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HomeHistorical Books"A Horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" by Jeri Westerson

“A Horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” by Jeri Westerson

 In 1485, King Richard III of England was unhorsed and killed on Bosworth area. Poor Richard. He misplaced his life and his dynasty. The crown went to Welsh Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who turned Henry VII of England, father to the notorious and ubiquitous Henry VIII.

Who was Richard? Was he actually the villain he’s portrayed to be in Shakespeare’s tragic play (whence the title’s quote comes)? Was he the diabolical instigator of the murders of the Princes within the Tower? Or is he actually the harmless as portrayed in Josephine Tey’s 1951 novella The Daughter of Time?

Earliest surviving portrait of Richard III, 1520

I doubt we’ll ever know the true reality, although I are likely to assume that he was, maybe, slightly of each. He was a medieval man, in any case, looking for the best place within the land. However he was a loyal and completed warrior, combating to revive his brother, King Edward IV to the throne throughout the Conflict of the Roses. He was appointed to many posts beneath his brother’s reign, in recognition of his loyalty and repair: Constable of England, Chief Justice of North Wales, Chief Steward and Chamberlain of Wales, Excessive Sheriff of Cumberland for all times, Nice Chamberlain, Lord Excessive Admiral of England, Lieutenant of the North and Commander-in-Chief in opposition to the Scots and hereditary Warden of the West Marches, and later Lord Protector when his brother the king died and his younger son, King Edward V and Richard’s nephew was a bit too younger to rule. In different phrases, he was no slouch.

The Two Princes Edward and Richard within the Tower, painted by Sir John Everett Millais 

Nevertheless, he appeared to be surrounded by conspirators, whether or not precise or imagined, and plenty of had been executed for treason. And the Princes within the Tower had been later declared illegitimate as a result of Edward IV was supposedly married first to Eleanor Butler and subsequently made his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the mom of the princes, invalid. The princes simply kind of…disappeared, and nobody is aware of what occurred to them, although a lot hypothesis has plagued historians ever since.

Rebel was afoot, although, and when Richard went to his fateful battle at Bosworth area it was all going to be settled a method or one other. Or was it? Historical past is a humorous factor. Sure, it is based mostly on paperwork and firsthand and thirdhand accounts. To the victor go the spoils, however data are there and the knowledge obtainable provides solely a glimpse that’s typically interpreted a method after which one other. That is what makes it attention-grabbing. Actually, typically new archaeological info involves mild. Not solely do historians must re-evaluate the place precisely was the battleground, however due to artifacts discovered, they needed to rethink how the battle was fought.

Alf Oliver’s farm won’t ever be the identical. That is the man who has an arable farm simply off the outdated Roman street from Atherstone to Leicester in England. Based on a 2017 article within the London Occasions, to get to Alf’s farm:

“…you drive south and west from the Bosworth customer centre on Ambion Hill, which is now, reasonably awkwardly, two miles adrift of the true web site. Previous a farm promoting “battlefield beef” you park in a lane, tramp spherical one small area with a dip, cross a drainage ditch and arrive at a flat, triangular ploughed area uncovered to the weather on all sides.”

Richard III’s boar badge from Bosworth, British Museum

The precise location of the battle of Bosworth Area the place Richard III misplaced his crown and his life and made approach for the reign of the Tudors, was unknown. Archaeologists lastly positioned it October 2016 however had been reluctant to provide its precise location earlier than they’d an opportunity to dig it up for artifacts. And artifacts they discovered! Boar badges, Richard’s talisman, had been discovered. Bones, weaponry. And, most attention-grabbing, additionally they found cannon balls and shot main historians to the conclusion that heavy movable artillery had been used a lot earlier for battles than anticipated, in addition to the usage of “gonners”. That may change loads of writer’s fiction for that point interval. Maybe that horse was blown out from beneath Richard with a cannonball!

Now, since I used to be invested in researching and writing in regards to the late fourteenth century in my medieval thriller collection, we will additional flip this round to the reign of Richard II.   

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, painted later c. 1593 

In his family, John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster had the court docket poet Geoffrey Chaucer as a loyal buddy and servant. Was it as a result of he preferred the poet or preferred his sister-in-law extra? For the duke entertained Chaucer’s sister-in-law Katherine Swynford as his mistress for over twenty-five years, and even married her a 12 months after his second spouse, Constanza of Castille, died. Katherine wasn’t his first mistress. When he was a younger man he took certainly one of his mom’s ladies-in-waiting as a mistress, Marie de St. Hiliare, and had a daughter together with her, named Blanche Plantagenet. All advised, he had about fourteen youngsters each respectable and ill-, with 9 residing into maturity. His illegitimate youngsters from Katherine Swynford had been made respectable by King Richard II when John lastly married her, however they had been barred from inheriting the throne.

In the meantime, King Richard II had a falling out with the duke’s respectable son Henry Bolingbroke and kicked him overseas. However it’s Lancaster who will get the final snicker. By the tip of the century, Richard is pressured to abdicate and is then left to starve to loss of life in Lancaster’s favourite fortress, Pontefract. Lancaster’s son Henry seized the throne and thus the royal Home of Lancaster started. Sadly, the venerable duke was in his grave by then.

However talking of inheriting the throne, Gaunt’s eldest son by Katherine Swynford, John, had a granddaughter, Margaret Beaufort, whose son turned Henry VII and took the throne from the final Plantagenet, Richard III. And Henry VII in flip married Elizabeth of York (who was additionally associated to John of Gaunt), thus ending the York and Lancaster feud often called the Conflict of the Roses, and permitting Gaunt’s and Katherine’s descendants to get the throne finally.


Jeri Westerson writes the critically acclaimed Crispin Visitor Medieval Noir collection, and will likely be releasing her humorous medieval caper Oswald the Thief on the finish of Might 2022. Her latest thriller collection set in Tudor England, Courting Dragons; A King’s Idiot Thriller with Henry VIII’s actual court docket jester Will Somers as protagonist, will likely be launched January 2023. See all of her books–including an city fantasy, a werewolf thriller collection, a gaslamp-steampunk fantasy, and a LGBTQ rom-com thriller series–at


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