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Definition: Richard III from Collins English Dictionary


1 1452–85, king of England (1483–85), notorious as the suspected murderer of his two young nephews in the Tower of London. He proved an able administrator until his brief reign was ended by his death at the hands of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) at the battle of Bosworth Field

Summary Article: Richard III
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


King of England

He was born in Fotheringhay Castle. After the defeat and death of his father Richard, 3rd Duke of York, in 1460, he was sent to Utrecht for safety; he returned to England after his brother Edward had won the Crown as Edward IV (1461), and was created Duke of Gloucester. When Edward went into exile in 1470, Richard went with him, and he helped bring about Edward's restoration the following year. He may have been implicated in the murder of Prince Edward, Henry VI's son, after Edward's victory at Tewkesbury, and in the murder of Henry himself in the Tower. In 1472 Richard married Anne, the younger daughter of the Earl of Warwick. This alliance was resented by Richard's brother, the Duke of Clarence, who had married the elder sister and did not wish to share Warwick's extensive possessions. Clarence was impeached and put to death in the Tower in 1478. Richard has been suspected of his murder, but the evidence is inconclusive. In 1482 Richard commanded the army that invaded Scotland and captured Berwick. In 1483, while still in Yorkshire, he heard of King Edward's death, and learned that he himself had been designated guardian of his 13-year-old son and heir, Edward V. On his way south, the Protector arrested the 2nd Earl Rivers and Lord Richard Grey, the uncle and stepbrother of the young king, and rallied the old nobility to his support. He accused Lord Hastings, a leading member of the council, of treason, and had him beheaded. The dowager queen was induced to give up her other son, the little Duke of York, and he was put into the Tower together with his elder brother, the king. Richard is believed to have had his nephews murdered; but the deed was done so secretly that the country did not know of it until some time later, and there was no proof of Richard's guilt. Parliament sought Richard's accession to the throne, and on 6 July 1483 he was crowned, Rivers and Grey having been executed on 25 June. Richard's principal supporter, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, changed sides soon after Richard's coronation and entered into a plot with the friends of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (afterwards Henry VII) and chief representative of the House of Lancaster, to achieve Richard's overthrow and proclaim Henry king. The attempted rising collapsed, and Buckingham was executed on 2 November. Henry landed at Milford Haven on 7 August 1485. Richard met him at Bosworth Field on 22 August; he fought with courage but the odds turned decisively against him with the desertion of the Stanleys to Henry, and in the end he lost his kingdom and his life. Richard was a capable ruler, and would probably have been a great king had he come to the throne in more normal circumstances.

  • Ross, Charles, Richard III (1981).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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