on 20 December 2013
They do say that you need to get back to the sources to get to the nitty-gritty of things, and here you can. Not that sources are always right, of course. Some of these are not pro-Richard, but then those are the ones with Tudor axes to grind. I am a Ricardian, and therefore see him as a just and honourable man who was foully betrayed by far lesser men at Bosworth. Others will not agree. But whichever 'side' you take, you'll find this book absolutely essential reading, Recommended.
on 5 January 2014
I was shocked by this book. I have studied Richard III for over 50 years and see that very little has changed from the mostly hostile and biased writings of my youth. I am particularly horrified as the co-author is a leading light of the Richard III Society who should know better. Even the good things that Richard did have the cynical comments that they were done in an attempt to obtain popularity - maybe they were but we have no evidence of this and therefore should be taken on their own merit. The old story that the king intended to marry his niece is quoted when new research has revealed that a double marriage for her and the king was being negotiated for them to marry members of the Portuguese royal house - the true heirs of Lancaster. There is more than one factual error, one of them being that Richard had two recognised illigitimate children with possibly a third if the tradition of Richard of Eastwell is believed whereas the text quoted "one maybe two bastards" and that he was therefore a hyprocrite. So what if he had love affairs or kept a mistress in his early youth, that does not make him a hyprocrite becaused he condemned Edward IV's debauchery. Richard was not cruel to his wife because he no longer shared her bed, she was very ill, probably with a highly infectious fatal illness. Agreed the writings of southerners are not sympathetic to Richard but we do not have to look far back for a parallel. Richard's great grandfather John of Gaunt was similarly hated in the south because he was a northern lord and acting as protector during Richard II's minority. The North was almost a foreign country in those days. Another point raised by the book is that Richard's denunciation of the Woodvilles' attempt at seizing power via the young king is dismissed as Ricardian propaganda. Caroline Halsted's brilliantly researched book is described as "unreadable". It is dated, admittedly but very well written and, for its time, breaks a lot of new ground. A.L. Rous is even mentioned in the text and called a "historian" He was an expert on Shakespeare and not an authority on the historical Richard III. I could go on but I would recommend that anyone truly interested in a balanced view of Richard III reads "Richard III The Maligned King" by Annette Carson. The book under review is useful in that it contains the contemporary sources but I would take issue that Thomas Moore is contemporary and in no way a true account of the period. Incidentally, Although I have searched the book thoroughly I am unble to find the advertised chapter on the discovery of Richard's remains. In conclusion I think the authors should have allowed the sources to speak for themselves and avoided textual commentary one way or the other and certainly not the old traditionalist views that are rehearsed in such a biased way as in this book.
on 5 February 2014
I bought the Kindle version of this book because I wanted a portable and easily searchable collection of quotes about Richard III from historical sources. Unfortunately, the selection of quotes in this book is slim and appears to have been edited to support the author's negative view of Richard, which is apparent from the commentary. For example, the author comments on Richard's supposed immorality, but doesn't include any of the sources that mention his negotiations to marry Joanna of Portugal, rather than his niece, which would have gone some way towards putting this view into perspective. These sources have been known since at least the 1980s, so he should be aware of them and could have used this opportunity to make them more widely known. Anyone looking for a more complete picture based on contemporary sources may want to check out "Richard III The Young King to Be" by Josephine Wilkinson, which contains a broader selection of quotes than this book, or "The Maligned King" by Annette Carson, which in addition to quotes also includes an extensive appendix with background info on the relevant historical sources so readers can do their own research and make up their own minds. Quite a few chronicles and other sources, e.g. the Croyland chronicle, Polydore Vergil and Thomas More, can be read on the internet for free. This book is a convenient starting point for newcomers, but not more.
on 26 September 2015
This provides an excellent introduction to the reign and crimes of Richard the first, each chapter taking a different chronological period, discussing the evidence and then providing the relevant extracts. Short ad too the point, this source book is a handy vademecum to the non-controversy which rages about this much vilified and much sanctified king. I say non-controversy because the 'Ricardian' arguments are reminiscent to those who claim that Prince Phillip engineered the murder of Diana, or the Americans flew planes into the twin towers. That Richard was a typical Plantagenet, utterly ruthless and power obsessed, but a capable ruler in many respects should be of no surprise. But that he murdered the princes in the Tower as he did their relatives and Hastings is beyond reasonable doubt. If they were still alive when he reigned why not just produce them? He also, of course, was prepared to make outrageous allegations not just about the legitimacy of his own brother but the fidelity his own mother. His place in History is alongside King John.
on 18 November 2015
I was hoping for a learned and impartial presentation of the contemporary records relating to King Richard 111. This book, while including some useful quotes, has a noticeable anti-Richard bias. In addition it has a falsehood on the back cover, as it says: ...'this up to date edition includes an account of the exciting discovery of Richard 111's skeleton...'. It does not.