Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 7 years ago

Does Richard III deserve his wicked reputation?

For my Extended Project Qualification as part of my A-levels, I have decided to narrow down the topic and focus more clearly on the controversial character Richard III. Any suggestions to good, reliable web pages, books or articles would be extremely helpful. It would also be helpful if you could indicate why you think of Richard III in the way you do. For example, through the Shakespearian portrayal of him in his famous play, the tragedy of Richard III.


9 Answers

  • Lomax
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Richard III was a just and popular King - well, with most of the country anyway. Guven the fact that England had suffered thirty years of civil war when he assumed the crown, it can hardly expected thathe could have imposed peace and goodwill from the start.

    The question that remains is - did he have his nephews murdered? Answer - yes, he probably did. But then, it was a murderous time. Henry IV gained the crown by murdering his cousin; and Edward IV murdered his brother George of Clarence (Richard III was the third brother, and connived at the murder even if he didn't actually participate).

    By modern standards that makes him a villain. By mediaeval standards this was par for the course.

  • 7 years ago

    Shakespeare is fiction, not fact. Ignore him as a source unless you want to point out how Tudor propaganda has colored to this day how we look at Richard III.

    The bottom line is this: Richard III had to be made into a monster, else Henry VII (with his bastard line debarred from the throne) had no justification for taking or occupying the throne.

    Where to start? I'd get my hands on Annette Carson's Richard III: The Maligned King. (Make sure it's the most recent edition, updated this year after Richard III's bones were found.) She's a careful researcher and a respected scholar who outlines exactly who Richard was, what he did when, why he did it. She also discusses what the Tudors caused to be written about him, and why.

    Carson will also give you a clear understanding of why there are so few trustworthy primary sources (written when Richard was alive), and why much of what we have dates from thirty and more years after Richard's death and must be analyzed to the nth degree...and why no one will ever agree on the interpretation of those secondary sources.

    You might also invest in a membership to the Richard III Society which is based in England. (Find them online.) If you do, you'll have online and email access to all of their articles and research (decades worth), and the ability to question experts in the Society about Richard. I assume you're in Britain as you're doing A-levels, so everything's at your fingertips, literally, if you work with the Society. Once you're a member, they'll direct you to solid sources -- live and written -- that can help you with your research.

    Good luck.

    Source(s): Annette Carson -- *The Maligned King* The Richard III Society
  • 7 years ago

    Remember that the play was written with a particular goal in mind, to discredit the people that were defeated and to glorify the winners. You often hear people say that history is written by the victors. There is some truth to that. Also remember that this event was part of a larger turmoil that had been going on for years: the Wars of the Roses, with two competing branches of the Plantagenets fighting over the succession.

    The last book of Thomas Costain's wonderful tetralogy on the the Plantagenet kings would be a good resource. It's title is "The Last Plantagenets". You can also look into modern accounts of the discovery of Richard's remains under a car park. The play portrays Richard as a twisted monster. While it's known that he had scoliosis, he wasn't even remotely like what he was portrayed, and the skeletal remains prove it.

    You should also go to the library and work with a reference librarian, who will tap you into a wealth of information.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Probably not. Richard III gets his evil reputation from Shakespeare's play, but Shakespeare only wrote it that way to please Queen Elizabeth, to show her that her grandfather had been right to seize the throne in the way that he did. Bearing this in mind, he probably did do a lot of the stuff in the play. Richard probably did play some part in the murder of the previous King Henry in order to ensure his brother Edward's claim to the throne. As for the murder of his other brother George, he didn't murder him. George was executed for treason. He had tried to overthrow his elder brother and failed, and had repeatedly insulted the King and his wife in public. Edward finally made the decision to execute him, not Richard, and George chose to be drowned in a vat of wine - seemingly for a joke and a last insult to the Queen as it was her wine in which he was drowned.

    Finally, the princes in the tower. There is probably no way of ever telling if he did kill his nephews and it is not known whether they actually even died in the tower. Two bodies were recently found buried under the tower and were thought to be the two princes, but when examined, the two children were not blood related. Some versions of history say that the elder boy, Edward, was killed in the tower but his younger brother managed to escape to France (possibly with the hope of returning to claim his crown later on, though he never did). I have also heard some other stories that say that Richard did put them in the tower but thought that he was doing it for their own good and never meant for them to be killed. However it happened, they died and Richard became King.

    I don't think he was really a villain, I just think he was King during a dark time for England and made a few bad decisions that led to him being hated by the people that could have secured his throne. At least his death ended one of the most serious Family feuds in history.

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  • 7 years ago

    Forget Shakespeare - he was a playwright, not a historian. [MacBeth, for example, has absolutely nothing to do with the life of the real king MacBeth]

    For something easy & quick to read for starters, what about Josephine Tey's book., The Daughter of Time? It's fiction, and a bit old-fashioned - I think it was published about 50 years ago - but it is short, and very interesting as regards rehabilitating Richard, and I THINK there are references to serious works of history.

    There's a biography of Richard by the American historian, Paul Murray Kendall - long, but you can zap through the " who killed the princes in the Tower" part by just reading Appendix 1 - after all you've got other stuff eating up time, if you're doing A level history.

    Incidentally if your local library doesn't have these, they'll usually get anything you want through Inter-Library loan fro about 50p.

    For background., The Wars of the Roses (Enquiring History Series) by Ian Dawson - not long, and worth whizzing through.

    Source(s): reading
  • Tina
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    He was a product of his environment. Richard had watched Elizabeth and her Woodville relatives take over much of the government. They had also executed his brother George and several of the other Plantangenant relatives for various charges, some of them false. As such it didn't take a lot of rocket science to realize he could be next. His only recourses were to usurp the throne and take over or join Henry Tudor in France.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Not really. He happened to be a king at the wrong time. Difficult decisions had to be made. Some say Barak Obama falls under the same category.

  • 7 years ago

    Richard was no worse than many other medieval kings, and probably a great deal better than many. History is written by the victors and of course his vanquisher, Henry VII, needed to blacken his name...for Henry's claim to the throne was shaky; he was 17th in line at best and also should have been barred due to illegitimacy in the family line.

    Richard made many good laws for the common man, but this wasn't popular with the nobles, and he never established a needed power base in the south, so people there were happy to rebel. He was much loved in the north and had been for years. The way he took the throne brought doubts to many, and of course the disappearance of the princes; however, the accession was decided by parliament, it certainly wasn't a case of Richard grabbing it with military force. I believe he felt it was the right thing to do, maybe even laid upon him by God. As for the princes, who knows...certainly it would have benefited others more than Richard to have them dead. To kill them and not display the bodies would be just foolish and pointless, as you could have pretenders arising pretending to be them--this actually happened to Henry VII. Interestingly it was Henry who actually imprisoned a ten year old in the Tower kept him there for over ten years (he may have gone mad while there) and then executed him on trumped up charges.

    There have been lots of books on Richard lately--

    try works by Annette Carson,Josephine Wilkinson, John Ashdown-Hill for a positive view,

    David Baldwin for a neutral view, and if you want to contrast with the negative there is Alison Weir and Michael Hicks.

    Back to Shakespeare-here is a list of things he claimed about Richard and what is nearer the truth.

    Shaky: He was a limping hunchback with a withered arm--in fact he had scoliosis, a sideways curve to his spine that would have been hidden by clothes, no withered arm and no limp. And he was pretty good looking too though not terribly tall and very fine-boned.

    Shaky: He killed a knight at the battle of St Albans--no, he would have been two years old.

    Shaky:He killed Anne's husband Edward of Lancaster and forced her to marry him. Reality--records say Edward died on the field or that brother George had a hand in it. Anne and Richard had known each other since childhood and she seemed happy to marry him (as a dowager she could have gone into a convent if she wished to escape marriage), prob more than being forced by her father at 14 to marry a strange prince who had been an enemy.

    Shaky: he killed Henry VI single handedly. Truth--he was Constable of England, he may have had to find the 'heavies' to do it. However, the order would have had to be from the King, his brother. He was the one who needed Henry dead, not Richard.Shaky couldn't say this of course because his patron was the great grand daughter of Edward, who would have been ultimately responsible.

    Shaky; he killed brother George in a vat of malmsey. Truth:This is prob the silliest charge. Why would he? It was Edward who had George executed for his continuing 'loose cannon' behaviour. Richard was in fact horrified and left London after, seldom going to court again, and even talking about vengeance for George.

    Shaky; he smothered the Princes. Truth: we just don't know. The bones found there are unlikely to be theirs. Some sources state the Duke of Buckingham did it; he rebelled against Richard a month or so after they vanished and some think he was after the crown himself.

    Shaky: he murdered Anne and plotted to marry his neice. Truth: Anne was sickly, it is thought she had tb or cancer. Her treatments may have included arsenic whch gave poisoning symptoms.Richard publicly denied wishing to marry Elizabeth and documents have been found proving he was in fact negotiating a re-marriage for himself with Joanna of Portugal...and a marriage for Elizabeth with Manuel of Portugal.

  • 7 years ago

    History is written by the winners, Shakespeare had to please the Queen (Marlowe died in suspicious circumstances).

    Read any history - but check the cited evidence at every step. You will be shocked to discover how little contemporary evidence there ever is.

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