He was born on 2 October 1452 in Northamptonshire. His early years were dominated by the Wars of the Roses, which his father, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, fought with Henry VI.
He was accused by many of murdering his nephews – the “Princes in the Tower”, who disappeared in 1483 – but there is no evidence that he was responsible. Their fate remains a mystery to this day.
Richard is said to have been born with a crooked back, a limp and a withered arm. Historians regarded this as Tudor propaganda, to frame him with guilt over the killing of his nephews – in those days a deformed body equalled a warped mind. However, if this discovery turns out to be Richard III, the depiction of him having a crooked back was actually true.
His father died in 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield and his brother became Edward IV, making him Duke of Gloucester in November 1461.
In 1470 he was exiled, along with his brother Edward. The Earl of Warwick wrested the crown from Edward – but it wasn’t to last, with the brothers returning the following year to retake the throne.
He was portrayed by William Shakespeare, in Richard III, as murderous, brutal, unscrupulous and without conscience, but this image of the king would have been unrecognisable to anyone who lived during his lifetime.
Richard III introduced English as the official language of his courts of law – previously French and Latin were used in legal documents.
He also introduced a system of legal aid for those who could not afford representation.
He loved the north of England, championing the interests of the City of York and founding the Council of the North.
Richard was regarded as a brave fighter and fought valiantly in battle.
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