King Richard III is one of England’s most controversial historical figures often associated with his quest to seize the throne of England. The prime sources of defamation of Richard are superstitious fiction, although this was not understood by some for centuries. The vilification may be absurd, such as two years in the womb, magically withered arms, and the murder of innocent babies, but it is repeated ad nauseam. It may take the form of ghosts passionately listing the wrongs of an evil king, regardless of their own dwelling in hell. Or it can take on a more sinister nature, such as what happened to Edward V, a query that moderns cannot positively answer.
By blaming Richard for everything, Tudor escaped blame for anything for two hundred years, until people were at last free to pose questions. Although it is obvious that Tudor had overwhelming motivation to spread malicious gossip and to smear a dead man, some cannot let go of even the most outrageous slurs.
Why do supposedly erudite historians continue to print the absurd? Why assume a partisan and dishonest lawyer, or a superb dramatist, knew history or even cared about writing it? Should moderns insist that Hollywood be a controlling source for history books, or that the gossip magazines must reflect truth?
By now, when novitiates scan the database, there is nothing to separate fact from fiction, and flamboyant fiction sells better than cold history. It is far easier to write nonsense than to spend a lifetime trying to discover new and true sources. But time partially has exonerated Richard, for once he was dead, each Tudor went right on murdering Yorkists to insure their own succession.
To hide the truth, the Tudor mythology grew relentlessly, the work of several men who shamelessly enlarged and enhanced it. It was always defamation, sometimes presented as drama, sometimes as serious history, but always propaganda.
It is our aspiration to strip away the propaganda and present Richard III as he once was – not a villain, not a saint, but a man of his times.