Richard Iii: Monster Or Myth? Essay

1777 words - 8 pages

King Richard III was the last Plantagenet king and is doubtlessly one of the most controversial British rulers of the Middle Ages. His reign marked the end of the Wars of the Roses between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians and the beginning of a new myth based not only on his physical appearance but also on this moral. He is depicted as a deformed human being; he is believed to have had a hunchback and his physical description is one of a monster, of a deformed creature. However, this allegation most likely lies on the grounds that he has been an inhumanly cruel and wicked person; a ruthless tyrant who is thought to have murdered and bastardised his two young nephews in the Tower of London, one of which had been crowned to the throne. In order to provide evidence to the accusations levelled at Richard III, archaeologists have conducted numerous excavations to find out whether this portrait of Richard III was real or a mere metaphor to describe his actions. It is just conceivably that this physical representation is based on the Tudor Myth -a myth that initially started by Tudor’s historians such as Polydore Vergir and Sir Thomas More, and perpetuated by Shakespreare’s play Richard III, in which he is also described as an abnormal King.
By the end of the Hundred Years’ War, England was embroiled in civil wars, which became known as the Wars of the Roses. King Henry VI became king as a baby and he was not very warlike; for this reason, he was an unsuitable king for such a violent society. Noblemen were exceedingly powerful and they had their own army to threaten the local people and impose their rules. However, the noble families had different interests and were divided in the ones who supported Henry VI, the so-called ‘Lancastrians’ and the opposition who supported the Duke of York, the ‘Yorkists’. The Lancastrians claimed they had the right to the throne because they descended from the fourth son of Edward III and their line included Henry V and his son Henry VI. The Yorkists claimed the throne by virtue of the third son of Edward III. The wars were fought basically between contenders for the throne and their noble supporters. The Duke of York died in battle and Edward VI took over. After several battles, Henry VI was sent to the Tower of London and years later, was found dead; most probably murdered. Shortly after, Edward VI died. Nicholas Vincent says that “With an uncle such as Richard, it was supposed, the young sons of Edward IV would be shepherded to the throne…” (333). During the course of these wars, Richard III emerged and claimed the throne, but not before having locked the two twelve-year-old nephews who were in direct succession before him in the Tower of London. Two years later, Richard III became the King and the two princes were found dead. To this Vincent argues that “Richard, in accordance with historical precedent, was groomed to become the very best of royal uncles. He turned out to be the very worst” (333). Even though there...

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