RICHARD III (1452-1485), king of England, third son of Richard, duke of York, and Cicely Nevil, was born at Fotheringay on October 2, 1452. Having been sent out of England for safety on the death of his father in 1460, he was recalled next year by his brother Edward IV., who created him duke of Gloucester and appointed him lord high admiral. He remained faithful to his brother during the latter's reign, sharing in his flight in 1470, and aiding him on his return in the victories of Barnet and Tewkesbury. In 1474 he married Anne, daughter of the earl of Warwick and widow of Prince Edward. In 1482 he led an army into Scotland to aid the duke of Albany against James III., occupied Edinburgh and captured Berwick. On the death of Edward IV. (April 9, 1483) Richard at once made himself master of the situation by seizing Prince Edward, his nephew. Having assumed the title of Protector, he rapidly developed his plans for securing the crown. Under the protext of a plot against his life, he seized and beheaded Hastings, Grey, and others (June 13), forced the queen mother to give up her younger son Richard, and, on June 26, 1483, assumed the crown. The children of Edward IV. were set aside on the plea that their father was illegitimate. On July 6 Richard was crowned king. Shortly afterwards it was publicly reported that the sons of Edward IV. were dead; their actual fate is to the present day unknown. In October 1483 the rebellion of the duke of Buckingham was put down ; the duke himself was executed on November 2. A parliament which met in January 1484 acknowledged Richard as king, in return for which he assented to an Act abolishing benevolences. His only legitimate son, Edward, died on April 9, 1484, and in March 1485 the boy was followed by his mother. To strengthen his position Richard had made treaties with Scotland and Brittany (1484), and he now proposed to marry his niece Elizabeth. From this course, however, he was dissuaded. His short reign was mainly occupied in preparing to resist the invasion of Henry of Richmond. Unable to prevent Henry's landing (August 7, 1485), Richard met his rival in battle at Bosworth (August 22), and at the same moment lost his crown and his life.
Tradition is divided as to Richard's personal appearance, and the story of his deformity is possibly derived from Lancastrian malignity and from a misunderstanding of his nickname Crouchback. His courage, energy, and ability would have made a great and honoured name had not those qualities been matched by extreme ferocity and unscrupulousness, and perverted to an evil use by the turbulence of the time and his own nearness to the throne.
Chief AuthoritiesFabyan, Concordance of Histories, ed. Ellis, 1811 ; Historia Croylandensis, ed. Fell, Quinque Scriptores, 1687 ; Ross, Historia Reguin Anglise ; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, 1875 ; Letters and Papers illustrative of the reigns of Richard III. and Henry VII., ed. Gairdner (Rolls Series) ; Sir T. More, Histories of Edward V. and Richard III., 1556; H. Walpole, Historic Doubts on Richard III., 1768 ; Gairdner, Life and Reign of Richard III., 1878. (G. W. P.)