Richard III, a wicked tyrant, an unscrupulous murderer, a deformed hunchback. Just some of the reputations and images that have been associated with this notorious king ever since his death on the fields of Bosworth. The one thing that is clear is that Richard III is the most controversial of all kings and this controversy may go some way to explaining his extreme reputations. There are a number of factors that one needs to explore before one can make such a clear and distinct historical judgement. There are two main reasons why he is lumbered with such a negative image, firstly of his own doing, the manner in which he usurped the throne and secondly the manner in which Richards unscrupulousness have been over emphasised by Tudor Historians. Politics in fifteenth-century England was cruel and violent.

Richard III is infamous for murdering his way to the throne, but one must also consider such antics that had taken place previously. Edward IV had overthrown his predecessor and was responsible for the deaths of Henry VI and even that of his own brother. But Richard III most memorable misdemeanour was the murder of the two young princes, one of which was soon to be king. Although there is doubt over his guilt, and most evidence is circumstantial there is little doubt that he was responsible, he had a motive, access and the decisive point for me was that he could not produce them when under pressure during the rebellion of 1483. So, although his actions were not as extreme as we are made to believe he certainly didnt do himself any favours. His own actions gave a perfect platform for such writers as Virgil, Moore and Shakespeare to blacken his name even more so through there writings.

Many peoples image of Richard III is influenced by Shakespeare portrait of a limping hunchback with a withered arm, but the sources he used were from the Tudor period, sources like those of Virgil, they were clearly hostile to Richard. For example Virgil gives contrasting accounts of Richard, little of stature, deformed of body, one shoulder higher than the other and his report of his death Richard alone was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies, is he talking about the same man! I think it is fair to say that Richards physical and mental condition were not nearly as bad as these Tudor Historians would like us to believe. The historian Sir Winston Churchill said no-one in his lifetimes seem to have remarked these deformities, but they are now very familiar to us through Shakespeare play[1]Richard did have some positives, Richard III was a man of considerable, energy and attractiveness 2. The intellectual depth and political ability was always there 3.

In my opinion Richard III doesnt deserve such a reputation. Although it is difficult to judge one must consider the context in which all this took place, this was a time of political instability. One thing is for sure; his antics and reputation will mean that he will never be forgotten in English folk law. [1] 1 Sir Winston Churchill History of the English Speaking Peoples 2 A. J Pollard Richard III and the Princes in the Tower 3 M. A Hicks Richard III, The Man Behind the Myth.