Richard III: Fact and Fiction

By Matthew Lewis

Richard III is one of England’s most dividing figures. Some see him as a usurper, stealing the throne from his nephew and locking the boy and his brother away in the Tower, ultimately doing away with them. Others paint him as a hero, the rightful heir to the English throne, killed by the evil Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. From such opposing views, over the centuries, a large number of stories have arisen about Richard III.  These have become so ingrained within history that somewhere along the line they became fact. But are they real? Did Richard III kill his nephews? Did he usurp the throne? Was he an evil man? Did he have a crooked back? Where is the truth and where is the myth?

In this book, Matthew Lewis sets the facts straight about many of the myths and legends that have built up around Richard III. He presents the alleged fact and then details the exact events and information surrounding each statement. Lewis draws on primary sources and documented evidence from Richard III’s life or as close to as possible to try and provide the reader with as much information as he can, carefully analyzing what has been presented. As I read it soon became very clear that many so-called ‘facts’ about Richard III are based on rumours, allegations and hearsay written a hundred years after his death! There’s no evidence to support these facts and yet they have become ingrained in the modern-day belief.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Matthew Lewis presents an evenly balanced view of Richard III. While some see him as an evil man and others as good there are others who see both the good and bad in Richard III. This is clearly Matthew Lewis as he will readily state if Richard III did something that would have been considered wrong or inappropriate at the time. There’s no painting Richard III in a positive or negative light, Lewis simply presents the facts as they are and lets the reader decide for themselves.

No matter what your opinion of Richard III is, love him or hate him or maybe you lay somewhere in between, I would strongly recommend reading this book. It will bust some commonly held myths that have built up about Richard III over the centuries, most coming from Shakespeare’s famous play. It will also give you lots of information, some quite eye-opening, about who Richard III really was.

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