Britain, 1483-1529 Richard III


Yorkist monarchy @ ED IV's death

  • his marriage to eliz woodville in 1464 without consent, offended yorkist families, yet was successful with 7 children, & 2 sons Edward and Richard 
  • April 1483 crown passed to eldest son Edward who was 12 and was a minor 
  • power struggle revolved around 2 rival factions, woodvilles and gloucester 
  • on Ed IV's death, strategic advances lay with Woodvilles as prince ed was w/ Earl Rivers 
  • Counsel met after his death and confirm Eliz attended
  • Woodville's were disliked with enemies such as hastings & gloucester 
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accession of ed V and usurpation of RIII

  • news of ed's death didnt reach Ludlow castle until 14th April, the delay suggsestiing the Woodville family didn't feel pressured to reach LDN
  • 30th April, gloucester ate at an inn in Stony Stratford where Earl Rivers visisted them
  • gloucester and rivers were joined by Buckingham and after Rivers left, gloucester & rivers agreed their next move
  • gloucester & buckingham chose to take their 1st decisive action against the Woodvilles
  • gloucester arrested ruver w/ 3 most trusted confidents and where imprisoned @ gloucester's stronghold 
  • held their until their execution at Pontefract Castle on 25th June
  • this caused panic, eliz fled to sanctuary with all her children 
  • hastings distrusted the rewards given by gloucester to buckingham 
  • gloucester was aware of hastings distrust and accused him of treason and for plotting w/ the woodvilles & was executed 
  • after 16th June gloucesters desire for the crown accelerated and sent a deputation to westminister request R duke of york to join Ed V in tower to help prep for coronation
  • he then planned to denounce the princes illgetimacy now they were together 
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rich usurpation

  • r need to permantely remove woodville threat and therefore, earl rivers, grey, hawte and vaughn were taken to execution. FINAL MOVES IN USURPATION:
  • 25th June assembly in lords and commons gathered @ westminister  where Buckingham presented a roll of parchment which detailed the evils of the woodvilles & the petition begged gloucester to take the crown
  • rode by horse to westminister hall and sat in the royal seat in the court of the King's bench
  • from this seat R, Duke of Gloucester formally declared his accession to the throne should be dated from 26th June 1483
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princes in the tower

  • ed IV thought to be responsibile for the murder in the Tower of LDN of HVI 
  • R clearly had a strong motive and opportunity to remove his rivals
  • most contemporaries see the princes were dead within a few weeks of the R's accession to the throne
  • by autumn 1483 eliz was prepared to supprt a challange to R by h tudor who was in exile in Brittany
  • created rebels later in 1483 in southern and western counties 
  • traditional story of the princes death is based on Thomas More's book History of King Richard III
  • In More's account, the two princes were confined to their room in the Tower of London
  • meanline R set off on coronation progress but on the way decided to act against his nephews
  • the King then passes the responsbility to James Tyrell, who assisted by 2 other smother the two boys and their bodies were buried at the foot of a flight of stairs in the tower
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main suspects

  • RIII: clear motive, prime suspect. failed to produce the 2 princes alive when politically damaging rumours escalated 
  • Henry Tudor: had a clear motive to ensure princes were permantely removed 
  • Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham: remained in LDN several days after R set out in 1483 on progress. R did not take advantage of Buckingham's failed rebellion in Oct 1483 to blame him for the murders
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The reign of RIII - instability

early months: 26th june to 11th oct 1483

  • he arranged coronation for 6th july
  • appointed chief officers of state: the Bishop of Lincol, John Russell as chancellor, privy self and chancellor of the exchequer
  • rewarded his loyal servants
  • empowered his 3 greatest magnates, buckingham norfolk and northumberland
  • deployed his army in the north as additional forces to keep law and order over the coronation 
  • set out on progess in mid july and wound his way through the south-west midlands
  • met his son edward, who he made prince of wales 
  • agreed a treaty of friendship with iz of castile to bring international recognition 
  • was aware of the custody of HT in britanny by King of France 
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The Buckingham rebellion, October 1483

r's power was instable and was soon revealed to be fragile

  • in Oct it became clear he could not rely on his clostest allies and the opposition from south-eastern countries grew in july & august, culminating in a series of rebellions known as 'the Duke of Buckingham's rebellion'
  • the rebellions were planned and stated in Kentish Weald before Buckingham defected the rebels
  • Buckingham's rebellion was unexpected as he had been well rewarded for his central role in R's usurpation
  • unclear why he chose to rebel but one explanation shows he developed an apetite for rewards and became greedy, the king had promised him earldom of Hereford that would have been confirmed by parliamnet, but the letter patent never arrived suggesting R changed his mind
  • other explanations include: Buckingham drive by personal conscience after assumed death of the princes
  • Thomas More linked rebellion to conversations between Buckingham & John Morton, who had been placed in custody in Brecon Castle, which inflamed the Duke's grudges against the King
  • some argue Buckingham planned to remove Rich III and become King himself, for he descended Edward III
  • Buckingham saw himself as a kingmaker, and wanted to lead the rebellion to place Henry Tudor on the throne
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Buckingham rebellion

  • not 1 event with 1 leader, series of household revolts by Yorkists who were loyal to Ed IV and his sons
  • after the princes were found to be dead, Edwardian loyalists were stirred into action
  • loyal servants intended to exploit persisting support for the house of Lancaster to remove RIII and HT was the leading lancastrian in exile in Britanny
  • John Morton, Bishop of Ely, was able to put Buckingham in contact w/ marg beaufort HT's mother who contacted HT
  • HT then launched the campaign to become King on the back of the popular uprisings since his preparations had been underway since mid-september
  • REBELLION: started in south-east England on 11th Oct w/ uprisings in Kent followed by Sussex and Surrey but King's loyal confidents contained the rebels
  • by 18th oct fyrther rebel armies had formed in the south-west counties of cornwall and devon led by thomas grey, marquis of dorset and 2 members of the courtenay family
  • another rebel army gathered in the central-southern counties at two contres - Newbury, Berkshire, and Sailsbury, Wiltshire  
  • Buckingham planned for another rising from his own power base in south Wales, but this proved unrealistic  
  • Buckingham marched through the Forest of Dean but as he left Ricardians loyalists torched his castle w/ Humphrey Stafford who was loyal to the King destroying any bridges
  • Buckingham was betrayed to the Sheriff of Shropshire and was tried and thene executed in Salisbury market place on 2nd Nov
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Buckingham rebellion contiuned

  • R contained rebels in the south eat and subdued a welsh uprising so his attention was focussed on the south west and central south
  • his army marched into wiltshire where the rebels scattered or fled with some to sanctuary
  • not clear if Buckingham planned to claim the thron in his own right or planned to declare for HT
  • HT waited @ coast of plymouth waiting for signal from Buckingham but heard of his execution and sailed back to Brittany
  • outcomes disastrous for RIII as HT had emerged as potential rival because he was seen as the Yorkist household's replacement for Ed IV's sons
  • 25th Dec 1483, HT made public proposal to marry ELiz of York if crowned king
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attempts to build authority

  • R clearly unable to depend on leading gentry so now had to build his own base of support
  • developed 2 main policies to build his royal authority:
  • 1: he tried to develop existing power structures by handing more land and local responsbiliteis to established royal gentry - Viscount Lovell
  • 2: usual controversial policy was to plant loyal notherners in the midlands and the south. Brackenbury from Durham who was implcated w/ princes deaths was appointed of Sheriff of Kent and Constable of Tonbrigde Castle. caused deep resentment and in 1485 proved politically disruptive
  • 97 people were attained and lost their lands w/ most being southern gentry
  • 40 northeners benefitted from granted new lands, offices and annuities
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RIII - increasing instability

  • R's reign dominated by consequences of his usurpation, the assumption of his blame for the princes deaths along w/ Buckingham Reb
  • was only ever seen as a usurper by most of his subjects
  • avoided relying on magnates fearing they might use their power to usurp the throne
  • chose to rule through minor nobles
  • set up independent royal councsel to keep law & order in the north
  • counsel of the north handed to John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln
  • R closely administered crown estates that were his main source of revenue
  • outlawed 'benevolences' Edward had relied upon
  • only called 1 parliament and delayed it until jan 1484 after buckingham reb
  • only important legislation was 'titus regus' proclaiming princes illegitimacy and voting kings customs revenues for life
  • death of his son Edward in 84 and wife Anne in 1485
  • chose to contiune war in scotland despite James III desire for peace
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gathering storm - threat from HT

  • pol upheaveals in 1483 following Ed's death liften HT from obscurity and placed him at the heart of events
  • the abortive Buckingham Reb taught him about the need for careful prep 
  • Tudor set about planning 2nd invasion with great pol, military and diplomatic care
  • his publib promised to marry Eliz of York was good for public relations winning support from disaffected royal servants in Eng
  • some royal servants left Eng to join growing court in exile, including Sir Giles Daubney & Robert Willoughby who had been loyal to Ed IV
  • during 1484-5 Tudor's agents croos the channel to assess and build his level of support and were encourage by sporadic uprisings that destabilished RIII's rule 
  • Marg Beaufort was a key contact in Eng promoting her son's interests and her marriage to Lord Stanely put her in a influential position 
  • her family conections to the courtenays, lancastrian loyalists, drew support from Ed Courtenay
  • Tudor knew he was building a good level of support although no great magnate had declared for him. his planning was not always straightforward though as he was forced by R's diplomacy to flee from exile in Brittany to the court of KIng of France, Charles VIII 
  • this move made him more of a threat to R as the French king lent him 60,000 francs and 1,800 mercenaries. as his position strengthened, R lost confidence 
  • R spent large sums of money commisioning a fleet based at Southampton commanded by Lovell andmade elaborate prep to defend west Wales putting a beacon in place & sent out instructions to reinforce his position. 1485 knew he would have to fight 
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Battle of Bosworth

  • one of the most decisive battles in Eng hist, yet details are sparse 

Tudors advance to Bosworth:

  • HT sailed from France having been in touch w/various friends and sympathisers but without any guarnantee of support. he felt so uncertain that he chose to land at Mill Bay out of sight of Dale Castle, which he feared would be occupied as part of R's chain of coastal defences. after landing he knighted 11 loyal followers 
  • army moved to Haverfordwest was important as HT needed to hold a sig town. he was conscious that key men (stanley,s Rhys ap Thomas and John Savage) hadn't yet declared for him 
  • HT showed strategic intelligence choosing to move north into central Wales where Duke of Buckingham had landed and away from Yorkist loyalists in South Wales 
  • Tudor moved up at a moderate pace taking time to send messengers to political allies & as he arrived at mountainous terrain he was met by Rhys' declaration who brought an additional 2000 men
  • army advanced to Shrewsbury where they faced real opposition w/ bailiffs of the town refusing to open its gates, but Stanely sent a messenger to bailiffs to yield  & they did w/ Richard Corbet joining w/ 800 men 
  • numbers in rebel army increased again at Newport when Sir Gilber Talbot and 500 more men joined , yet HT still did not have crucial support of great english noble families, but he met William Stanely at Staffird but didnt secure his support
  • R was aware he couldn't rely on the Stanley's loyalty & held his eldest son, Lord Strange as captive to guarantee his support
  • Atherstone was where HT met Lord Stanley & his brother WIlliam
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RIII's actions before battle

  • from mid-June, R set up quarters in Notts anticipating the challenge from Tudor, and sent commissions of array to many shires to muster troops he wa son notts when he learned on 11th August that HT had landed & immediately summoned Norfolk, Northumberland and Lovell, along w/ Brackenbury who joined him @ Leics 
  • it seems he did not rush because he believed the pretender would be crushed in Wales by Rhys or Stanley, yet became less complacent after Stanley made excuses for not returing to R immediately 
  • Lord Strange was interrogated and revealed that William Stanley and John Savage planned to join Tudor, yet Stanley would remain loyal to the king 
  • RIII declared the 2 men traitors and on 19th August moved his army to Leics
  • 2 days later, both armies were camped near to Ambien Hill, making the final prep for battle next day 
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Battle of Bosworth 22 August 1485

  • R's army was 10,000 men assembled on the top of Ambien Hill with archers in front commanded by the Duke of Norfolk, R himself in charge of the troops towards the rear and Duke of Northumberland at the rear w/ the reserve 
  • HT had max of 5,000 men of various nationalities w/ the vanguard, under the command of Earl of Ox strengthened by the highly professional french mercenairies under Philiber de Chandee 
  • Sir Gilbert Talbot commanded Tudor's right wing and John Savage the left wing 
  • most important strategic placings for HT were stanleys, Sir William on the left w/ 3000 men whilst Lord Stanley was on the right flank though he played no part in the battle 
  • battle was inconclusive until R chose to personally end HT's challenge and led a charge towards Tuddor before Stanley and Percy's inaction became an open rebellion 
  • the gamble almost succeeded because in the close quarter fighting, Tudor's standard bearer was killed 
  • Philibert de Chandee proved crucial in this decisive phase of the battle, as his pikemen executed a complex manoeuvre to protect HT 
  • another decisive factor was Sir William Stanley who intervened w/ his retinue to save HT from disaster 
  • RIII was killed and his army put to flight 
  • R's body was treated shamefully after battle 
  • it was R's charge that proved fatal and decisive, a restoration of family honour 
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