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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance


King Richard III of England

1452-1485

King
Military Leader

 

Great Britain

King Richard III (also Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester) was the last Yorkist king of England and is probably the most controversial British monarch of the Middle Ages. His reign marks the end of the Wars of the Roses between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians.

When his brother Edward IV died unexpectedly, Richard was made protector of the realm for Edward's son, Edward V. Conflict with Edward IV's widow Elizabeth Woodville and the Woodville family ended when Richard arrested and executed the Woodville leaders and took young Edward and his only brother into custody. Edward's marriage to Elizabeth was then declared illegal and the children illegitimate, and Richard assumed the throne.

Richard's grip on his crown was shaky thanks to in-fighting among the Yorkists as well as Lancastrian plots. In August of 1485, Henry Tudor invaded England, and on August 22 he defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field, in which Richard fought bravely before he died. The victorious Tudor became King Henry VII.

The last recorded time at which Richard's nephews were seen alive is in August, 1483. While Richard almost certainly arranged for Edward's marriage to be determined illegal and usurped the throne, there is no evidence that he murdered the princes. However, a contemporary rumor was taken up later by Tudor propagandists, and the waters have been muddied ever since. Many modern scholars, including some who believe him responsible for the boys' death, maintain that Richard was a competent king whose potential was cut short before it could come to fruition.

The exact fate of the boys is unknown to this day.


Important Dates

Born: Oct. 2, 1452
Reign began: June 26, 1483
Died: Aug. 22, 1485


Dynastic Table

Medieval & Renaissance Monarchs of England
Use this table to see the progression of Kings and Queens from Egbert of Wessex in the ninth century to Elizabeth I in the sixteenth. Hyperlinks lead to entries in Who's Who.


From Your Guide

The Slandered King
Some thoughts on Richard's possible innocence; includes hyperlinked book recommendations.


On the Web

Biographies

Richard III
Brief overview at Infoplease.

Richard III (1483-5 AD)
Concise bio at Britannia Internet Magazine.

Richard III of England
Fairly extensive, heavily-hyperlinked bio at Wikipedia.


Primary Sources

The History of King Richard the Third
Thomas More's text, online at the American Branch of the Richard III Society.


Societies

The Richard III Society
The official page of the society, which has several branches (see below).

Richard III Society, American Branch
Friendly, intelligent site includes helpful info for the newcomer as well as extensive useful resources for the Ricardian scholar.

The Richard III Society of Canada
More useful info about Richard and his times.

Richard III Society, Yorkshire Branch
Focuses on Richard's association with Yorkshire.

RichardIII.ORG
Not part of the Richard III Society, this website offers some background on the Wars of the Roses and on Richard himself.


Related Resources

Medieval Britain
Sites that focus on general British medieval history, people, places, events, documents, the Norman Conquest, the Wars of the Roses, and the search for a historical King Arthur.

The Wars of the Roses
An index of sites that focus on the complex dynastic war in 15th-century Britain.

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