Richard III: Killer or visionary, it’s still unsure

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FEW monarchs in history have been so vilified as Richard III, even ending up ignominiously buried under what became a Leicester car park.

For centuries, historians have put forward varying cases as to whether he should be remembered as a visionary reformer and brilliant administrator, or as an ambitious usurper and ruthless murderer.

He is famous today for his death at the Battle of Bosworth, which effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, as well as the disappearance of his young nephews, and his derisory portrayal in William Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy Of King Richard III.

But his reputation is surrounded by apparent myths and half-truths.

Described as “deformed” and “unfinish’d”, jealous and an ambitious hunchback in Shakespeare’s play, which was first performed in the 1590s, it is difficult to know if the man the playwright said battled on foot and cried out “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” is a true reflection of the king, or merely an act of creative dramatics.

These days, loyal Ricardians battle to repair Richard’s reputation, but the traditional view is that the king, while not as evil as Tudor historians said, was probably responsible for removing his nephews from the royal line.