10 things you might not know about King Richard III

Richard III, an early 17th-century likeness. Credit: Amberley Publishing
Richard III, an early 17th-century likeness. Credit: Amberley Publishing

Ahead of the reinterment of his remains in the city of Leicester later this month, author David Baldwin reveals 10 things you might not have known about the notorious King Richard III.

Richard III, an early 17th-century likeness. Credit: Amberley Publishing
Richard III, an early 17th-century likeness. Credit: Amberley Publishing

In 2012 the remains of  Richard III were discovered under a car park in Leicester. A lengthy battle between the city of York and the city of Leicester over who had the right to bury the remains ensued but in May 2014 the High Court ruled that Richard III’s body should be reinterred in Leicester.

Reinterment activities will begin on 22 March 2015 so in honour of the last Plantagenet king, author of biography Richard III, David Baldwin, shares some of the secrets his research has unearthed.

1. He had many, many siblings

Richard was his parents’ eleventh child, and their fourth son to reach adulthood. No one would have supposed that he would ever become king.

2. He fled to Europe…twice

Richard was twice forced to seek safety in Europe. The first time was in 1461 after his father was killed at the Battle of Wakefield, and the second in 1470 after Warwick the Kingmaker had deposed his brother King Edward IV.

Richard III's skeleton displaying the severity of his scoliosis
Richard III’s skeleton displaying the severity of his scoliosis. Credit: Amberley Publishing

3. He was very little

It has been suggested that Richard’s scoliosis would have reduced his height to below 5 feet – he would have cut a diminutive figure beside his 6ft 4in-tall brother Edward IV.

4. He once held power in Wales

Richard was given extensive responsibilities in Wales in 1469 and the beginning of 1470. It was only after, (and as a result of), Warwick the Kingmaker’s rebellion, that his authority was transferred to Yorkshire and the north of England.

5. He was related to his wife

Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was his first cousin once removed. Her father, Warwick the Kingmaker, who he helped defeat at the Battle of Barnet, was his first cousin.

Richard III's father, Duke of York and brother Edward IV. credit: Amberley Publishing
Richard III’s father, Duke of York and brother Edward IV. Credit: Amberley Publishing

6. He claimed his nephews were illegitimate

Richard based his claim to be the rightful king on the allegation that his brother Edward IV’s marriage was invalid. The implication was that all Edward’s children, including the ‘Princes in the Tower’, were illegitimate and could not succeed to the throne.

7. He lost both his wife and son

Richard was bereaved of both his wife and only legitimate son Edward during the two years he reigned as king. He was hoping to marry a Portuguese princess at the time of his death.

8. His greatest rival was also family

Richard and his great rival Henry Tudor (King Henry VII) are both descended from John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. Richard is their great-grandson, and Henry their great-great grandson.

9. His reign was the shortest since the Battle of Hastings

Richard’s reign of two years and two months was the shortest of all the crowned, post-Conquest rulers of England.

10. He is the only English king to be killed in battle since 1066

Richard is the only English king to be killed in battle since Harold at Hastings in 1066. He suffered no fewer than nine separate head wounds, two of which would have proved fatal.

Events surrounding the reinterment of King Richard III will take place in Leicester from 22-27 March 2015.

Richard III, by David-Baldwin. Amberley Publishing
Richard III, by David Baldwin. Credit: Amberley Publishing

David Baldwin’s biography of the notorious king, Richard III, is published by Amberley for £8.99. A new edition with additional notes and photos will be published after the reinterment.

We speak to one of King Richard III’s descendants in the March/April 2015 issue of BRITAIN magazine (May 2015 issue in the US).

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