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Richard, Duke of York, had his headquarters at Ludlow in the 1450's, but he realised the importance of Shrewsbury and visited it regularly to curry favour amongst the more important townsfolk. Wars cost money, and the odd gift, or feast of venison, was considered a safe insurance against later claims for arms, men or money.
When Richard, Duke of York, was killed at Wakefield, his son was living in Shrewsbury and he marched from here to Mortimer's Cross, south of Ludlow, to the decisive battle which resulted in him being crowned Edward IV
On Edward's death, in 1483, the fate of his sons in the Tower of London is well known, and the result was that the Duke of Gloucester claimed the throne as Richard III.
When it was discovered that the Princes had been murdered there were a number of nobles who thought they must become involved in replacing Richard with a more rightful heir. The obvious choice was Henry Tudor who was, at that time, living in exile in France. Once again Shrewsbury found itself involved in national events
Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven and marched straight to Shrewsbury, gathering an army as he marched. On his arrival, he found the town firmly closed and when he demanded entry, the Sheriff of Shropshire, Thomas Mytton refused and stated that 'only over my body will you enter."
By morning, he had changed his mind, perhaps persuaded by the townsfolk and perhaps by the size of Henry's army. But Thomas Mytton was a man of principle and so as not to loose face he lay on the bridge, belly up, so that Henry had to step over his body to enter.
Henry Tudor stayed in a house on Wyle Cop which still stands and still proudly bears his name.
The following day he continued to Bosworth where, after Richard's death, he was crowned Henry VII on the battlefield. And just to secure his position as King he married Elizabeth of York thus uniting the two Houses and bringing an end to the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII brought peace to Shrewsbury, and even the Welsh ceased to be the troublesome neighbours they had been in the past. The new King was a frequent visitor to the town, first in 1488 when he brought the Queen and the young Prince Arthur.
On a later visit, in 1495, he came complete with his court and it was an excuse for lavish entertainment. It is recorded that Prince Arthur attended a play in an amphitheatre which stood where Shrewsbury's Swimming Pool stands today. Prince Arthur later married Katherine of Aragon and took up residence at Ludlow Castle which was then the headquarters of the Council of the Marches. But he died soon after, and, so as not to loose Katherine's substantial dowry, the King betrothed her to his youngest son, Henry, who was a boy of eleven at the time.
The reign of Henry VIII is known to even the most amateur historian. His continual changes in wife and his split with Rome had repercussions throughout the country and Shrewsbury was not alone in finding many of its churches going through enforced changes. But the Dissolution of the Monasteries had side effects, not least that it meant the closure of the schools which the church had set up, and the selling of church property to the highest bidder.
The loss of schooling for the sons of burgesses was such that they petitioned the King for a school of their own, and through this Shrewsbury School was created.
In February, 1552, the necessary charter was granted to create a school which, through the centuries, has become one of the country's greatest. Shrewsbury School now stands across the river from the town centre, but earlier it was housed in buildings just across the road from the castle.