Frequently Asked Questions
We frequently receive emails that relate to various areas of Richard III, and the Foundation. We, therefore, have taken the most commonly and frequently asked questions and provided the answers. We will continue to update the list as the questions arise. Keep it coming! Your feedback is much appreciated. You can send your question to .
A.) What was the Wars of the Roses?
The Wars of the Roses was fought between the years of 1455 to 1487 between the House of York and Lancaster. The name is derived from the badges utilized by the two sides: The red rose signifying the House of Lancaster, and the white rose signified the House of York. The conflict arose from the following points:
B.) Who were the Lancastrians?
The Lancastarian claim to the throne was via Edward III's third son John of Gaunt. In October 1460, an Act of Accord designated that the royal succession would move to the house of York after Henry VI's death
The Act of Accord was passed by the English parliament in October 1460 and drew up a new order of succession to King Henry VI of England. Henry "should enjoy the throne of England for as long as he should live", after which the throne would pass to Richard, Duke of York and his descendants, thus by-passing Prince Edward of Westminster, Henry's own heir.
C.) Who were the Yorkists?
Both the house of York and the house of Lancaster were descended from Edward III. Richard, duke of York, had a dual claim to the throne, one through his mother and one through his father. Richard believed his royal lineage was stronger than any person of the Lancastrian line and thus he (and his family) deserved to inherit the crown. Finally, in October 1460 it was agreed that after Henry VI's death the succession of the throne would transfer to Richard and his sons. This effectively disinherited Henry's young son Edward. Richard of York didn't present his claim to the throne until after many years of misrule by Henry VI and his favorites; and the apparent rejection by them of reform?
D.) Who were the Plantagenets?
The Plantagenet period was dominated by three major conflicts at home and abroad.
Edward I attempted to create a British empire dominated by England, conquering Wales and pronouncing his eldest son Prince of Wales, and then attacking Scotland. Scotland was to remain elusive and retain its independence until late in the reign of the Stuart kings.
In the reign of Edward III the Hundred Years War began, a struggle between England and France. At the end of the Plantagenet period, the reign of Richard II saw the beginning of the long period of civil feuding known as the War of the Roses. For the next century, the crown would be disputed by two conflicting family strands, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists.
The period also saw the development of new social institutions and a distinctive English culture. Parliament emerged and grew, while the judicial reforms begun in the reign of Henry II were continued and completed by Edward I.
Culture began to flourish. Three Plantagenet kings were patrons of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry. During the early part of the period, the architectural style of the Normans gave way to the Gothic, with surviving examples including Salisbury Cathedral. Westminster Abbey was rebuilt and the majority of English cathedrals remodelled. Franciscan and Dominican orders began to be established in England, while the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had their origins in this period.
Amidst the order of learning and art, however, were disturbing new phenomena. The outbreak of Bubonic plague or the 'Black Death' served to undermine military campaigns and cause huge social turbulence, killing half the country's population.
The price rises and labor shortage which resulted led to social unrest, culminating in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.
E.) Who were the Tudors?
The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known figures in Royal history. Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years.
During this period, England developed into one of the leading European colonial powers, with men such as Sir Walter Raleigh taking part in the conquest of the New World. Nearer to home, campaigns in Ireland brought the country under strict English control.
Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey.
The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession.
1.) Who was Richard III?
Richard Plantagenet, known as Richard of Gloucester and subsequently Richard III, was born at Fotheringhay Castle on 2nd October, 1452. He was the youngest son and the eleventh of twelve children born to Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville.
Richard's mother, Cecily Neville, also known as the "Rose of Raby" because of her beauty, was the youngest of twenty two children born to Ralph Neville, earl of Westmoreland. Cecilly and her future husband, Richard, duke of York, grew up in her father's household when Richard's wardship was bestowed upon the earl after the execution of Richard's father, the earl of Cambridge.
Richard appears to have resembled his father, being of medium height with dark hair while his taller and fairer brothers, Edward and George, resembled the Nevilles.
No authentic record exists regarding the birth of Richard III other than the date and place where it occurred. No reference was ever made to him being in any way deformed during his lifetime and little is known of his early childhood except that at the age of seven, Richard, his mother, brother George and sister Margaret were captured at Ludlow by the Lancastrians.
2.) Was Richard III a good king?
With the untimely death of his brother, Edward IV in 1483, he was petitioned by the Lords and Commons of Parliament to accept the kingship of England. On July 6 1483, Richard III was crowned. His first and only Parliament was held during January and February of 1484. He passed the most enlightened laws on record for the Fifteenth Century. He set up a council of advisors that diplomatically included Lancastrian supporters, administered justice for the poor as well as the rich, established a series of posting stations for royal messengers between the North and London. He fostered the importation of books, commanded laws be written in English instead of Latin so the common people could understand their own laws. He outlawed benevolences, started the system of bail and stopped the intimidation of juries.
During his royal progress of 1483, Richard refused great gifts of cash from various cities saying he would rather have their goodwill than their money. Bishop Thomas Langton said: "He contents the people where he goes best that ever did prince, for many a poor man hath suffered wrong many days, hath been relieved and helped by him, and his commands on his progress. And in many great cities and towns were great sums of money given to him, which he hath refused. On my troth, I never liked the conditions of any prince so well as his. God hath sent him to us for the weal of us all."
3.) What were Richard III's major accomplishments during his life?
During his Parliament, he issued statutes, but he also founded the College of Arms that still exists today. He re-established the Council of the North in 1484 at Sheriff Hutton. He donated money for the completion of St. George's Chapel at Windsor and King's College in Cambridge. He modernized Barnard Castle, built the great hall at Middleham and the great hall at Sudeley Castle. He undertook extensive work at Windsor Castle and ordered the renovation of apartments at one of the towers at Nottingham Castle.
4.) Did Richard III have a hunchback/withered arm?
Shakespeare portrays Richard as a hunchback with a withered arm. However, Richard III fought in the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. He led the Scottish campaign during the years of 1480-1482 and was defeated in the Battle of Bosworth. He was known as an accomplished soldier who fought on horseback using weapons and heavy armor of the period. It would be highly unlikely to fight with a physical handicap.
5.) Did Richard III kill Edward of Lancaster?
It was not until long after the Battle of Tewkesbury that the blame for Edward of Lancaster’s death was laid at Richard III’s door. There was never any such accusation in contemporary accounts. A Yorkist chronicler wrote, “The prince was taken fleeing the townwards, and slain in the field.” The Lancastrian chronicler, Warkworth also stated, “and there was slain in the field Prince Edward, which cried for succour to his brother-in-law the Duke of Clarence.”
According to Paul Murray Kendall in his book, Richard The Third “no less than seven contemporary sources offer unanimous testimony that Prince Edward ‘was slain on the field,’ i.e., in the pursuit.” In addition to the Yorkist chronicler and Warkworth, as stated above, Kendall notes that the writer of the Croyland Chronicles words his account vaguely but nonetheless agrees with the Yorkist version in the Arrivall. Kendall’s fourth source is the Duke of Clarence, writing two days after the battle that “Edward, late called Prince,” and “other estates, knights, squires, and gentlemen were slain in plain battle”. Philip de Commines, the fifth source, simply states that Edward of Lancaster was “killed on the field”. For a sixth source, Kendall refers to a paper written after the battle in which “Edward, that was called Prynce” heads a listing of “Ded in the Feld”, along with a number of other lords. Lastly, Kendall’s seventh source is from The Tewkesbury Chronicle, written in a hostile tone towards Edward IV but stating that “Prince Edward was slain in the field”.
The myth of Richard being responsible for Edward of Lancaster’s death was in all likelihood begun by Fabyan, a staunch Lancastrian, who wrote his London Chronicle during the reign of Henry VII. Despite having been in London during Richard’s reign, where he would have had access to the truth, Fabyan chose to embellish the story by claiming that Edward of Lancaster had been brought back to the tent of Edward IV and “by the king’s servants incontinently slain.”
6.) Did Richard III kill Henry VI?
Shakespeare would have us believe that Richard III was also single-handedly responsible for the death of Henry VI. In the play, the death of this feeble monarch at the hand of Richard III, was just another indication of the playwright showing Richard’s ruthlessness in removing any roadblocks on his way to gaining the throne. The historical facts indicate otherwise.
On Tuesday, May 21 1471, after winning the Battle of Tewkesbury, Edward IV triumphantly entered his capital city of London. Later that evening he conferred with his advisers and then sent his brother Richard, along with a number of other noblemen, to the Tower with orders to be given to Lord Dudley, Constable of the Tower. These orders were to end the life of Henry VI and thus unequivocally put an end to the civil strife that had rocked England for so long.
7.) Did Richard III plot for twenty years to get the throne of England?
Richard III spent most of his in the service of his brother, Edward IV and his country. After his marriage to Anne, Neville, Richard spent the next twelve years in northern England bringing peace and order to an otherwise troublesome area of England. Through his hard work and diligence, he attracted the loyalty and trust of the northern gentry. His ability for fairness and justice became his byword. He had a good working reputation of the law, was an able administrator and was militarily formidable. He encouraged trade in Middleham and secured a license from Edward IV so the village could hold two fairs a year. One of his greatest achievements was the Scottish Border campaigns during the years of 1481-82. Under his leadership, on behalf of Edward IV, he won a brilliant campaign against the Scots that is diminished by our lack of understanding of the regions of his times.
Richard III enjoyed a special relationship with the City of York. His affiliation with the City of York and their affection for Richard is evident in their archives. When in York, he often stayed at the Augustinian Friars in Lendal. In 1477, Richard and Anne became members of the Corpus Christi Guild. Richard III, known to be a pious man, was instrumental in setting up no less than ten chantries and procured two licenses to establish two colleges, one at Barnard Castle in County Durham and the other at Middleham. It is known that his favorite residence was Middleham Castle and he was especially generous to the church raising it to the status of collegiate college. The statutes, written in English rather than Latin, were drawn up under his supervision.
In 1478, Richard's brother, George of Clarence, continued to dabble in treason. George's wife Isabel had died in childbirth causing George to overstep his bounds for the last time. He accused one of Isabel's servants of poisoning her and the baby. He took it upon himself to put her on trial and execute her on a malicious charge, thus subverting the king's justice. George was imprisoned by Edward IV under a sentence of death. Richard hurried south to try to prevent the sentence from being carried out. Hostile chroniclers remarked on how strongly Richard pleaded with Edward for his brother's life. George of Clarence, was privately executed in a butt of Malmsey in the Tower of London in 1478. After that, Richard went back to Middleham and rarely came to court.
In April of 1483, Edward IV died suddenly. Richard was appointed "Protector" in Edward's will since Edward's oldest son was too young to govern on his own. The Woodvilles fearing their power was at an end ignored the will and tried to take control of the young king. If they could crown young Edward before Richard came to London, his protectorship would lapse and the Woodvilles would govern the country.
Richard was notified of his brother's death by William Hastings, Edward IV's Lord Chamberlain and friend. Hastings warned Richard of the conspiracy against him and advised him to "get you to London and secure the person of your nephew". Taking 100 men with him, Richard stopped at York where a requiem mass was said for the soul of his brother; he also led his men in an oath of fealty to his nephew and king. The Woodvilles had raised Edward exclusively and attempted to rule through him once he was crowned. Richard, aided by his cousin, Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, caught up with the young king's escort at Stony Stratford. Richard arrested the Woodville conspirators, confiscated barrels of arms and armor and brought Edward V to London for his coronation. Elizabeth Woodville, hearing of the news, fled into sanctuary with her other children. While in London, Richard discovered another plot against his life, this time led by William Hastings.
While Richard was preparing for his nephew's coronation, Robert Stillington, who had been the Chancellor of England twice under Edward IV, informed Richard that Edward V could not be legally crowned king. Stillington revealed that Edward had been betrothed to another woman when he married Elizabeth Woodville, making all of the royal children illegitimate. Medieval church law held a consummated betrothal to be as legally binding as a marriage, and illegitimate children were not allowed to inherit.
With the untimely death of his brother, Edward IV in 1483, he was petitioned by the Lords and Commons of Parliament to accept the kingship of England. On July 6 1483, Richard III was crowned. In his first and only Parliament in January/February of 1484, he passed laws for all ranks of people. His government was popular, and was acknowledged as being for the benefit of the masses of his subjects. He suffered personal losses during his brief reign laying down a program of legal enactments, an orderly society and promoted the welfare of his subjects.
8.) Did Richard III murder his nephews, who really killed the princes and what about the bones in Westminster?
The fate of the princes has been debated and is considered one of the famous mysteries of English history.
There is no proof that Richard III murdered his nephews, and based on evidence, there is none. The murder of the princes is based on heresay and a contradiction of unreliable and inaccuracy of the sources.
In the play, Richard tests the loyalty of the Duke of Buckingham, his right hand man, by inciting him to arrange for the murder of the princes. When the duke only gives a vague answer, Richard dismisses him and asks a page to suggest an alternative person who would murder for money. The page suggests Tyrell, with whom arrangements are made to dispose of the princes. Buckingham returns having reconsidered the request made to him, but Richard dismisses him and apparently seeing the writing on the wall, Buckingham flees to his manor at Brecknock. In the next scene Tyrell, describes the murder of the children, for which he hired the services of Dighton and Forrest to do the actual deed. Tyrell describes to the audience how the children, lying in each other’s arms with a prayer book lying on their pillows, are smothered. He reports back to Richard III, who is pleased that the princes are dead and buried.
But, the facts would tell us differently. Richard III - Shakespeare's Victim and the Princes Project
9.) Did Richard III poisen his wife Anne Neville?
Richard III met Anne Neville when he was sent to Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire in 1461 to begin his tutelage under his cousin, Richard Neville, the "Kingmaker". Richard would have become acquainted with the Lady Anne Neville, four years his junior. Richard, then Duke of Gloucester would have been in his cousin's company attending the Festival of the Corpus Christi in York.
Anne's father, Richard Neville, the "Kingmaker" had been conducting negotiations for Edward IV to marry a French princess. In September of 1464, at a meeting of the council, Warwick pressed Edward IV to accept the negotiations for a marital alliance. Edward announced he had secretly married a Lancastrian widow named Elizabeth Woodville. The announcement marked the end of Richard’s tutelage at Middleham, and by spring of 1465, Richard left Middleham for his brother’s court.
Anne married Edward of Lancaster on December 13 after learning her father entered in an agreement to marry her to him in exchange for his promise to re-conquer England for Henry VI. After the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, she was no longer important to the Lancastrian cause.
She was placed in the household of her sister, Isabel. Richard sought her at the residence of his brother, George of Clarence in London. Richard was informed she was not in his household. After searching for her, Richard found her disguised as a cook-maid and he then took her to sanctuary at St. Martin le Grand.
An agreement was made between George of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester. Richard surrendered his office of Great Chamberlain of England and the earldoms of Warwick and Salisbury.
They were married in 1472 and returned to Middleham. The couple had common interests evidenced when they both became members of the Corpus Christi Guild in 1477. They had a son, Edward, born in 1473 at Middleham Castle. Despite having two illegitimate children, both born before his marriage, there seems to have been no further gossip about Richard’s family life, from which we may infer that his marriage to Anne was a happy one.
In 1484, the year after their coronation, Richard and Anne were dealt a devastating blow when young Edward died suddenly. Both parents were deeply affected by the death of their only child. According to the Croyland Chronicler, “…you might have seen his father and mother almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief.” The loss of her son was one which Anne never recovered.
Her health began to deteriorate, a victim of consumption. Because of Anne’s highly contagious illness, Richard had been counseled to avoid sleeping in her bed. That, coupled with the fact that his niece had been highly present during the previous Christmas festivities, gave rise to the story that Richard planned to marry his niece. However, it is interesting to note that supporters of Henry Tudor, who had himself promised to marry Elizabeth of York, probably started these rumors. It would not have made sense for Richard to marry his niece, since he had made his claim to the throne based on the theory that all of Edward IV’s children were bastards. To do so he would have had to reverse Titulus Regius, thus making all the children legitimate.
While Shakespeare uses Anne’s death as yet another sign of Richard’s depravity, there is nothing to prove that she died of anything but natural causes. Paul Murray Kendall cites that their marriage was happy, that Richard gave Anne his heart as well as his name. Even Tudor historians who have looked to elaborate to discredit Richard III's reputation can cast no slur on his fidelity to his wife. Mancini gives testimony that the purity of his private life to his consort was well known to the public.
1.) Why is there still an interest in Richard III?
The life and times of King Richard III has captured the attention of people from all walks of life. Perhaps it is simply the fact that Richard III has been given a false and unfair reputation. He held a direct line to the throne, and by disproving false slanders, it is clear he was a good good.
The record of the contemporary sources show a different man and king than the one portrayed by Shakespeare and the Tudor Chronicles. Richard III appealed to the ideals of loyalty, lordship and honor. He knew how to command, how to reward, but most of all, he knew how to inspire.
Sir Clements Markham stated: "The true picture of our last Plantagenet king is not unpleasant to look upon, when the accumulated garbage and filth of centuries of calumny have been cleared off the surface".
Or is it simply, that after 500 years, the truth of a man's reputation matters.
2.) Why is there a Richard III Foundation?
The Richard III Foundation, Inc. was established in 2003 as a non-profit educational organization to present a full picture of Richard III, his contemporaries and era. Through research and scholarship, it is shown the Yorkist period was one of progress and enlightened government.
The Foundation is active in many diverse areas. Our categories encompass the fields of research, scholarship, publishing, exhibitions, public relations, study days, symposiums and other activities to attempt to bridge the gap between the Fifteenth Century and today.
Our membership benefits include our scholarly periodical published three times a year containing academic articles, book reviews on new publications, upcoming study days and conferences, and announcements of new research taking place in the medieval period.
Our membership enjoys our lending library of four areas: fiction, non-fiction, audio and visual.
The Richard III Collegiate Scholarship for Medieval Studies was established to foster the medieval period during the years of 1350 to 1500. Our scholarship committee includes Ralph Griffiths, Ann Kettle, Chris Given-Wilson, Sean Cunningham, Cath Nall, Arlene Oberlund, David Santiuste and David Baldwin, all leading historians in this field. An application form and requirements can be obtained by contacting us at our corporate office or via email at .
Our research department is established in the US and UK with a committee comprised of Richard P. McArthur, Rollo Crookshank, Sean Cunningham and David Santiuste. We have implemented a Research Guide that can be used by the amateur and well-seasoned researcher, and a school kit for students. Our colorful library exhibition materials bring the medieval period to life in a unique way, and our Speaker's Corner publication provides materials for people who do public speaking on the medieval period.
The Foundation has mounted exhibitions that have been showcased at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre, the Middleham Key Partnership and the Richard III Museum in York. A division of the Foundation, the "Middleham Restoration Endowment" raises funds for the fabric of Middleham Castle and has donated funds for the repair and restoration of the southern wall, lintels of the northern wall and other projects in the castle.
In 1997, the Foundation donated a banner to the castle and chalice to the church that is used on special Ricardian days.
Our conferences and studys feature the top academic speakers on a national and local area. Our conference program began in 2002 at Ripon to commemorate the 550th birthday of King Richard III. In 2004, we held a study day on Medieval Coventry and two symposiums: The Battle of Bosworth: Enigma of a Battle and Richard III: Politics, Patronage and Personage. In 2005, a study day on Perkin Warbeck and Francis Lovel: Family, Friends and Foes was scheduled. For 2006, we will be hosting three conferences, and will be in attendance at various events pertaining to the Wars of the Roses. We are equally proud of our affiliation with the Bosworth Battlefield Centre and will be the first organization to host a conference at their new facility in 2006.
Exploring the Ricardian sites today is a popular question for those visiting England for the first time, or even for the visitors doing a Ricardian tour of England. We have established a publication entitled "Richard's Realm" that provides a historical background of all the locations in England that were connected to Richard III and his contemporaries. Our publication includes all the details you need to know. For more information on our publication, please contact us at Richard3Foundation@yahoo.com.
Here are our recommendation on sites in Ricardian's Realm.
Barnard Castle, Durham, Middleham Castle, Penrith, Raby and Richmond Castles, Scarborough, Sheriff Hutton and the City of York.
The East Coast
Castle Rising, Crowland Abbey, Ely Cathedral and Fotheringhay
The East Midlands includes: Bosworth Battlefield Centre, Dadlington Church, Kirby Muxloe, Leicester and Sutton Cheney.
The West Midlands includes: Kenilworth, Ludlow and Warwick Castle.
London and surrounding areas:
College of Arms, Lambeth Palace, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.
The Bosworth Battlefield Centre, Tewkesbury (and the Abbey), Towton Battlefield
1.) What non-fiction books do you recommend?
We offer a Ricardian Anthology that is broken down in over 20 specific categories on the Wars of the Roses. Our top recommended books on Richard III are:
Buck, Sir George, N. Kincaid, Editor, With Into By A.R. Myers, History of the Life and Reign of Richard III, London, 1647.
Fields, Bertram, Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes, Regan Books, 1998.
Horrox, Rosemary, Richard III - A Study in Service, Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Kendall, Paul Murray, Richard the Third, W.W. Norton, 1955.
Kendall, Paul Murray, Richard III - The Great Debate, W.W. Norton, 1965.
Markham, Clements, Richard III, His Life and Character, London, 1906.
Ross, Charles D., Richard III, University of California Press, 1981.
2.) What fiction books do you recommend?
Tey, Josephine, The Daughter of Time
Jarman, Rosemary Hawley, We Speak No Treason, 1971.
Penman, Sharon Kay, The Sunne in Splendour, 1982.
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