Richard III Paperback – 15 Feb 2013
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'A believably complex Richard, neither wholly villain nor hero’ (Philippa Gregory)
‘A very readable short life distilled from an enormous amount of information, summarising where possible without misleading and adding interesting detail.’ (Peter Hammond, President of the Richard III Society)
‘Reveals the real Richard III’ (Leicester Mercury)
About the Author
David Baldwin is a medieval historian who has taught at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for many years. His historical research has focused on the great medieval families in the Midlands and he has contributed articles to historical journals and lectured regularly to societies and conferences in this field. He lives near Leicester.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course, being a brave soldier and an efficient and fair-minded ruler does not excuse him from having Hastings and sundry Woodvilles executed after he had gained control of the young King Edward V.
But one cannot help feeling that his whole life must have been coloured by the terrible day when, as an eight-year-old, he learned that his father, elder brother and uncle had all been killed by the Lancastrians at the Battle of Wakefield and that their severed heads were displayed above the gates of York. A period in exile in the Low Countries followed before another brother was able to prevail over the Lancastrians and set himself on the throne as Edward lV.
So Baldwin shows us how such personal insecurity at such times must have coloured his thinking when he acted so ruthlessly after Edward lV's death, took the princes under his protection and obliterated potential opponents.
The author can find no proof that he did away with the princes and my own personal opinion, based on Baldwin's earlier book, The Lost Prince, is that Edward V could well have died of an illness in the Tower and that his younger brother was spirited away to a safe house and ultimately to Colchester Abbey. Subsequently, Henry Vll appears to have visited the town unusually frequently on his royal progresses, arguably to keep an eye on him.
David Baldwin does not further propound this theory in this latest book but states that while Richard could be ruthless, he was not stupid and that to have murdered the boys would have alienated all those whose support he was trying to gain.Read more ›
Had I wanted a textbook on the period or an examination of all possible theses about the King's role in history I would not have relied solely on this book; indeed it would have been naive for me to do so. What I wanted was a well researched, well written and importantly well argued and nuanced approach to the subject matter. This book, for me, was all of these things. Baldwin's awareness that Richard was a man of his times, shaped by his circumstances as much as any of us are is clear throughout, however this is not allowed to excuse some of the excesses of his reign.
Richard will remain a fascinating and much studied character and there will be books published about him that explore further his world and the evidence we have about his life. I am grateful however that I read this book as my introduction to Richard III and would not hesitate to recommend that others with an interest in learning more about him do so as well.
In the introduction to his work, Baldwin asks what he can possibly add to the previously published work of Paul Murray Kendall whose brilliant biography had already set down all that we know of this much maligned king from the available historical records. When I bought this book, I was asking myself the same question. There is no doubt that the two authors sit firmly on the Ricardian side of the fence in the debate with the Tudor portrayal of Richard's character but Baldwin takes a slightly more academic approach. He points out several instances where Kendall has described events which are the result of his own interpretation rather than established fact. Baldwin does not shy away from the grimier side of Richard's character and, in all, he presents a more balanced view.
For anyone who is interested in the medieval history and the fascinating character of Richard III, this is a definitive work which takes a narrative approach and is very easy to read.
Beyond saying he thinks it unlikely that Richard has his nephews murdered (even his detractors agree that he was not stupid), he doesn't really go into this a lot, or examine Elizabeth Woodville's reasons for letting her daughters out of sanctuary or her later reaction to the Simnel rebellion. I know he has written separate volumes on both Elizabeth Woodville and Richard of York, the younger of her sons, but the issue is almost completely sidestepped here which is interesting, as this is really the question lying at the heart of The Great Debate.
So, my overall opinion was this this was very readable, fantastically illustrated and good, as far as it went. It would make a good introduction to the subject. Personally, I would have liked it to have gone a bit further. I couldn't help but compare it to Paul Murray Kendall's book. It's some time since I read it, but I was left with an enormous feel for the period and a sense of colour and life and I didn't quite get that from Baldwin.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good read for those wishing to find out more about Richard III in the wake of the discovery of the King's grave in Leicester.Published 2 months ago by Bob Milne
Used this for a project - it was exactly what I needed, and very helpful!Published 2 months ago by Harry Zacharias
loved David Baldwin's writing so much ordered another by him - he brings the past to life factuallyPublished 7 months ago by paul corroyer
Interesting factual writing of a much maligned king. Shows the man as well as the monarchPublished 14 months ago by Gemma
Very well written giving interesting opinions and makes the reader aware of alliances between factions.Published 16 months ago by Elizabeth
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