Richard III becomes the King of England (June 26, 1483) - History Key

Richard III becomes the King of England (June 26, 1483)

This day in history is marked in 1483 as the ascension of Richard III on the throne of England. He was the last king of England in the House of York, had a terrible death in the Battle of Bosworth, a battle that marked the end of the Two Roses War. The war waged for the throne of England between the House of Work and the House of Lancaster.

Portrait of Richard III of England, painted c. 1520 (approximate date from tree-rings on panel), after a lost original, for the Paston family, owned by the Society of Antiquaries, London, since 1828
Portrait of Richard III of England, painted c. 1520 (approximate date from tree-rings on panel), after a lost original, for the Paston family, owned by the Society of Antiquaries, London, since 1828 © Image Source: Wikipedia

The new-new King

Until April 9, 1483, the king of England was Edward IV, the brother of Richard III. However, Edward IV died and his twelve years old son, Edward V was the new king from that moment. Richard III was named the Lord Protector of the Realm. Lord Protector Richard III assumed his role and went to London.

However, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard de Shrewsbury, were held under the custody of Richard Duke of Gloucester (Richard III) in the Tower of London when he had Earl Rivers and Richard Grey arrested on the charge of treason against him, the Lord Protector. After the arrests, Richard informed Edward V about the attempt and the denial of his role. Therefore, Lord Richard continued to escort the young king with a 2,000 man army.

The things are getting interesting when on June 22, 1483, Richard officially declared that the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville was illegal and that their two sons were illegitimate. This position was supported by a law, quickly passed by the Parliament, on the evidence of a bishop who confessed that he married Edward IV with Lady Eleanor Butler and that she was still alive when Edward married Elizabeth Woodville.

 Tower of London viewed from the River Thames
Tower of London viewed from the River Thames © Bob Collowân/CC BY-SA 3.0/Image Source: Wikipedia

Therefore, the new successor of the crown was the same person who declared the illegitimate marriage: Richard III. The two children, probably still in the Tower of London, disappeared from the view. Although Richard III was accused of killing the two kids, there is still a debate about their real fate.

During his reign, Richard and his wife, Anne, endowed the King’s College and Queen’s College at Cambridge University. They were also planning to create a chapel in York Minster with over 100 priests. Richard III also founded the College of Arms.

The College of Arms, as it looked in the 18th century, engraved by Benjamin Cole, and published in William Maitland's "The History and Survey of London From Its Evolution to the Present Time" in 1756
The College of Arms, as it looked in the 18th century, engraved by Benjamin Cole, and published in William Maitland’s “The History and Survey of London From Its Evolution to the Present Time” in 1756 © Image Source: Wikipedia

Death

In 1485, Richard met the forces of Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth. Despite that the king’s army were around 8,000 men and Henry Tudor’s around 5,000 the king’s army faced a lot of problems during that battle. Most of the times, Richard III shouted out loud “Treason!” before every major dispute against him.

King Henry VII portret
King Henry VII portret © Michel Sittow/Image Source: Wikipedia

However, Richard III found his death during this battle and some sources note that he fought with courage and dignity. Some historians sustain that a Welsh gave him the final hit, while Richard’s horse was pushed onto the muddy land. It is say that the hit was so violent, that the king’s helmet was pushed deep into the skull.

Battle of Bosworth Field. Lord Stanley Bringing the Crown of Richard to Richmond
Battle of Bosworth Field. Lord Stanley Bringing the Crown of Richard to Richmond © Smith John (1858)/ Image Source: Wikipedia

On the other hand, the analysis of Richard III’s skeleton in 2012 revealed that until the final hit, the king suffered 11 wounds on the battlefield by various weapons such as daggers, swords, halberds. In fact, nine of Richard’s injuries are located to the head, which shows that the king lost his helmet during the Bosworth Battle.

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