Richard III of England
Richard III (Richard of York, Duke of Gloucester; 2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England from 1483 until his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the protagonist of Richard III, one of William Shakespeare's history plays.
Right trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as the King’s good grace hath appointed me to attend upon his highness into the North parties of his land, which will be to me great cost and charge, whereunto I am so suddenly called that I am not so well purveyed of money therefore as behoves me to be, and therefore pray you as my special trust is in you, to lend me an hundred pound of money unto Easter next coming, at which time I promise you ye shall be truly thereof content and paid again, as the bearer hereof shall inform you: to whom I pray you give credence therein, and show me such friendliness in the same as I may do for you hereafter, wherein ye shall find me ready. Written at Rising the 24 day of June.
Sir I say I pray you that ye fail me not at this time in my great need, as ye will that I show you my good lordship in that matter that ye labour to me for.
- Right trusty and well beloved, we greet you well, and where, by your letters of supplication to us delivered by your servant John Brackenbury, we understand that, by reason of your great charges that ye have had and sustained, as well in the defence of this realm against the Scots as otherwise, your worshipful city remaineth greatly in poverty, for the which ye desire us to be good mean unto the King’s Grace for an ease of such charges as ye yearly bear and pay unto His Highness, we let you wit that for such great matters and businesses as we now have to do for the weal and usefulness of the realm, we as yet ne can have convenient leisure to accomplish this your business, but be assured that for your kind and loving dispositions to us at all times showed, which we ne can forget, we in goodly haste shall so endeavour us for your ease in this behalf as that ye shall verily understand we be your especial good and loving lord, as your said servant shall show you, to whom it will like you herein to give further credence; and for the diligent service which he hath done to our singular pleasure unto us at this time, we pray you to give unto him laud and thanks, and God keep you.
- Right trusty and well beloved, we greet you well, and as ye love the weal of us, and the weal and surety of your own selves, we heartily pray you to come unto us to London in all the diligence ye can possible after the sight hereof, with as many as ye can defensibly arrayed, there to aid and assist us against the Queen, her blood adherents, and affinity, which have intended, and daily doth intend, to murder and utterly destroy us and our cousin the duke of Buckingham, and the old royal blood of this realm, and as it is now openly known, by their subtle and damnable ways forecasted the same, and also the final destruction and disinheriting of you and all other inheritors and men of honour, as well of the north parts as other countries, that belong to us; as our trusty servant, this bearer, shall more at large show you, to whom we pray you give credence, and as ever we may do for you in time coming fail not, but haste you to us hither.
- Letter to the “Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the city of York” again as Lord Protector, June 1483, reprinted in Richard the Third (1956)
To My Lord Nevill, in haste,
My Lord Nevill, I recommend me to you as heartily as I can; and as ever ye love me and your own weal and security, and this realm, that ye come to me with that ye may take, defensibly arrayed, in all the haste that is possible, and that ye give credence to Richard Ratcliffe, this bearer, whom I now do send to you, instructed with all my mind and intent.
And, my Lord, do me now good service, as ye have always before done, and I trust now so to remember you as shall be the making of you and yours. And God send you good fortunes.
Written at London, 11th day of June, with the hand of your heartily loving cousin and master,
- Letter sent at the same time as the one above, to a family retainer, reprinted in Richard the Third (1956)
Monsieur, mon cousin,
I have seen the letters you have sent me by Buckingham herald, whereby I understand that you want my friendship in good form and manner, which contents me well enough; for I have no intention of breaking such truces as have previously been concluded between the late King of most noble memory, my brother, and you for as long as they still have to run. Nevertheless, the merchants of this my kingdom of England, seeing the great provocation your subjects have given them in seizing ships and merchandise and other goods, are fearful of venturing to go to Bordeaux and other places under your rule until they are assured by you that they can surely and safely carry on trade in all the places subject to your sway, according to the rights established by the aforesaid truces. Therefore, in order that my subjects and merchants may not find themselves deceived as a result of this present ambiguous situation, I pray you that by my servant this bearer, one of the grooms of my stable, you will let me know in writing your full intentions, at the same time informing me if there is anything I can do for you in order that I may do it with a good heart. And farewell to you, Monsieur mon cousin.
- We would most gladly ye came yourself if that ye may, and if ye may not, we pray you not to fail, but to accomplish in all diligence our said commandment, to send our Seal incontinent upon the sight hereof, as we trust you, with such as ye trust and the Officers pertaining to attend with it; praying you to ascertain us of your News. Here, loved be God, is all well and truly determined, and for to resist the Malice of him that had best Cause to be true, the Duke of Buckingham, the most untrue creature living; whom with God’s Grace we shall not be long till that we will be in those parts, and subdue his Malice. We assure you there was never false traitor better purveyed for, as this bearer Gloucester shall show you.
- Postscript from a letter to his Chancellor, 12 October, 1483. Reprinted in Richard the Third (1956)
Quotes about Richard III edit
- Alphabetized by author
- When it comes to matters in which he had some control, such as legislation brought before Parliament, his record has been recognized over the centuries as significant and enlightened. By contrast with kings before and after him, he indulged in no financial extortion, no religious persecution, no violation of sanctuary, no burning at the stake, no killing of women, no torture or starvation and no cynical breach of promise, pardon or safe-conduct in order to entrap a subject.
- Annette Carson (2009), Richard III: The Maligned King, The History Press, page 10
- In the age of chivalry, and in the very year when Caxton published Malory's Morte d'Arthur with its uplifting theme of knightly virtue and purity, England found itself under the heel of a king whose very first act [stripping and parading Richard's corpse] was one of calculated barbarity. By contrast, Richard III's end would prove to represent England's last personification of the monarch as the flower of chivalry: the last king leading his men shoulder to shoulder in battle, but more than that, attempting to curtail the bloodshed by settling the outcome in single combat.
- Annette Carson (2009), Richard III: The Maligned King, The History Press, page 268
- Richard's Parliament … passed considerable sound and beneficial legislation. One such act freed juries from intimidation and tampering. Another protected buyers of land from secret defects in title. Still another made bail available to persons accused of crimes. … For the first time, Parliament's acts were published in English, so they could be understood by at least that part of the population that was literate, rather than being confined to churchmen, educated nobles and the few others who could read Latin.
- Bertram Fields (1998), Royal Blood, New York, pages 162-163
- Richard's selfishness denotes both exceptional egotism and individualism. Whereas other magnates thought in the long-term, seeking to maintain the family estates and to foster the interests of future generations of their dynasty, Richard gave priority to his own good, his immediate political needs and the eventual salvation of his soul. He was concerned only secondarily with the long-term interests of his heirs, whom he disinherited by his alienations in mortmain and otherwise. If Richard's career as Duke of Gloucester fails to make sense, it is because his aims were different from those of other magnates. Both as duke and king, Richard appreciated that heirs strengthened his own position by giving permanence to his tenure, but he did not acknowledge any obligation to give priority to their interests over his own. One wonders whether his sentimental attachments to the houses of York and Neville were sincere or were merely further expressions of Richard's self-interest. Certainly his seizure of the crown sacrificed the interests of his wider kindred to himself and led ultimately to the destruction of the royal house to which they all belonged.
- Michael A. Hicks (1986) Richard III as Duke of Gloucester: a study in character, Borthwick Publications, page 33
- In the course of a mere eighteen months, crowded with cares and problems, he laid down a coherent programme of legal enactments, maintained an orderly society, and actively promoted the well-being of his subjects. A comparable period in the reigns of his predecessor and of his successor shows no such accomplishment.
- Paul Murray Kendall (1973), Richard III, page 319
- Richard III was the hunchbacked usurper whose infamous murder of his own two nephews, one of them the rightful king of England, tainted the very throne he so craved and brought about his own destruction. Since he lost his throne to the Tudors, it was they who wrote the history of Richard III to assert the claim of their own dynasty, probably exaggerating his pitiless ambition and physical deformities. He may not even have been a hunchback at all. Never has a deformity been so compellingly used to symbolize wickedness.
- Simon Sebag Montefiore, Monsters: History's Most Evil Men and Women (2009), p. 119