The treacherous Welshman who supposedly killed Richard III….!


Rhys ap Thomas

A few days ago I watched a TV documentary about Rhys ap Thomas, The Man Who Killed Richard III. It made my Welsh blood boil! The man was a bullying, thieving snake, not a hero! Anyway, here is the TV company’s blurb:-

“Who killed Richard III?

“This is a story of conspiracy and betrayal, of a lust for power and a lost allegiance; the story of the man who killed King Richard III.

“In this documentary we set out to prove that the Welshman Sir Rhys ap Thomas, master of Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire, killed King Richard III, changing the course of British history.

“Sir Rhys ap Thomas had sworn allegiance to King Richard III. He had accumulated lands and status in Wales that were dependent, in part, on his loyalty to Richard. But at the Battle of Bosworth he betrayed him, fighting on the side of Henry Tudor. He dealt the fatal blow to Richard III.

“We uncover what drove Rhys ap Thomas to betray not only his master but a King – and we reveal his remarkable story; from a childhood embroiled in the War of the Roses and exile to the continent, to a determined and ambitious man who brought an abrupt end to the Plantagenet line, carving the way for his own rise to power at the heart of the Tudor dynasty.”

Whether the fellow really did kill Richard at Bosworth I don’t know. Nobody really does, but he gets the kudos…or notoriety, according to which side you support. Welsh blood or not, I support Richard. Go on, you hadn’t guessed, had you? My unbiased views masked it completely.

The documentary made much of the fact that Rhys would have supported Richard against Henry Tudor, had not Richard demanded custody of Rhys’ four-year-old son as a hostage, to make certain of Rhys’ loyalty. This, apparently, was too much for the Welshman’s honour, so he refused, and Richard (who was clearly and rightly suspicious anyway) was alerted to his duplicity. Well, honour didn’t figure much in Rhys’ later career, which was decidedly dishonest and acquisitive of property that was not his to take. Hmm, in that regard he is worthy of Henry VII. He was certainly ambitious in many ways, having numerous mistresses with whom he attempted to populate the whole of Wales! Or so it seemed.

They referred to Richard III as Richard of York. Sorry, that was his father. Richard III was Richard of Gloucester. Oh, and there was a Duke of Oxford. Sorry, he was only an Earl. Who are these people who are paid to do the research? And there was no mention of WHY Richard came to the throne, just that he did and was believed to have killed his nephews in the process. Convenient, because it made him sound as horrible as Rhys. The word ruthless cropped up as well. with regard to Richard, of course.

It was selective reporting of which Tydder would have been proud, and it gave me indigestion. And me born in Pontypridd and brought up in Cilfynydd and St Athan!

The programme did dispose of one myth, the one where Rhys vowed loyalty and swore to Richard that Henry Tudor would only passed through Wales over his body! The story goes that this was achieved by Rhys lying under a bridge while Tudor and his invading army passed over. It seems that the truth is that the two armies (Tudor’s and Rhys’) simply took different routes and thus avoided each other until, presumably, the English border was reached.

There was an almost redeeming moment. Right at the very end. The presenters had to admit that Rhys was a turncoat. That’s putting it mildly. I wonder if he would have been so keen to support the Tudors if he’d known that his family was to lose everything and Henry VIII was to execute his grandson as a traitor?

Anyway, it’s believed that right at the end of his life, Rhys had cause to reflect upon his guilt where Richard was concerned. Nice one, Rhys. Wait until the pearly gates appear out of the mist in front of you, and then hastily repent and seek forgiveness. I only hope the Almighty had been making copious notes over the years!

A humorous account of what really happened with Rhys and that bridge can be found here.

Note: Rhys’ grandson, Rhys ap Gryffudd (aka fitzUryan), who was executed for treason in 1531/2, was married to Katherine Howard, granddaughter of the first Duke of Norfolk. They were ancestors of Lucy Walter.
Sir William Parker, who was a standard bearer at Bosworth, was the grandfather of Jane, Viscountess Rochford, who was also beheaded under Henry VIII, with Katherine’s cousin and namesake.


  1. In those days you’d be killed or prosecuted if you were a threat to anyone’s power or chance of power and glory. Poor Richard 111 never stood a chance of proving his innocence and he never will because it will in this lifetime either. These days circumstantial evidence doesn’t amount to a conviction. Back then it was guilty unless proven innocent, now its innocent until proven guilty. Where is the hard core evidence for Richard 111

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for that. I have been avoiding watching the program on Netflix, and now I don’t have to.


  3. Your bias is completely showing. I’m sorry you feel that Sir Rhys ap Thomas was a traitor to Wales. I completely disagree. I believe he did what he had to do in order to survive. Edward IV took the family lands. Henry VI was responsible for restoring some of them. Where do you get he took lands that didn’t belong to him? And yes, Henry VIII was a bastRd for killing his son.


    1. As a subject of the King of England, who had effectively been elected by the Three Estates, Rhys ap Thomas owed him allegiance but fought against him instead.
      My dictionary calls that treason.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Darlene, your bias is showing too. But you are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine. And if you do not like support being given to Richard III, I suggest you stop visiting this blog and try elsewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Richard was offered the throne; it was agreed that his brother’s marriage was bigamous and hence his children bastards.He didn’t just rush in and stick the crown on his head; there was a procedure and if people had really been against him, he would have never been able to become king. He had only a few hundred men with him when he reached London, after all.
        Oh, I must mention about Rhys’ child–there seems to have been some myth-making about this in recent years. Richard asked for the child as hostage for the father’s good behaviour–not a new thing, done all through history–Rhys begged him to leave the child at home as he was only 4…and what did Richard do? He left the kid with his parents. He never had him as a hostage.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Perhaps you think Edward IV’s illegit sons would have been legit???? And Richard was, as other comments have made clear, offered the throne. He was definitely legit.


  4. Perhaps someone has mistaken Shakespeare for history again?
    The Tudors were certainly brilliant at reinventing History, and it was their biased account that was popularized by the Bard who was, in all fairness, working with what he was given by Tudor historians such as Holinshed and Hall.
    Richard neither usurped the throne nor deserved the treachery of those who gave their support to Henry VII, whose claim to the throne was tenuous at best— and he knew it. That’s one of the reasons why he married Elizabeth of York.


  5. What happened to Rhys’ grandson, what goes around comes around. Had Richard won Bosworth, the grandson might not gave been executed – different king on the throne, still a Plantagenet monarch? Quite likely.


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