Richard III

King Richard III from NPG

Towards the end of the Wars of the Roses, a series of conflicts in England’s history that lasted from 1455 to 1487, the battle between the Lancaster and York houses over the crown was at its tipping point as both houses fought each other to a standstill – At the Lancaster side, the Battle of Barnet saw heavy losses including Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick and Henry VI was murdered shortly after losing the last of his heirs to succeed him. While over at the York side Richard of York and Edmund, his second son, perished at the Battle of Wakefield.

Richard III was born on the 2nd of October 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle. Out of the 13 children of Richard Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, he was the 12th, and was among the many candidates for the throne during the war.

As he grew up and rose through the ranks, he developed a reputation as a cold, calculating and, if almost outright, villainous person, though much of public’s view of his personality was made popular by William Shakespeare’s play Richard III, where his character was a villain who did whatever it takes to achieve his goals.

In his early life, he and his siblings fled during Richard Neville’s rebellion, where they boarded on separate ships. Richard fled to Zeeland, a province in western Netherlands. There, he managed to evade capture from Warwick’s forces.

In 1471, after gaining the support of the Duke of Clarence, he met up with his brother Edward and the two mounted a swift campaign against the Lancasters. Their first battle together, the Battle of Barnet, resulted in a decisive victory for the Yorks despite being outnumbered by the Lancaster army.

In 1472, angered by Louis XI of France’s support of Lancaster, Edward brought Richard along to mount an invasion against France, which eventually began in 1475 at Calais. Meanwhile, Richard controlled much of the northern England’s territories, especially York where the citizens regard him highly. It is also in York where Richard set up the Council of the North, an administrative group that aims to maintain and improve government control over the region.

By the mid-1470’s, Richard has controlled much of northern England’s territories. Conflict against Scotland was inevitable. And for many years, Richard led many battles against the Scots. And by 1482 a treaty was signed with James, Duke of Albany. Richard earned the title of “Lord Protector” after that.

1483, however, is when things began to turn against Richard, and the start of his downfall. It started with a rebellion led by Henry Stafford, a close ally of Richard and once a staunch supporter of Edward IV. Despite crushing the rebellion, it cost the York side a lot of manpower and soldiers, and an important figurehead in Henry.

22nd of August 1485, the Battle of Bosworth Field. There, Richard fought against Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and lost in battle. In the end, the death of Richard III paved the way for not only the fall of the House of York, the Lancasters’ rise and acquirement of the throne, but the end of the Wars of the Roses.

Despite the loss, Richard III’s legacy left a considerable impact in Britain’s history, from history books and literature, to plays and film, he became one of the most well-known figures in modern history.