Although Richard reigned for only just over two years, he is one of England's best known kings. There is even a 'Richard III Society'. A passionate debate rages perenially as to whether he really was the arch-villain of Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare or in fact the victim of Tudor slander - a revisionist view eloquently expressed by Horace Walpole and by Josephine Tey in her charming novel, The Daughter of Time.
Desmond Seward argues powerfully that More and Shakespeare were right. Stressing Richard's singularity - the sole Northcountryman (by adoption) to reign over England, the only king since 1066 to be killed in battle -he uses the latest research to paint a compelling portrait of a ruthless opportunist, who during a double coup d'etat stopped at nothing to seize the throne, murdering others besides the Princes in the Tower. As a monarch, his reign was a nightmare, not least for himself.
Seward emphasises that not More was not just the best legal brain of his day and a byeword for integrity, but that his damning life of Richard is confined by witnesses during the king's reign - notably Dominic Mkncini and Philippe de Commynes, and only two years after his death by the equally veil informed continuator of the Croyland Chronicle. Seward's considered opinion is that Richard III was an English version of the classic Renaissance tyrant - 'England's black legend'.
Desmond Seward was born in Paris and educated at Ampleforth and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He is the author of many books including The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders, The Hundred Years War, The Wars of the Roses, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry V as Warlord, Josephus, Masada and the Fall of Judaea (da Capo, US, April 2009), Wings over the Desert: in action with an RFC pilot in Palestine 1916-18 (Haynes Military, July 2009) and Old Puglia: A Portrait of South Eastern Italy (Haus August 2009). Forthcoming is The Last White Rose: the Spectre at the Tudor Court 1485-1547 (C...
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