Did fear drive Richard III to the throne?

Was Richard III's seizure of the English crown the result of a brilliantly executed plan or a desperate gamble to save his own skin? Chris Skidmore, who has written a biography of the king, returns to the spring and summer of 1483 in search of an answer...

A portrait of Richard III. Was the last Yorkist king a usurper? Historian John Ashdown-Hill explains why this is a myth. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Westminster, February 1483. Richard, Duke of Gloucester was a man who seemed to have the world at his feet. Now aged 30, he had managed to transform his position as a younger brother of the king with few prospects to become the most powerful nobleman in the realm.

Thanks to his loyalty to his elder brother, King Edward IV, whom Richard had fought for valiantly at Barnet and Tewkesbury – decisive battles in the Wars of the Roses – Richard had been richly rewarded with vast estates, allowing him to establish himself as ‘Lord of the North’. Only the summer before, in August 1482, Richard had demonstrated his military credentials, leading an army into Scotland, not only winning back Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Scots, but marching 50 miles to the centre of Edinburgh.

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