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THE REIGN OF RICHARD III, 1483-1485
Richard III became king when he usurped the throne from his nephew, Edward V, in 1483, after he
deemed him and his brother, Richard, Duke of York, illegitmate. This had disasterous effects on
Richard's reign because it was one of the main factors which led to him becoming very unpopular
and caused him to only ever be seen as a usurper.
Why was Richard III so unpopular?
He was only ever seen as a usurper.
It was thought that he killed his nephews, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, to prevent
either of them from taking the throne from him.
He didn't follow the rules of the land himself. For example, he confiscated land from
Buckingham's supporters without passing Acts of Attainder, he executed without trial
(Hastings, Earl Rivers) and also usurped the throne.
He gave power and land to Northern nobles, creating a North/South divide. This led to
southerners supporting Henry Tudor upon his landing in England before the Battle of
Bosworth. This helped Henry Tudor build up his army which eventually reached 5,000 men
and allowed him to defeat Richard during the battle, even though his army was at least
twice the size.
Did Richard kill the Princes in the tower?
It was never proved that Richard did kill his nephews however rumours spread quickly that it was
him because he never proved himself innocent by producing the princes. It is also thought that
Richard had the most motive to do so because he wanted to secure the throne and they had a
better claim to the throne than Richard did himself. However, there are other suspects which
include: Henry Tudor and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
Successes of Richard III's reign:
He started a good diplomatic plan between England and Brittany however this ended up
becoming a greater threat as Henry gained support from France.
He banned benevolences (forced loans which were not repaid) which showed his loyalty to
nobles in the hope of gaining popularity.
He was an experienced fighter.
He introduced policies that protected English traders.
Buckingham rebellion (showed his strenth and ability to keep control).
Failures of Richard III's reign:
The diplomatic plan with Brittany wasn't successful.
He didn't follow the rules of the land himself.
He gave power and land to northern nobles, creating a north/south divide.
Nobility disliked the Woodvilles and if Richard married Elizabeth then they would come into
His claim to the throne was weak and was based on the idea of Edward IV's sons being
Rumours that he killed the princes spread quickly.
More people were against him than in support of him.
Henry Tudor became popular with English and French nobility.
Richard III used royal progressions to gain support.
He showed that he had the personality and politcal abillity to be a successful ruler.
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He blamed the terrible behaviour on Elizabeth Woodville.
He invited the Lord Mayor to his Epiphany Feast and presented him with a cup set in gems
and pearls to impress him and try and get him on his side.
13,000 white boars were cut of cloth and distributed to supporters in York, 1483.
He went on royal progeressions on 1483 and 1484.
Stopped the Buckingham Rebellion
He gave titles, land, offices and money as rewards.…read more
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Why did Buckingham rebel?
Greed? Wanted to be the next king? Conscience after the death of princes? Prompted by John
The results of the Buckingham Rebellion were disasterous for Richard despite his success in
Consequences of the rebellion:
Henry Tudor emerged as a threat to Richard III because he was seen as the Yorkist's
replacement for Edward IV's sons. Henry Tudor then promised to marry his daughter,
Elizabeth of York, if he was crowned king.…read more
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Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII of England.…read more