Richard III: rewriting the past

The last Plantagenet monarch has been as controversial in death as in life – but are some commonly accepted beliefs about him actually myths? John Ashdown-Hill challenges six of the most contentious claims about the 'king under the car park'...

Portrait of Richard III. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

This article first appeared in BBC History Magazine’s ‘Medieval Kings and Queens’ bookazine and was published in the February 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine

Claim 1) Richard was a murderer

The catalogue of killings attributed to the king is lengthy – but also erroneous

In Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the list of Richard’s alleged murder victims provides an illustrious roll call of ghosts who prevent his sleep on the last night of his life. These comprise Edward of Westminster (son of King Henry VI); Henry VI himself; George, Duke of Clarence; Earl Rivers; Richard Grey; Thomas Vaughan; Lord Hastings; the ‘princes in the Tower’; the Duke of Buckingham; and Richard’s own queen, Anne Neville.

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