Richard III in the dock – Dalesman April 2013

The Richard III Museum at Monk Bar in York features a film about the late King’s links with the City of York.

James Carr with King Richard III's banner, depicting a white boar

James Carr with King Richard III’s banner, depicting a white boar

The film was made by James Carr, a history student at the University of York.


James believes that Richard was fond of York, and explains, “He married in York, likely at the Minster, but we’re not sure. He married Anne Neville. In 1483 when he became king, he had his son invested as Prince of Wales in the Minster. There’s a plaque by the Minster Library, that reads, “Here Edward Prince of Wales was crowned but then he died in 1484.”


“The fact that Richard came up here to crown his son shows a dynastic attachment to the city,” believes James.


Richard lived through the period of history now known as the War of the Roses. It was a period of civil war, with the opposing sides named Lancaster and York. The argument was not between the peoples of York and Lancaster, but between rival dynastic arms of the Royal Families, who followed either the Duke of York or the Duke of Lancaster. James explains, “Basically, the Dukes all lived in London anyway – they were squabbling people with lands. On the Lancaster side the Duke of Lancaster was John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. The Yorkists were descended from two other sons of Edward III: Edmund of Langley, the Duke of York, and Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence.”


Museum display of what the tabloids may have written in 1483

Museum display of what the tabloids may have written in 1483

The dispute was not resolved by discussion, but by war and bloodshed. Richard Duke of York was killed in battle at Wakefield in 1460 – when his son Richard Duke of Gloucester, later to become King Richard III, was aged 8. After Richard Duke of York was killed, his head was put on a spike at Micklegate Bar, as a warning to the people of York.


However, Richard Duke of York’s son, Edward, later avenged his father’s death at the Battle of Towton. This was a victory for the Yorks, and Edward became King Edward IV.


After his victory, Edward put his brother Richard in control of the North of England. Paul Toy, an historian at the Richard III museum in York, says, “Richard became a sort of Viceroy of the North. He consciously swapped some southern holdings for northern, so he united his lands together in the north. Though he wasn’t a northerner by birth, he was a northerner by choice.”


King Richard III's motto, Loyalty Binds Me

King Richard III’s motto, Loyalty Binds Me

Richard became King in 1483, in place of his brother Edward’s twelve-year old son, Edward V. The boy subsequently disappeared, and history has accused Richard of murdering him- although there has never been any proof. Richard himself died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, conquered by Henry Tudor.


Paul believes that part of Richard’s woes may have stemmed from a north/south divide. He comments, “Because Richard identified with the North, he had northern help. After the Buckingham rebellion, he replaced lots of nobles with Northern nobles. That caused resentment in London, and he may have paid for that in people not supporting him at Bosworth.


Also, adds Paul, “Richard was a Northerner, but most chronicles were written by Southerners, so there’s great regional bias.”

Paul comments, “Before the BBC, there was no national received pronunciation for the English Language. In Richard’s time, there was still a lot of Norman French in parliamentary proceedings, so Yorkshiremen in London would have been like foreigners. When Margaret of Anjou took a northern army to London, the city was in a panic.”


So, concludes Paul, “I think there was a north-south divide. That’s why the wish for him to be buried in the North is still strong, because he was a Northern king, and if it’s appropriate for any king to be buried in the North, it’s him.”


Read about Richard III’s York in Dalesman Magazine, in print only.


Learn more about Richard III at the Richard III Museum at Monk Bark in York, Tel 01904 634191


James’ Film, ‘Richard III Myth of a Monster’, can be purchased at the Museum.



About Helen Johnson

Freelance writer specialising in Yorkshire's history and heritage.

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