Richard the Third, Hero or Tyrant

On the 19th of February the Forum’s guest speaker was Gillian Waterswho had spoken previously on topics of medieval history.

On this occasion her subject was Richard the Third, Hero or Tyrant.

At the outset Gillian admitted that she quite liked her subject and she started by destroying some preconceptions about him. Modern opinion is based on Shakespeare’s play which is based on Tudor propaganda (Gillian’s description).

This portrays him as an evil monster with many physical deformities. Although he suffered from curvature of the spine, in other respects his appearance was unremarkable. Gillian detailed the complicated history of the fifteenth century when the houses of Lancaster and York vied for the position of King of England until Richard, supported mainly by landowners and troops from the North of England, became Richard the Third. This included the murder of the two young prices in the Tower of London although there is little proof that Richard was responsible for this. In 1485 Henry Tudor landed in Wales and marched into England at the head of his army.

Henry had no justifiable claim to be King being only distantly related to the royal line, but he defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth, slaying Richard on the battlefield. Richard’s body was carried to Leicester where it was buried in an obscure churchyard and laid undiscovered until recently uncovered under a carpark.

After questions from Forum members Chairman Mike Earle proposed a vote of thanks to Gillian Waters for a most interesting talk.