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Richard III: His Life & Character Reviewed in the light of recent research   By: (1830-1916)

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[Frontispiece: King Richard III. From a picture in the National Portrait Gallery ]

RICHARD III: HIS LIFE & CHARACTER

REVIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT RESEARCH

BY SIR CLEMENTS E. MARKHAM, K.C.B.

AUTHOR OF 'THE LIFE OF THE GREAT LORD FAIRFAX' AND 'THE FIGHTING VERES'

WITH A PORTRAIT

LONDON: SMITH, ELDER, AND CO.

15 WATERLOO PLACE. 1906

( All rights reserved )

{v}

PREFACE

There are periods of history when the greatest caution is called for in accepting statements put forward by a dominant faction. Very early in my life I came to the conclusion that the period which witnessed the change of dynasties from Plantagenet to Tudor was one of these. The caricature of the last Plantagenet King was too grotesque, and too grossly opposed to his character derived from official records. The stories were an outrage on common sense. I studied the subject at intervals for many years, and in the course of my researches I found that I more or less shared my doubts with every author of repute who had studied the subject for the last three centuries, except Hume and Lingard. My own conclusions are that Richard III. must be acquitted on all the counts of the indictment. The present work is divided into two parts, the first narrating the events of his life and times, and the second examining the various accusations against him. I did not contemplate publication because I thought that in these days prejudices were too strong to make it possible that a fair and candid hearing should be given to the arguments. But I determined to consult {vi} some historical friends, and I was pleased to find that to a great extent I was mistaken.

In the first place, I wrote a full abstract of my arguments, for publication in the 'Historical Review,' acting under the advice of my old schoolfellow, Professor Freeman, to whom I sent it in the first instance. It so happened that Mr. Freeman had given attention to part of the subject. He upset some odious fabrications of the chroniclers affecting the character of Margaret of Anjou, by proving that she was in Scotland at the time when the battle of Wakefield was fought. Freeman seldom wrote on so late a period of our history, and we owe this modern excursion to a visit to Mr. Milnes Gaskell at Thornes.

After reading what I sent him, Professor Freeman wrote on August 13, 1890: 'Your abstract has set me a thinking. It is only a Robert of Bellême who does that kind of thing. On your main point I will talk to Gardiner and Stubbs. Meanwhile, I have shown your manuscript to Sidney Owen, who read it and held it to be what lawyers would call considerable . Owen had been at those times, and holds Henry VII. to be at least capable of it.

'It would be a self denying ordinance in Gairdner if he accepted your view, for he has gone more straight at that time than anybody else. Gardiner has written to him, and he is a little fierce, as was to be expected, but if you are like me, no man's fierceness will hinder you from dining and sleeping as well as usual. The matter is at all events worth discussing.'

{vii}

Professor York Powell read my manuscript, and wrote: 'I have read the manuscript and think there is something worth looking into. Henry's conduct to Tyrrell is exceedingly suspicious. Either Richard or Henry might have put the boys to death, but it would be interesting for many reasons to know which it was. I am not convinced by Markham, but I do not think Gairdner has the right to be cocksure. The Morton suggestive idea is very ingenious and pretty, and quite probable. It has interested me much to read Markham's letter, for I remember my difficulties in the matter and the point I got to, that the great men did not, for a time, hold the now vulgate view of the murder of the princes. I should rejoice should Markham light upon additional evidence in favour of his thesis, which à priori is by no means unlikely. There is something about Richard's character, ability, and reign which, I think, attracts every real student of history, and gives one a feeling that he has been unfairly dealt with... Continue reading book >>




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