Death of a hero or life of a villain? Who and why slandered Richard III

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Death of a hero or life of a villain? Who and why slandered Richard III
Death of a hero or life of a villain? Who and why slandered Richard III
6 May, 12:39SocietyPhoto: Сцена из спекталя «Ричард III»
The story of the legendary English king described by Shakespeare is entirely based on the slander that was spread by Richard's enemies after his death.

Sergey Baimukhametov

A little over 500 years ago, Thomas More wrote a certain "History of King Richard the Third". It would have sunk into obscurity, if then, after another 80 years, William Shakespeare did not create the play "Richard the Third". Thus, an evil slander against an innocent person spread and became established throughout the whole world.

We have known about the English King Richard III since childhood. From Robert Louis Stevenson - author of Treasure Island and Black Arrow.

The Black Arrow contains the following lines: "Behind the banner, surrounded by steel-clad knights, rode an ambitious, bold, hard-hearted hunchback to meet his short reign and eternal disgrace."

By the way, modern English scientists, having examined the remains of the king, found that Richard III was not humpbacked. He suffered from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. “The physical deformity caused by scoliosis,” writes The Lancet, “probably was minor, since the curvature of the spine in Richard III was well balanced. He apparently had a short torso compared to the length of his arms and legs, and his right shoulder was slightly higher than his left”.

Duke Richard of Gloucester is a descendant of the royal Plantagenet dynasty. He was named after his great ancestor, King Richard the First Plantagenet. The same Richard the Lionheart, the leader of the Crusades, the hero of folk ballads and historical novels.

Dick Gloucester was three years old when the War of the Scarlet and White Roses began. Supporters of the Lancasters (Scarlet Rose) and Yorks (White Rose) fought for power in England, to which the ducal house of Gloucester belonged. (Yorks and Lancasters are side branches of the Plantagenets.)

The Yorkies have won. The Lancasters fled to France. Richard's older brother, Edward IV, became King of England. And after the death of Edward, the throne was to take (and took!), By right of succession, his son Edward, Richard's young nephew.

But after three months of the reign of Edward V, Richard became king of England. He ruled for only two years. However, history has remained forever. As one of the worst villains. The usurper, seized the throne by deceit, strangled his own nephews.

Three centuries before Stevenson, Shakespeare passed judgment on Richard.

Just a theatrical "villain"! A terrible hunchback, hands up to the elbows in blood, a ghoul, a fiend. What else is needed to create the image of an all-world monster, the embodiment of absolute evil!?

As is often the case, this is all bullshit. In the War of the Scarlet and White Roses, Richard showed himself to be a brave knight and a tough military leader. In general, he acted within the framework of the then rules and customs. And he became king not of his own free will, he didn’t want to, and even more so he didn’t “remove” his underage nephew, as they wrote in all previous times in Russian and Soviet encyclopedias.

After the death of King Edward IV, it turned out that his son, the young Edward V, had no right to the throne. It was revealed that Edward IV was in a secret but legal marriage with a woman whom he hid in a monastery. And his wife, who was considered the Queen of England, is illegitimate, and her children are illegitimate. This story was discussed in the Privy Council, and then in Parliament, which by a special bill deprived the children of Edward IV of the rights to the throne.

In general, a dynastic crisis arose, and no one but Richard of Gloucester, the only legitimate claimant, could take the throne.

After becoming king, Richard did not commit any atrocities. And he didn't kill his nephews. And why should he kill them if they are officially recognized as illegitimate and cannot be his rivals in the struggle for the throne, if one ever begins. Moreover, he returned all the defeated opponents from France and gave them the opportunity to live in England. Here they are, for all the good things, and took revenge on Richard.

I will give one more proof of his innocence, perhaps subjective, or perhaps the most convincing.

I mean the death of Richard. A very significant death. From a human point of view, from the point of view of what is called the logic of character.

The Lancasters allied with the Tudors and started a war against Richard. At the Battle of Bosworth, held in 1485, where Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, in alliance with the Lancasters, won the victory and became King Henry VII, the founder of a new dynasty, the Tudors - all the advantages were on the side of Richard III. And if not for the treacherous inaction of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and not for the direct betrayal of Thomas Stanley (who received the title of Earl of Derby for betrayal), the outcome of the battle would have been completely different.

Richard watched from the hill as the Tudor-Lancastrian warriors pressed and exterminated his army.

How should a sovereign act in such a situation? Probably, first of all, to preserve oneself as a symbol and banner of legitimate power, to preserve supporters, to withdraw troops from the battlefield. And then recruit a new army and continue the fight. War is not decided by one battle. Moreover, he is the rightful king, followed by the Parliament and the people of England.

Instead, Richard, accompanied by a small retinue, rushed down the hill into the thick of the battle, trying to get to Henry of Richmond-Tudor and decide the outcome of the battle by jousting, as in the good old days. And died.

This is the act of a reckless knight.

It was his ancestor Richard the Lionheart who often neglected state duties, being carried away by knightly adventures. So he died in one of the campaigns. But centuries have passed since then, and kings have learned to be kings. It's not a royal thing to wave a sword. Especially in difficult times for the country. But Richard III did what he did. He died in battle, as did Richard the Lionheart.

This is not how statesmen act.

But first of all, rogues, cunning, scoundrels do not act like this.

Tell me, is a sophisticated intriguer and villain, a man of low soul, how Richard is presented as capable of such a recklessly chivalrous act? No, no and NO.

character logic. These are not empty words.

But how did it happen that the name of Richard is almost still surrounded by an ominous halo?

And it’s very simple: about 28 years after his death, the deputy sheriff of London, Thomas More, wrote The History of Richard III, in which he outlined Richard’s “villainy”. Thomas More is a pupil of Cardinal Morton, an ardent enemy of the Yorks, an adherent of the Lancasters and Tudors. Morton was one of the active participants in the conspiracy against King Richard. Naturally, in the spirit of hatred for Richard, he raised his adopted son Tom. Little Tom grew up, began to serve the Lancasters, became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and then Chancellor of England under Henry Tudor.

What kind of objectivity can be expected from a person who not only served the Lancaster-Tudors, but also carried out, carried out their policy?

It is obvious that Thomas More wrote the "History of Richard III" not only in accordance with the dictates of the soul and the upbringing received, but also on the direct order of the Tudors-Lancasters. And thus, historically, as it were, justified their rule, their repressions: after all, the Tudors-Lancasters, having come to power, unlike Richard, exterminated almost all Yorks. At the same time, loudly shouting that the Yorks are being destroyed solely for the benefit of the people of good old England, because it is impossible to live on the same land with such villains.

After 50-60 years, Raphael Holinshed included the materials of Thomas More in his Chronicle of England, Scotland and Ireland. Then they became part of other "Chronicles". According to them, in 1592, William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy "Richard III". And the whole of England's historiography followed the Moros-Shakespearean path. Many subsequent scholars, with one variation or another, repeated the same version of More about the villainies of Richard.

This is how the image of Richard III was established in history and in public opinion. Who will argue with Shakespeare?

This is how performances are staged, accompanied by reflections and conclusions of critics and directors.

For example, about the performance at the Vakhtangov Theater, 2017:

“A gloomy performance about how dictators live at all times ... Richard, in the struggle for power, despised the concept of morality, conscience, compassion. His aggression sweeps away everything human in its path. He is cunning, resourceful, ruthless... Shakespeare unmistakably showed the character of dictators of all times and peoples... fantastically accurately described the psychological process of decomposition of the personality of a dictator, when he is already up to his throat in blood, and there is no longer a main goal in his life.

Interestingly, Richard Gloucester himself in Shakespeare's play foresees such a fate. Let us recall the scene where the Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Catesby and the Duke of Buckingham persuade Duke Richard of Gloucester to take the English throne.

What is it? Theater, gentlemen, theater ... And by the way: Thomas More is the same Thomas More studied in all Soviet schools, the author of the famous "Utopia". In which, as we were taught, the dreams of progressive medieval mankind about the future communist society are embodied.

What can I say, sometimes the plots of history are bizarrely intertwined.

This is how myths are born and live, often becoming stronger than the truth.

Shakespeare was right when he asserted in one of his plays that the whole world is a theater and the people in it are actors.

And it is also interesting that at the same time absolutely the same (mirror!) story unfolded in Russia. Cellar Avraamiy Palitsyn slandered Tsar Boris Godunov for the murder of Tsarevich Dmitry. The historian Karamzin believed this slander, and Pushkin believed Karamzin. And he wrote the tragedy "Boris Godunov".

The photo shows a scene from the play "Richard III", the theater. Vakhtangov, 1976.

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