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RICHARD III: England's Black Legend
Bibliophile price: £3.75
Few figures in English history divide opinion so sharply as Richard III. There is Shakespeare's portrayal of him as a misshapen "hell hound", yet a vociferous minority see him as a victim of Tudor propaganda who was guiltless of the murder of the Princes in the Tower. Following the discovery of his skeleton in 2012 in a parking area in Leicester, his deformed spine establishes beyond any question that he was a "crookback". The wounds on his skull, evidence of a frenzied hail of blows, point to the hatred he inspired among his opponents as does his burial - naked, in a hole in the ground, instead of in a proper grave. The book has genealogical tables of the Houses of Lancaster, Beaufort and Tudor, the House of York and chapters entitled Our Brother of Gloucester, Warwick Tries to Unmake a King, The Wheel of Fortune, First Blood and The Rivalry with Clarence among them. With the victory of Henry Tudor, the usurping dynasty made an effort to besmirch the last Plantagenet's reputation, and some historians claim that Richard's 'Black Legend' is nothing more than political propaganda. Desmond Seward shows in his powerfully argued book that even in his lifetime, there were rumours about his involvement in the murders of Henry VI and his nephews, and the reign was considered by many to be a nightmare, not least for the king himself. The real Richard III was both a chilling and compelling monarch, a peculiarly grim young English persecutor of Machiavelli's Prince. A definitive picture of both the age and the man in this newly revised paperback edition, 220pp.

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