King Richard III

King Richard III

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York resident and regular contributor. Fascinated by this historic city and always keen to promote local, independent businesses. The man taking the photographs and tweeting from @Jorvik

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Richard III was the last Yorkist King of England; he died on 22 August 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field effectively ending the Wars of the Roses between the House of York and the House of Lancaster and bringing the great Plantagenet dynasty to a close.

Much of Richard’s younger life was spent at Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire, where he met his future wife Anne Neville and honed his fighting skills. The northern people took him to their hearts, particularly the citizens of York where Richard had planned to establish a large chantry chapel in the Minster. (A quote from the York Council Minute Book of August 1485 states: King Richard, late lawfully reigning over us, was through great treason … piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of the city.) The northerners’ support for Richard III caused ongoing friction and bitterness among his rivals.

Richard’s notoriety mainly centred on the disappearance of his two nephews ‘the Princes in the Tower’, though it is doubtful he had any involvement in their demise. Shakespeare’s play Richard III added further weight, and unfounded tales of his withered arm, spinal deformity and limp allowed future blackening of his name.

Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on 2 October 1452. Richard’s claim to the English throne came through both his parents Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and Cecily Neville. Richard lost both his father and older brother at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460; in 1461 his brother Edward was crowned Edward IV and Richard became Duke of Gloucester.

Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470 exiling Edward and Richard to Holland; returning after the Lancastrians’ defeat at Towton in 1471 Richard aided the Yorkist victories of Barnet and Tewkesbury restoring Edward as king. In 1475 Richard was granted all the Neville lands in the north of England and became Governor of the North; then the richest and most powerful noble in England, controlling the north of England until Edward IV’s death in 1483. His many other positions included Constable of England, Great Chamberlain and Lord High Admiral of England and Commander-in-Chief against the Scots.

After Edward’s death Richard became ‘Lord Protector’ for Edward’s son, twelve-year-old Edward V, accompanying him to London where he was lodged in the royal residence at the Tower with his younger brother Richard. The two princes were shortly declared illegitimate making Richard king. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 July 1483. By August the two princes were missing, rumoured to have been murdered by Richard although all evidence was circumstantial.

Richard’s son Edward was created Prince of Wales in an impressive ceremony on 24 August 1483 at York Minster. Edward died in April 1484.

In October 1483 Richard swiftly overturned the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion but Buckingham defected, further eroding Richard’s power and the nobility’s support. In July, 1484 Richard established Sheriff Hutton Castle, near York, as one of the headquarters of the Council of the North.

Henry Tudor, Lancastrian claimant to the throne, met Richard on Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Richard’s larger army was debilitated by defections and Richard was killed in battle. Richard was succeeded by Henry VII who married Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York.

The Richard III Monk Bar museum is a ‘must visit’ in York.

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