Facts About Richard III

How much do you know about him? Here is an opportunity to broaden your knowledge.

Marion Moulton has compiled some fascinating lesser known facts about Richard III. 


Richard's Achievements

Lord of the North - Richard's Council of the North lasted until 1677.

Administered Law and Order. Defended the region from the Scots.

On the Scottish campaign he recaptured Berwick which has remained in English hands ever since.

Encouraged trade by holding two fairs at Middleham.

He was much respected for his acts of justice and kindness

He founded ten Colleges and Chantries

He was a liberal benefactor of the University of Cambridge

He founded the College of Arms. William Caxton dedicated his Order of Chivalry to Richard III

He declined gifts from cities saying he wanted their hearts not their money

His badge was the White Boar, a symbol of loyalty and courage

He started legal aid for the poor

He had the law translated into English so it could be understood by all

In 1477 be founded a College a Middleham which, had he survived Bosworth, could have been as famous as Oxford or Cambridge

The music of his court was famous throughout Europe

Records tell of a Master Edmund Philpot of Twickenham, a bricklayer, who by his misfortune, had all thirteen tenements and his dwelling and his goods, burnt to his utter undoing and who kept his household a great degree of poor creatures - a royal protection - a requirement of alms for the rebuilding of the same.

Master John Bentley, a clerk of poor estate, £4 to defray his expenses at Oxford

His coronation was the first to be conducted in English.


Things Said About Richard During His Lifetime

'Understand and consider that the Duke (of Gloucester) being warden of the West Marches by his diligent labours... has subdued a great part of the West Border of Scotland, adjoining England by 30 miles and more... and has secured divers parts tereof to be under the obedience of the King to the great surety and ease of the North of England' (Rolls of Parliament, January 1484)

'King Richard rules his subjects full commendably - punishing offenders of his laws, especially extortioners and oppressors of his commons and cherishing those tha were virtuousy the which discreet guiding he got great love of the people of all other lands about him" (John Ross, a priest in Richard's time)

'Never has nature dared to encase in a smaller body such spirit and such strength' (Scottish Ambassador, Archibald Whitelaw in an address to the king n 12th September 1484)

'He contents the people wherever he goes, better than ever did any Prince. For many a poor man that hath suffered wrong many days have been relieved and helped by him and his commands in his progress and in many great towns and cities were great sums of money given him which he has refused. On my truth I never liked the conditions of any prince so well as him  God has sent him to us for the weal of us all' (Thomas Langton, Bishop of St David's)

'I have to state what was achieved this summer in Scotland that the truth might be known. Thank God, the Giver of All ood Gufts, for the support received from our most loving brother, whose success is so proven that he alone would suffice to chastise the whole of the Kingdom of Scotland. This year we appointed our very dear brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to command the same army which we ourselves intended to have led last year, had adverse turmoil hindered us. The noble band of victors, however spared the suppliant and prostrate citizens, the churches, and not only their widows, orphans and minors, but all the persons found here unharmed' (Edward IV in a letter to Pope Sixtus)

'The clergy in convocation praised his most suitable and blessed disposition'; 'Next to his brother, the King, he was the handsomest man in the room' (The Countess of Desmond who danced with Richard at Eltham Palace)



Richard was brought down on the battlefield by one earl, one baron and one knight.

"He bore himself like a gallant knight and acted with distinction, as his own champion until his last breath." John Rouse

For in the thick of the fight and not in the act of flight, King Richard fell in the field, struck by many mortal wounds as a bold and valiant Prince. The Croyland Chronicle

Thie day was Our Good King Richard late mercifully reigning over us, was piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this City. York City Records

A fortnight later they described him as "Ther Most Famous Prince of Blessed Memory".

'He died fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies." Polydore Vergil


After Bosworth

"A good law maker for the ease and solace of the common people." Francis Bacon

"The character of this prince has been in general severly treated by historians, but as he was York, I am inclined to suppose him a very respectable man." Jane Austen. The History of England, 1791

In all aspects Richard was better fitted to reign over England in the days of change that were inevitable than the two tyrants who followed him. Sir Clements Markham

Richard was an able soldier and administrator, a cultivated man, fond of music and architecture, a patron of learning and deeply pious. J R Lander

It was also at Baynard's Castle that, two days later on Friday 27th June 1483, the new sovereign appointed John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, as his Chancellor. Thereafter, Baynard's Castle seems to have remained Richard's main base and headquarters until the start of July, This suggests that in the difficult situation in which he had found himself, he had the support of his mother and that ultimately Cecily Neville must have firmly backed her youngest son's accession to the throne. Dr John Ashdown-Hill, The Mythology of the Princes in the Tower


Positions Granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester by Edward IV

  • Made Duke of Gloucester, aged 9
  • Made Admiral of England, aged 10
  • Created Knight of the Garter, aged 13
  • Made Constable of England, the Realm's highest military appointment, aged 17
  • Made Sheriff of Cumberland for Life, aged 23
  • Made Great Chamberlain of England, aged 26
  • Made Lieutenant General in the North, aged 28
  • Made Hereditary Warden of the Western Marches, aged 31
  • Given Palatinate Powers in Cumberland, aged 31

Senior Adult Male Heir in 1483


The Tower of London and Some Bones

In the middle ages, the Tower of London was a Royal Palace, a Royal Menagerie, a Royal Mint, a Royal Garrison and it was where the Crown Jewels were housed.

There were six hundred people working at the Tower, thus it would have been impossible to murder two royal children and keep it a secret. Thomas More's account said the bodies were buried beneath a staircase. Think of the noise of the digging. It was then said a priest removed the bodies to an unknown location. In the reign of Charles II two skeletons were found buried ten feet down beneath a staircase and were claimed to be the skeletons of the two boys.

The bones were re-examined in 1933, but were unable to be dated. It was impossible to determine the sex of pre-puberty bones at this time too and they were placed in an urn and reinterred in Westminster Abbey. Fortunately, photographs were taken and have been examined recently. The bones are thought to be those of girls since there is now a technique to sex pre-puberty bones by looking at the back molars. In a young female, the back molars are smaller than those of young males.

In addition to this, the bones were found ten feet down which is not the medieval level. They are more likely to be either Roman or Anglo-Saxon.


"The Little Book of the Great Debate" - Annette Carson

For anyone interested in Henry VII's ancestry - here it is in summary:

His father was the son of an illicit liaison afterwards identified as a marriage, between a Welsh squire and the French widow of Henry V, Katherine de Valois. On his mother's side he was descended from a bastard half brother, who had been legitimised by Act of Parliament, but barred from the Crown in the reign of Richard II. Henry IV endorsed this when he became king. This, they were doubly barred from having any claim to the throne. Henry inherited Plantagenet blood from his mother, but from the wrong side of the blanket. At the time he seized the throne, even if one regards this prohibition, there were at least sixteen living (legitimate) Lancastrian heirs ahead of him, not to mention the thirteen legitimate heirs of the House of York.


"Great Lives" - Philippa Langley

Richard reigned for just over two and a half years. That is a total of seven hundred and seventy days. Compare this with the great monarchs - Elizabeth I, Henry V, Edward I, Alfred the Great - they didn't achieve half as much as what Richard did in that short time.


The Fate of the "Princes in the Tower"

  • No evidence for a murder. They disappeared.
  • No motive. The princes had been declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament. According to policemen, lawyers, psychologists, private investigators, Richard III is not the main suspect.
  • The boys were still alive after Richard's coronation and if he had perpetrated such a murder he would have been putting his crown and, more important to the medieval man, his immortal soul in jeopardy. At the Ceremony of Anointing and Crowning, it was believed God was physically there to place the crown on the monarch's head and anoint him with oil.
  • The Act of 'Titulus Regius' ad legally conferred Richard's right to the throne. When Henry VII came to the throne he ordered every copy to be destroyed without being read.
  • Archbishop Bourchier promised he would look after Richard of York when Elizabeth Woodville handed the boy over to him, thus letting Richard leave Sanctuary.
  • There is a legend in the Tyrrell family that the princes lived at Gipping Manor with their mother "by permission of the uncle."
  • Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard of York and his tenacity and numerous campaigns gives very good evidence for believing he was. Henry VII would never let Elizabeth of York meet him. He was beaten up to render him unrecognisable and Henry spent the equivalent of £10,000,000 in today's money on the campaigns against him.
  • The King of Scotland gave his cousin in marriage to Perkin Warbeck and Maximilian of Austria gave him full supprt.
  • All the pretenders claimed to be the younger boy, almost as if it was known that Edward V was dead. Edward's physician, Dr Argentine visited him regularly and then his visits ceased.
  • The Pope called for a requiem mass for Edward V suggesting it was known he was dead. To say a requiem mass for someone who hadn't died risked endangering the immortal soul.
  • Elizabeth Woodville came out of sanctuary and handed her daughters over to Richard III for him to find suitable husbands for them. She wrote to her brother, Edwrad Woodville to persuade him to come and reconcile himself to Richard "Who will treat you well."
  • There were close ties within Richard's family. How could he have faced his mother if he had murdered her grandsons?
  • Edward Brampton the Portuguese jew, was seen with a boy the same age as Richard of York. Brampton was closely linked to the House of York and Edward IV was his godfather.
  • Heny IV (who was a usurper) kept the two Mortimer heirs in close confinement. He did not kill them and they were the rightful heirs. The princes were illegitimate.
  • 'Richard of Eastwell' became a stonemason in Kent. It is thought he could have been Richard of York.


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