Richard III

(Richard the Usurper)


Richard III is notorious in English history for having deposed and probably murdered his nephews in order to usurp the throne of England. This act of treachery was shocking because for the previous twenty years he had served his brother, Edward IV loyally, had been bequeath numerous titles and lands, making him one of the richest nobles in the land. Richard's older brother Clarence, and other members of the Yorkist clan had deserted Edward IV and rebelled against him at various times, but Richard had always been his most trusted supporter. In his dealings previous to becoming king, he was considered courageous, reliable, and just.

Richard III
To understand the politics of the Prince's murder and Richard's rise to the throne, it is important to realize that there were deep divisions in the Yorkist loyalties at the time of Edward IV's death, and that Richard III and Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the Princes, were on different side of the divide. The entire Woodville clan were considered parvenus by the Yorks, and were not trusted. Richard was supported in his endeavours to seize the throne by several Yorkist loyalists who disliked the idea of a young prince on the throne under the control of his Woodville relatives. They believed a proven military leader would be better for the country as a whole, so Richard had no trouble getting Parliament to go along with his schemes. As soon as it was clear that Richard's plan was to seize the throne for himself, the Woodvilles began scheming with the family of Henry Tudor and others to reclaim the throne for their brood. What appeared to be a man-to-man face-off between Henry Tudor and Richard III on the battlefield of Bosworth Field was really yet another instance of divided factions of the royal family contending for control of the throne.

Richard reigned for only two years, and during this time did little other than put down rebellions, consolidate his power, and ruin his reputation for posterity.

Key events during the life of Richard III of England:

Richard is born, the youngest son of the Duke of York
Death of Richard's father at the Battle of Wakefield.
Coronation of Richard's brother, Edward IV. Richard becomes Duke of Gloucester.
Edward IV captured by Warwick and Clarence. Rescued by Richard.
Warwick is killed at the Battle of Barnet. Richard fights for Edward IV.
Marriage of Richard and Anne Neville.
Richard wars in Scotland.
Death of Edward IV. Richard imprisons his sons, and usurps the throne.
Death of Edward, only son of Richard III.
Richard III perishes at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Horseshoe Nails  in  Fifty Famous People  by  James Baldwin
The Little Princes in the Tower  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
Two Princes  in  Stories From English History, Part Second  by  Alfred J. Church
Bosworth Field  in  Stories From English History, Part Second  by  Alfred J. Church
Wars of the Roses (1455-1485)  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
Richard III—Two Little Princes in the Tower  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Book Links
Richard III  by  Jacob Abbott

Image Links

My kingdom for a horse!'
 in Fifty Famous People

Richard III
 in Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary

Murder of the princes in the Tower
 in Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary

Richard III
 in Stories From English History, Part Second

The Princes in the Tower
 in  The Story of the English

The princes in the tower
 in Famous Men of the Middle Ages

The days seemed very long and dreary to the two little boys.
 in Our Island Story

Short Biography
Edward IV Son of the Duke of York. Became king of England when other aspirants were dead or deposed.
Clarence Younger brother of Edward IV and Richard III.
Elizabeth Woodville
Henry VII Descendent of John of Gaunt (a Lancaster) who fought Richard the Usurper for the throne.
Earl of Warwick Primary figure in war of the Roses. Changed sides from York to Lancaster. Killed at Barnet.
Anne Neville
Edward V Son of Edward IV and rightful heir to the throne. Murdered by associates of Richard III.