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King Richard III remains one of the most infamous and recognisable monarchs in English or British history, despite only sitting on the throne for two years and fifty-eight days. His hold on the popular imagination is largely due to the fictional portrayal of him by William Shakespeare which, combined with the workings of five centuries of rumour and gossip, has created two opposing versions of Richard. In fiction he is the evil, scheming murderer who revels in his plots, but many of the facts point towards a very different man.
Dissecting a real Richard III from the fictional versions that have taken hold is made difficult by the inability to discern motives in many instances, leaving a wide gap for interpretation that can be favourable or damning in varying degrees. It is the facts that will act as the scalpel to begin the operation of finding a truth obscured by fiction.
Richard III may have been a monster, a saint, or just a man trying to survive, but any view of him should be based in the realities of his life, not the myths built on rumour and theatre. How much of what we think we know about England’s most controversial monarch will remain when the facts are sifted from the fictions?
Of further interest...
A Nation in Conflict: The Battle of Bosworth FieldWed 22nd August
An article on the Battle of Bosworth Field, one of the decisive battles of English history by Peter Hammond. Extracted from Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, reproduced by permission of Pen & Sword Books Ltd. Read article...
The Hundred Years War – CrécyWed 19th August
The Battle of Crécy, fought on 26 August 1346, was the first great victory of the humble longbow and the yeoman archer, who would reign supreme on the battlefields of Europe for nearly 150 years. This article by Tim Saunders describes the Hundred Years Wa Read article...
Nation in Conflict - The Battle of WakefieldFri 21st December
Philip A Haigh describes the events of the Battle of Wakefield - one of the major battles of the Wars of Roses, which took place in December 1460. Extracted from Wakefield & Towton – The Wars of the Roses and reproduced by permission of Pen and Sword Book Read article...