Richard III


Historian Quotes

  • 'Richard came close to the model of English Kingship... Yet his failure was total (Bennet)
  • 'Every tale condems me for a villan' (Shakespeare)
  • Richard never suceeded in becoming anything more than a usurper and the disloyalty surrounding him on the last day of his life reflects that' (Carpenter)
  • 'His short reign was plagued by the consequences of his usurpation and he never had much of an opportunity to demonstrate fully his capacity for kingship' (Pickering)
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  • His failure to produce his nephews, whom he had usurped to the throne and alleged murder of them, meant that natural Yorkist supporters rebelled against him (e.g. Duke of Buckingham).
  • He made drastic decisions which alienated his nobility (e.g. on the 13th of June he had Hastings, Lord Stanley and Bishop of Ely arrested. Hastings a loyal supporter of the House of York is immediately executed. 25th June Earl Rivers and Richard Grey executed)
  • He further alienated his nobility by keeping favourites, especially northern nobles, as he was perceived as a Northern king (had a Northern palatinate during the reign of his brother ( i.e. Sir William Catesby, Sir Richard Ratcliffe & Viscount Francis Lovell were his favorites)
  • Reverses 99 out of 100 Acts of Attainder.
  • Many nobles turned against him, Sir Giles Daubeney, the Marquis of Dorset, John De Vere Earl of Oxford and Edward Courtenay fled to Brittany in 1483 to support Henry Tudor, the last remaining Lancastrian heir.
  • At the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the Duke of Northumberland doesn’t support Richard, whilst Lord Stanley switched sides to support Henry Tudor, leaving only Norfolk to support Richard who was killed along with Richard.
  • Buckingham's (who had supported R's usurption) turned against him, using rumours of Princes to his advantage. 
  • 26 of Richard's councillers had previously served under Edward IV. E.g Lord Dudley 
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  • Similarly to Edward IV, Richard uses royal chamber as financial department.
  • Benevolences outlawed, strongly agaisnt forced loans. 
  • Didn't ask council for taxes because there were no further foreign campaigns. 
  • Royal estates bring in £25,000 a year.
  • Diminished funds as a result of wars against France and Scotland 
  • Personal interest in increasing revenue from crown lands
  • Gave away fewer assets than Edward. 
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Foreign Policy

  • To have a successful foreign policy he needed to expand England’s interest abroad, and prevent invasion.
  • He failed to meet these criteria having no significant actions to expand England’s interest and the fact that France supported Henry Tudor shows that he was unable to prevent foreign invasion.
  • Attempted to get Albany to attack Scotland in 1484 and failed. Established an expensive garrison at Dunbar. Restored peace with Scotland/ 
  • Tried to reduce support for Henry Tudor by undermining Brittany (an attack on shipping).  Duke Francis II sought truce with Richard, leading to Henry Tudor's flight to France
  • Failed to persuade Brittany or France to hand over Henry Tudor. 
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Government and Law

  • Had experience from being viceroy in the north, where the council was similar to the royal council. 
  • Secretary John Kendall and Chamber Treasurer Edmund Chadderton worked closely with the king. 
  • Combined his own supporters from the north with Edward's men in the south (pacifying)
  • Tightens up legal system (felons allowed bail and goods not siezed before conviction)
  • Qualification for juries is tightened. 
  • Lavish coronation including Anne Neville as queen. 
  • Son invested as the Prince of Wales, 13,000 white cloth boars distributed. 
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Standard Criteria

  • Despite him being defeated at the Battle of Bosworth, Richard was actually a good soldier, and just prior to his reign Richard was successful in his invasion of Scotland in E's reign. 
  • Richard is an energetic propagandist; this is evident when he re-buries Henry VII in Windsor, trying to link his own reign with the ‘saintly’ Henry.
  • Progandga against his brother: rule had been a dark time of disorder; Edward had ruled by sensuality; His marriage to Elizabeth had been unlawful and influenced by witchcraft; his children couldn't claim the throne b/c Edward was promised to marry F princess
  • Richard’s legitimacy to the throne is questionable, he usurped his nephews (and is accused of murdering them), however he was named rightful King by Dr Ralph Shaw on the 22nd of June, after his nephews were declared illegitimate.
  • He was said to be very religious and pious, he was a generous patron to the church (founding 10 chantries to say prayers to the dead)
  • He was unlucky not only in the fact that he was accused of killing his nephews, but also in the fact that his only son and heir died in 1484, followed by his wife in 1485, whom he was also accused of killing. Seen as punishment from God
  • Overall he had strong qualities which suited him to being king, however it is clear that the overwhelming suspicion that he killed his child nephews to get to the throne ultimately cracked the foundations of his kingship. Split the Yorkists which led to his defeat on the battlefield at Bosworth. 
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Battles/ Conflict

  • Buckingham's rebellion. Buckingham was well rewarded but South Wales was not enough for him. Rebellion easily crushed. Buckingham executed and his heir was a minor. Henry Tudor turned back and returned to Brittany. Richard helped by Sir Francis Lovell and used confiscated lands to bolster royal fortunes. No further domestic revolt. 
  • BOSWORTH: French authorised equipping a small fleet of troops to help Henry Tudor invade England. Henry landed in Wales w/ Jasper Tudor and faced Richard's troops at Bosworth. Richard's army was at the top of the hill. Richard had the larger army and it looked as if he would win. However, as king his army should have been king. Due to his unpopularity and splitting of the Yorkists, he found it hard to rouse support from land owning nobles. 
  • The Duke of Norfolk led a charge down the hill towards Henry. The Stanley forces swapped sides and joined Henry's forces. Richard saw this and abandoned the hill, charging towards Henry's forces. At the last minute, William Stanley threw troops again and the lightly defended Richard was killed on the spot. 
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