For centuries the name Richard III of England has been synonymous with evil and villainy. He has been known as the most infamous of all of England’s monarchs due to the rumors he killed his nephews in order to gain the throne. It has yet to be proved that he did in fact kill his young nephews Edward V and Richard, Duke of York.
Shakespeare’s Richard III
In William Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, a tyrannical and disfigured monarch is responsible for horrors and mayhem against his family members. He is seen to be truly evil in his conquest for the English throne. At his side was Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, helping his cousin to commit the atrocities against the members of the Plantagenet family. All those who stand in Richard’s way are executed, poisoned, and murdered; including his brother George, Duke of Clarence and his wife Anne Neville.
Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville bore two sons, Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York. They were the only sons and Edward V was expected to gain the throne upon his majority. Until then his uncle, Richard III, was acting as Lord Protector. After the death of her husband, Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville went to Westminster Abby with all her children but Edward V, who was in his uncle’s care. Richard III and the Duke of Buckingham escorted Edward V to London with a large force at their backs. Their reasoning as to why they entered the city armed was so that Edward V could reach his throne unharmed by his mother’s family, the Woodvilles, who were unpopular with the people. Claiming that he missed his brother, Richard III had his nephew; Richard sent to be with his brother Edward V. Richard III housed both boys in the royal residence in the Tower of London. After which both boys were never seen again. In 1674 skeletal remains of two children were discovered and believed to be the remains of the two princes.
The main suspect to gain much from the murder of the young princes is Richard III. Yet, the boys were both considered to be illegitimate due to parliament passing an act that nullified Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Due to this, Richard III would have been the true king, but he could have a civil war on his hands when Edward V reached his majority. Another suspect is Richard III’s right hand man, the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham, being an ascendant of Edward III as well could have done it out of love for his cousin or for himself. Buckingham also had a claim to the throne, though not as strong as Richard’s. Buckingham was executed a month after the disappearance of the princes. A third suspect is Henry Tudor also known as Henry VII. After Henry VII ascended to the English throne he executed remaining claimants to the throne and married Elizabeth of York, the oldest sister to the princes to further secure his claim to England’s throne.
Richard III Society
Historians are so confident of Richard’s innocence that there is a whole society devoted to his cause these many centuries later. Are these Ricardian historians justified in their beliefs of Richard III’s purposed innocence or are they misled by centuries of gossip instead of a historian’s bread and butter of supported facts. Their diehard support of a ruler who has been dead over 500 years is extraordinary and almost fanatical in the way they support Richard III. Their members exist worldwide and are listed to be over 4,000 strong. With so many believing in Richard III’s innocence who is to say that he truly is the villain that Shakespeare and historical documents portrayed him to be. In the years to come and the technology that we are acquiring, hopefully an answer is found and Richard III can be declared innocent in the deaths of his nephews or shock a society of believers and show that he was guilty. Either way it will put an end to the mystery that is Richard III.