Richard III

Richard_III_earliest_surviving_portrait

Richard III,

1483-1485

Born:

2 October 1452, son of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville, at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire

Crowned:

6 July 1483, at Westminster Abbey, London

Died:

22 August 1485, killed in battle at Bosworth Field, Leicestershire

Buried:

Church of the Grey Friars, Leicester

Married:

12 July 1472 (traditional date), Anne Neville

Succeeded by:

Henry VII (victor over Richard in battle)

ichard was the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York, who attempted to take the throne from the incapacitated Lancastrian king Henry VI.

After his father was killed in battle, 8-year-old Richard and his 11-year-old brother George fled to safety in Burgundy. They returned three months later when the Yorkist forces, now under the command of their oldest brother, Edward, deposed Henry VI. On 28 June 1461, Edward was crowned at Westminster. Four months later, he named his brother Richard Duke of Gloucester.

Richard was Edward’s most loyal companion, holding the north securely for the crown and serving as constable and admiral of England. He was an excellent commander in the field, energetic, courageous, conscientious and intelligent. Highly principled, he disapproved of his brother’s increasingly dissolute lifestyle. He may have attributed Edward’s shortcomings to the influence of the family of his queen Elizabeth Woodville.

On his deathbed, Edward named Richard as Lord Protector. When it seemed that the Woodville faction might make a bid for power, Richard reacted strongly. He took control of the underage heir Edward V and housed him in the Tower. While planning for Edward’s coronation was underway, the claim was made that Edward IV’s marriage with Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and his children, therefore, illegitimate and ineligible to inherit.

Richard accepted the throne and, with his wife Anne Neville, was crowned. Richard reigned only two years. The Lancastrians, now led by the tenuously-connected Henry Tudor, disputed his kingship. Richard quelled the first rebellion. The second was successful. Richard was defeated and killed at Bosworth Field.

Richard’s historical reputation rests on the mystery of the “princes in the Tower.” His two young nephews, the sons of Edward IV, disappeared forever under Richard’s “watch.” Their fate, and the extent of Richard’s responsibility, has been debated for centuries.

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