Richard III, the last king of the House of York and the Plantaganet dynasty, ruled England from 1483 to 1485. Perhaps better known by his characterisation as a dark and twisted tyrant in Shakespeare’s eponymous play, Richard’s reputation is controversial; yet many contemporary sources praise his character and rule. The death of Richard III also marked the end of medieval England.
Here are 10 facts about the often misunderstood monarch.
1. Richard was born in Fotheringhay Castle on 2 October 1452
His parents were Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville. Richard Plantagenet was descended from Edward III both on his father’s side (great-grandson) and his mother’s side (great-great-great-grandson). During the mental breakdown of Henry VI, he served as Lord Protector of England.
2. Richard was the 12th of 13 children
Richard was part of a big family. Among his siblings was the future King Edward IV and George Plantagenet – who would later become the Duke of Clarence and engage in several conspiracies against Edward.
3. Richard’s spent some of his childhood years at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire
Following the death of his father, the Duke of York, Richard was brought up by Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick who owned Middleham Castle. There Richard underwent training to become a knight.
4. Richard married Anne Neville at the age of 20
Anne Neville was Queen of England for most of her husband’s reign, but died in March 1485, five months before Richard III’s death.
5. Richard and Anne funded Cambridge University’s King’s College and Queen’s College
He generously supported the construction of the iconic chapel at Kings College for instance.
6. Richard was loyal to his older brother King Edward IV
He ran the north of England up until his brother’s death in 1483, when Richard became Lord Protector. Richard also remained loyal to Edward when their middle brother, George, rebelled and schemed against the king.
7. Richard was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1483
The coronation came after Londoners had petitioned Richard to have the throne.
8. Richard fought his final battle at Bosworth in 1485
Richard’s army at the Battle of Bosworth Field was said to be around 8,000 strong, pitted against 5,000 of Henry Tudor’s men.
9. Richard was killed during the Battle
Richard was a strong warrior and managed to unhorse a jousting champion in his final fight. But he was later surrounded by men of Sir William Stanley who were said to have beaten him so hard that his helmet entered his skull, killing him.
10. It is thought the late Duke of Beaufort may be a direct descendent of Richard III
Though Richard is considered to be the last member of the Plantagenet blood line, it is thought the late David Somerset may have been a direct descendent via a possible illegitimate relationship that took place centuries ago.