Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Real Richard III

Posthumously edited portrait of King Richard
  Wrongly portrayed as one of the nastiest villains on the English stage, King Richard III needs to be looked upon once more in brighter light. In Shakespeare's play he is depicted as a malformed tyrant, incapable of any humane act. While it is possible that Richard suffered from scoliosis, chances are it was not obvious under his clothes. In what is probably the most famous portrait of Richard, X-Ray has been used to show that Richard's humped back was added many years after his death. King Richard's remains were recently discovered under a parking lot in Leicester. His skeleton shows many postmortem wounds, which verifies many contemporary accounts. Richard's body was mutilated and abused after his defeat at Bosworth Field (which I will discuss more next post!)
   Born on October 2, 1452, Richard was the youngest of the Duke of York's sons. After his father's death, Richard and his brothers George and Edward, the future King Edward IV, were taken into the guardianship of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was often called 'the Kingmaker'. Richard's brother Edward had to fight to gain his throne, and Richard was always at his side. Richard was there through thick and thin. He fled with Edward to exile and returned to see him crowned King of England. 
  When Edward was crowned he rewarded his brother with the title of Duke of Gloucester. Along with the prestigious title Richard was given Anne Neville, daughter of his former guardian, the Earl of Warwick, in marriage. To the marriage Anne brought with her the extensive Neville estates located in northern England. 
  Now is when we see Richard's life become much more exciting. Upon the death of his brother the king, Richard was given guardianship of his nephew, the heir to the throne, and temporary control of the kingdom. Richard had agreed to rule until his nephew prince Edward could be crowned king. 
   And here is where Richard gets his shady reputation: On his way into London Richard had his young nephew thrown into the Tower of London. At first, Richard claimed it was for his safety, but only a short time later Richard declared the prince and his siblings illegitimate, making Richard, Duke of Gloucester, heir to the throne. His coronation took place the following month. 
Facial Reconstruction of King Richard
   However, Richard did not feel safe with only one of his nephews in the Tower. He also placed Edward's younger brother Prince Richard in the Tower, too. Soon after joining his brother in the Tower both boys disappeared. The boys were both presumed dead- murdered on Richard's orders. What we know now, however, is many people had the opportunity and the motive to kill the two boys. Sir Richard Brackenbury, the constable of the Tower, Henry Tudor, who needed the boys dead in order to seize the throne for himself, or even Henry Tudor's ambitious mother, Margaret Beaufort. Even after many excavations in the Tower of London no skeletons have been found that fit the boy's ages.

          Look Forward to my next article The Real Richard III Part Two:                                                           Bosworth and Beyond


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