Instability in the Reign of Richard III

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  • Created on: 28-04-12 16:18

History A.S Level

Unit 1

Britain 1483-1529


Instability in the Reign of Richard the 3rd


The early months – 26th June to 11th October, 1483


Once he had assumed the crown, Richard the 3rd set about establishing his own government.

·         He arranged his coronation for 6th July.

·         He appointed his chief officers of state: the Bishop of Lincoln, John Russell, as Chancellor; John Gunthorpe as Keeper of the Privy Seal; and William Catesby as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

·         He rewarded his loyal servants: John Howard was elevated to the Dukedom of Norfolk and his son, Thomas Howard, was titled Earl of Surrey.

·         He empowered his three greatest magnates, Buckingham, Norfolk and Northumberland virtually as his lieutenants in Wales, East Anglia and the North respectively.

·         He deployed his army from the North as additional forces to keep law and order over the coronation, although afterwards he allowed them to return home.


The coronation was a glorious occasion. Buckingham and Norfolk stood on either side of the King, while the Queen was attended by the Duchess of Suffolk and the Countess of Richmond. Almost the entire peerage of England was present in Westminster Abbey, along with over 70 knights, yet only London and the nobility had any real understanding of the events that led to the coronation of Richard the 3rd during which he had promised himself to nourish peace and govern justly. He needed to show himself to the rest of the Kingdom, as a King.

He set out a progress by mid-July. He made his son Edward Prince of Wales. He agreed to a treaty of friendship with the envoy sent by Queen Isabella of Castile in the hope that it would bring him international recognition. He was unable to come to any arrangement with Louis the 12th, the King of France, which was a concern as France traditionally supported the House of Lancaster. Richard the 3rd’s relations with the Duke of Brittany became increasingly important to the security of his Kingship.

In the middle of September the royal family separated. Queen Anne accompanied her son and his cousin Edward, Earl of Warwick, to Middleham Castle, while the King went south to London. He knew that he had serious and growing opposition that needed to be suppressed. Richard left his Counsel at Westminster to carry out the business of government during his absences on progress. Richard also heard rumours from his contacts in Brittany that the King of France had offered safe custody to Henry Tudor. This threat was compounded by his distrust of Tudor’s relatives who were still in England. On 13th August, Richard placed all the lands held by John Welles, described as a King’s rebel, in the control of John Lord Scope of Bolton. Welles was the half-brother of Henry Tudor’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, so he fled and joined Tudor in


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