Richard III is known to this day as a ruthless king, remaining infamous for his alleged murders and nefarious acts. There are many rumors surrounding his rule, telling stories of his horrid temperament and appearance, and how he unscrupulously killed anyone who might oppose his reign. But modern historians are taking another look at his history, and some say he was not as bad as the stories claimed. Despite Richard III’s notoriety and bloody rise to power, he served as a successful king of England because of his skill in battle, unyielding determination, and political prowess.
When Richard III was born on October 2, 1452, he had little expectation of rising to power, or ever becoming king. Richard was the youngest son of thirteen children, while the House of Lancaster was still in control of the throne. He was despised since birth, looked down on by his brothers , and, allegedly, ugly and disfigured. Legend of the day claimed that he spent two years in his mother’s womb, and had a full head of shoulder-length hair at birth . It was also rumored that Richard developed scoliosis, and, according to Shakespeare, looked like a “foul, hunch-back’d toad” . Whether these allegations were true or not, the young Richard would soon begin to prove his worth.
Richard was born against the background of the Wars of the Roses, a bloody conflict between two noble houses, the Lancastrians, and the Yorks, of which Richard was a member. Even at seventeen, Richard was given command over a division of the army , and began to gain recognition. He was known throughout the kingdom as a brave and hardy soldier, full of vigor and military intelligence . When his family succeeded in seizing the throne and his brother, Edward IV, became king, Richard was given a selection of estates, and made a prince . As England’s principal general in the war against Scotland, under Edward IV’s rule, he slowly gained prominence and power . Though he nursed some power as general and prince, he did not gain enough influence to make a difference until the death of his brother, King Edward in 1483. Since Edward’s sons were still young, Edward passed on the King’s power to Richard, naming him “Lord Protector” , intending him to rule until his elder son, Edward V, was old enough to claim the throne.
After tasting the sweetness of power as Lord Protector, Richard supposedly stopped at nothing to usurp his nephew’s throne and become the true king. Many rumors and legends surround Richard’s rise to power, though modern historians now agree that many of these claims are hearsay from political enemies, Tudor propaganda, or embellishments from Shakespeare’s play, Richard III . To gain support in the north, as well as great wealth, Richard married Lady Anne Neville, heiress of an affluent northern family . Once connections were made, and support was gained, Richard supposedly set out killing all of his political enemies and competitors to the throne. It was claimed that he executed several members...