Gloucester, Richard duke of (Protector of England)

Richard Plantagenet

b. 2 Oct 1452, Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire
d. 22 Aug 1485, Bosworth Field, near Market Bosworth, Leicestershire [1]

Title: Protector & Defensor Regni nostri (Protector and Defender of Our [This] Realm)
Term: after 7 May 1483 - 26 Jun 1483
Chronology: 4 May 1483, Richard enters London with King Edward V
  between 7 May 1483 and 14 May 1483, Richard confirmed as Protector by the king's Council [2]
  26 Jun 1483, accepted the crown offered by the three estates of the realm
Names/titles: Original name: Richard Plantagenet; Duke of Gloucester [from 1 Nov 1461]; Dei Gracia Rex Anglie et Francie Dominus Hibernie (By the Grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland) [26 Jun 1483 - 22 Aug 1485] (see details)
Richard Plantagenet was the youngest son of Richard 3rd Duke of York, claimant to the throne of England, who was slain in the Battle of Wakefield when Richard was only eight (30 Dec 1460). Richard was created Duke of Gloucester (1 Nov 1461) by his older brother King Edward IV, who ousted the Lancastrian king Henry VI in March 1461. Richard participated in the War of the Roses and helped his brother in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury supporting his restoration in 1471. Designated protector of the realm in the last will of Edward IV, Richard learned about his brother's death on 11 Apr 1483. He promptly intercepted (30 Apr 1483) Edward's successor, Edward V, traveling from Shropshire to London, and entered the capital along with the young king on 4 May 1483. Acknowledged Protector by the king's Council upon his arrival, Richard eliminated his opponents and took full control over the king and his younger brother, Duke of York. The children of Edward IV were publicly declared illegitimate by Richard's supporters and an assembly of the three estates petitioned the Protector to accept the Crown (25 Jun 1483). At a meeting with lords and commoners at Baynard's Castle (26 Jun 1483), Richard accepted the crown and the same day rode to Westminster where he took the King's Bench, declaring himself to be king. After his coronation, Richard elevated his only legitimate son, Edward, as Prince of Wales. The rebellion of the king's former ally, Duke of Buckingham, was suppressed in November 1483. The first Parliament, summoned by Richard on 9 Dec 1483, assembled on 23 Jan 1484. It declared that Richard accepted the crown by inheritance and by lawful election and issued an act to that effect ("Titulus Regius"). Richard approved legal acts against benevolence and protection for merchants and craftsmen, but it was insufficient to counteract his public image as a villain, who usurped the throne and had his nephews murdered. On 9 Apr 1484 Prince Edward died leaving Richard III without a lawful heir. To reduce his commitments in the north, which gave him the strongest support during his reign, Richard concluded a three-year truce with Scotland (14 Sep 1484). The sole male claimant to Lancastrian ancestry Henry Earl of Richmond landed at Milford Haven on 2 Aug 1485. The army of Richard was utterly defeated in the Battle of Bosworth Field and he himself was slain (22 Aug 1485). Richard was posthumously attainted. His remains were discovered during the excavations in Leicester in 2012 and identified with the help of DNA testing. Richard was reburied at Leicester Cathedral on 26 Mar 2015. Biography source: [3][4][5]
Biographical sources: "The Usurpation of Richard III", by Domenico Mancini, translated by and with an introduction by C.A.J. Armstrong (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1969); "The Year of Three Kings", by Giles St Aubyn (Collins: London, 1983).

[1] A proclamation issued by King Henry VII on 25 Aug 1485 names the place where Richard died: "And moreover the King ascertainet you that Richard, Duke of Gloucester, late called King Richard, was slain at a place called Sandford within the shire of Leicester..."
[2] When Edward IV's executors met for the first time on 7 May 1483 they did not see fit to style Richard as Protector in their minutes. The earliest extant documents issued by Richard as Protector are dated 14 May 1483. He was styled "... oure Derrest Oncle the Duc of Gloucestre Protector and Defendor of this oure Reaume", "... our Derrest Uncle the Duc of Gloucestre Protectour of this oure Royaume during our Yong Age", etc.
  Image: portrait of King Richard III by an unknown artist, c. 1520.
Last updated on: 15 Jan 2016 12:03:21