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Enter Richard Duke of Gloster, solus.

Now is the Winter of our Discontent, Made glorious Summer by this Son of Yorke: And all the clouds that lowr'd vpon our house In the deepe bosome of the Ocean buried. Now are our browes bound with Victorious Wreathes, Our bruised armes hung vp for Monuments; Our sterne Alarums chang'd to merry Meetings; Our dreadfull Marches, to delightfull Measures.

Grim-visag'd Warre, hath smooth'd his wrinkled Front: And now, in stead of mounting Barbed Steeds, To fright the Soules of fearfull Aduersaries, He capers nimbly in a Ladies Chamber, To the lasciuious pleasing of a Lute.

But I, that am not shap'd for sportiue trickes, Nor made to court an amorous Looking-glasse: I, that am Rudely stampt, and want loues Maiesty, To strut before a wonton ambling Nymph: I, that am curtail'd of this faire Proportion, Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature, Deform'd, vn-finish'd, sent before my time Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made vp, And that so lamely and vnfashionable, That dogges barke at me, as I halt by them.

Why I (in this weake piping time of Peace) Haue no delight to passe away the time, Vnlesse to see my Shadow in the Sunne, And descant on mine owne Deformity.

And therefore, since I cannot proue a Louer, To entertaine these faire well spoken dayes, I am determined to proue a Villaine, And hate the idle pleasures of these dayes.

Plots haue I laide, Inductions dangerous, By drunken Prophesies, Libels, and Dreames, To set my Brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate, the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and iust, As I am Subtle, False, and Treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mew'd vp: About a Prophesie, which sayes that G, Of Edwards heyres the murtherer shall be.

William Shakespeare - Actus Primus. Scoena Prima. "The Tragedie of Richard the Third"

Biography of Richard III


Richard was born at Fotheringay Castle, the fourth son of Richard, Duke of York (who had been a strong claimant to the throne of King Henry VI) and Cecily Neville. Richard spent much of his childhood at Middleham Castle, where he later made his married home. He was involved in ongoing battles between different alliances of the House of Lancaster and the House of York factions during the last half of the 15th Century. At the time of his father's death at the Battle of Wakefield, Richard was still a boy, and was taken into the care of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known to history as "The Kingmaker" because of his strong influence on the course of the Wars of the Roses. Warwick was instrumental in deposing Henry VI and replacing him with Richard's eldest brother, Edward.

Reign of Edward IV

During the reign of his brother, Edward IV, Richard demonstrated his loyalty, as well as his prodigious skill as a military commander, and was rewarded with large estates in the North of England, given the title Duke of Gloucester and the position of Governor of the North, becoming the richest and most powerful noble in England, and a loyal aid to Edward IV. (By contrast the other surviving brother, George, Duke of Clarence, was executed by Edward for treason.)

Richard continued to control the north of England until Edward's death. In 1482 Richard recaptured Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Scots, and was noted as being fair and just, endowing universities, making grants to the church.


Following the decisive Yorkist victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury, Richard married the widowed Anne Neville, daughter of the late Earl of Warwick. Anne's first husband had been Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI.

Richard and Anne had one son, Edward Plantagenet (also known as Edward of Middleham, 1473 - April 9, 1484), who died not long after being invested with the title of Prince of Wales. Anne also died before her husband.

Coup d'état

On the death of Edward IV, in April 1483, the king's sons (his young nephews), Edward V, age 12, and Richard, Duke of York, age 9, were supposedly next in the order of succession. Appointed Lord Protector of the Realm in his brother's will, Richard was warned by Lord Hastings that the Woodvilles were intending to isolate Richard from the position and to consolidate their power at Richard's expense.

When the boy king's retinue was on its way from Wales to London, for his coronation, Richard and Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, joined them at Northampton. He had the king's guardian, Earl Rivers (brother of Elizabeth Woodville, Edward's queen consort) and other advisors arrested and taken to Pontefract Castle, allegedly for planning to assassinate Edward V. Richard then took Edward to stay at the Tower of London (then a royal palace), a move widely supported since much of the country distrusted the former queen's family. Edward was soon joined by Richard, Duke of York. Richard called himself Lord Protector and was also made Chief Councillor (head of government).

Bishop John Morton is thought to be the source of most of the Tudor propaganda against Richard III. According to Morton's History, Lord Hastings (a regular visitor to the young Edward V in the Tower of London) was arrested for alleged treason on June 13, 1483 at a meeting of the Royal Council, at the Tower. A few minutes later, supposedly, he was beheaded on Tower Green.

However, the records show that Hastings, whose execution was the first recorded at the Tower of London. was arrested then, but later formally charged with treason, tried, convicted and sentenced, and legally executed on 18 June.

It is thought that Hastings had allied himself with the dowager queen because of the rise in influence of Buckingham and what he saw as Richard's usurpation of the throne. Morton claimed to have been in the council room when Hastings was arrested, may have been one of several men who were detained themselves for participating in the conspiracy with Hastings.

Three other members of the alleged conspiracy -- the queen's brother Lord Rivers, her second son Richard Grey, and another chamberlain Sir Thomas Vaughan -- were also convicted and executed elsewhere. Jane (or Elizabeth) Shore, who had been a mistress of King Edward IV, and then of his step-son Thomas Grey (who avoided prosecution in the conspiracy by going into sanctuary at Westminster with his mother), and was now Hastings's mistress, was convicted of only lesser offences and was made to do public penance and briefly imprisoned.

John Morton is also thought to be the source of other accusations against Richard, notably

* the murder of the Princes in the Tower
* the murder of Henry VI himself
* the private execution of his brother George, Duke of Clarence
* the murder of his wife's first husband, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
* the murder of William, Lord Hastings
* of forcing his wife, Anne Neville, to marry him against her will
* of planning an incestuous marriage to his niece Elizabeth of York
* (and maybe killing his wife so he could)
* of accusing his own mother of adultery
* and his late brother the king of illegitimacy
* of accusing Jane Shore and Elizabeth Woodville of witchcraft in withering his arm
* and of being illegitimate himself

Each of these stories first appears in writing either in Sir Thomas More's The History of King Richard III, based on Morton's account (although historians are divided on whether More substantially rewrote it or essentially copied his mentor's accounts) or in the writings of someone else who had heard the story from Morton. The question of whether these stories were true was not of great interest to either Morton or More, history then still being regarded as a branch of literature. Not only that, but Moreton, having been arrested by Richard III had fled to exile in Flanders. He only returned when Henry VII was on the throne and was quickly promoted. It was customary for histories to also serve as propaganda on both sides, to support and strengthen one's patron's cause.

On June 22, 1483, outside St Paul's Cathedral, a statement was read out on behalf of Richard declaring for the first time that he was taking the throne for himself. When the members of Parliament met on June 25, it apparently heard evidence from a priest that he had conducted a marriage or betrothal between Edward IV and one Lady Eleanor Talbot (or Butler) before his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Since even a betrothal was a legally binding "pre-contract" in the customs of the time, Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had been bigamous, therefore all their children were bastards. Some of the proceedings of that Parliamentary session are believed to survive in a document known as Titulus Regius, which Parliament issued some months later explaining its actions and of which a single copy escaped the destruction of all copies of the Titulus Regius later ordered by Henry VII. The identity of the priest in question - thought to have been Edward IV's sometime Chancellor, Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells - is known from only one source, the French political commentator, Philippe de Commines.

Despite rumours that Richard's claims were true, evidence was lacking, and until recently it has generally been accepted that Richard's chief motive for taking the crown was that he felt that his own power and wealth would be threatened under Edward V, who was presumably sympathetic to his Woodville relatives. However recently discovered evidence has reopened the question of the additional claim that it was Edward IV who was illegitimate.


Richard's three elder brothers were all dead. The children of George, Duke of Clarence were attainted because of their father's treason and not eligible to inherit the throne. With Edward IV's children having been declared illegitimate, Richard was next in line for the crown.

On July 6 1483, Richard was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Except for three Earls not old enough to participate and a few lesser nobles, the entire peerage attended his coronation. He was the last Plantagenet king.


By the time of his last stand against the Lancastrians, he was a widower without a legitimate son. After his son's death, he had initially named his nephew, Edward, Earl of Warwick, Clarence's young son and also the nephew of Queen Anne Neville, as his heir. After Anne's death, however, Richard named another nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, as his heir.


Richard was, at least outwardly, a devout man and an efficient administrator. However, he was a Yorkist and heirless, and had ruthlessly removed the Woodvilles and their allies; he was therefore vulnerable to political opposition. His apparently loyal supporter, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, turned against him and was executed late in 1483.

Richard's enemies united against him. According to local tradition in Leicester Richard went to see a seer in the town before heading off for the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22 1485 to meet Lancastrian forces led by Henry Tudor. She told him "where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return". On the ride into battle his spur struck the bridge stone of the Bow Bridge; as he was being carried back over the back of a horse his head struck the same stone and was broken open. Tudor succeeded Richard to become Henry VII, and cemented the succession by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York. Legends notwithstanding, Richard was abandoned at Bosworth by the Lords William Stanley and Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, Stanley switching sides, which severely depleted his army's strength.

It is said that Richard's body was dragged naked through the streets before being buried at Greyfriars Church, Leicester. According to one tradition, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries his body was thrown into the nearby River Soar, although other evidence suggests that this may not be the case and that his burial site may currently be under a car park in Leicester. There is currently a memorial plaque in the Cathedral where he may have once been buried.


Since his death, Richard III has become one of England's most controversial kings. Modern historians recognise the damage done to his reputation by "historians" of the next reign, and particularly by William Shakespeare. Amongst other things, Richard was represented as physically malformed, which in those days was accepted as evidence of an evil character. However, it has been demonstrated that he could not have carried out most of the crimes attributed to him. The major exception is the question of whether he was responsible for the deaths of his nephews, the "Princes in the Tower".

The Richard III Society was set up during the 20th century in an attempt to rehabilitate Richard, and has gathered considerable research material about his life and reign. Its members, known as "Ricardians", hold events, raise monuments and attempt to preserve the king's memory.

Data - copyright of "wordIQ - Dictionary and Encyclopedia Definitions Online"-

Battle of Bosworth Field

The Battle of Bosworth or Bosworth Field was a important battle during the Wars of the Roses in 15th century England. It was fought on August 22, 1485 between the Yorkist King Richard III of England, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, and the Lancastrian contender for the crown, Henry Tudor (later Henry VII). It ended in the defeat and death of Richard and the establishment of the Tudor dynasty. Historically, the battle is considered to have marked the end of the Wars of the Roses, although further battles were fought in the years that followed as Yorkist pretenders unsuccessfully sought to reclaim the crown.

Henry had landed in Pembrokeshire, the county of his birth, on August 7 with a small force - consisting mainly of French mercenaries - in an attempt to claim the throne of England. Richard III had fought similar battles with Lancastrian usurpers in the past, but this one would be his last. Although Henry did not have his opponent's military experience, he was accompanied by his uncle, Jasper Tudor (later Duke of Bedford) and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, both brilliant and seasoned soldiers. Henry gathered supporters in the course of his journey through his father's native Wales, and by the time he arrived in the Midlands, he had amassed an army estimated at 5,000 men. The king, by contrast, could command nearly 8,000. The decisive factor in the battle was to be the conduct of the Stanley brothers - Sir William Stanley and Lord Thomas Stanley, the latter being Henry's stepfather. Richard had good cause to distrust them but was dependent on their continued loyalty.

The battlefield site, now open to the public, is close to the villages of Sutton Cheney and Market Bosworth in Leicestershire. The actual site of the battle has been the topic of often contentious debate among professional and amateur historians, with a compelling case being made for siting the battle closer to the villages of Dadlington and Stoke Golding, although most are agreed that Richard's encampment the night before the battle was indeed on Ambion Hill. Henry Lord Percy Earl of Northumberland, with Lords Thomas and William Stanley, and their troops, watched the beginning of the engagement as the rest of York's army fought Henry Tudor's French mercenaries and loyal exiles, the Stanleys seem to have taken up a position some distance away from the two main armies.

The 2 notorious trimmers in 1469-71 were the young John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, and the older more experienced Thomas lord Stanley, they acted with a circumspection that bordered on deceitfulness, consistently holding back from final commitment to either side and always keeping on good terms with the winners. Richard had taken hostages to ensure that, even if they did not join him, they would at least remain neutral during the battle.


Richard III got to Ambion Hill first and his troops were well-rested going into the battle, while Henry's men had trouble lining up on the rough ground below (not clear why). Richard could have charged then and slaughtered the disorganised Lancastrians but he missed his chance. When Henry Tudor finally got ready his men used cannon and arrows to damage Richard on his hilltop, forcing him to come down. When he did, he called for Lord Northumberland (one of his own commanders) to join in with fresh forces but Northumberland refused. But it was the decision of Lord Stanley, waiting nearby, that changed British history forever. He had promised to fight for both Richard and Henry, and Richard trusted that he would join in on his side.

But he joined Henry instead, and Richard thus lost the battle. He led a charge against Henry but was cut down, the second and last English King to be killed in battle (Harold Godwinson at Hastings, 1066, killed by the Normans, was the first).

The battle lasted about two hours, and began well for the king. Unfortunately for him, the Stanleys chose their moment to enter the fray on Henry's side.

After Richard's commander, the Duke of Norfolk was slain, Richard attempted a surprise charge at Henry Tudor, before the waiting armies of the lords Stanley and Northumberland chose sides. In the attack Richard killed Tudor's standard bearer, William Brandon, but whilst Richard was within sight of Tudor, Stanley's army moved, surrounding Richard and the men of his Household, and thus York met his fabled end.

Despite a suicidal charge led by Richard in an attempt to remove Henry -who had stayed well clear of most of the fighting - from the equation, the king was overwhelmed by the opposition.

Northumberland failed to assist Richard in combat although he commanded the right wing of Richards army. He betrayed the King by holding his forces back from action and, although he was captured on the day, he was soon released and confirmed in all his titles and lands by the new King Henry VII.

The Protector was 32 years of age when he was slain at Bosworth field. York was the only king from the north, and the last of the Plantagenet kings with the distinction of also being the last English king to die at war. With Richard was slain on the field, his body was ignominiously treated by the victors.

A popular legend says that the crown of England was found in a hawthorn bush after Richard's death, but the truth is probably that it was the circlet Richard wore around his helmet, the common practice so followers could recognize their ruler in battle, even from behind him.

However, the battle proved to be decisive in ending the long-running mediaeval series of English Civil Wars later be to known as the Wars of the Roses, although the last battle was actually to be fought at Stoke two years later (1487).

Henry Tudor's victory in this battle led to his being crowned as Henry VII, and the long reign of the Tudor dynasty in England.


Henry Tudor became king Henry VII of England. He immediately sought to backdate his administration to a date prior to the battle of Bosworth field in order to attaint for treason men who had fought for the former King Richard of York.

Henry VII was in fact outlawed and barred from his own inheritance, and was under Attainder when he seized the English Throne in 1485. Henry's coronation conveniently nullified the attainder; following this, Parliament made the declaration that any who had opposed the King at Bosworth were to be considered traitors.

Henry Lord Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was killed at one of his Yorkshire residences by a mob protesting over high taxes for the defence of Brittany against France on the 28th of April, 1489. Another reason for the mob's actions was his part in the downfall and death of Richard III who remained popular in Yorkshire.

Two Myths

Richard's crown fell off his head as he died and it caught on a bush. Henry found it and wore it (or Stanley found it and gave it to him).

As Richard died, he cried out "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

Both possible but unlikely. They were only mentioned in William Shakespeare's plays, written more than a hundred years later. No other account mentions them. As for Henry finding the crown, that is virtually impossible because he wasn't even in the fighting (he was watching some way off). Stanley could have found the crown but remember that victorious troops usually looted the battlefield and they would probably have found it first, and if they did, they would probably keep it for themselves.

Data - copyright of: "wordIQ - Dictionary and Encyclopedia Definitions Online" -

Remember before God
King of England
and those who fell
on Bosworth Field
having kept faith
Loyaulte me lie

Black and white photo of the oldest known portrait of Richard III, this is XVI century copy but original was probably made from life.

Simplified part of the family tree of English Plantagenets (rulers of England from Henry II), showing relations of the main family branch (extinct with Richard II) and side branches of Lancaster and York. House of Tudor claimed the throne on the basis of being akin to Lancastrians.

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