My Questions About Richard III.

If Richard was planning to seize the throne all along why did he a.) start by getting everyone in Yorkshire to swear allegiance to Edward V and b.) set off south with only a modest retinue of 300 men? Given that he was in a position to raise most of the north in arms, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to do just that?

If we accept that Richard did not initially plan to seize the throne what made him change his mind? a.) An attempted ambush by the Woodvilles/Wydevilles? b.) The realisation that he ‘couldn’t work’ with Edward V? c.) The discovery of the precontract? d.) Or did he just wake up one morning and think ‘**** it, I’ve not got any supporters down here but I’ll take the throne anyway!’

Why did Elizabeth Woodville run off into sanctuary, given that the Woodvilles were (supposedly) innocent of any wrong-doing? As a woman and a Queen, no one was going to kill her, and by staying out and standing her ground, could she not have made Richard’s work a lot more difficult to achieve?

Why did Richard only send for his supporters when things had already kicked off and when it was actually too late for them to get to London to help him? Was he really that bad a planner or is it more likely that he was taken by surprise by some development?

Why did Anthony Woodville send off for an exemplification of his powers to recruit troops in Wales just at this particular time? Did he think Owain Glyndwr had come back or had he some other purpose for raising armed men?


(Reblogged from The Yorkist Age)


  1. Richard also had coins minted in Edward V’s name.
    Why did Earl Rivers delay leaving Ludlow with Edward for so long?
    …… and Richard did not ‘seize’ the throne.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was a discussion on the Forum that researched contemporary documents and it came to the conclusion that Rivers, while he was in charge of Edward V, wasn’t actually in Ludlow in April 1483 he was on his estates in East Anglia. Thomas Vaughan and Richard Grey were with Edward at Ludlow and they would have been given instructions by Rivers. It was also thought that there was a plot to kill Richard on his way to London. See Gordon Smith’s article in the Bulletin in around 2014.

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      1. That would make sense, far more than the standard story (need to celebrate St George’s day etc) … if you remember Rivers had his lawyer (Andrew Dymmock I think, still in London, I wonder?) draw up papers transferring his position as Deputy of the Tower to his nephew Dorset – in March 1483 – rather than in Jan-Feb 1483 during E4’s (last) Parliament when he was presumably there. One of those odd little details historians do not even mention in footnotes; I’m sure I read this in Annette Carson – and it is peculiar. Rivers was also involved in some property deal and using RdG as his preferred neutral intermediary.

        Thanks for the mention of that article by Smith, I should be able to track that down – Rivers has been something of an enigma for me, he appears to have all the Woodville grating ambition – but then as the eldest son of his family anything less would have been a profound embarrassment to their ‘clan.’ (Just my own gut here but Rivers strikes me as the weak sort who did what his sister, the Queen, told him, and likely, sadly, what Dorset told him to do; was he supplanted in ambition by Dorset? No doubt! Was Rivers part of any plan to arrest, detain, imprison, accidentally-oh-look-the duke of Gloucester was unintentionally killed in a little skirmish? Not one he devised, but certainly one I can see him turning a blind eye to, after all, RdG wasn’t anymore his blood than George duke of Clarence was).

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  2. I can’t answer all your questions since most them defy rational explanation. However, I think I know why the protector wrote to his northern Friends on the 11 June1483 Quoting from one of my own pieces if I may. “As late as the 5 June 1483, the Protector summoned all those who were to be knighted, to come to London at least four days prior to the coronation. The same day he wrote to the citizens of York apologizing for the fact he that was too busy with the coronation preparations to deal with their recent request for financial relief. The significance of this letter is its ordinariness, which is in stark contrast to his letter to the same citizens five days later. In the second letter, the Protector requested troops to help against the queen and her blood adherents who were planning to murder him and Buckingham. It was a noticeable change in tone. The inference that he was suddenly alarmed by this murderous conspiracy is doubtful. Two footpads like Dorset and Hastings wouldn’t have frightened Richard; besides he had known of the threat to his life since Stony Stratford or earlier. If it was in response to that threat, he has left it too late; York’s troops could not reach London much before the end of June. I believe that something else has happened between the 5 and 10 June 1483, which alerted the Protector to a new and very serious threat to the stability of the realm and to him. I believe that on the 8 June 1483 he heard about the pre-contract for the first time… and… by the 10 June 1483, …he…was convinced that Stillington’s story was true. In his letter to York of the same date he is not reacting to a new threat from Dorset and Hastings, but preparing himself for the possibility of a Woodville counterstroke, once the existence of the pre-contract became public knowledge. He was obviously worried about the increased prospect of civil war breaking out again. Neither can there be any doubt that the personal consequences were also on his mind. The letter to York provides a convenient cover story, which gives nothing new away if it falls into the wrong hands.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I like that, “two footpads like Dorset and Hastings” … well, Dorset was a cocky footpad who (as of March 1483) was Deputy of the Tower (how handy!) and Hastings controlled Calais (with his brother Ralph in place, as he had been, hands-on for some time). But I agree, RdG apparently had taken their measure and was not sweating it – and – as Matt Lewis has written he had the power to enact appropriately (sorry Prof Hicks but RdG did have the authority!)

      * Great Chamberlain, Lord High Admiral (he took this appt very seriously btw), Lord High Constable (Lewis, p.217) When Henry Percy executes Rivers et al in June 1483 he does so as RdG’s Lieutenant of the North, with all the authority to conduct whatever trial he deemed necessary. Here’s a question, has anyone ever seen the trail documents of Edward of Warwick from November 1499? I know the Parliamentary references to his ‘treason’ exist, they haven’t been expunged, just wondering if those precious trial records of Warwick’s trial are available, I would enjoy musing over H7’s flawless arguments as to why he needed to execute a prisoner who he had kept in solitary confinement for 14 years, just wondering … since historians are so vexed over ‘missing’ trial records for Rivers or Hastings.

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  3. An important point is that nobody seems to have informed Richard of his brother’s death until some time after it happened. The Council (headed by Woodvilles) which had the legal authority did not do so Elizabeth Woodville, who, as Edward’s widow, would have had the moral responsibility, one might say the family duty, to inform her brother-in-law, did not. It is not a great leap of logic to assume they were planning to deprive Richard of the Protectorship, and, since they could not expect him to accept that supinely, his life as well. This might explain why Elizabeth, who was in no danger as a woman and a widow, felt she had to go into Sanctuary.

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