Richard, the man in blue and ermine….


The above illustration is of Edward IV receiving a book from Anthony Woodville. With the king are his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and his heir, the future Edward V.

Looking at it, I found myself wondering if the man in blue and ermine, third from left, might be Richard III. As Duke of Gloucester, of course. Ermine suggests he has to be of royal blood, which means that it could also be George of Clarence. My search for the answer commenced.

To begin with, when was the illustration painted? After all, George died in 1478, so a later date would eliminate him from the puzzle. Prince Edward seems to be under ten. Seven/eight or so, perhaps? He was born in 1470, so it is still possible that the man in blue is George. Richard remains well and truly in the running, of course.

A Google image search followed, with me examining the “page” of every version of the illustration. That is how I hunted it down to being Lambeth Palace “Ms 265, f.VI v Edward IV, with Elizabeth Woodville, Edward V and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, from the ‘Dictes of Philosophers,’ c.1477 (vellum). It is of Earl Rivers  (Anthony Woodville 1440-1483) presenting his translation of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers to the king and his family.

So, on this evidence it is Richard! And he’s not looking very deformed either!


Now, I do not claim to be the first to discover this. Indeed not, so please don’t think I seek laurels. Not even a pat on the head. To begin with, it has already been positively identified as him. No, I am just pleased to think that I saw something and followed it through to find out I was right. Would I like to be the first to find a new anything about Richard? You bet your bottom dollar!


  1. I tend to assume it’s Richard every time there seems to be just one brother of Edward’s represented in miniatures like this. I assume that, if George were still alive and not imprisoned at the time it was drawn, both brothers would be represented (as they probably are in the Luton Guild Book miniature). Drawings like that typically don’t represent actual situations but try to depict the most important figures, and as the second most powerful man in the realm and the king’s right hand man, Richard would certainly not be left out.

    So, how many confirmed or likely contemporary depictions of Richard are there (not counting the coins, since all portraits of kings on coins tend to look similar)? This is what I can think of:

    – the sculpted head on the wall of the Barnard Castle
    – the drawings of him, Anne and little Edward from the Rous roll
    – the portrait of Richard and Anne at corronation, from the Salisbury roll
    – the Luton Guild Book miniature
    – this one
    – the miniature drawing of Richard in front of Berwick during the Scottish campaign of 1478 (I can’t remember which book it’s from)
    – speculated to be one of the men in the Jean Wavrin miniature of Edward IV receiving Wavrin’s book
    – speculated to be the Knave of Horns in the Flemish deck of cards, known as the Cloisters deck (while there is technically no proof that these were depictions of contemporary royalty, the author of the article at the Dragonhound blog makes a really strong case, and there are too many things that can’t be just coincidence, so I tend to think this is true)
    – almost contemporary (they were drawn shortly after his death, I think): the miniatures from the Beauchamp pageant (Richard does look awful, but so does everyone else in the pictures – so it seems that artist really wasn’t very good, rather than that it was a deliberate attempt to make Richard look ugly)

    Is there any other?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Can’t think of any. You seem to have covered them all. I didn’t know about the deck of cards, so will have to look at it. Thank you.


  2. Thank you for the link, timetravellingbunny – I’d actually seen it before and even left a comment! My memory becomes more like a colander every day.
    Later: A private aside for timetravelling bunny. I have now written a short article for this M&B blog, concerning the Cloisters deck. In it I have credited you with drawing my attention to it. I hope this is OK?


  3. This is – being documented as contemporary and from an eyewitness of the scene – probably the most accurate rendition of Richard’s actual hair colour, especially as being clearly distinguished from that of others present. Dark ash-blond – neither brown nor yellow-fair.

    Liked by 1 person

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