RICHARD III AND
|Shakespeare's image of a murderous villain
King Richard III is often depicted
as a ruthless tyrant, but new evidence suggests he's been much maligned.
Inside Out takes a trip back in time to Bosworth to uncover the 'real
Think of King Richard III and most people conjure up
images of an evil tyrant with a hunched back and murderous appetite for
We can blame Shakespeare for discrediting the monarch
who ascended to the throne amidst some of the greatest power battles in
But the real Richard was far removed from Shakespeare's
monstrous caricature who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire.
1452 - Born at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire
1461 - Richard became Duke of Gloucester
1471 - Took a leading part in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury.
Married Anne Neville
1483 - Named Protector of the realm and Edward
June 1483 - Edward IV's sons bastardised by Richard
October 1483 - Princes in the Tower disappear in
July 6, 1485 - Richard III crowned king
August 22, 1485 - Richard III killed at Bosworth
The real Richard
Historians have uncovered new evidence which further
discredits the Shakespeare view of Richard III as a power- hungry despot.
Richard's reputation as a symbol of evil only started
after his death.
Most of the bad press around Richard III was initiated
by Tudor propagandists, including Thomas More and William Shakespeare.
Richard was also depicted by Tudor artists with a hunchback
and withered arm and limp.
But these pictures were painted long after Richard's
Earlier portraits show no signs of the king being physically
deformed nor is there any written evidence of any disability.
Who was Richard?
Richard was the youngest son of Richard Plantagenet,
Duke of York, who was the heir to the line of descent of Edward III.
Richard was created Duke of Gloucester
in 1461 after his eldest brother, Edward, had deposed Henry VI and been
crowned Edward IV.
When Edward IV died, Richard became protector of the
realm for the dead king's son, the 12 year old Edward V.
Richard waged a campaign to get the boy and his brother
declared bastards, and proclaimed himself king.
a reformer and champion of the common people not a despot
The Richard III Society is dedicated to reclaiming the
reputation of the monarch who died over 500 years ago.
They are keen to pint out that in his own lifetime, Richard's
reputation was high particularly in the North where he defended England
successfully against the Scots.
Richard also introduced many reforms and bettered the
living standards and liberties of the common people.
The Princes in the Tower
One of the worst accusations levelled at Richard III
was that he murdered the Princes in the Tower.
Once Richard had been crowned and his nephews bastardised,
some historians believe that the young princes were no longer a threat.
But their disappearance led to a great controversy around
Richard and accusations of murder still linger.
Bosworth Field - a kingdom for a horse
Richard III's reign ended in an ignominious defeat and
his death at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire in 1485.
|Was the new
king of England really crowned in a lay-by where there's now a burger
Henry Tudor's troops came head-to-head with the king's
army at Bosworth.
Although Richard boasted a bigger army, he was defeated and became
the last English king to die on the battlefield.
Today's Bosworth Field boasts a visitor centre and a battlefield trail,
but is it the real site of the battle?
It seems strange that Richard III crammed all his troops
into a small hilltop visible to the enemy's forces.
A new theory suggests that the battle site is not here
but eight miles away on the Warwickshire border near Atherstone.
The battle of Merevale?
Some historians believe that the climax of the battle
and crowning of Henry VII took place in what is now a layby next to the
The evidence for a new battle site is:
- There are many local place names referring to Richard
III in the Atherstone area
- Richard's army were unlikely to have camped on top
of Ambion Hill near Market Bosworth for all to see from a distance
- Henry VII paid compensation to Merevale Abbey near
to the new battle site.
Others aren't so sure, claiming that Bosworth was the
battle site and that it was Richard's suspect battle tactics that led
to him camping on high ground.
A historic puzzle
a medieval window which links to the battle between Henry and Richard
The debate about the real battle site continues but another
What happened to King Richard's body? Some believe it
ended up in the river in Leicester.
At least three skulls have been recovered from the river
that could be the head of Richard III.
Whilst there is no solid evidence to suggest that two are Richard, the
third skull remains in the hands of a collector whose identity is a secret.
One thing is certain - the true Richard III remains an
enigma just like the mystery of the battle of Bosworth Field itself.