Richard III

Richard III

England's Black Legend

Book - 1997
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"(A) well-written and colorful account of an intriguing period in English history" -- The New York Times Book Review

Richard III (1452-1485) was the only North-countryman ever to reign over England and the only king since 1066 to be killed in battle -- but was he anything like the scheming monster portrayed by Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More? Desmond Seward, with the aid of modern scholarship, pieces together the facts from the accounts of Richard's contemporaries. Richard III relates the murders of Henry VI, his brother Clarence, the "Princes in the Tower", and the "nightmarish insecurity" that prevailed over his reign. Sweeping aside sentimental fantasy, this superb biography offers a definitive picture of both the man and his age.

Publisher: London : Penguin Books, 1997
Edition: Rev. ed.. --
ISBN: 9780140266344
0140266348
Branch Call Number: 942.046092/RicS

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powelldrp
Jan 27, 2015

(Written originally for Goodreads) One annoying thing kept this book from earning an additional rating star, and it had nothing to do with the book's contents nor the author's presentation. The font style and the line spacing gave a compressed feeling to every page and made it hard to read. Seward tends to give lots of details about the personages connected to Richard, and the layout did nothing to alleviate what might be regarded by some readers as tedium. With that complaint aside, I will now address the book itself. I think that a lot of people who might read this book will do so because they have read Shakespeare's Richard III, and they want to know more about one of the bard's greatest villains. Having taught this play and having a keen interest in English history, I could not resist this read. Some of the other commentaries on Goodreads may not be wholly fair, but then some of the readers might have read older editions written before the discovery of Richard's remains in a parking lot. That latter fact is only briefly addressed in the beginning of the 2014 edition, but the fact that the skeleton is that of a grossly deformed man (which some recent historians tried to negate) gives credence to Seward's contention that Richard was, indeed, the villain that popular history portrayed him to be. Seward relies on Thomas More, Polydore Vergil, and other sources as contemporary to the events as possible to build his claim, and though they take the more negative slant, Seward also recognizes the opposition found among some modern historians who have tried to vindicate Richard. In the end, I felt that Seward did well in making his claim that Richard III was every bit the weasel that Shakespeare presented.

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