The news that the skeleton of Richard III has been found recently is a very exciting discovery in my opinion. Since I read a lot of historical fiction, I have recently read a lot on this infamous character from the past.
Many people will think they know a lot about him whether by history lessons or from reading Shakespeare. However, a book I recommend in order to find out about him further, and his role in perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of all time: is ‘The Princes in the tower’ by Alison Weir.
The book reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. I’ve read a lot of her books and particularly enjoyed her historical novels. But since meeting her on her book tour where she was presenting her book ‘Mary Boleyn the Great and Infamous Whore‘, I bought several of her fiction and non fiction titles which I have been working my way through ever since.
As both an historian and a writer of historical fiction, I admire her writing and writing style. And I was no less impressed with her research behind the murder of Edward IV’s two young sons, Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York, at the hands of Richard III – who usurped the English throne during the War of the Roses.
She reaches her verdict that Richard is solely responsible for ordering the two princes deaths while locked up in the Tower of London. However, she does provide thorough evidence against Richard. She also manages to really describe the life in pre-Tudor England, by explaining how anti-Richard sentiment was often exaggerated for the benefit the Tudor rules who followed the Plantagenets.
In hindsight, Richard III will always be the wicked and power-hungry hunchback as depicted by Shakespeare. But what this book gave me was a insight into a remarkable figure in history. One whose remains I have seen discovered on ‘The King in the Car Park’ programme on Channel 4 as well as my rediscovering of him through Alison’s book.
For true history buffs like myself, I recommend travelling down to Bosworth field where Richard III was killed in battle in 1485. The modern landscape differs markedly in appearance from that of 1485 as the former open fields have been enclosed by straight hedges for example and there is now a canal which was opened in 1804 and a railway in 1873.
Nevertheless, to really appreciate the life and the man that Richard 3 was, reading this book and visiting Bosworth field is to take a step closer to the past.