Richard III after Edward IV died in 1483. When Edward IV died in 1483, he lkeft behind him two sons, a daughter, and an ambitious widow whose maiden name had been Elizabeth Woodville. The eleder boy, 13-year-oled Edward, inherited the throne. His guardian was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Edward IV’s brother.
Richard had married the Earl of Warwick’s daughter. It had been a wise match, for it brought him large estates in the north of England. As lieutenant-general of the north, he was the king’s agent in those parts. He was honest, brave in battle, and capable of kindness.
But, like most rulers, he was ruthless. Richard neither liked nor trusted his sister-in-law. Indeed, he was suspicious of the entire Woodville family. Thinking that some villainy might befall his ward, he insisted that the lad and his brother, Richard, Duke of York, should be given quarters in the Tower.
Edward V and Richard moved in-and vanished. The only evidence of their deaths is the skeletons of two boys dug up in the 17th century. All the rest is mystery.
Since the Duke of Gloucester promptly proclaimed himself King Richard III, he was suspected of murdering the lads. He never troubled to deny the charges, but no court of justice could have convicted him. Was Richard guilty? Did he hire assassins? Or was it part of a plot to arouse populer feeling against him.
Richard III is always given the role of villain: a hunchback, who prowls wickedly through the pages of history. In fact, he was in most ways a fair ruler who did much to root out corruption, and the slight deformity which earned him the nickname ‘Crouchback’ was greatly exaggerated by the Tudors.
The Clash of Arms
The quarrel between the House of York and Lancaster (and, therefore, the Wars of the Roses) was finally brought to an end in 1485, when Richard III was killed on the field of battle near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.
He was slain by one of the soldiers employed by Henry Tudor (soon to become Henry VII), who had recently landed at Milford Haven in Wales and had been greeted enthusiastically by many Wels warriors.
During the fight, Richard fought well, but many of his noblemen deserted him. Afterwards, the crown of England was found lying beneath a hedge. Henry put in on. The last of the Plantagenets was dead. The Tudors had arrived.