Statue of King Richard III in Leicester

Who was Richard III?

King Richard III was a medieval king of England, who ruled from 1483 to 1485, before being slain on the battlefield at Bosworth Field by the forces of Henry Tudor, self-proclaimed Earl of Richmond. By virtue of conquest, Henry became King Henry VII, the father of Henry VIII and grandfather of Elizabeth I.

Richard was born into a family of royal blood, the Plantagenets, descended from King Edward III. His elder brother ruled England as Edward IV, after deposing the Lancastrian king Henry VI. After the death of Edward IV, it was discovered that the children of his unpopular marriage to Elizabeth Woodville were legally illegitimate, and Richard, as the only surviving Plantagenet son, was asked by Parliament to assume the throne.

 

Why a Society in his name?

Richard III, by the grace of William Shakespeare, has come down to us through history as a murderous tyrant, who plotted and killed his way to the throne of England. Shakespeare based his play on the writings of various "historians" under the patronage of Henry VII, in whose best interests it was to denigrate his predecessor. Shakespeare was also patronized by the Lord Chamberlain in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, so he could hardly write a production sympathetic to the man from whom the Tudors usurped the realm.

A persistent story that Richard callously murdered his two nephews, Edward, Prince of Wales and Richard, Duke of York to claim the throne, started as rumour in 1483 and blossomed into accepted fact. However, independent sources from the 15th century offer no evidence that this was the truth. The thought that this man, the epitome of evil for so many centuries, may actually be innocent of the crimes attributed to him, has sparked the imagination of many a scholar and layman historian.

Research undertaken in the past 65 years by the Richard III Society, founded in England, has uncovered many contemporary documents which refute the notion of Richard as an evil tyrant.

Some 4,000 Ricardians all over the world contribute their time and energy to re-educate the public on this tempestuous period, in an effort to dispel the myths and encourage a critical approach to the study of history.

Memorial Wreath laid annually by The Richard III Society of Canada  at the Church of St. James, Sutton Cheney, to commemorate those who fell in the Yorkist cause at the Battle of Bosworth.  
King Richard III heard his final mass at this church the evening before the battle.

     

The Canadian Branch wreath to left of plaque commemorating Richard III and the fallen at Bosworth

Close up of Canadian Branch wreath at Sutton Cheney

Next Page - Myths vs. Facts

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Last modified: September 12, 2012