On this day in 1485, Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Though he fought bravely for his crown, he was subjected to the most ignoble treatment after death – stripped naked, slung across the back of a horse, then paraded into the nearest town where his body was exposed to public scrutiny. Several days later, he was buried by the Grey Friars in an unmarked grave.
Sadly, his reputation suffered an even worse fate. Skewed perceptions passed down from known enemies and Tudor propagandists have endured throughout the centuries, captured most famously in the writings of Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare’s Richard III.
But was Richard really an evil hunchback, an unfeeling tyrant who murdered his own nephews in order to steal the throne? Many modern historians no longer think so. On the contrary, Richard served his brother, King Edward IV, with unflinching loyalty throughout his life. Records show that he was devoted to his family, and while he received many honors in reward for his service (most notably wardenship of the North), there is no evidence of treachery or excessive ambition in his character. He was a man who valued justice on a level that was almost unprecedented for his day, and in just two years of kingship, was responsible for perpetrating such ideals as blind justice, innocent until proven guilty, and an insistence that laws should be translated into English so that even commoners could understand them.
In the end, perhaps the most fitting epitaph comes from those who knew Richard best… the citizens of York:
“King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was, through great treason, piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.”
Isabella and the pot of Basil by Edward Reginald Frampton,
Henri Achille Zo (1873-1933): El patio, 1914.
Santiago Rusiñol Prats
"Jardín con cipreses"