The Wars of the Roses: King Richard III of England

The Wars of the Roses: King Richard III of England
Three York brothers. Richard Gloucester is on the far left. Still from the series “The White Queen”

“Horse! horse! The whole kingdom is for the horse!”
"Richard the Third", William Shakespeare

History in faces. We continue our story in person about the main characters of the epic conflict in England in the 15th century - the War of the Scarlet and White Roses. Last time we stopped at the fact that King Edward IV died of gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery, having first drowned his brother Duke of Clarence in a barrel of malvasia and leaving behind him his son Edward V as his heir. And his brother Richard, who bore title of Duke of Gloucester and was the eleventh of twelve children of Duke Richard of York.

Coronation of Richard III. Still from the series “The White Queen”

It is believed that for a long time he was small, and also hunchbacked, and due to the atrophy of his left hand, he could not use it properly. “Richard the Hunchback” is how William Shakespeare wrote about him, but the creators of the series “The White Queen” and “The White Princess” showed him completely differently. And, apparently, they had reasons for this. Although, again, his contemporaries noted that he had a noble bearing and beautiful appearance, which made him similar to his brother King Edward IV. But his seemingly thin lips and stern expression in his eyes indicated that he had a cold heart and an arrogant disposition. Nevertheless, even with his “cold heart”, he faithfully served Edward IV, unlike his evil drowned brother. In the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, he fought shoulder to shoulder with Edward, led the English army in the war with Scotland, while revealing considerable military talents. And he was a good administrator. That is, being content with his secondary position, he could bring a lot of benefit to his country. But... judging by the information that has reached us, Richard was consumed by envy of his brother and ambition, which he skillfully hid for the time being.

Immediately after the death of Edward IV, he managed to isolate his heir, the young King Edward V, and negotiate with the Duke of Buckingham, who hated the Woodville family, about joint actions against them. As a result, Earl Rivers, the king's maternal uncle, and Lord Grae, Edward's half-brother, were accused of treason and, despite the pleas of the young king, their heads were cut off.

Anne Neville is the daughter of the “kingmaker” and husband of Richard III. This is how she is presented in the series “The White Queen”

Richard was declared Lord Protector under the young king and took a place near the throne. Queen Elizabeth apparently understood that everything that was happening was detrimental to her family, and took refuge with her other children in Westminster Abbey. But for some reason she allowed her youngest son to live with his brother. Moreover, Richard, under the pretext of ensuring the safety of his brothers, settled his nephews in the Tower of London, that is, in fact, locked them in a dungeon.

Queen Anne, King Richard III and their son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Miniature from the Roll of John Rose (1483). British Library, London

However, his actions lacked legitimacy. And so, in order to justify himself in the eyes of the public, preacher Sho, at his instigation, began to speak loudly that the children of the late king were illegitimate. The accusations are also supported by the mayor of London, who had a very good understanding of where the wind was blowing and where things were going. As a result, the assembled parliament considered the marriage of Edward IV with Elizabeth Woodville illegal, since it was arranged using witchcraft (!), and Edward could not marry Elizabeth due to the fact that he promised to marry another woman, and there were witnesses to this, and there was law obliging such promises to be fulfilled.

Poor Anna did not enjoy the happiness of being queen for long. Anne died five months before her husband's death in March 1485

Naturally, in this way, Edward’s children were automatically removed from the throne and passed to the son of the Duke of Clarence, but since they were the children of a state criminal executed for treason, they were also deprived of their rights to the throne. And it turned out that if before there were as many as six contenders for the throne and Richard, now the crown should automatically go to Richard. This is how the third brother of Edward IV, all from the same York family, became king.

Richard III. This is how he is shown in the 1955 movie...

Nevertheless, Edward's sons continued to embarrass Richard. So he ordered them to be killed and their bodies buried under the stairs. However, this is just one of many versions. Which the English creators of the series “The White Queen” reject. The fact is that Richard was by no means an evil fool and should have fully understood that stupid villainy does not lead to good. Moreover, there were many people who also benefited from their murder, and these, first of all, were Richard’s enemies, who then began to accuse him of killing innocent children. This was also beneficial for the mother of the future Henry VII, Margaret Beaufort, whom we have already talked about in this series. She, too, could well have sought to shorten her son’s path to the throne by eliminating potential heirs to the throne. In any case, the disappearance of the “princes from the Tower” was shrouded in mystery and remained a mystery, although their remains seemed to have been found.

Richard III on Bosworth Field. Graham Turner painting

Be that as it may, this murder backfired on Richard. The Duke of Buckingham stopped supporting him and began preparing his overthrow. First of all, it was decided to marry Edward IV's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, to Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, a relative of the Dukes of Lancaster, and thus legalize him as heir to the throne of England with greater rights than those of Richard III. Then in October 1483 an uprising was raised in several counties under the slogan “England and Lancaster!" Richard announced a large reward for the heads of the rebels and at first achieved the desired result: Buckingham was captured. After which he was tried and executed. Henry Tudor fled to France, but although the uprising was seemingly crushed, Richard still felt that “treason was brewing everywhere” and that his position remained precarious. And it turned out that more and more executions only added more supporters to the young Tudor.

Richard III's Last Stand, still from the 1955 film

For two years he gathered his forces, after which in August 1485, with money from the French government, he gathered an army and landed in England. The decisive battle for the crown of England took place under Bosworth. Although Henry had fewer troops, his position was more advantageous. Nevertheless, the king showed considerable courage in this battle and fought very bravely. Attacking Henry with a spear at the ready, he threw his standard-bearer to the ground and was able to inflict several blows on Henry himself with a sword. Perhaps he would have been able to win, especially since he had more troops than his opponent, but then Lord Stanley, one of his confidants, whose loyalty Richard had no doubts, at the most decisive moment of the battle went over to the side of Henry Tudor and attacked the troops of his overlord. Richard was knocked off his horse and killed in a foot fight. This was the end of the York male line. Well, the crown that rolled off Richard’s death head was received right there on the battlefield by the Earl of Richmond, who became King Henry VII and the founder of the new Tudor dynasty.

The last stand of Richard III, a still from the series “The White Queen”

Was Richard III a bad king in our understanding of the word and in the understanding of his contemporaries? Edward IV robbed and executed his opponents, but the people loved him, and all because during his reign no additional taxes were levied - the king had enough of the loot from his noble subjects.

The last stand of Richard III. Illustration by Graham Turner

But Richard III distinguished himself by the fact that, as a statesman, he improved office work, expanded trade with the continent, pursued a policy of protectionism, and patronized the arts, especially architecture and music. But what is most important, and for which he was also loved by the people, he prohibited violent exactions. After all, who would like it when he is voluntarily and forcibly forced to give away what he has acquired? Was he more cruel and bloodthirsty than, say, his older brother? No, no more than him... But the same Shakespeare made him out to be a monster. It was probably beneficial for Henry VII, who succeeded Richard, to be considered this way, and then this point of view spread widely and came to the pen of William Shakespeare. And, surprisingly, “the hunchback Richard” was faithful and devoted to his brother King Edward and did not plot against him, and did not support the Duke of Clarence, his second brother, in this. Moreover, he became famous ... for his honesty, fully justifying his motto: “Loyaulte me lic,” which means “Loyalty makes me steadfast.”
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  1. -1
    15 May 2024 06: 53
    Thanks to the author for an interesting article.
  2. The comment was deleted.
  3. +1
    15 May 2024 07: 24
    Here is an article about Richard 3:
  4. 0
    15 May 2024 08: 26
    Thanks to the Author for an interesting article, as always.

    Finally I see the correct translation about the horse in the epigraph.
  5. +6
    15 May 2024 09: 02
    It seems like there were studies that Richard was not involved in the death of the princes... since they survived him request
    Some documents were found to highlight the content.
  6. +1
    15 May 2024 10: 33
    Everyone, I wish you good health
    Vyacheslav Olegovich, I slightly disagree with you: “he was betrayed to his brother the king about
    1. +3
      15 May 2024 11: 39
      Good afternoon! Apparently I couldn’t finish printing the comment, but I got the idea.
      With Richard III, everything is complicated and ambiguous. Historians do not have a unanimous opinion. Or, indeed, for a long time being “second” to the king, he committed “all the abominations” that were prescribed to him. Or, initially, he only wanted to “remain second” to his brother’s son, but then, having learned “power”...
      Although it is possible that until the “death” of the young king, he remained a loyal vassal who became a victim of circumstances or his wife’s ambitions?
      We must admit only one thing: Richard before and Richard after the crown are two completely different people.
      However, our hero Vasily the Dark regained his sight only after he was blinded, and not immediately. Richard is exactly the opposite.
      Have a nice day!
      1. +4
        15 May 2024 11: 48
        In any case, his last act, refusing to leave Bosworth Field, is worthy of respect.
        1. +1
          15 May 2024 12: 06
          Hi Anton, definitely my friend! We all do things sometimes beautifully and sometimes rightly. Unfortunately, right is not always beautiful...
          The only problem is that history is written by the victors. If Kolya had looked at the light, he would have said exactly how many times Catherine the Great rewrote her memoirs.
          1. +2
            15 May 2024 16: 17
            said exactly how many times Catherine the Great rewrote her memoirs

            Nobody knows for sure. And approximately too. They know for sure that they were written for a long time, almost forty years. Dee is not a memoir; by and large, it is more of an autobiographical historical novel.
      2. 0
        15 May 2024 15: 27
        Vlad1, I agree: Richard before and Richard after the crown are two completely different people “this is real and can be understood: the person imagines that the crown is a guarantee of immunity.
        Another thing is that the crown, like a magnet, attracts those who want to “try it on.”
    2. +1
      15 May 2024 12: 40
      Quote from lisikat2
      was devoted to his brother the king

      But unlike Clarence, he didn’t do anything dirty to him... During his life... And after death, this is already politics.
  7. +2
    15 May 2024 11: 30
    Vyacheslav Olegovich, I don’t quite agree with you, “he was devoted to his brother the king,” which did not stop him from “bathing in the mud” of the deceased.
    Regarding princes, it’s more complicated. There are many interested and he is among them.
    If I had organized an investigation and named the culprits: they are murderers and
    and the facts come out. He would help himself, otherwise.
    At the penultimate presidential election, Grudinin remained silent, and when he appeared on TV: “the hunt has begun for me. These are the villains,” added: at least 30% of the votes
    I, then, gave my vote to “new people”. I knew that their candidate would not pass, but my vote would not go to others.
    During the last elections, I didn’t watch the debates, which means I don’t have an opinion..
    I prefer to think for myself!
    1. 0
      15 May 2024 20: 49
      Somehow documents surfaced signed by the commandant of the Tower regarding payments from the treasury for the maintenance of princes and with a date about a year after Richard’s death. So there was nothing to investigate - they survived it
  8. 0
    Yesterday, 05: 56
    Each hut has its own rattles.