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Richard III – hero or villain….?

Look very carefully, I will say this only once. There IS a little article in among all the darned adverts!

Helen Cox is to give a talk on whether Richard was a hero or a villain. It is always difficult where he is concerned, because whenever he is described as the boy’s uncle, the uninitated (and set-in-concrete traditionalists) envisage a much older, untrustworthy man, who’d been around the royal block a good few times and knew how to bend every rule in sight. An undoubtedly wicked man. Something along the lines of the troublesome uncles around the boy-king Richard II. John of Gaunt was not wicked, but was always suspected of planning to steal the throne for himself. Shakespeare depicts Richard III as this stereotype. 

But Richard III didn’t fit the criteria, because he was honourable, and apart from anything else he was a young man. Yet because of the Bard and the repulsive Tudors, it is the sterotype of him that always surges to the fore.

 

 

Thank you for having me!

I feel very honoured to have been invited to author on this blog – I can’t guarantee being able to contribute much or often, but it feels very good to be here! In the meantime, if any readers would like to know more about me, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Yorkist, aficionado of the whole Wars of the Roses period, secretary of Towton Battlefield Society’s affiliated re-enactment group, the Frei Compagnie, and author of three books on the battles of Wakefield and Towton (you’ll find more information on my website, helencox-herstorywriting.co.uk). So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m a great fan of Richard III – and although I’d love to have more solid evidence about whether he did or did not order the murder of his nephews, I don’t give much of a monkey’s either way; I still think he was no worse a king than most, and a great deal better than some.

And if I could have my greatest wish granted, it would be to travel down the other ‘trouser-leg of time’ (as I believe Terry Pratchett puts it) and see what would’ve happened if THAT cavalry charge had succeeded and Richard III, not Henry Tudor, had been the victor at Bosworth. What would England look like now? We wouldn’t have had Henrys VII and VIII, Edward VI, Bloody Mary or Good Queen Bess, for a start. We probably wouldn’t have had the Dissolution of the Monasteries – or if religious reform did take place, it probably wouldn’t have been so radical or brought about for the same reasons. Would we still be a predominantly Catholic country? Who might Richard III have married, had he lived – and who would be sitting on the throne now? Any and all speculations on the answers to these questions would be most gratefully received!

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