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Richard III - The Last King To Die In Battle

The Last Plantagenet Monarch and His Significant Contributions to British Heritage.

Richard III (1452–1485), the last king from the House of York and the final monarch of the historic Plantagenet dynasty, presided as the King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his untimely demise in 1485. His reign marked the tumultuous closure of the Middle Ages in England, culminating in his fatal defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485 at the hands of Henry Tudor. This event also marked the last instance of an English monarch perishing in battle.

Richard's mortal remains were initially interred without ceremony in an unidentified grave. However, their rediscovery in 2012 led to an elaborate scientific process involving radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis to confirm their authenticity. Richard's reburial subsequently took place in Leicester Cathedral in 2015, marking the end of a five-century-long odyssey for the lost king.

Born on 2 October 1452, Richard III was conferred the title of Duke of Gloucester in 1461, following the coronation of his elder brother Edward IV. He married Anne Neville, the daughter of Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, in 1472. During Edward IV's reign, Richard was responsible for administering northern England and played a pivotal role in the 1482 invasion of Scotland.

Upon Edward IV's death in April 1483, Richard was appointed as the Lord Protector for Edward's successor, his 12-year-old son, Edward V. Plans were afoot for Edward V's coronation on 22 June 1483. However, before the ceremony could take place, a declaration pronounced the marriage of Edward's parents bigamous and subsequently invalid. This ruling rendered their offspring illegitimate, thus excluding them from the line of succession. On 25 June, Richard was pronounced as the rightful king by an assembly of lords and commoners and was subsequently crowned on 6 July 1483.

Edward V and his younger brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, known as the "Princes in the Tower", disappeared under mysterious circumstances, triggering speculations that they had been assassinated on Richard III's orders. These accusations became particularly prevalent during the subsequent Tudor rule.

Richard's reign was plagued by two significant rebellions. The first, an unsuccessful revolt in October 1483, was led by loyalists of Edward IV and Richard's former ally, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, Henry Stafford. The second, led by Henry Tudor and his uncle, Jasper Tudor, took place in August 1485. Landing in southern Wales with a contingent of French troops, they amassed an army while traversing Pembrokeshire. Richard's army met its defeat near the town of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, leading to Richard's death and marking him as the last English king to fall in battle. Following his victory, Henry Tudor ascended to the throne as Henry VII.

In the aftermath of the battle, Richard's corpse was transported to Leicester and buried in a rudimentary grave. Over time, his original tomb monument is believed to have been dismantled during the English Reformation, and his remains were erroneously thought to have been discarded into the River Soar. An archaeological excavation commissioned by the Richard III Society in 2012 led to the discovery of his remains at the site formerly occupied by Grey Friars Priory. The University of Leicester positively identified these remains as Richard III's, following a thorough examination involving radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis. His reinterment in Leicester Cathedral took place on 26 March 2015.

Richard III's Early Life

Born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, Richard was the eleventh of twelve children born to Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. His formative years coincided with the turbulent 'Wars of the Roses', a period of political instability and intermittent civil war in England during the latter half of the 15th century. This conflict pitted the Yorkists, led by Richard's father, against the Lancastrians who remained loyal to the crown. After his father and elder brother, Edmund, were slain at the Battle of Wakefield in December 1460, Richard and his brother George sought refuge in the Low Countries.

Richard's life underwent a major shift following the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton. He participated in the coronation of his eldest brother as King Edward IV on 28 June 1461, during which he was named Duke of Gloucester. Edward IV appointed Richard as the sole Commissioner of Array for the Western Counties in 1464, granting him an independent command by the age of 17.

Richard spent several years under the tutelage of his cousin, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, commonly known as 'the Kingmaker', at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. It was here that Richard likely met his future wife Anne Neville and his staunch supporter, Francis Lovell. Speculations suggest that Warwick may have contemplated matrimonial alliances between his daughters, Isabel and Anne, and the

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