REIGNED: and wassaid to have murdered his nephews, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York in 1483 (called "the Princes in the Tower") to gain the throne.
Richard fought for his brother, later King Edward IV, under the Yorkist banner during the Wars of the Roses. On the death of Edward in 1483, Richard took over the care of Edward's young heir, King Edward V, and the administration of the kingdom. Richard soon overthrew the unpopular party of the Woodvilles, relatives of the queen mother, who aimed to control the government. Parliament then declared that Richard was the rightful king, on the grounds that the marriage of Edward IV with Elizabeth Woodville had been illegal because he had contracted earlier to marry another woman. Richard, to ensure his position as king, confined Edward and his brother Richard to the Tower of London. There, some time afterward, both nephews were put to death. Except for later supposition, no substantial evidence exists that Richard had them assassinated.
The new king courted popularity with considerable success. He promoted English interests abroad and involved himself in domestic reform. Following the death of the young princes, however, public favor turned away from Richard and toward Henry, Earl of Richmond, who was the head of the rival house of Lancaster.
EVENT: Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor and the Lancaster forces at the battle of Bosworth.
Richard had many enemies, and on 7 August, Henry Tudor landed near Milford Haven with about 2,000 French mercenaries and a handful of Lancastrian lords and knights. He gathered reinforcements as he marched through Wales, then through Shrewsbury, Stafford and Atherstone. Richard was at Nottingham, and moved from there to to Leicester on 19 August, and by 21 August the two armies were facing each other about two and a half miles south of Market Bosworth.
Richard's army was just under 12,000 strong, but 4,000 of his troops were commanded by the Stanley brothers, whose loyalty was suspect. Henry had only 5,000 troops. During the battle Both the Stanleys changed allegiance to Henry, swinging the numerical advantage to his favour.
The battle was fought on and around Ambion Hill, close to Sutton Cheney, and lasted only two hours. Richard had the better position, but did not take advantage by attacking Oxford while he was still deploying his troops. This allowed Oxford to launch the first attack and the Duke of Norfolk, who was commanding Richard's forward battle division, was soon killed. For the first hour, the fighting was evenly matched, but Richard lost the battle through the treachery of the the Stanleys, who deserted his cause. Even more damaging was of the Earl of Northumberland's failure to bring Richard's reserves into action when he saw the Stanleys go over to the enemy.
Richard made a last attempt to win victory by directly attacking Henry with is personal guard, and almost succeeded, having cut down Henry's standard bearer. Richard's gamble failed, and he was struck down.
HISTORY: Richard was the last king of England to die on the battlefield. His death effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, and Henry VII started a new dynasty, the Tudors.
He did usurp the throne, but his unscrupulousness may have been overemphasized by his enemies and by Tudor historians seeking to strengthen the Lancastrian position. His baseness is exaggerated in Shakepeare's play, «i»Richard III«/i».
BIOGRAPHICAL: Unlike his brother Edward, he was short, slight and dark. He may or may not have been hunchback, but he did have a withered arm, Shakespeare's "blasted sapling".