Why was Richard able to take the crown?

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The element of surprise

  • Richard's past loyalty to Edward IV: in 1470 Richard had joined Edward in exile when Clarence sided with Warwick. Since 1471 he had been completely loyal, leading Edward's army against Scotland and controlling the north of England. No one, least of all Rivers and Hastings, expected him to depose his brother's son. 
  • His moderate actions in May and early June: Until mid-June Richard took every oppurtunity to stress his loyalty to Edward V. As Protector he gave no sign of wanting greater power. 
  • The violence of his actions in mid-June: On June 13 Hastings was executed. Other potential opponents were arrested and imprisoned. This unexpected violence paralysed potential opposition. 
  • The speed of events in mid-June: After six weeks of calm came ten days of frantic action, at the end of which government went quiet while everyone waited for Richard to be crowned/ There was no time to organiseeffective opposition. 
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Strengths of Richard

  • Support from significant noblemen: Hastings played a critical part in Richard's becoming Protector. Buckingham and Howard backed his claim to be king, adding credibility and perhaps making potential opponents hesitate. 
  • His northern support: Rumours of the arrival of Richard's northern army alarmed Londoners and intimidated potential opponents.
  • The weakness of potential opponents: The Woodvilles had little power. The arrest of Rivers killed any chance of them leading opposition to Richard. Other major nobles were too preoccupied with their own concerns over their positions under a child-king that they did not unite against Richard. 
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Uncertainties of potential opponents

  • A justification for becoming king: The story of the illegtimacy of Edward's children probably made many potential opponents pause. Was it true? Before they decided, Richard was king. This claim also gave waverers an excuse for supporting him. 
  • Memories of the minority of Henry VI: People remebered the bad days of Henry VI and many blamed this on his long minority, unaware that problems had only begun once Henry was an adult. Therefore, uncertainty over what might happen under another boy king perhaps played into Richard's hands. 
  • Confusion: A letter from Simon Stallworth to Sir William Stonor, written in London on 21 June, sums up the confusion. Amongst the news he says, "there is much trouble and every man doubts the other." The confusion about what was happening made it difficult to rally opposition to Richard. 
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