|Richard probably wasn't as villainous as |
his successors wanted us to
believe - fancy that!
In any event, Leicester now looks forward (sometime in spring of 2015), to reburying Richard III in a slightly more dignified place than that in which he was found!
I've already written a few pieces on Shakespeare's representation of King Richard, but his recent mention in the news got me thinking about the sides of Richard that most of us aren't familiar with.
So, here are five things about Richard III that might surprise you.
1. Richard III was only eighteen years of age when he was placed in command of troops at Tewkesbury
Even if we consider that average life expectancy was much shorter then than it is now, eighteen is young to be in charge of an army. Nevertheless, in one of the major battles of the Wars of The Roses, the then titled Duke of Gloucester was commanding men who were outnumbered 3,500 to 6,000. Richard's performance at Tewkesbury secured his reputation as not just a brave young man, but also an effective and talented military leader.
|By the time of Bosworth, Richard had already got plenty of experience |
on the battlefield
2. Legal Aid was introduced by King Richard III
|The white boar of Richard III|
Although Henry VII wanted us to believe that Richard was some terrible dictator, he was, in fact, not a completely ruthless monarch.
Responsible for several overhauls to the English legal system, Richard III created the Court of Requests, which, for the first time, enabled ordinary (penniless), folk to have their grievances heard in a court of law.
3. Jane Austen was a Ricardian
|Pride and Plantagenets: Jane Austen|
thought history had done Richard III wrong
In the book she has this to say about Richard, "The Character of this Prince has been in general very severely treated by Historians, but as he was York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable Man...
"Whether innocent or guilty, he did not reign long in peace, for Henry Tudor E. of Richmond as great a Villain as ever lived, made a great fuss about getting the Crown & having killed the King at the battle of Bosworth, he succeeded to it."
4. The city of York did not share the Tudor/Shakespearean view of King Richard III
|Should Richard III have been reinterred |
at York Minster?
Yet more evidence that Richard was nowhere near as bad as he's been painted in Tudor propaganda can be found in the records of his death in York.
"King Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was thrugh grete treason of the ducof Northfolk and many othere that turned ayenst hyme, with many othre lordes and nobilies of this north parties, was pitiously siane and murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie, the names of whome foloweth hereafter. [sic]"
Even if we concede that every crazy, dictatorial ruler throughout history has had his sycophantic hangers-on, it still sounds as though Richard III was esteemed much more highly than some would have us believe.
5. Richard's brother, George, was drowned in a butt of wine - maybe
|How was the Duke of Clarence killed?|
The truth is we don't know exactly how the Duke of Clarence (Richard's brother, George) died.
We do know that unlike Shakespeare's version of events, Clarence really was plotting against his brother, and was subsequently sentenced to death. We also know that contrary to the fashion of the day, he wasn't beheaded.
Legend has it that he was placed in a butt of Malmsey wine, which, fittingly, was his favourite beverage, and drowned. Well, if you've gotta go!
What is possibly more interest than the method of George's death is the fact that, far from poisoning Edward with lies that would ensure his execution, Richard actually opposed George's arrest.
If you'd like to know more about Richard III, take a look at 'The Psychology of Richard III'