The Rise and Fall of King Richard III of England - Facts, History, Life, Legacy, Death, Summary

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King Richard III came to power after the death of Edward IV. Edward IV had named Richard the lord protector of his two sons, King Edward and Richard, Duke of York. Edward V was not old enough to reign, Richard as his protector would rule England in all but name.

When Edward IV died, his son, Edward V was in Ludlow Wales. Richard III was in northern England. Edward IV wife sent for her son Edward V so he could quickly be coroneted. She did not trust Richard III or perhaps she and her family wanted to rule. Richard heard of the plot and met Edward V and his entourage in transport. He accompanied Edward V to London and put his in the tower of London for safe keeping.

Soon after a member of the clergy approached Richard claiming Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Grey (Woodville) invalid due to a pre-contract marriage agreement to a Eleanor Butler who was at that time deceased. This would make all Edward IV's children from this marriage bastards. A Bastard could not be king. So, Richard met with his council and they voted to declare Edward IV marriage illegal and the children from the marriage illegitimate. No one had ever like Queen Elizabeth anyway. Edward V could not become king.

Richard proclaimed himself King of England and his wife, Anne Neville, Queen. His son, Edward would be Richard's heir.


He was born the twelfth child or Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cicely Neville, at Fotheringhay Castle, October 2, 1452.

He married his cousin, Anne Neville, who he grew up with at Warwick Castle.

Richard was loyal to his brother, King Edward IV even when their brother George and their cousin Neville (Warwick, Richard's father-in-law) led a rebellion against Edward IV.

Richard was made Duke of Gloucester by Edward IV. He was quite wealthy due to his estates and his wife's inheritance. He was appointed Governor of northern England and had the northern people's support. 

Richard was overwelmed by grief when his brother, George, Duke of Clarence was executed for treason by his brother King Edward IV.

He was a skillful military commander.

Richard and his wife contributed to the King's College and the Queen's College at Cambridge. They also contributed much to the Church and other collegiate foundations. He established the collegiate foundation at Middleham

Richard III was said to be devoted to his wife, Anne Neville. All accounts, say he truly loved her, the marriage was stable and he had no mistresses after his marriage. However, he did sire two bastard children prior to his marriage, John of Gloucester and Katherine. After the death of Richard's son, Edward, John was named heir. Katherine died shortly before the battle of Bosworth field where Richard III was killed.

Richard III was a pious man. He created several religious foundations.

Richard owned an English New Testament translated by John Wycliffe which could indicate he was sypathetic to the Lollards cause.

He promoted the courts to allow the poor to present their law suits at Westminister. This was the court of requests.

He was held in high esteem by the people in northern England where he commanded the army during Edward IV reign.

He created the Council of the North which insured peaceful arbitration for rich and poor alike.

Richard was considered a good lawmaker for the common people. Many of Richard's statutes dealt with corrupt officials.

Richard was accused of poisoning his wife, Anne after his son and heir died. It was said, he needed an heir and Anne could not get pregnant anymore. He had supposedly intended to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York which would have been an incestuous relationship. After rumors were circulating about this, Richard denied the charges. This is very unlikely as Richard was very much in love with his wife, Anne. He was a devoted husband. Anne most likely died of consumption (TB).

Richard III is blamed for the murder of the Princes in the Tower, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. However, there is no evidence that proves Richard had the princes murdered. There could have been other suspects who had motives namely Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry Vii), Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and Henry Vii. Richard was the obvious one everyone would blame. Many historians blamed Richard III including Sir Thomas More. Since Henry Tudor had won the English Crown, it would displease him greatly for writers to say otherwise. Richard III has been since demonized. Although, anyone is capable of murder, it is unlikely Richard iii committed the murder of his two nephews after examining his character and his loyalty to his brother, Edward IV. My guess is Margaret Beaufort schemed with Henry Stafford (as portrayed in the book, the White Queen) and ordered the princes killed. Beaufort was always scheming to put her son, Henry Tudor on the throne. She was involved to say the least in the failed rebellion led by Buckingham to overthrow King Richard. It was beneficial to Henry Tudor's cause for Richard III to be blamed for the murders. Richard's popularity diminished, as rumors of the princes murder by Richard circulated. The princes disappeared. He was considered an usurper and the people never really supported his reign.

Richard III had a very short reign, 1483-1485.

Richard III died at Bosworth field at the age of 32. Some accounts say that Henry Tudor, disrespected Richard's body by stripping it naked and strapping it over Richard's horse. His body was buried in Greyfriars Church in Leicester, lost in time. Recently, Richard's remains were discovered under a car parking lot in the spot where Greyfiars Church use to be prior to Henry VIII dissolution of the monasteries. The British Government wants to lay Richard III's remains in the Leicester Cathedral. Whereas, descendents of Richard want his remains moved to York. And then there are those who want Richard's remains laid to rest at Westminster Abbey near his wife, Anne Neville and with the rest of British monarchies.

In 1494, King Henry VII, commissioned an alabaster tomb for Richard that was placed at Greyfriars. Overtime, the tomb decayed with exposure to the elemets. Later, a marker once marked Richard's grave that said, "Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of England'. The evidence of this marker was recorded in a letter written in 1612. Overtime, this marker, too, decayed and the site of Richard's was forgotten.

The Richard's skeletal remains were identified via DNA from his maternal side's (Cecily Neville) descendants.

Richard's skeleton showed severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine which would have made him a hunchback. This is what the reports from that time era describe Richard's appearance.

On examination of Richard's remains, it showed that death was due to a blow to the back of the head. There were many other non-fatal blows shown on the skeleton as well. These blows were thought to be attributed to humiliating the King after death.

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Portrait of King Richard III of England Reigned 1483-1485