Baring the Bones of History, Part I: Who Was Richard III?

By: The Scribe on Friday, February 8, 2013



For someone who only ruled England for two years, Richard III has certainly been causing a bit of fuss lately. But who was he, really? And why should we care?

Richard came to power by a bit of a scuffle. After his brother, Edward IV, died in April 1483, Richard was named as the Lord Protector, because his nephew was still a minor and therefore couldn’t yet legally rule. This was all well and good, until the moment that 12-year-old King Edward V was declared an illegitimate child (his parents’ marriage was declared “invalid”) and thus ineligible to rule. Bit of a blow, that—but good for Richard III.

It meant Richard III was now the true successor to power, which he took the next day (they didn’t waste much time, back then). Soon after his crowning on July 6, 1483, a rumor sparked that persists to this day: That Richard III actually murdered his brother’s sons. It didn’t help that the princes were never seen publicly again after August of that year. While no one knows for certain if he did or didn’t kill them, plenty of historians continue to argue theories about “The Princes in the Tower” and what truly happened to them.

Not everyone loved Richard III (that might have had something to do with the whole “possibly murdering your nephews” business), and two major rebellions were held against him. The first one, in October 1483, was led by none other than allies of his deceased brother, Edward IV, and well as one of Richard’s former allies and a suspect in the “Princes in the Tower” case, also a cousin. Bully for them, it didn’t work out, and the former ally—Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham —was executed.

In August 1485, a second rebellion was led by Jasper and Henry Tudor. Henry landed in Pembrokeshire with a handful of French troops, and began recruiting archers and soldiers as he trekked along through Wales. To make a long story short, Richard III met with a sudden end during the Battle of Bosworth Field, becoming the final English king to die in battle.

Overall, he had a rather unremarkable, short reign, and possibly murdered his own family members. Not the most venerable of kings, which is why his remains only received a battlefield burial and… were subsequently lost.

But not forever!  Because in 2012, Richard III was found!

To be continued…

(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)







 

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