5 Facts about… Richard III

The debate continues on where the bones of Richard III should finally be laid to rest: should it be Leicester, where his body was found, or York, as members of the Plantagenet Alliance believe?

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The future of the last Yorkist king may be unclear, but here are 5 things we do know about Richard III:

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1) He may not have had the exaggerated hunchback as portrayed by the William Shakespeare play, but Richard’s skeleton proved he did have scoliosis – or a curvature of the spine. 

2) Jane Austen was on Richard’s side. In The History of England From the Reign of Henry the 4th to the Death of Charles 1st (1791), she says, “The character of the prince has been in general very severely treated by historians, but as he was York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable man.” Austen goes on to say that she doesn’t believe he killed his nephews.

3) He made monumental changes to the judicial system. These included the introduction of bail and legal aid, provided by his newly created Court of Requests. This made it much easier for poor people – who could not afford legal representation – to have their grievances heard.

4) His wife, Anne Neville, was his also cousin. Richard had to obtain a papal dispensation before they could wed.

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5) Richard fought at the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury – both decisive victories for the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses. His courage and military leadership at Barnet meant he led the vanguard at Tewkesbury. He was only 18 years old.