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Richard III: The Self-Made King

Richard III: The Self-Made King


Richard III: The Self-Made King

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (5 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
14 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 31, 2019
ISBN:
9781515945703
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

The definitive biography and assessment of the wily and formidable prince who unexpectedly became monarch-the most infamous king in British history

The reign of Richard III, the last Yorkist king and the final monarch of the Plantagenet dynasty, marked a turning point in British history. But despite his lasting legacy, Richard only ruled as king for the final two years of his life. While much attention has been given to his short reign, Michael Hicks explores the whole of Richard's fascinating life and traces the unfolding of his character and career from his early years as the son of a duke to his violent death at the battle of Bosworth.

Hicks explores how Richard — villainized for his imprisonment and probable killing of the princes — applied his experience to overcome numerous setbacks and adversaries. Richard proves a complex, conflicted individual whose Machiavellian tact and strategic foresight won him a kingdom. He was a reformer who planned big changes, but lost the opportunity to fulfill them and to retain his crown.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 31, 2019
ISBN:
9781515945703
Formato:
Audiolibro


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  • (4/5)
    This revised edition cut away its former subtitle "The Man Behind the Myth" which captured very well the intent and focus on the book. It is not a complete biography of Richard III but an examination of the different myths surrounding him, although, vexingly, most of these myths cannot be resolved. Some of the gross misconceptions and slanders, such as a two-year pregnancy of his mother, can be dismissed. Supposedly easily answerable questions, such as about whether he was hunchbacked or not, cannot. Unfortunately, his bones have been lost when his grave was disturbed, so genetics is of no help. Thus, as in most things Ricardian, one ends up with "on the one hand", "on the other hand". I found this book a good introduction to many of these issues. Plenty of illustrations help to recreate the era, the man and his (mis)deeds.
  • (5/5)
    Richard III was the last Plantagent and the last medieval king of England. He reigned only two years and was killed on Bosworth Field by rebellious forces lead by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who established the Tudor Dynasty and brought an end to England's long dynastyic civil war known to History under the romantic epithet the War of the Roses. In order to secure their tenuous claim to the throne, Richard's character was blackened until that he has entered the popular imagination as Shakespeare's hunchbacked arch villain.Was Richard III a tyrant? Was he deformed? Did he have his nephews murdered in the Tower of London? Or was he a hard pressed monarch, surrounded by treacherous and envious plotters, and forced to take drastic action to prevent a return to civil strife?In Michael Hicks's biography of Richard III and his era, the Duke of Gloucester emerges not as the dastardly villain nor as one more sinned against than sinning, but as a legitimate claimant to the throne who attempted to keep his factious kingdom together by whatever means necessary.Hicks does a masterful job of bringing late Medieval England to life and sorting out to complex web of alliances and betrayals among the nobility who sided with the Lancastrian and Yorkist claimants to the monarchy. Nicely illustrated throughout.
  • (4/5)
    Professor Hicks is professor of history at King Alfred's College, Winchester. He has written extensively on Yorkist history, though as ever with this period in particular, his expertise will be challenged by some. This is one of the standard works on Richard III. The author considers both sides of the key arguments and makes strenuous efforts to consider in a balanced way how people would have viewed Richard's actions and possible intentions at the time. While a lot of evidence postdates Richard's fall and can to some extent be viewed as victors' evidence (though not generally as the crude Tudor propaganda that Ricardians would rationalise it), the chronicle by the Italian merchant Mancini who wrote as he saw events and talked to people throughout the early months of 1483 is a valuable source of contemporary testimony, though of course it should be, and is here, critically assessed as should any other primary source. I think Hicks's conclusions are largely valid and evidence based. My problem is more with his writing style, which tends to be rather dry. This is especially the case in the first chapter on the background to England of the time and the nature of Medieval kingship, which is too long and verges on being padding; and to some extent the same fault is present in the second chapter on Richard's career before King Edward IV's death, with quite a lot of great detail on estates gained and lost, property disputes and so on, though I accept this is a valid part of the narrative. As one would expect, it is when he gets to the meat of the story, Richard's taking over the throne, that the book becomes more readable. He sets out the case for the prosecution and the case for the defence quite cogently and enlarges on these in subsequent chapters on Buckingham's and other rebellions against Richard, and on the latter's downfall and blackening in the eyes of future generations.My own views on the "Great Debate" as Ricardians term it, have been formed through reading a number of books as well as this one, including a few years ago Paul Murray Kendall's elegantly written defence of Richard, Richard III: The Great Debate.I do not think Richard is the totally evil black-hearted villain of Shakespeare (though all educated people should know that Shakespeare's interpretation of history should be seen in the light of his own contemporary interpretations and sources, anyway). Nor do I believe that he was the wholly misunderstand hero of Ricardian tradition. On the positive side, he was an able administrator, genuinely thought of with affection in the north; while no doubt exaggerating the faults and corruption of Edward IV's rule in order to justify his usurpation, he does seem to have had a genuine concern with justice for the common man (interestingly this is also a trait of that other maligned monarch, King John); and he was capable of inspiring great loyalty among some of his followers, though also alienating others who were prepared to support him as Lord Protector so long as he pledged loyalty to Edward V, but not to support him when he took the throne for himself. On the negative side earlier in his life, he does seem to have been avaricious in gaining lands and wealth for himself, somewhat more so than most of his contemporaries, though no doubt many others were very similar.Richard pledged loyalty to Edward V after his brother's death, but took the young King into custody, allegedly for his own protection against plots. When young Edward's brother Richard, Duke of York, was similarly taken, Richard of Gloucester held all the cards. The frequent postponing of the date for young Edward's coronation also stretches the interpretation of "protection". No doubt the Woodvilles would have wanted influence over the young King also, but evidence of active plotting seems fairly tenuous. It is in the sudden announcement of the discovery of Edward IV's pre-contract of marriage, thus meaning his marriage was adulterous and the young Princes therefore bastards, that credulity surely stretches breaking point. Why now? The coincidence of its being convenient to Richard is of course theoretically possible, but surely one must assess this claim on the balance of probability and a sober assessment of who had most to gain from this. And even if it were true that Edward's 20 year marriage was canonically suspect, could those years of history really have been rewritten in practice? Ricardians have attempted to interpret earlier events such as the downfall of Clarence and Richard's summary execution of Hastings as being connected with evidence about this alleged pre-contract, but this surely smacks of speculating in order to make history fit one's preferred theory.On the most controversial issue in question, I believe that, on the balance of probability, he very likely did murder his nephews. Ricardians often argue that his guilt would not stand up in a modern court of law where the standard of proof is "beyond reasonable doubt". This is true, but it misses the point. That rigorous standard cannot really apply to events of 500 years ago where modern means of gathering and recording evidence cannot possibly apply. The key point to me is that the Princes disappeared within the Tower of London after Richard had put them there and seized the throne. They were never heard of again. Now there is a possibility of Buckingham's having killed them or ordered their deaths, without Richard's connivance, as Kendall argues. But the chance of someone having got into the Tower to kill them on Henry Tudor's or someone else's behalf is slim, and the chance of their still being alive in the Tower for over 2 years without trace, only to be killed by Henry on his accession is too remote to be worthy of serious consideration. The revelation of the Princes' disappearance and probable death was the spark for a rebellion of much of the southern Yorkist establishment in late summer as well as that of Buckingham, so people believed they were dead and Richard never showed them in order to disprove it. He faced widespread opposition very quickly and so, guilty or not his regime never survived long enough for a more balanced assessment of these issues and his rule in general could be made feasible.So, in conclusion, I don't believe that Richard's reputation should be significantly re-evaluated. He should be seen more as a figure of his own time than he often is and not be regarded as a one-dimensional black-hearted villain. He had his good points, as did King John. I believe him to be innocent of some of the other accusations of which he has been charged such as killing Henry VI, poisoning his own wife Anne Neville, and scheming to marry his own niece Elizabeth of York to deprive Henry of that chance and give himself a male heir, his only legitimate son having died young. Though even on the latter point, the scheming was widely believed at the time, so that he had to publicly deny any plan to marry his niece, a fortnight after his wife's death. So his reputation was very low even at the time; his poor historical reputation is certainly not all down to Tudor exaggeration or propaganda, and must surely substantially, though not entirely, be justified by how his actions were seen and interpreted by his contemporaries. 4/5