Much debate and controversy surround the rise and fall of Richard the Third. It is hard to ignore such subjects due to the bonds and hidden reasons that many of the authors of the middle ages had towards Richard. In keeping an objective approach towards Richard III, the study of his rise and fall will be taken in the perspective of his royal acts and administration of England. Public sentiment over such things as the scandal surrounding the princes did have an effect over the rule of Richard, but there are many other underlying aspects that could have extended Richards rule, and changed the way history looks back on him. Many historian look upon Richard as a villain.
Others attribute this view as tainted due to the perverse nature of England following his reign, and the need for support of Henry Tudor’s ascension to the throne. One aspect that almost all of the historian agree with is that Richard did have some moments where his actions were for the better of England. Looking at such actions can shed light on the true characteristics of his rule, and that he quite may have been a beneficial part of English history. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was the brother of King Edward IV of the House of York. The House of York had been in control of the throne of England for some time now, but with the entry of the Woodvilles, was in somewhat of a decline.
Elizabeth Woodville, now queen to Edward, was thought of surrounded by sorcery, influencing Edward to the bidding of the Woodvilles and their rise to power. Edward’s eldest son was in the primary care of the Woodvilles at the time of Edward’s death, and had become very attached to influential lords in the family. These included his uncles, Rivers and Grey. They were rising lords who sought to control the young heir and supplant the House of York of their control of the throne. Thus enters Richard. Richard was named protector of the prince and the country in Edwards will because Edward was in his minority.
The new king would then take control of the country when he came of majority. This was commonplace in English history, even to the extreme of having infants play the part. Why was the Duke of Gloucester, Richard, so disturbed by this occurrence? Richard and many others in the family were afraid of the Woodville’s influence over Edward once he came to majority. With this in mind, Richard began to plan for his rise to power in order to stop such atrocities. In order to continue the House of York’s dynast at the throne, Buckingham and Gloucester seize Rivers, Grey and other advisors as they are marching to England to coronate Edward as the new king.
They had news that the Woodvilles were conspiring against Gloucester in order to take control of England immediately. While parliament anxiously awaited Gloucester’s explanation for his actions, Richard did not meet with much adversity from the people upon his arrival to London. They felt he was doing his duty, as no one suspected him of aspiring to anything but regent. Richard was then formally installed as Protectorate of England, but Richard realized that his power would not last forever, possibly four to five years. In prior years, Richard had gained much public support and accolades for his part in fighting Scotland.
He uses this support in his next step of a move for the throne. In the past there had been rumors of Edward the IV being illegitimate, now there was evidence that Edward’s son was illegitimate as well, as Edward IV had not been legally wed to Elizabeth when they had Edward V. Upon hearing this news, Richard chose to proceed with caution, only telling chief political players and asking their advice. Richard was wise for these actions. He had been known for his prudence in the past in the war with Scotland. When Edward IV wanted a crushing blow to the Scots, Richard realized that it would be too costly and at the same time England had already accomplished a great feat. Richard pushed for Edward to end the fighting and sign a treaty that would end the bloodshed.
This shows Richards strategic savvy as well as his diplomatic nature to maneuver for the best interests of everyone. With true foresight, Richard arranges for Dr. Shaw to preach of such travesties of the illegitimacy in his preaching in a sermon in St. Pauls Cross. This marks the final step in his plan.
He had already incited his motives with the correct people in parliament and now as parliament gathered for what they thought would be the planning of the coronation of Edward IV, they were now discussing and drawing plans for the rise of Richard to the Crown. Richard had successfully positioned himself to claim the throne as if he had no intentions of doing so in the first place. With the princes removed from the bloodline, he was the heir apparent in everyone’s eyes. This would not bode well with the Woodvilles for long. In order to solidify his claim to the throne, Richard decided to act upon the best interests of the land.
One of his first actions was to travel the land and bestow gifts to many across the country. In his travels he performed many beneficial deeds. A major action that showed his compassion was his pardoning of Hastings wife. Hastings had opposed Richard and was thus beheaded. In order to make amends, Richard pardoned his wife and allowed her to keep her lands. In the north, Richard granted lands for public use, gave money to churches and embraced the people.
His influence and good deeds reached the Bishop of St. David’s who proclaimed, He contents the people wher he goys bests that ever did prince; for many a poor man that hath suffred wrong many days have be relevyd and helped by hym .. God hath sent hym to us for the wel of us all. Such ideas were tantamount as to Richard’s commitment to improving England. He was not merely limited to philanthropic duties. In parliament many historians credit him with reforms for the better of England with his various Public Acts. The most important centered around Royal benevolence.
Richard pushed for making it illegal for such activities by the king, and for financial reform of the government. He also established a line of succession to ensure the stability of England when he died. This had been missing in England for some years. Richard had social agendas as well. Richard calls for measures to reform the court systems.
Corruption had taken hold of juries and Richard instated laws to minimize this as well as defend those accused of crimes by creating bail. To ensure all were represented, even those poor who could not afford representation in court, Richard III called for the creation of the Court of Requests. These courts gave the opportunity for anyone to have representation. At the same time Richard realizes the influence of the rising middle class throughout England. When the Irish were minting similar coins as England, therefor damaging the merchants of England, Richard called for the Irish to regulate their money by centralizing their mints in two regulated cities. They were also forced to change their coins so they were not similar to the English equivalent. This was done to gain the support of the middle class and gain their support, as well as improve England’s economy.
Richard was determined to bring England to the forefront of world power, but he also realized that England needed time to heal from the situation they we in. The country was divided due to wars and his usurpation of the throne. In meeting with representatives from Spain, he solidified peace between the two nations by signing a treaty. He passed the opportunity to join with them in a war against France because he did not want to throw England into a war …