarded as a second city by the new Lancastrian king, particularly respecting the adoption of this city by his Lancastrian uncle Henry Vl. In the 35 years before 1485, there are 27 occasions when national politics intersects with the city of Coventry.
In 1451, September 21st to 5th October, Henry VI stayed at St Mary's Priory in Coventry and granted the city the status of a county.
In 1456, on the Feast of the Exhaltation of the Cross (Sept 14th), Queen Margaret and Prince Edward came to Coventry, King Henry Vl following. Henry Vl was in London in mid-October.
In 1457, February 11th, Henry Vl 'kyng cam from Kyllngworth to Couentre to his bedde'.
In 1457, February 15th - March 14th, a royal council held in Coventry before Queen Margaret and King Henry VI.
In 1457, May 31st, the Queen came to see the plays.
In 1457, August 16th, the King dined at Coventry.
In 1457, August 31st, the King and Queen dined at Coventry and stayed several days.
In 1459, February - April, Queen Margaret stayed in Coventry with her 'Great Northern Army' camped outside the city walls.
In 1459, September 15th, Henry Vl and the royal family move to the safety of Coventry before the Lancastrian and Yorkist armies meet at the battle of Bloor Heath.
In 1459, November 20th - December 20th, Henry VI held parliament in the Chapter-House of St Mary's Priory (named by the Yorkists the Parliamentum Diabolicum because the acts passed there were so anti-Yorkist).
In 1461, March, Edward lV visits Coventry immediately after claiming the crown by victory at the battle of Towton.
In 1461, June, Edward lV visited the city to watch pageants in his honour.
In 1464 Edward lV visited to adjudicate the dispute between the Court Leet and Cheylesmore Manor court.
In 1467, Edward IV and his Queen kept the festival of Christmas at Coventry.
In 1469, Earl Rivers and his son Lord John Woodville after the battle of Chepstow were seized at Grafton and executed at Gosford Green, Coventry.
In 1470, March, the Earl of Warwick ('the kingmaker'), the Duke of Clarence and the rebel Thomas Falconbridge stayed in Coventry, refusing King Edward lV's demand for help to suppress rebellion in Lincolnshire.
In 1470, September, the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence arrive at the city with 30,000 troops en route for London.
In 1471, March 27th-29th, the Earl of Warwick was in Coventry and Edward lV offered him battle here at Coventry trying to enter via Gosford Gate before they finally met at Barnet Field at Easter when the Earl of Warwick was killed.
In 1471, May, King Edward lV in Coventry to punish the city with removal of the city's liberties for having supported Warwick (reinstated by payment of 400 pounds).
In 1472 leaders of the Kentish rebellion sent to Coventry to be hung, drawn and quartered, probably in Broadgate or Smithford Street.
In 1474, April 28th, the 3 year old Prince Edward was given huge pageant as welcome to the city.
In 1474 the Queen rewards the city with 12 bucks from Fekenham Forest to be shared out between members of the Leet and the wards in thanks for the welcome given to young Prince Edward.
In 1474, December 21st-December 24th, Edward lV in Coventry
In 1478 Edward lV came to Coventry and was made a Brother of Corpus Christie Guild. His court was held at Cheylesmore Manor House.
In 1483, August, Richard lll in Coventry.
In 1483, October 22nd, Richard lll in Coventry with his army to raise additional forces to deal with uprising in Kent.
In 1485, June 1st, Richard lll came to 'Kenellworth & att Corpus Christy Came to see their playes, ...' in Coventry.
In 1485, August 24th Henry Vll came to Coventry 'with his hoost ...' (see page 6) ...
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