The Life And Times Of Richard III Hardcover – 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book, the author tries to see beyond the myths and the nasty stories that were told by the Tudors. There have been some talk about who really killed the two boys: Richard III or Henry VII. In this book Cheetham gives us his opinion, and I enjoyed reading it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Cheetham (the author) goes to great pains to show the complexity of Richard's personality contrasted with the power-driven tyrant of Shakespeare's work. Additionally, he helps the reader by continually reminding us of the role of the supporting characters in this unfolding drama.
Finally, the author painstakingly looks at alternative theories surrounding the deaths of young King Edward V and Prince Richard. He does not mention the unlikely theory that they were spirited away for safekeeping. Rather, he explores the possibilities that others besides Richard III had motive and opportunity to murder the youths. This is not mere alibi for Richard, since he demonstrates the holes in each theory.
In the end this book gives even treatment of Richard and his accomplishments and his misdeeds. It is a fair review of a monarch that has suffered from more bad press than he deserves.
This book does a nice job of laying out what we know about King Richard III's life. I don't know about other readers, but I depended heavily on pages 218-219 (where a genealogical tree is provided) to keep the players straight. Again, for others this might not be a problem, but I sometimes lost sight of who was who and how each was related to another in the complex, shifting tides of dynastic conflict, characterized by the War of the Roses.
The book depicts the struggles between the House of York and the House of Lancaster (I live in central Pennsylvania, and the cities of York and Lancaster are called, fittingly enough, the Red Rose City and the White Rose City). Part of the struggle over time that makes it so complex was the many leaders who would switch sides to gain advantage. Treachery was a part of the ongoing conflict.
In this tapestry, the life of Richard III is discussed and assessed. At times, he was "in" as he grew up; at other times he was "out" (fleeing abroad for awhile until the political temper in England allowed his return). Overall, he is described as capable, a successful military leader and administrator at a young age.
When his father died, leaving the crown to a very young son, Richard was named as the Protector. Given the uncertainty of the times, Richard eventually took the opportunity to imprison the young king and his brother and take the crown himself. The two eventually died in the Tower of London. What happened? The other does a careful analysis of this and--in the end--can't make a definitive judgment. But his "default" logic is at least sensible.
Then, the short reign of Richard III and his defeat in battle.
The book does nicely in, first, simply describing Richard's life and, second, trying to place it in context and assess is role in history.
If interested in a nonpartisan account of this controversial royal figure, this is not a bad starting point.
In addition to being well-written, the book is an objective overview of Richard's life as well as the times in which he lived. He paints Richard neither as villian nor saint, but as a man charged with much responsibility at a young age and during troubled times.
For more in-depth coverage of Richard III, read Jeremy Potter's GOOD KING RICHARD? or Charles Ross's RICHARD III. The first reviews historical assessments of the man while the latter is a detailed biography.