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2. The History of Richard III

Note: This text is an almost exact copy of Chapter 2, "The History of Richard III" from my English Ph.D. dissertation,

The pagination of the original thesis is given in {} brackets, e.g. {30}, but for convenience paragraph numbers have also been added. A brief schematic textual summary and a bibliography of The History of Richard III, both originally part of the Appendices to my thesis, are available in separate files (see below).

Any comments or queries can be sent to the author at

Romuald (Ronnie) Ian Lakowski

Table of Contents

2. The History of Richard III

Summary of the History/Historia of Richard III

Bibliography of The History/Historia of King Richard III

Return to Thesis Table of Contents

2. The History of Richard III

2.1 The Argument of this Chapter

1. {30} Despite the tremendous controversy surrounding the figure of Richard III, whose evil reputation, though partly based on historical fact, was largely created by More's History of Richard III (and largely in turn taken over by Shakespeare in his Tragedy of King Richard III), very little attention has actually been paid to the text of More's History. What literary and historical critical attention it has received has been largely focussed on questions of authorship and genre, and textual history. And what few attempts there are that have been made to analyse the structure of the work are largely vitiated by the attempt to impose a rigid four or five act "dramatic" structure on the text of More's History. After discussing briefly the major problems of textual history, authorship, genre, background and audience, in this chapter I will offer a detailed analysis of the structure of the work. It is the thesis of this chapter that, despite first appearances to the contrary, the History of Richard III has a very clear and definite structure, and that the work is in fact coherently organized into a number of major and minor sections.

2. The History of Richard III survives in two distinct versions, one in Latin and the other in English. For my study of Richard III, I will make use of R. S. Sylvester's edition (1963) of the English version in CW 2, and Daniel Kinney's critical edition (1986) of the Latin version (together with a modern English translation), in CW 15. Kinney's edition, which is based on the recently discovered Paris Manuscript, represents the first genuinely critical edition of the Latin text, and replaces the two earlier Latin texts included by R. S. Sylvester in his edition of the Latin and English versions in CW 2. With the publication of Kinney's critical edition of the Latin, it is now possible for the first time to examine seriously the relationships between the two versions.

3. Besides collating the two versions, in this chapter I provide a detailed close reading and {31} analysis of the text of Richard III, based on many rereadings of both Latin and English versions. As far as possible I have tried to avoid imposing any preconceived structure on the text, but instead have worked empirically in an inductive fashion, in the way that a scientist would conduct an experiment, to arrive at my "model" of the structure of the work, letting it emerge out of my reading of the text.

4. All too often More's History of Richard III has been dismissed out of hand as an example of historical writing just because it does not fit within the framework of the canons of modern scientific history. This somewhat begs the question since "scientific" historiography did not come into existence before the nineteenth century. The crucial question is what More's humanist contemporaries expected from historical writing and whether Richard III falls within the broad range of Renaissance historiography. It is part of my thesis that More's Richard III is basically a work of history, in particular a 'brief history' or anatomy of a usurpation, but that it also contains elements of biography, rhetorical declamation and drama. In the peculiar hybrid-nature of its genre it resembles nothing so much as More's other great humanistic work the Utopia. While More's Richard III does make extensive use of direct and indirect speech---including several orations and reported dialogues, and one long debate---it is clearly not a drama in any conventional sense of the word, nor for that matter a formal literary dialogue. However, there are enough similarities between the use of dialogue and oration in the History of Richard III and in More's three great formal literary dialogues to justify including it in this study.


2.2 Textual History and Authorship

5. A full account of the textual history of Richard III is rather complicated; however, some basic familiarity with it is necessary in order to fully understand More's text. The History of Richard III exists in two separate versions, one Latin and one English, neither of which is a straightforward translation of or adaptation from the other. Rather, as first convincingly {32} argued by W. A. G. Doyle-Davidson in The English Works of Sir Thomas More (1931), Vol. 1,[1] and reiterated by both Yale editors, R. S. Sylvester and Daniel Kinney, the evidence clearly indicates that More worked independently on both, sometimes translating and adapting material from the English to the Latin versions, and sometimes vice versa. The material in some sections of the work even follows different arrangements in the two versions. The speeches in the Latin version tend to be longer, and the Duke of Buckingham is given more prominence in the Latin. Furthermore, the Latin version concludes with Richard III's coronation, and presents an essentially self-contained account of Richard's successful usurpation of the throne of England, while the English version continues on, only to break off suddenly at the point where the Bishop of Ely, John Morton, is inciting Buckingham to revolt against Richard.

6. The problem of textual interpretation is further complicated by the existence of several different versions of both Latin and English texts. More seems to have composed both texts in the period from 1513 to 1518, and probably stopped working on them any further in 1518 when he entered the service of the King. No editions of either the English or Latin texts were ever published during More's lifetime. The English version was first published, without acknowledgement of More's authorship, by Richard Grafton in 1543, as an appendix to his edition of John Hardyng's verse Chronicle, and again, in 1548, the text was incorporated verbatim into Grafton's edition of Edward Halle's The Vnion of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre & Yorke. This time Grafton did acknowledge that More was the author. However, William Rastell, More's nephew and the editor of the folio edition of The workes of sir Thomas More Knyght, in 1557 published a substantially different version of the English text together with the following note:

The history of king Richard the thirde (vnfinished) writen by Master Thomas More than one of the vndersheriffis of London: about the yeare of our Lorde .1513.[2] VVhich worke hath bene before this tyme printed, in {33} hardynges Cronicle, and in Hallys Cronicle: but very muche corrupte in many places, sometyme hauyng lesse, and sometime hauing more, and altered in wordes and whole sentences: muche varying fro the copie of his own hand, by which thys is printed.[3]

Among the most important differences are that the material in the opening pages (CW 2, 1--13) follows a substantially different order in the 1557 edition,[4] and that Rastell translated three longish passages from the Latin version (all clearly marked as such) and inserted them at appropriate points into the English version.[5] The 1557 edition became the basis for all later editions of the English text, including the Yale Edition, edited by R. S. Sylvester. Rastell's text was further incorporated verbatim into Grafton's Chronicle (1568), and Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), which in turn provided the main source for Acts I to III of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard III. (See Figure 2.1 for the relationships between the different English versions.)[6]


Table of Sigla used in Yale Editions
U, V, W
H1-2 or 1543
Ha1 or 1548
Ha2 or 1550


Holograph of More's History of Richard III
Hypothetical intermediate manuscripts
Hardyng 1543, 1st edition 
Hardyng 1543, 2nd edition 
Agreement of Grafton's two editions of Hardyng's Chronicle, London, 1543 
Grafton's 1st edition of Halle's Chronicle, London, 1548 
Grafton's 2nd edition of Halle's Chronicle, London, 1550 
Agreement of Grafton's two editions of Halle's Chronicle
Rastell's edition of the History of Richard III contained in the Folio edition of More's English Workes, London, 1557
Grafton's Chronicle, London, 1568

Figure 2.1. Textual Stemma of English Version of Richard III


7. {33} The Latin text was first published in 1565, in the edition of More's Latin works, published in Louvain. A number of manuscript versions also survive of which the most important are: The College of Arms, MS Arundel 43; British Library, MS Harley 902; and Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS fr. 4996 (Ancien fonds), MS lat. 8703. The manuscript versions represented a very different text from the Louvain edition, and Sylvester, who did not know of the existence of the Paris manuscript, wisely refrained from publishing a critical edition of the Latin text, when Volume 2 of the Yale edition was published in 1963. Instead, Sylvester published the Latin text of the 1565 edition on facing pages with the critical edition of the English version. In a separate appendix (CW 2, 96--149), he published the text of the version in the Arundel Manuscript, together with the variants from the fragmentary Harley MS. The English text follows the order of the 1557 edition, but notes all the significant textual variants in the Grafton editions of Hardyng and Halle.

8. One of the most disconcerting features for new readers of Sylvester's edition are the {35} many blank spaces in both the Latin and English texts. Sylvester did his best to typographically match up the corresponding passages in the two versions, and wherever there was material in one version that was missing in the other he left some blank space. Where, however, the material in the Latin and the English versions follow different orders, he put cross references in square brackets in the "white spaces" to the corresponding passages in the other version.[7]

9. In 1986 another edition of the Latin version was published by Daniel Kinney as part of Volume 15 of the Yale Edition.[8] Kinney's discovery of the Paris Manuscript of Richard III, must rank as one of the major manuscript finds of twentieth-century medieval and renaissance English scholarship, along with the Winchester manuscript of Malory and the discovery in 1963 in Valencia of the autograph manuscript of More's last major work, the De Tristitia. Kinney's own editorial remarks in the introduction to Volume 15 are very appropriate:

Despite the invaluable editorial contribution of Richard Sylvester to the study of More's Latin history of Richard III, neither of the two Latin texts reproduced in CW 2 constitutes an entirely reliable guide to what More actually wrote. On the most rudimentary level both texts are replete with opaque, ungrammatical phrases which give the misleading impression that More left his Latin history not merely unpolished but barely half formed.... Through an understandable oversight the most valuable textual authority for More's Latin history, catalogued as a manuscript in French has gone unnoticed by students of More for the last several centuries. I discovered the text quite by accident while searching through a variety of manuscript catalogues for additional texts of More's letters.... the new manuscript (P) is part of MS fr. 4996 (Ancien fonds) of the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris.... This new manuscript, an elegant and meticulous fair copy in an early- to mid-sixteenth-century hand, contains a somewhat fuller version of the Historia Richardi Tertii than either of those reproduced in CW 2.... Therefore P is not only the least garbled transcript of More's Latin history; it also provides, along with the Harleian fragment, the most final known form of a text which we know More never finished completely. (CW 15, cxxxiii--cxxxvi)

For the first time Kinney was able to present a genuinely critical edition of the Latin version based on the Paris manuscript. (See Figure 2.2 for the relationships between the different {36} Latin versions.)[9]


Table of Sigla used in Yale Editions
Y1, Y2, Y3


Holograph of More's Historia Ricardi Tertii
Hypothetical intermediate manuscript
Different stages of development of hypothetical revised manuscript Y 
Bibliothèque nationale, MS fr. 4996 (Ancien fonds)
The College of Arms, MS Arundel 43
British Library, MS Harley 902
Bodleian Library, MS Tanner 302
Excerpts translated from Latin in More's History of Richard III contained in the  
Folio edition of More's English Workes, London, 1557
Opera omnia, Louvain, 1565
Opera omnia, Frankfurt, 1689

Figure 2.2. Textual Stemma of Latin Version of Richard III


{36} Kinney's edition also includes a good modern English translation of the Latin, printed on facing pages. Kinney's edition of the Historia Ricardi Tertii supercedes Sylvester's edition of the Latin version, and his discussions of the textual stemmata and the relationships between the various versions of the English and Latin texts in the introduction to CW 15 (cxxxiii--cliii) supersede those made by Sylvester in the introduction to CW 2 (xxxii--lix). However, Sylvester's critical edition of the History of Richard III still remains the standard edition of the English version. Both editions are indispensable for a serious study of More's works. In the analysis that follows in this chapter, I will treat the two editions of the History/Historia as being two parts of a composite text.

9. Throughout most of the sixteenth century, More's authorship of both versions of the History of Richard III was never in doubt. However, at the end of the sixteenth century in 1596, Sir John Harrington first suggested that Cardinal Morton was the author of the Latin version. This was later taken up by Sir George Buck, the author of a partisan defence of Richard III (The History of Richard III, 1646),[10] who violently attacked More's account and sought to debunk it by attributing it to the pen of "wily Morton."[11] Doubts about More's authorship were revived at the turn of the twentieth century, and for a while critical historical opinion swung in favour of Morton's authorship of the Latin version. However, this scholarly canard was decisively laid to rest by R. W. Chambers' introductory essay, "The Authorship of the History of Richard III," in EW 1931, Vol. 1.[12] Both Yale editors have strongly confirmed Chambers' arguments for More's authorship. The case is further strengthened by the many interlinear variants in the Paris Manuscript (and the Arundel and Harleian MSS.), which show striking parallels in terms of habits of composition with those found in the autograph manuscript of More's De Tristitia Christi, so splendidly edited for the Yale edition by Clarence H. Miller.[13] {38}


2.3 Genre, Audience, Historical Background and Structure

10. More's History of Richard III stands out as one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance historiography. The extensive use of orations, reported speech and dialogue (almost half the total text)[14] gives the work an inherently dramatic quality, a quality enhanced in the minds of many modern readers by Shakespeare's use of it as the principal literary source for The Tragedy of King Richard III. However, the existence of Shakespeare's play has also helped to bedevil criticism of More's History, since many critics, influenced by Shakespeare's play, have tended to dismiss it as "satirical drama".[15]

11. Renaissance historians, like their medieval and classical forebears, thought nothing of putting long speeches into the mouths of historical characters. Prior to the twentieth century, most historians self-consciously made use of literary and rhetorical techniques in the writing of history. The placing of composed speeches in historical works in the mouths of major historical personages was taken for granted as being part of the "rhetoric of history", just as today a modern television mini-series will dramatise an essentially factual reconstruction of historical events with fictitious dialogue.[16]

12. The question of the genre of More's Richard III, was first seriously raised by the twentieth-century historian A. F. Pollard in "The Making of Sir Thomas More's Richard III."[17] Though Pollard does legitimately point to factual errors and inconsistencies in More's account, his characterization of Richard III as "legitimate drama, but illegitimate history",[17a] is clearly dismissive if not openly tendentious. More, as author, quite clearly intended to write a work of history, in the broad sense of the word. Twice in the course of Richard III, the work is referred to as a "history": in the opening section, after a digression on the deaths of Clarence and Henry VI, the narrator continues "But nowe to returne to the course of this hystorye" (CW 2, 9/20; "But to return to the history" CW 15, 328/6),[18] and again in the 'Continuation' of the English version: {39}

Howbeit concerning yt opinion [that Perkin Warbeck was one of the Princes], with the occasions mouing either partie, we shal haue place more at large to entreate, yf we hereafter happen to write the time of the late noble prince of famous memory king Henry ye seuenth, or parcase that history of Perkin in any compendious processe by it selfe. (CW 2, 82/30--83/3)

When one compares More's History/Historia with other early historical accounts of Richard III, such as Dominic Mancini's Usurpation of Richard III,[19] the Second Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle,[20] and Polydore Vergil's Anglica Historia[21] the generic and genetic similarity is obvious.[22] Pollard was guilty of the cardinal sin of anachronism in judging More's text by the canons of modern "scientific" historiography. There have been many attempts, by literary and historical critics, since Pollard, to argue for a dramatic structure to Richard III.[23] However, while no one denies the obvious "dramatic" features of More's work, it would be no more accurate to call Richard III a drama, than it would be to call Utopia a novel.

13. Furious debates have raged over the historical accuracy of More's History of King Richard III. Despite all that the defenders of Richard III (e.g. P. A. Kendall)[24] have brought forward against More, his account is confirmed in many details by other contemporary "eye-witness" accounts, including Dominic Mancini's Usurpatio and The Second Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle, that More could not possibly have read.[25] There seems little doubt now that Richard III actually had his nephews put to death in the Tower.[26] Whether Richard III was quite the villain that More made him out to be is quite another matter. The record of events in More's History, if not "scientific" history in the modern sense of the word, certainly agrees in most details with that given by other Tudor historians such as Polydore Vergil.[27] What makes More's History so new and so unique among English historical works of the period is the use to which More puts history. More's "brief history", primarily a study in tyranny and an anatomy of a usurpation, is a masterpiece of character analysis, and a {40} summary portrait in action of Machiavelli's prince, with which it is almost exactly contemporaneous. One has to wait until Francis Bacon's History of Henry VII to find anything remotely comparable.[28] When one compares More's History with the undistinguished hackwork of the later Tudor chroniclers Grafton, Hall and Holinshed, then the uniqueness of More's achievement stands out even more clearly.

14. The two different versions of the History/Historia were clearly addressed to two quite different audiences. More's Latin version was written in a language that was both timeless and international: the common intellectual property of all of Europe, of all of Latin Christendom. In the hands of sophisticated humanists like More or Erasmus, it could become an almost infinitely supple and flexible vehicle for conveying complex ideas. The Latin version was obviously addressed to an international audience of humanist scholars and statesmen who could be expected to have at least a passing acquaintance with the conventions of classical historiography, but not necessarily with local English history. At least some of the additions to the Latin version consist of explanations of English customs and usages that this audience would not have been familiar with.

15. It is significant that two of the four main witnesses to the textual transmission of the Latin version have a continental provenance: the Louvain 1565 edition and the Paris Manuscript. Sylvester suggests that either William Rastell or More's secretary John Harris, took the Historia Ricardi Tertii with them to Louvain, where they had both fled to escape religious persecution under Elizabeth I (CW 2, xlvii--l). D. Kinney gives a brief history of the Paris Manuscript after the sixteenth century in a note (CW 15, cxxxiv, n.1); but refuses to speculate on how it first got to France. I will hazard a guess. It is clear that the Paris Manucript, which is obviously a presentation manuscript that was prepared with some care, was destined for a figure of some importance: either royalty, or a senior ecclesiastic or a fellow humanist. Given the politically sensitive nature of the material, the first two are {41} unlikely. If one further assumes that the manuscript was destined for a continental recipient, then one name immediately comes to mind: Erasmus. Erasmus clearly had a strong interest in history and had edited a number of the Roman historians.[29] However, I would like to suggest another possible candidate: Guillaume Budé. Budé was himself an historian, and a lawyer like More, and held a position at the court of Francis I in Paris.[30] More and Budé exchanged letters, and Budé contributed a very important prefatory letter to the second edition (Paris, 1517) of the Utopia. More was so grateful that he sent him a pair of hunting dogs as a gift.[31] Besides the hunting dogs, I would like to suggest that More may have also sent him a copy of the Historia Ricardi Tertii. There were few humanists on the Continent better equiped to appreciate More's intentions in writing Richard III, than Guillaume Budé, and Budé was himself a prime example of the kind of international audience that I believe the Latin version was intended for.

16. The potential audience for the English version is much more problematic. More was a pioneer in writing history in the vernacular. With the exception of some local chronicles, Latin was the language of serious historical writing in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is true that by the end of the Middle Ages, serious historical works began to appear in the vernacular. Froissart and Commynes both wrote in French, and Machiavelli's History of Florence was written in Italian. However, one has to go back all the way to the Anglo-Saxon and early Middle English period to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History to find anything even remotely comparable in English. There was not really a significant audience for vernacular history. All the ecclesiastics and the English humanists would naturally be expected to read the Latin version. Most of the nobility and courtiers by this point could also read Latin. Those, such as the citizen class in London, who did read the vernacular chronicles, lacked the level of sophistication that More's account sometimes expects of its readers. {42}

17. In many ways, More seems almost to have been attempting to create an audience for vernacular history. (An audience, no doubt, that was meant to include a significant number of women, given the strong treatment of both the Queen and Mistress Shore shown in the texts.) More's English style in the History of Richard III seems rather rough and unpolished by comparison with his Latin. In many ways, More was a pioneer in developing English prose into a medium powerful and robust enough for expressing complex philosophical and theological ideas. On the other hand, More's English is also more colloquial and idiomatic: one can almost hear the good citizens of London speaking through the English text. Indeed, More's style in the English version of Richard III compares favorably with that of the best of his later English works, especially, the Dialogue Concerning Heresies and the Dialogue of Comfort.[32]

18. The structure of More's Richard III can be broken down into eight or nine major sections (including the 'Continuation' of the English version) of ten to twelve pages each (except the concluding eighth section which is somewhat shorter),[33] each of which can be in turn broken down into two or more subsections (see Figure 2.3).[34]


The Structure of Richard III

I) Introductory Section (CW 2, pp. 3--13 = CW 15, pp. 314--36)
1. 3/1--6/8 = 314/1--20/14 Death of Edward IV; Richard is briefly introduced.
2. 6/9--9/7 = 320/15--26/18 Deaths of Richard, Duke of York, Clarence, and Henry VI; Character sketch of Richard III.
3. 9/7--10/9 = 326/18--28/23 Richard plans to usurp the throne.
4. 10/10--13/31 = 328/24--36/23 Edward IV's last illness and death bed speech.

II) Edward V deposed and Queen flees to Sanctuary (CW 2, pp. 13--22 = CW 15, pp. 336--54)
1. 13/31--17/7 = 336/24--44/5 The Queen's kinsmen escort Edward V from Ludlow to London.
2. 17/7--20/17 = 344/6--50/15 Richard and Buckingham detain Edward V at Northampton and arrest the Queen's relatives.
3. 20/17--23/1 = 350/16--54/28 The Queen takes sanctuary in Westminster Abbey with her younger son Richard, duke of York.

III) The Meeting of the Lords in Council (CW 2, pp. 23--33 = CW 15, pp. 356--76)
1. 23/1--25/17 = 356/1--60/3 The Lord Chamberlain Hastings addresses the Lords and calms their fears. Edward V arrives in London.
2. 25/10--28/19 = 360/4--66/5 Richard plots to get the younger son out of sanctuary. The Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury is sent to persuade the Queen.
3. 28/19--33/19 = 366/6--76/17 Buckingham's speech denouncing the abuses of sanctuary.

IV) The Debate on Sanctuary (CW 2, pp. 33--42 = CW 15, pp. 376--96)
1. 33/20--34/30 = 376/18--78/20 The Lord Cardinal goes to the Queen at Westminster Abbey.
2. 34/31--40/8 = 378/21--90/25 The "debate" between the Queen and the Cardinal. The Queen defends her rights as legal guardian.
3. 40/9--42/24 = 390/26--96/20 The Queen is forced to hand over her younger son. The two young Princes are taken to the Tower of London.

V) The Execution of Hastings (CW 2, pp. 42--54 = CW 15, pp. 396--422)
1. 42/24--45/5 = 396/21--402/12 How Richard persuaded Buckingham to join him
2. 45/6--46/26 = 402/13--06/13 Catesby's treachery and Lord Stanley's mistrust of Richard.
3. 46/27--49/24 = 406/14--12/21 The Council meeting in the Tower. Execution of Hastings.
4. 49/15--54/14 = 414/1--22/26 Lord Stanley's dream and other portents.

VI) Edward IV's Love Life (CW 2, pp. 54--66 = CW 15, pp. 424--448)
1. 54/13--57/13 = 424/1--30/14 Richard makes Mistress Shore do public penance.
2. 57/14--59/2 = 430/15--36/6 Execution of the Queen's relatives.
3. 60/2--66/8 = 436/4--48/16 Edward IV's courtship of Lady Elizabeth Gray (the Queen).

VII) Doctor Shaa and Buckingham (CW 2, pp. 66--77 = CW 15, pp. 448--474)
1. 66/9--68/34 = 448/17--54/12 Doctor Shaa's sermon alleging the bastardy of Edward IV's children by Elizabeth Gray.
2. 69/1--74/34 = 454/13--68/14 Buckingham's Guildhall speech denouncing Edward IV's greed, rapacity and sexual libertinism.
3. 74/34--77/6 = 468/15--74/2 The stony silence of the citizens of London, and the fake acclamation of Richard as King.

VIII) Richard's Coronation (CW 2, pp. 77--82 = CW 15, pp. 474--484)
1. 77/7--81/10 = 474/3--82/24 Richard's stage-managed "election" as King at Baynard Castle.
2. 81/11--82/12 = 482/25--84/25 The Coronation at Westminster Hall.

IX) The English Continuation (CW 2, pp. 82--93)
1. 82/13--87/4 The murder of the Princes in the Tower.
2. 87/4--90/17 Richard becomes paranoid, and falls out with Buckingham.
3. 90/17--93/25 John Morton, Bishop of Ely, incites Buckingham to revolt.

Figure 2.3. The Structure of Richard III


{42} These sections which mark natural breaks in the text seem to correspond with what we know of More's habits of composition in the De tristitia and elsewhere.[35] In the analysis that follows, I will focus mainly on the passages of direct and indirect speech---how they contribute to the literary artistry of the work as a whole, and how the dialectical movement from speaker to speaker in the History of Richard III, anticipates the artistry of More's later formal dialogues.[36]

19. Of the approximately eighty-five books and articles in the section on the History of Richard III in the "Bibliography of More Scholarship" in the Appendix, none offers as detailed an analysis of the structure of the History of Richard III[37] as I offer here. The analysis offered below is also unique in collating the English and Latin versions,[38] and in drawing on them both to give a fuller sense of More's literary artistry. {44}


2.4 Analysis of the Text

2.4.1 Introduction and Death of Edward IV (Sec. I)

20. The introduction to More's History of Richard III is, I think, rather confusing to readers who are encountering it for the first time.[39] It begins not with a description of Richard III, but with the death of Edward IV, Richard's brother, at the end of which Richard is briefly introduced (CW 2, 3--6; CW 15,314--20). After giving a brief encomiastic account of the reign of Edward IV, the narrator[40] then quickly describes the deaths of Richard, Duke of York, and George, Duke of Clarence---the father and brother respectively of both Edward IV and Richard (Duke of Gloucester, before his coronation as Richard III). The narrator implicates Richard in the death of Clarence, and after giving a brief character sketch of Richard, immediately blames him also for the death of Henry VI (Edward IV's deposed predecessor). The narrator then suggests that, given the tender ages of Edward IV's sons (and Richard's nephews)---Edward, Prince of Wales, and Richard, Duke of York[41]---Richard might have already been plotting to usurp the throne during Edward IV's lifetime, or else, seeing a suitable opportunity with the death of Edward, he seized it. To that end Richard deliberately fostered enmity between the Queen's kindred (including her brothers and her children by a previous marriage), and the king's relatives and the more powerful nobles. The introductory section concludes with an account of Edward IV's last illness. One effect of the rather apparently confusing introductory section (undoubtedly authorial since the Latin version follows the same order as the English version) is to set up a very deliberate dichotomy between the 'good' King Edward IV, "of happy memory", and the "evil" King Richard III, whose hands are already steeped in blood (Clarence's and Henry VI's), even before he starts plotting his usurpation of the throne.[42]

21. The first major speech in Richard III (CW 2, 11--13; CW 15, 330--336) is Edward's deathbed speech. More introduces a theme that is to be important throughout the work. {45} Edward calls the nobles together and pleads with them to make peace for the sake of his children: "Ye se their youthe, of whiche I recken the onely suretie to reste in youre concord. For it suffiseth not that al you loue them, yf eche of you hate other" (CW 2, 11/18--20; cf. CW 15, 330/25--332/2). Edward appeals to them to love each other and stresses the terrible fruits of "debate and dissencion" (CW 2, 12/29), and goes on to warn them "But yf you among youre selfe in a childes reygne fall at debate, many a good man shal perish and happely he to, and ye to, ere thys land finde peace again" (CW 2, 13/14--17). In the Latin version, Edward makes this point even more strongly:

but if you fall at variance in the reign of a child, many good and excellent men are likely to perish,[43] with the prince threatened and you in most danger of all, before a nation which has once broken out in internal sedition will be restored to tranquility and harmony. (CW 15, 336/4--8)[44]

In Edward's presence they make a pretence of forgiving each other, but the narrator adds that "their herts, wer far a sonder" (CW 2, 13/30--31).


2.4.2 The Deposition of Edward V and Flight of the Queen to Sanctuary (Sec. II)

22. As soon as Edward is dead, Richard starts sowing dissension. He stirs up opposition between the queen's party and the nobles, and stresses the inequality of blood between the queen's relatives and the nobles (CW 2, 14--15). Richard concludes by undermining the peace that Edward had tried to establish on his deathbed. Richard is the perfect rhetorician in More's account, always ready to adopt a persona, and disguise his inner feelings and intentions. Right from the beginning, More characterises him as a "deepe dissimuler" (CW 2, 8/7):[45]

He could adopt any role, then play it out to perfection, whether cheerful or stern, whether sober or relaxed, just as expediency urged him to sustain or abandon it. There was modesty in his countenance when in his heart there was arrogance, uncontrollable, boundless, and monstrous. He would speak flatteringly to those whom he inwardly loathed, and would not hesitate to embrace those whom he had decided to kill. (CW 15, 324/10--15; cf. CW 2, 8/7--9)[46]

{46} Richard's powers of persuasion often act indirectly, and their effects are not fully recognised until too late.

23. He causes the queen to be persuaded secretly "by diuers meanes" (CW 2, 16/11) to bring the princes up to London with only a small retinue because "euery lorde loued other, and none other thing studyed vppon, but aboute the Coronacion and honoure of the king" (CW 2, 16/14--15). Richard's duplicity is further shown after the arrest of Lord Rivers, the queen's brother and of her son by her first marriage, Richard Grey, when he sends a dish from his own table to Rivers "prayinge him to bee of good chere, all should be well inough" (CW 2, 20/4--5). But for all Richard's "coumfortable courtesye" (CW 2, 20/10), he has him executed at Pontefract shortly afterward.

24. The perversion of language is a recurrent theme in The History of Richard III. Lord Hastings, who is one of the conspirators, imitates Richard's example by sending a messenger to Rotheringham, the Archbishop of York and also then the Lord Chancellor: "my Lorde sendeth youre Lordeshippe woorde, that there is no feare. For hee assureth you that all shall bee well. I assure him quod the Archebishoppe bee it as well as it will, it will neuer bee soo well as wee haue seene it" (CW 2, 21/12--15). Despite his misgivings, the Archbishop then hastens to the queen who by this point has taken sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, together with her younger son (by Edward) Richard, the Duke of York. He finds her sitting all alone "on the rishes [rushes] all desolate and dismayde" (CW 2, 21/26--27), wringing her hands and lamenting her family's misfortune (CW 15, 352/27--28).[47] He rushes to console her with Hastings' promise, but the queen is not deceived:

Ah woo worthe him quod she, for hee is one of them that laboureth to destroye me and my bloode. Madame quod he, be ye of good chere. For I assure you if thei crowne any other kinge then your sonne, whome they nowe haue with them, we shal on the morowe crowne his brother whome you haue here with you. (CW 2, 22/4--8)

{47} Rotheringham then delivers the great Seal to her as a token of his support, though later he sends for it again from her in secret.


2.4.3 The Meeting of the Lords in Council (Sec. III)

25. The lords gather in London to await the young king's entry after the Lord Chamberlain Hastings (unknown to them one of the conspirators) has persuaded them to believe that the Duke of Gloucester's (Richard's) intentions were honourable: "With these parswasions of the Lorde Hastynges, whereof parte hym selfe belieued, of parte he wist the contrarye, these commocions were sommewhat appeased" (CW 2, 23/24--27). The conspirators then take some of the household armour of the queen's party and parade it through the streets, declaring: "loe here bee the barelles of harneys [armour] that this traitours had priuelye conuayd in theyr carryage to destroye the noble lordes with all" (CW 2, 24/8--10). The narrator comments that though wise men saw through this ploy "muche part of the common people were therewith verye well satisfyed, and said it wer almoise [a good deed] to hange them" (CW 2, 24/14--15).

26. By this trick and by bearing himself "in open sighte so reuerentelye to the Prince, with all semblaunce of lowlinesse" (CW 2, 24/23--24), Richard wins over the council which then makes him Protector of the king and, so the narrator adds, "so (that were it destenye or were it foly) the lamb was betaken to the wolfe to kepe" (CW 2, 24/29--25/1). Richard then persuades the council that the queen is guilty of "malyce, frowardenesse [perversity], or foly" (27/13--14) for keeping in sanctuary the young prince, Richard Duke of York,whom he hypocritically describes as "after my soueraygne Lorde hymself, my moste dere Nephewe" (CW 2, 27/2--3). Richard concludes by pretending to be ready to change his will upon the "better aduyses" (CW 2, 27/18) of the council.

27. All the council "affyrmed that the mocion was good and reasonable" (CW 2, 27/19--20) ("Virtually all the nobility present approved of this speech" CW 15, 364/16).[48] The Latin {48} version adds that the clergy were opposed to the use of violence (cf. CW 15, 364/16--27). Thomas Bourchier, the Archbishop of Canterbury and also Cardinal, is then chosen to go to the queen and persuade her to hand over her son the Duke of York. In the ensuing debate the cardinal (the English version mistakenly refers to the Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotheringham, instead)[49] insists that the holy place not be violated, and expresses confidence that the queen will see reason:

I truste that shee shall bee with reason contented, and all thynge in good maner obtayned. And yf it happen that I brynge it not so to passe, yet shall I towarde it so farrefoorth dooe my beste, that ye shall all well perceiue, that no lacke of my deuoure [duty], but the mothers drede and womannishe feare, shall bee the let [hindrance]. Womannishe feare, naye womannishe frowardenesse (quod the Duke of Buckyngham.) For I dare take it vppon my soule, she well knoweth she needeth no such thyng to feare, either for her sonne or for her selfe. For as for her, here is no manne that wil bee at warre with women. Woulde God some of the men of her kynne, were women too, and then shoulde al bee soone in reste. (CW 2, 28/14--25)

Buckingham's long response to the cardinal (CW 2, 28--33; CW 15, 366--76) is a masterpiece of casuistry. He sets about duping the council into believing that there is no danger to the queen, and that the prince has no legitimate reason to seek sanctuary, and that his mother intends to send him out of the realm. He then persuades them that "I wyll rather maugrye [despite] her mynde, fetche hym awaye, then leaue hym ther, til her frowardnes or fond feare conuay hym awaye. And yet will I breake no Saintuarye therefore" (CW 2, 29/33--30/2).

28. Buckingham's attack on the rights of sanctuary begins with a criticism of all the abuses that the right of sanctuary gave rise to, but goes on to undermine the very practice itself.[50] More puts some very powerful arguments into Buckingham's speech without necessarily indicating any moral approval of Buckingham's position. Buckingham {49} details all the abuses: thieves use the sanctuaries as a base for their operations, debtors flee there with the property they owe, wives run off with their husbands' plate to sanctuary. Buckingham starts by giving a definition of the role of sanctuary:

A Sainctuarye serueth alway to defende the bodie of that manne that standeth in daunger abrode, not of greate hurte onelye, but also of lawful hurte. For agaynste vnlawfull harmes, neuer Pope nor Kynge entended to priueledge anye one place. (CW 2, 31/28--32/1) I for one have always supposed that the true and original function of sanctuaries is to protect the persons of those who would otherwise face some harm both great and (above all) deserved. For to avoid undeserved harm there is no need to appeal to a privilege belonging exclusively to any one place. (CW 15, 372/21--25)[51]

He goes on to argue that the Duke of York does not need sanctuary because he has done no wrong: "And so saintuary as for him, neither none he nedeth, nor also none can haue" (CW 2, 32/11--12). Buckingham continues with some more frivolous examples including that of the school boy who flees to sanctuary to escape his schoolmaster: "And verelye I haue often heard of saintuarye menne. But I neuer heard erste of saintuarye chyldren" (CW 2, 33/8--9). The final conclusion of Buckingham's speech is the claim that "he that taketh one oute of saintuary to dooe hym good, I say plainely that he breaketh no saintuary" (CW 2, 33/17--19). The lords and the spirituality agree with Buckingham, "thinking none hurt erthly ment towarde the younge babe" (CW 2, 33/21--22), that the boy should be taken from the sanctuary, though they thought it best to use verbal persuasion rather than force (CW 15, 376/21--22).[52]


2.4.4 The Debate on Sanctuary Between the Queen and the Cardinal (Sec. IV)

29. The cardinal (Bourchier) agrees to go to the queen. He is accompanied by a group of lords who are ready to seize the boy if the queen does not agree to hand him over. The cardinal addresses the queen and tries to persuade her that the young prince should be with his brother and that by keeping him in the sanctuary, "that place whiche they reckoned as a prisone" (CW 2, 34/18--19), that she was demeaning his estate. The queen retorts that the king (Edward V) were better off to be with his brother in sanctuary under the custody of {50} their mother. She stresses the sickness of the younger prince. The cardinal begins to get impatient with the queen and points out that she was content to let her older son out of her care when he kept household at Ludlow in Wales:

Not very well content, quod the Quene: And yet the case is not like: for the tone was then in helthe, and the tother is now sike. In which case I merueile greatly that my lord protectour is so disirous to haue him in his keping where if the child in his sicknes miscaried by nature, yet might he runne into slaunder and suspicion of fraude. (CW 2, 35/32--36/2; cf. CW 15, 382/3--9)

She then expresses her concern for the fate of her friends whom the protector has had arrested. The cardinal expresses his opinion that they were not in any real danger and that the matter would be cleared up as soon as it was properly examined. However, the queen is not persuaded and expresses her determination to keep the young duke with her in the sanctuary. The cardinal then threatens her: "Truely madame, quod he, and the farder [more fearful] that you be to delyuer him, the farder [more fearful][53] bene other men to suffer you to kepe hym, lest your causeles fere might cause you ferther to conuay him" (CW 2, 37/12--14). He stresses that the nobles are ready to fetch the young prince out of the sanctuary.

30. Although by now the writing is on the wall, and it has become obvious that the clergy and the nobles are prepared to let Richard take the prince out of the sanctuary, the queen makes one last impassioned defence of her son and of her right to keep him in sanctuary:

A syr quod the Quene, hath the protectour so tender zele to him, that he fereth nothing but lest he should escape hym. Thinketh he that I would sende hym hence, which neyther is in ye plight to sende out, and in what place coulde I recken him sure, if he be not sure in this the sentuarye whereof, was there neuer tiraunt yet so deuelish, that durste presume to breake. And I trust god as strong now to withstande his aduersaries, as euer he was. But my sonne can deserve no sentuary, and therefore he cannot haue it. Forsoth he hath founden a goodly glose, by whiche that place that may defend a thefe, may not saue an innocent. But he is in no iupardy nor hath no nede therof. Wold god he had not. Troweth the protector (I pray god he may proue a protectour) troweth he that I parceiue {51} not whereunto his painted processe draweth? (CW 2, 37/21--38/10; cf. CW 15, 386/9--29)

She goes on to rebut Richard's arguments (as relayed by the cardinal) point by point and stresses her legal rights as the child's guardian, that no one can take the child out of sanctuary, without violating the rights of sanctuary. In the Latin version, she goes on to remind Bourchier that she had once taken sanctuary there before with her elder son (CW 15, 388/28--390/10; cf. CW 2, 39/7--24).[54] She reiterates her right as guardian to keep the young prince in sanctuary and gives as her reason:

The cause of my fere hath no man to doe to examine. And yet fere I no ferther then ye law fereth which as lerned men tell me forbiddeth euery man the custody of them, by whose death he may inherite lesse lande then a kingdome. (CW 2, 39/30--34; cf. CW 15, 390/13--18)

She ends her speech by praying that those who break sanctuary may find themselves in need of sanctuary but be unable to come to it.

31. The cardinal, perceiving that the queen was becoming more and more worked up against the protector, in the end forces the issue by telling her he would no longer dispute the matter and that if she freely turned the young duke over to him he would "lay his owne body & soule both in pledge" (CW 2, 40/14), but that if she refuses he would depart and leave her to the mercy of the protector's men.

32. Recognising that her hand has been forced, she hands the Duke of York over to the cardinal, but she then turns to the lords present there and warns them not to trust Richard:

We haue also had experience yt the desire of a kingdome knoweth no kinred. The brother hath bene the brothers bane. And may the nepheus be sure of their vncle? (CW 2, 41/23--27) Furthermore we have learned by experience how easily the detestable thirst for dominion swallows up any feelings of kinship; when brother slays brother and a child forces his way to the throne over his parent's dead body, will a nephew be safe from his uncle? (CW 15, 394/14--18)[55]

Then she hands over her son. The narrator presents us with a touching little scene of the {52} mother and son weeping as they say goodbye. She begs her son for one last kiss: "let me kis you ones yet ere you goe, for God knoweth when we shal kis togither agayne" (CW 2, 42/9--10). She kisses him and gives him her blessing by making the sign of the cross over him as she turns away weeping (CW 15, 396/8--10).[56]

33. The poignancy of the scene is further reinforced by contrast with the one that follows. Richard, ever the master of appearances,[57] pretends to be overjoyed to see the young duke:

the protectour toke him in his armes & kissed him with these wordes: Now welcome my lord euen wt al my very hart. (CW 2, 42/15--17) When the boy was brought to him, the Protector hugged him, lifting him off the ground in his arms, and said, "My dearest nephew and liege, you are a welcome arrival to everyone, and especially welcome to me." (CW 15, 396/13--15)[58]

The English version is pithier, but the Latin's "charissime nepos ac domine" emphasises even more strongly Richard's essential duplicity. Richard then escorts the young duke to see his brother in the Tower "out of which after yt day they neuer came abrode" (CW 2, 42/22--23).


2.4.5 The Execution of Hastings (Secs. V and VI)

34. In the Latin version there follows a long section giving Buckingham's motives for joining Richard (CW 15, 396/21--400/20).[59] More's account stresses the initial reluctance of Buckingham to join Richard and seeks to discount the opinion that Buckingham was involved from the outset.[60] More seeks partly to exonerate Buckingham by suggesting that he was more or less coerced into joining Richard's party. The narrator states that Richard sent his own men to Buckingham to persuade him: "he was particularly diligent in broaching the matter to him through astute, diplomatic intermediaries" (CW 15, 398/5--6).[61] These intermediaries so played on Buckingham's fears, according to More's account, that:

Wearing down the duke's spirit with suggestions like these, they induced him to follow out a course he already regretted initiating and to persevere vigorously once he had started. And so, since he believed he could not beat {53} the nefarious conspiracy, he joined it as a partner and ally, and decided that since he could not remedy the public evil he would turn it as much as he could to his private advantage. (CW 15, 398/20--400/2)[62]

Buckingham is both a conspirator and a potential victim. he manages to escape Hastings' fate by joining with Richard and helping him to usurp the kingdom, though in the end, after his unsuccessful rebellion, he does indeed fall victim to Richard's vengeance. More seems to give a more prominent role to Buckingham in both the Latin and the English versions, than any of the other historical accounts, partly as a foil to Richard himself.

35. In contrast to Buckingham's awareness of Richard's duplicity, Hastings is extremely naive. Though he is himself one of the conspirators against the queen's party, he remains completely in the dark about the true intentions of his fellow conspirators. He puts too much trust in his factotum Catesby, who had also been secretly recruited by Richard. Lord Stanley, the Earl of Derby, who was a close friend of Hastings, on the other hand distrusts Richard and criticises him for having two councils:

For while we (quod he) talke of one matter in the tone place, litle wote we wherof they talk in ye tother place. My lord (quod the lord Hastinges) on my life neuer doute you. For while one man is there which is neuer thence, neuer can there be thinge ones minded that should sownde amisse toward me, but it should be in mine eares ere it were well oute of their mouthes. This ment he by Catesby... (CW 2, 45/13--19)

Hastings ends up being completely duped by his spy, the double-agent Catesby. Richard sends Catesby to sound Hastings out as to whether he would support Richard's plans to usurp the kingdom: "But Catesby whither he assayed him or assaied him not, reported vnto them, that he founde him so fast [steadfast], and hard him speke so terrible woordes, that he durst no further breke [reveal]" (CW 2, 46/14--16). Hastings is completely taken in by the remarkable display of feigned friendship that Richard and Buckingham then show towards him. The narrator comments ironically that: "vndoubtedly the protectour loued him wel, & loth was to haue loste him, sauing for fere lest his life shoulde haue quailed their purpose" {54} (CW 2, 46/10--11).

36. All this is a prelude to the council meeting to plan the coronation of Edward V. More's narrative begins innocently enough with a little scene made use of later by Shakespeare in his play.[63] When Richard enters the council chamber, he asks the Bishop of Ely (John Morton) for a dish of strawberries:

my lord you haue very good strawberies at your gardayne in Holberne, I require you let vs haue a messe of them. Gladly my lord, quod he, woulde god I had some better thing as redy to your pleasure as that. And therwith in al the hast he sent hys seruant for a messe of strauberies (CW 2, 47/6--10). "Father, I hear you have some very fine strawberries ripening in your garden. I know you will not mind presenting one bowl of them to so many nobles as your contribution to lunch." "I wish I could as easily do something bigger as I will be glad to do this much," he answered, and at once sent a servant to fetch them. (CW 15, 406/18--22)[64]

Sylvester, for one,[65] points to the rich symbolism of this "symbolum" (token or contribution). Almost immediately after this Richard exits "left-stage". When he returns, he has undergone a startling transformation. He accuses the council members of plotting his destruction: "what were they worthy to haue, that compasse & ymagine the distruccion of me, being so nere of blood vnto ye king and protectour of his riall person & his realme" (CW 2, 47/21--23). He begins by accusing the queen of sorcery. The narrator comments on Hastings' initial relief (cf. 47/32--48/6), though Hastings is uneasy that he has not been warned beforehand.

37. The scene that follows, however, is one of those brilliant little vignettes that More's works are so full of, like the "merry tales" in the theological and polemical works. The protector repeats the charge of witchcraft, this time including Mistress Shore, one of Edward's former mistresses, as well as the queen:

ye shal al se in what wise that sorceres and that other witch of her counsel shoris wife wt their affynite [companions], haue by their sorcery & witchcraft wasted my body. And therwt he plucked vp hys doublet sleue to {55} his elbow vpon his left arme, where he shewed a werish [shrivelled] withered arme and small, as it was neuer other. And thereupon euery mannes mind sore misgaue them, well perceiuing that this matter was but a quarel. (CW 2, 48/7--13) "You shall see how this villainess with Shore's wife and other enchantresses has cast a spell on my body and withered it with their magic potions," and pulling up his sleeve he exposed an arm which was indeed very puny---just as it had been from the beginning. But then everyone but the Protector's accomplices had good reason to be terrified, judging that he was simply in search of a pretext for wrangling, to start with, and then open slaughter. For they knew very well that that arm was puny... (CW 15, 408/26--410/5)[66]

The narrator points to the absurdity of pairing the queen with Mistress Shore "whom of al women she most hated" (CW 2, 48/16), and reveals that Hastings had taken Shore's wife to be his mistress after Edward's death. Unnerved by the mention of his beloved (CW 15, 410/10),[67] Hastings answers Richard "certainly my lorde if they haue so heinously done, thei be worthy heinouse punishement" (CW 2, 48/23--4). Richard jumps on him and accuses him of being a traitor: "What quod the protectour thou seruest me I wene wt iffes & with andes, I tel the thei haue so done, & that I will make good on thy body traitour. And therwt as in a great anger, he clapped his fist vpon ye borde a great rappe" (CW 2, 48/24--27). This turns out to be a prearranged signal to be given by Richard. A group of armed men then break in and seize hold of Hastings. What follows is an almost stichomythic exchange: "And anon the protectour sayd to the lorde Hastinges: I arest the traitour. What me my Lorde quod he. Yea the traitour, quod the protectour" (CW 2, 48/30--49/1). Richard then orders Hastings' execution:

whom the protectour bade spede & shryue [confess] hym a pace, for by saynt Poule (quod he) I wil not to dinner til I se thy hed of (CW 2, 49/11--13). As for Hastings, the Protector told him to prepare for his death and to hurry if he had any business to do with a priest; "As St. Paul, to whom I have a special devotion, is my patron, I will not take another bite of food before seeing you beheaded." (CW 15, 412/5--10)[68]

After confessing to a priest who happened to be by, Hastings is immediately taken out and {56} executed, so that the protector would not be late for dinner. The narrator of the Latin version comments ironically "pious man, he [Richard] did not want to violate his oath" (CW 15, 412/14).[69]

38. Hastings' willful blindness to Richard's plotting is brought out by the section that follows. Much of the middle third of Richard III seems to be taken up with apparent flashbacks and digressions that seem to have nothing to do with the main theme of Richard's usurpation of the throne. More was a master of digression and behind the apparent artlessness and illogicality of the digressions, the author works to reinforce the theme indirectly.

39. The section on the various dreams and portents that precede Hastings' death (cf. CW 2, 49/25--52/22; CW 15, 414/1--420/8) is modelled on a long tradition of classical and mediaeval historical writing, in which alleged portents surrounding major historical events are chronicled along with the events themselves. Such portents are partly at least a literary artefact, and do not imply any necessary belief in their veracity on More's part. Whether More invented the account of Stanley's dream or made use of existing rumours or reports is in a way strictly irrelevant. This was part of the craft of history, part of what readers expected from historical writing. Nonetheless, the portents do serve the purpose of underlining the moral blindness of Hastings, both as co-conspirator, and as victim of Richard's plots. The narrator points to Hastings' false sense of security:

But I shall rather let anye thinge passe me, then the vain sureti of mans mind so nere his deth. (CW 2, 51/13--14) But I would rather overlook anything than pass over the human mind's illusion of security even on the very brink of destruction. (CW 15, 416/23--24)[70]

The section begins with the report of Lord Stanley's (Derby's) dream. Stanley sends a messenger to Hastings to tell him that: {57}

he had so fereful a dreme, in which him thoughte that a bore with his tuskes so raced [slashed] them both bi the heddes, that the blood ranne aboute both their shoulders. And forasmuch as the protectour gaue the bore for his cognisaunce [coat of arms], this dreme made so fereful an impression in his hart, yt he was throughly determined no lenger to tary, but had his horse redy, if ye lord Hastinges wold go wt him to ride so far yet ye same night, that thei shold be out of danger ere dai. (CW 2, 50/1--9; cf. CW 15, 414/7--19)

The Latin version adds the detail that Hastings had been killed immediately in the dream, but that Stanley had been left alive but covered in blood from a wound in the head (CW 15, 414/12--14).[71] Hastings mocks the messenger's account: "leneth my lord thi master so much to such trifles, & hath such faith in dremes, which either his own fere fantasieth or do rise in ye nightes rest by reson of his daye thoughtes?" (CW 2, 50/10--13; cf. CW 15, 414/19--21).

40. Hastings dismisses such dreams as witchcraft and argues that they will only provoke Richard if they take to flight. He ends up sending the messenger back to Stanley with the message "pray him be mery & haue no fere" (CW 2, 50/23). More then proceeds to give another portent to emphasise Hastings' wilful blindness to his own fate. ("Now this yt foloweth was no warning, but an enemiouse [hostile] scorne" CW 2, 50/32). On his way to the Tower to attend the council meeting called to plan Edward V's coronation, he is accompanied by a knight sent by Richard, who has in reality been sent to hasten him to his own execution. Hastings stops to talk to a priest on the way and the knight comments: "what my lord I pray you come on, whereto talke you so long wt that priest, you haue no nede of a prist yet: & therwt he laughed vpon him, as though he would say, ye shal haue sone" (CW 2, 51/7--10). On meeting a herald with the same surname, whom he knew, Hastings reminisces with him about a previous occasion on which they had met, and in which his life had been in danger when he had been falsely accused to King Edward IV of treason by the queen's party. He gloats over the fate of his enemies who now await execution at Pontefract Castle: {58}

In faith man quod he, I was neuer so sory, nor neuer stode in so great dread in my life, as I did when thou and I met here. And lo how ye world is turned, now stand mine enemies in ye daunger (as thou maist hap [chance] to here more hereafter) & I neuer in my life so mery, nor neuer in so great suerty. O good god, the blindnes of our mortall nature, when he most feared, he was in good suerty: when he rekened him self surest, he lost his life, & that wtin two howres after. (CW 2, 52/9--16)

The moralizing comments of the narrator only serve to underline the folly of Hastings's complete self-deception and unawareness of his own danger.

41. After Hastings's summary execution, Richard has a herald sent with a proclamation to the citizens of London that Hastings had been planning to seize the young king and take control of the realm. The elaborate nature of the proclamation makes it clear that it was composed before Hastings' death (cf. CW 2, 54/3--9; CW 15, 422/13--20). The citizens, however, are not taken in:

one yt was scole master of Poules of chaunce standing by, & comparing ye shortnes of ye time wt the length of ye matter, said vnto them yt stode about him here is a gay goodly cast [trick], foule cast awai for hast. And a merchant answered hym, yt it was writen by profecy. (CW 2, 54/10--13; cf. CW 15, cxli--cxlii, 422/20--26)

In the Latin version, the schoolmaster's comment is a quotation from Terence's Andria (476): "You have not spaced these episodes very well, Davus" (CW 15, 422/25--26).[72] The Latin is more elegant but makes essentially the same point.

42. After a well-known digression on the character of Mistress Shore,[73] Edward IV's favorite mistress (cf. CW 2, 53--57), and a brief mention of the execution of the queen's relatives at Pontefract (CW 2, 57--58), the narrator describes how Richard and Buckingham persuaded some of the clergy to lay charges of bastardy both against Edward IV himself and also against his children.

43. Among those corrupted by Richard's party were the mayor's brother Rafe Shaa, mistakenly called John by More, and a friar called Penker. (The mayor, Edmund Shaa, {59} himself was one of Richard's fellow conspirators.) The narrator relates that as a consequence, almost by way of divine retribution:

Penker in his sermon so lost his voice that he was faine to leaue of & come downe in the middes. Doctour Shaa by his sermon lost his honestie, & sone after his life, for very shame of the worlde, into which he durst neuer after come abrode. But the frere forced [cared] for no shame, & so it harmed him ye lesse. (CW 2, 59/2--7) Penker lost his voice and stepped down in the middle of a statement, with his hearers ascribing this event to the saints as the punishers of blasphemous adulation. Shaw lost all reputation for honesty and, shortly thereafter, his life, out of weariness with the solitude into which he retreated for shame of being looked at in public; but the friar, who had wiped out his own sense of shame as he wiped off the spit of his many disputations, had long been impervious to infamy. (CW 15, 432/27--434/6)[74]

In order to explain the charges of "bastardy", the narrator then gives us another long digression on Edward IV's wooing of Elizabeth Grey (cf. CW 2, 60--66; CW 15, 436--448).


2.4.6 Doctor Shaa's Sermon and Buckingham's Guildhall Speech (Sec. VII)

44. After apologizing for the length of the digression (CW 2, 66/9--15), the narrator returns to Dr. Shaa's sermon, in which the preacher repeats the spurious charges of bastardy against Edward's children, and even hints that Richard's brothers, Edward and Clarence, may have been born of adultery. The sermon culminates with an encomium of Richard as the "verye face of ye noble duke his father" (CW 2, 67/30). At this point Richard is supposed to enter:

Nowe was it before deuised, that in ye speaking of these wordes, the protector should haue comen in among ye people to ye sermonwarde, to thend yt those words meting wt his presence, might haue been taken among the hearers, as thoughe ye holye ghost had put them in the preachers mouth, & should haue moued the people euen ther, to crie king Richard king Richard, yt it might haue bene after said, yt he was specially chosen by god & in maner of miracle. (CW 2, 67/34--68/6; cf. CW 15, 452/15--21)

However, Richard missed his stage cue and by the time he had entered, the preacher had gone long past his encomium. On seeing Richard enter, Doctor Shaa repeated, "out of al {60} order, & oute of al frame" (CW 2, 68/14), his previous words of praise in honour of Richard. The sermon, however, did not have its intended effect of persuading the people to acclaim Richard king: "the people were so farre fro crying king Richard, yt thei stode as thei had bene turned into stones, for wonder of this shamefull sermon" (CW 2, 68/24--26; cf. CW 15, 454/6--8). The narrator reports that, after this, Doctor Shaa, on hearing from an old friend that "there was in euery mans mouth spoken of him much shame, it so strake him to ye heart, that wtin fewe daies after he withered & consumed away" (CW 2, 68/32--34).

45. More then reports a speech (CW 2, 69--76; CW 15, 454--72) given to the London Guildhall by Buckingham a couple of days later, at which all the prominent citizens were present. Despite all the power of Buckingham's eloquence ("he was neither vnlearned, and of nature marueilouslye well spoken" CW 2, 69/8--9), he was unable to persuade the citizens of London to acclaim Richard king. Buckingham's speech is a masterly diatribe against the reign and character of Edward IV. Many of his charges against Edward IV seem to have had some basis in historical fact, and by placing the oration here, the narrator seems to be seeking to counterbalance the somewhat idealised picture of Edward IV given at the beginning of the History. Whatever the basis in historical fact, the portrayal of the darker, more predatory side of Edward IV by Buckingham does not sway the good citizens of London in any way to support Richard's usurpation.

46. Buckingham, like Doctor Shaa before him, is taken aback by the stony silence of the citizens:

When the duke had saied, and looked that the people whome he hoped yt the Mayer had framed before, shoulde after his proposicion made, haue cried king Richarde, king Richard: all was husht and mute, and not one word aunswered therunto. Wherewith the duke was meruailously abashed, and taking the Maier nerer to him, with other that were about him priuey to the matter, saied vnto them softlye what meaneth this, that this peple be so stil. Sir quod the Mayer parcase they perceyue you not well. That shal we mende (quod he) if that wyll helpe. And by and by somewhat louder, he rehersed them the same matter againe in other order and other {61} wordes, so wel and ornately, & natheles so euidently and plaine, with voice gesture and countenance so cumly and so conuenient, that euery man much meruailed that herd him, and thought that they neuer had in their liues heard so euill a tale so well tolde. (CW 2, 74/34--75/14; cf. CW 15, 468/15--470/2)

The citizens do not prove to be any more responsive to the new rendition and the mayor, who himself is a bit perturbed by the course of events, suggests that the Recorder, who according to custom was the only one supposed to address the citizens in the Guildhall, should repeat the speech again.[75] However, the recorder "so tempered his tale, that he shewed euery thing as the dukes wordes and no part his owne" (CW 2, 75/29--30). The good citizens of London, however, remain as unmoved as ever:

But all thys nothing no chaunge made in the people which alway after one, stode as they had ben men amased, wherupon ye duke rowned [whispered] vnto the Mayer and sayd: Thys is a maruelouse obstinate silence... (CW 2, 75/30--76/1) But the people's demeanor remained altogether unchanged, keeping silence as deep as the quiet which generally holds late at night, and with such an impassive expression that they furnished no indication at all of their actual thoughts. But the duke, quite offended to see them receiving his speech with such closed ears and minds, turned aside to the mayor and said "Let them find someone else to put up with their insolent silence..." (CW 15, 470/15--20)[76]

47. What follows is one of those little scenes that More is such a master at portraying. Buckingham decides to force the issue by telling the citizens that the nobles plan to make Richard king whether they consent or not, and that it would be to their advantage to agree to "that thing in which to bee parteners is your weale & honour" (CW 2, 76/7). He then demands that they give an answer one way or another. The citizens begin whispering among themselves secretly, making a noise "neyther loude nor distincke, but as it were the sounde of a swarme of bees" (CW 2, 76/14--15). However, some servants of the duke and some retainers of Richard who had been planted in the crowd:

began sodainelye at mennes backes to crye owte as lowde as their throtes would gyue: king Rycharde kinge Rycharde, and threwe vp their cappes in {62} token of ioye. And they that stode before, cast back theyr heddes meruailing thereof, but nothing they sayd. (CW 2, 76/18--22; cf. CW 15, 472/6--14)

48. The duke seizes the opportunity to turn this outburst to his advantage and said "it was a goodly cry and a ioyfull to here, euery manne with one voice no manne sayeng nay" (CW 2, 76/26--28). Pretending to believe that this outburst constitutes a spontaneous acclamation of Richard as king, he promises to relay the great affection of the citizens to Richard on the following day (cf. CW 15, 472/20--25). The narrator, however, relates that, as soon as Buckingham had left, several of the citizens grieved openly and turned "their face to the wall, while the doloure of their heart braste oute at theyr eyen" (CW 2, 77/5--6).


2.4.7 Richard's Coronation (Sec. VIII)

49. The tragi-comedy continues on the next day when Buckingham, together with the nobles and the mayor and the leading citizens, repairs to Baynard's Castle where Richard was residing. The narrator's account of the public interview between Richard and Buckingham at times borders on the ludicrous. Richard pretends to be reluctant to assume the throne and initially to be ignorant of their intentions. Buckingham then pretends to coerce Richard into accepting the throne by claiming that the people have made up their minds not to be ruled any longer by Edward's children. And Richard, in turn, "reluctantly" agrees to accept the crown and his election by the "nobles & comons of this realm" (CW 2, 80/3). (The narrator ironically comments that "These wordes muche moued the protectoure, whiche els as euery manne may witte, would neuer of likelyhoode haue inclyned therunto" CW 2, 79/25--27). In the Latin version especially, Richard claims to be relying on the solid consensus of the people:

For my own part, at least, though I know that there is no other to whom the crown rightly belongs by inheritance, I consider your desires more important than any number of laws, which derive all their efficacy from you; and since I see that your solid consensus supports me, lest I should seem either timid about laboring for the commonweal or unmindful of your {63} goodwill toward me, here on this day I take upon myself the government of the two realms of England and France, the one to protect and extend and the other to subdue for England, bringing it back into your power and making it submit to those it should obey; for I regard only the management of these realms as my own, but the title and the profit and the ownership as totally your own---as a genuine commonwealth. And the day I stop thinking this way, I pray heaven to deprive me not only of this realm of yours, which I would have wickedly tried to subvert, but of my very life, which would no longer be worth the keeping. CW 15, 480/8--23; cf. CW 2, 79/29--80/16)[77]

50. Unlike the good citizens in the audience at the Guildhall on the previous day, the crowd present welcomed Richard's speech: "With this there was a great shout, crying kyng Richarde king Rychard" (CW 2, 80/16--17). Nonetheless, the narrator makes it clear that the people were not taken in by the charade that they had just witnessed:

But muche they talked and marueiled of the maner of this dealing, that the matter was on both partes made so straunge, as though neither had euer communed with other thereof before, when that themself wel wist there was no man so dul that heard them, but he perceiued wel inough, yt all the matter was made betwene them." (CW 2, 80/20--24; cf. CW 15, 482/2--7)

The citizens compare Richard's "mockishe eleccion" to the case of the election of a bishop who three times refuses the seat and pretends to be unwilling to accept the bishopric even though he has clearly paid for his bull beforehand. The narrator also points to the element of play acting in the scene that he has just described:

And in a stage play all the people know right wel, that he that playeth the sowdayne [sultan] is percase a sowter [cobbler]. Yet if one should can [know] so lyttle good, to shewe out of seasonne what acquaintance he hath with him, and calle him by his owne name whyle he standeth in his magestie, one of his tormentors might hap to breake his head, and worthy for marring of the play. And so they said that these matters bee Kynges games, as it were stage playes, and for the more part plaied vpon scafoldes. In which pore men be but ye lokers on. And thei yt wise be, wil medle no farther. For they that sometyme step vp and playe wt them, when they cannot play their partes, they disorder the play & do themself no good. (CW 2, 80/31--81/10; cf. CW 15, 482/15--24)

51. The Latin version ends here with a brief description (CW 15, 482--484) of Richard's {64} formal assumption of power the next day at the court of the King's Bench. Richard's speech, as reported by the narrator, shows his essential hypocrisy and duplicity. He goes out of his way to flatter the lords and merchants, and artisans and, especially, the lawyers, and to show his good will pardons an old enemy of his, one Fogg, who had been brought reluctantly from sanctuary shortly before. The narrator concludes by commenting ironically that Richard's coronation was furnished for the most part with the very provisions that had been intended for the crowning of his nephew.

52. The Latin version seems essentially complete in the form it has come down to us in. As Daniel Kinney points out: "Whereas More's English history takes on the appearance at last of a disjointed and incomplete chronicle, his Latin achieves an unusual compactness by restricting its scope to the play of mendacious and partisan rhetoric that leads up to Richard's success in usurping the throne" (CW 15, clii). I agree with Kinney that, in contrast with the English version, "the conclusion of the Latin as we have it produces a considerable impression of dramatic completeness" (CW 15, clii, n.2).


2.4.8 The Continuation of the English Version (Sec. IX)

53. The continuation begins with an account of the death of the princes in the Tower. This has been the subject of enormous controversy ever since the sixteenth century. (A controversy which is beyond the scope of this chapter even to begin to deal with.) More provides a more detailed account than any other contemporary source---but where the details can be checked they seem to be substantially accurate.[78] After mentioning the doubts held by many as to the final end of the princes, doubts that the pretender Perkin Warbeck played upon during the reign of Henry VII, More goes on to give an extremely circumstantial account of their murders (CW 2, 83--87). He describes how Richard recruited Sir James Tyrell to murder the princes, after Sir Robert Brackenbury, the Constable of the Tower, refused to put them to death. He even records the detail (with obvious symbolic {65} import), that Richard was sitting on the privy, when he commissioned Tyrell to do the dirty deed (CW 2, 84/15--16), and mentions the names of the accomplices that Tyrell chose to take with him.

54. After concluding his description of the murder, the narrator then begins to give an account (never completed) of the rebellion of Buckingham. But before that he inserts a passage that serves as a "flashback" in which the narrator describes how Buckingham was first recruited by Richard to help him in usurping the throne, and of their later falling out after Richard's coronation (CW 2, 87--90). A similar but less developed account had already appeared much earlier in the narrative of the Latin text, and had been translated by W. Rastell and inserted into the English version in the corresponding place (CW 15, 396--400, CW 2, 42--44).[79] At this point, the narrator reintroduces into the account Doctor Morton, the Bishop of Ely (Cardinal Morton in Utopia), who had been taken prisoner in the Tower at the time of the arrest and execution of Hastings, and who had been entrusted after that by Richard into the custody of Buckingham. There follows an encomium of Morton (CW 2, 90/22--91/21), including a brief description of his later career as Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal under Henry VII.[80]

55. Morton figures rather prominently in the "Cardinal Morton Episode" in Book I of Utopia, and it is likely, though it can never be proved, that More wrote the continuation to the English version at roughly the same time he was composing Book I of Utopia in the spring and summer of 1516. The encomium of Doctor/Cardinal Morton sheds important light on the somewhat idealised portrait of Morton as the Platonic philosopher-statesman in Utopia. It is clear that for More, being a Platonic statesman was not incompatible with an almost at times Machiavellian wiliness, for the narrator describes how Morton "waxed wt him [Buckingham] familier. Whose wisedom abused his [Buckingham's] pride to his own deliueraunce & the dukes destruccion" (CW 2, 90/20--22)---though, unlike the case of {66} Richard III, the ends never justify the means. The narrator then describes how Morton led Buckingham on to revolt against Richard, giving us a masterly example of that indirect approach that Persona More will advocate in Book I of Utopia:

Thys man [Morton] therfore as I was about to tell you, by ye long & often alternate proofe, aswel of prosperitie as aduers fortune, hadde gotten by great experience ye verye mother & maistres of wisdom, a depe insighte in politike worldli driftes. Wherby perceiuing now this duke glad to comen [converse] wt him, fed him wt faire wordes and many pleasaunt praises. And parceiuing by ye processe of their communicacions, the dukes pride now & then balke oute [give vent to] a lytle breide [outburst] of enuy toward ye glory of ye king, & therby feling him ethe [easy] to fal out yf the matter were well handled: he craftelye sought ye waies to pricke him forwarde taking alwaies thoccasion of his comming & so keping himself close [secret] wtin his bondes, that he rather semed him to folow hym then to lead him. (CW 2, 91/17--92/2)

56. The last two surviving pages of the English version purport to report a conversation between Buckingham and Morton. Buckingham begins by praising Richard. Morton replies by expressing his acceptance of God's will as revealed through the course of events leading up to Richard's becoming king, but hints that he could have wished it otherwise:

Howebeit if ye secrete iudgement of god haue otherwyse prouided: I purpose not to spurne againste a prick, nor labor to set vp that god pulleth down. And as for the late protector & now kyng. And euen there he left, saying that he had alredy medled to muche with the world, and would fro that day medle with his boke and his beedes and no farther. (CW 2, 92/12--17)

The Duke's interest is piqued and he urges Morton to continue "Then longed the duke sore to here what he would haue sayd, because he ended with ye king & there so sodeinly stopped, & exhorted him so familiarly betwene them twain, to be bold to say what soeuer he thought" (CW 2 92/17--20). However, Morton replies by suggesting that it is too dangerous to talk openly of princes, and tells Buckingham a pseudo-Aesopian animal fable, about a lion that ordered all horned beasts to be put to death.[81] A creature with a lump of flesh on its forehead started to flee the forest. A fox, who was nearby, pointed out that the lump of flesh was not a horn. The creature replied "But what & [if] he cal it an horn, wher am I then?" {67} (CW 2, 93/9--10).

57. Buckingham in turn assures Morton that he is safe to speak his mind freely about the matter he had hinted at before. Morton then starts by praising Richard, but goes on to suggest that the realm would be better off if its ruler possessed some of Buckingham's sterling qualities

I was about to wish, that to those good habilities wherof he [Richard] hath already right many, litle nedyng my prayse: it might yet haue pleased Godde for the better store, to haue geuen him some of suche other excellente vertues mete for the rule of a realm, as our lorde hath planted in the parsone of youre grace. (CW 2, 93/20--25)

The account breaks off here suddenly in mid-speech. This is an explosive and openly subversive "ending." It is not hard to see what the drift of Morton's argument is. This was also an extremely daring thing for More as author to put into writing in the sixteenth century. It was one thing to give an account of a usurpation, quite another openly to describe the plotting of a rebellion against an anointed king, however wicked. It is obvious that the continuation opens a whole new can of worms. The sudden and incomplete nature of the ending, together with the fact that it was never published in More's own lifetime raises complex and insoluble questions about authorial intention. Though it is obvious that Morton was meant to figure prominently in the new and expanded text of the English version, and perhaps also provide the necessary link to an account of the reign of Henry VII, we will never know why More broke off his account where he did. Perhaps, he thought that the kind of "brief history" that he had used successfully to describe Richard's usurpation would not work for the expanded chronicle he now had in mind, or, more likely, he stopped writing because he sensed himself getting into extremely dangerous waters.[82] {68}


2.5 Conclusion

58. More's History of Richard III remains as tantalizingly elusive as when he first wrote it (almost as much so as the Utopia). The tremendous controversy surrounding the figure of Richard III (perhaps the most written-about English king with the exception of Henry VIII) is, if nothing else, a tribute to the great literary and rhetorical power of More's "brief history", of his portrait or anatomy of Richard's usurpation and tyranny, which was in turn largely taken over by Shakespeare's Tragedy of King Richard III. However, in More's history, unlike Shakespeare's play, Richard remains mainly behind the scenes, manipulating the other characters or figures in this historical "drama" or "dramatic" history. A succession of figures come forward to speak for Richard: Hastings and Buckingham addressing the Royal Council, Cardinal Bourchier's debate with the Queen on sanctuary, the sermons preached by Doctor Shaa and Friar Penker to the citizens of London alleging the bastardy of Edward's children (and of Edward himself), Buckingham's speech given to the citizens of London in the Guildhall, and the "mockishe eleccion" of Richard by Buckingham, and the Mayor and Aldermen of London at Baynard's Castle. But thoughout the history, Richard himself actually says little.

59. Like the author, Thomas More, of whom he is in many ways an ironic "self-portrait," Richard remains almost entirely behind the scenes, contriving and manipulating the various stages of his own usurpation. (Indeed, we learn about him, unlike Shakespeare's Richard, largely from others.) His various spokesmen and stooges---Lord Hastings, Cardinal Bourchier, Doctor Shaa and Friar Penker, and the Duke of Buckingham---are used to speak for him, only (at least in the case of Hastings, Doctor Shaa, and Buckingham) to receive their come-uppances, when they have outlived their usefulness to him. The major rhetorical and dialectical movements between the various speakers and audiences, and between the various pairs of protagonists and antagonists, anticipate the dialectical movements of the {69} formal literary dialogues to be considered in the chapters that follow where, however, the rhetorical and dialectical exchange is sustained in each case throughout by a single pair of speakers (except for the brief appearence of Peter Giles in Utopia I), instead of by a succession of such pairs.

60. More's History of Richard III is quite unique for the Renaissance period (not only in England but also on the Continent) in the way in which it combines the conventions of historical and biographical writing on the one hand, with those of drama and rhetorical declamation on the other. Both in its extremely sophisticated use of narrative technique and also in its extensive use of direct and indirect speech, and in the peculiar hybrid-nature of its genre, it anticipates the formal artistry of the Utopia, with which it is nearly contemporaneous, and of More's two later English Dialogues. Despite the unfinished nature of the work (at least in the English Version), it is worthy to be considered one of More's crowning achievements as a literary artist. {70}



[1] "The Textual Problems of the History of Richard III," in The English Works of Sir Thomas More, Volume 1: Early Poems, Pico Della Mirandola, Richard III, The Four Last Things (hereafter EW 1931, I), ed. W. E. Campbell and A. W. Reed (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode; New York: Lincoln MacVeagh, The Dial Press, 1931), 42--53. This edition includes a facsimile reproduction of the black letter gothic of the 1557 edition, together with a modern-spelling edition.

[2] Since More resigned as Undersheriff on 23rd July 1518, this would indicate 1518 as the probable terminus ante quam for the composition of the work.

[3] The History of Richard III, Vol. 2 of The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (hereafter CW 2), ed. R. S. Sylvester (New Haven: Yale UP, 1963), 1. Significantly, Grafton's own Chronicle (1568--69) reprints the 1557 edition and not Grafton's own earlier edition included in the Chronicles of Halle and Hardyng.

[4] For a description of the main differences, see Sylvester's editorial remarks, CW 2, xxv--xxvi.

[5] The passages are CW 2, 39/7--24, 42/24--44/18, 81/11--82/12 of the English text. The Latin and the English texts of Sylvester's edition share common page numberings for pages 3--82. All references to CW 2 in this chapter are to the English text.

[6] For the relationships between the English versions, see CW 2, xx--xxxii and In Defence of Humanism: Letter to Martin Dorp, Letter to the University of Oxford, Letter to Edward Lee, Letter to a Monk, with a new text and Translation of Historia Richardi Tertii, Vol. 15 of The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (hereafter CW 15), ed. D. Kinney (New Haven: Yale UP, 1986), cxlviii--cxli. The figure is adapted from CW 15, cxlix, and the table of sigla from CW 2, cv, with some modifications. ([8])

[7] For those turning to the History of Richard III for the first time, and who find the layout of CW 2 intimidating, there are other more readable introductory texts (including one edited by Sylvester): The History of King Richard III and Selections from the English and Latin Poems, Selected Works of St. Thomas More, ed. R. S. Sylvester (New Haven: Yale UP, 1976), 1--96; "Sir Thomas More's Richard III," ed. W. E. Campbell and A. W. Reed, in EW 1931, 1: 397--455; "The History of Richard the Thirde (unfinished)," Tudor Prose, 1513--1570, ed. E. Creeth (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1969), 1--80, 471--74. The first two are modernised spelling editions, and the third is an original spelling transcription of the 1557 edition.

[8] See n.6 above. The corresponding pages of the Latin and English versions in CW 2 are cross referenced in the margins of CW 15.

[9] The figure is adapted from CW 15, cxxxvi (cf. cxlix). The table of sigla is adapted from CW 15, cliv and CW 2, cv.

[10] Ed. A. N. Kincaid (Gloucester: A. Sutton, 1979, rev. ed. 1982). For other "defences" of Richard III, see the section in the Bibliographical Appendix: Richard III: Cornwallis, Buck and Walpole.

[11] Cf. Sylvester's discussion of the authorship question, CW 2, lix--lxiii.

[12] Pp. 24--41. This is a revised version of an earlier paper: "More's History of Richard III," MLR 23 (1928): 405--23. {71}

[13] The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Vol. 14: De Tristitia Christi, 2 vols. (hereafter CW 14) (New Haven: Yale UP, 1976). Clarence Miller has an important discussion on More's habits of composition and Latin style in the De Tristitia, which bears comparison with the Latin style of the Utopia (and of Richard III), cf. Miller's introduction, "Habits of Composition," pp. 745--54, and "Visions and Revisions: Patterns of Style and Thought," pp. 754--76.

[14] Forty-six percent of the lines in the English Version (forty-nine percent without the Continuation) are made up of direct or indirect speech. The figures for the Latin Version are comparable (47.5%). [For direct speech (oratio recta) alone the figures are thirty-three percent for the English (thirty-five percent without the Continuation), and 39.5% for the Latin.]

[15] Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Richard III brilliantly develops More's portrait of Richard III, but in doing so makes Richard almost attractive as a villain. Only gradually do we see the full depths of his cruelty and rapacity. Richmond seems inevitably wooden and stilted and anti-climactic by comparison. The "historical" Richard was probably not nearly as fascinating as the legendary figure created in large part by More and Shakespeare. And yet one must be very careful to resist the temptation of reading More's History of Richard III retrospectively in the light of Shakespeare's play. However much Shakespeare's play may have owed to More's text, there are some very important differences. I have dealt with one aspect of the rather complex relationship between More's history and Shakespeare's play in an unpublished paper, "From History to Myth: The Misogyny of Richard III in More's History of King Richard III and Shakespeare's Tragedy of King Richard the Third."

[16] For More's indebtedness to Tacitus, Sallust and Suetonius, who themselves made extensive use of orations and indirect speech, see Sylvester's introduction, "Genesis and Models," CW 2, lxxx--xcvii.

[17] Historical Essays in Honour of James Tait, ed. J. G. Edwards, V. H. Galbraith and E. F. Jacob (Manchester: for the Subscribers, 1933), 223--38; rpt. in Essential Articles for the Study of Thomas More, ed. R. S. Sylvester, and G. Marc'hadour (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1977), 421--31, 658--63.

[17a] Essential Articles, 429.

[18] Ceterum vt revertar ad hystoriam....

[19] The Usurpation of Richard the Third: Dominicus Mancinus ad Angelum Catonem de occupatione regni anglie per Riccardum Tercium libellus, ed. and trans. C. A. J. Armstrong (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1936; 2nd. ed. 1969). ([25])

[20] The Crowland Chronicle Continuations: 1459--1486, ed. N. Pronay, and J. Cox (London: Alan Sutton Publishing for Richard III and Yorkist History Trust, 1986). An older edition is available in "Historiae Croylandensis Continuatio," in Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores Veterum, ed. W. Fulman (Oxford: E Theatro Sheldoniano, 1684), I: 549--92; English translation by R. T. Riley, Ingulph's Chronicle of Abbey of Croyland with the Continuations of Peter of Blois and Anonymous Writers (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 453--510. ([25])

[21] Three Books of Polydore Vergil's English History Comprising the Reigns of Henry VI and Richard III from an Early Translation, ed. H. Ellis (London: Camden Society, 1844), 173--227. ([27])

[22] Alison Hanham provides a good overview of the the early historical accounts in Richard III and His Early Historians (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1975). {72}

[23] See D. Kinney, "Kings' Tragicomedies: Generic Misrule in More's History of Richard III," Moreana 86 (1985): 128--50; A. Hanham, "Thomas More's Satirical Drama," Richard III and his Early Historians, 152--190 (rev. by D. Grace "More's Richard III: A 'Satirical Drama?'" Moreana 57 (1978): 31--38); T. G. Heath, "Another Look at Thomas More's Richard," Moreana 19/20 (1968): 11--19; A. N. Kincaid, "The Dramatic Structure of Sir Thomas More's History of King Richard III," SEL 12 (1972): 223--42, rpt. in Essential Articles, 375--87, 650--1 (rev. by M.-C. Rousseau, Moreana 38 (1973): 95--96); R. M. Warnicke, "More's Richard III and the Mystery Plays," HJ 35 (1992): 761--78. Kinney's article is by far the most balanced treatment of 'dramatic' features of More's text, as well as providing the only serious study of the Latin version. For other literary and historical studies of Richard III, see the section in the Bibliographical Appendix: Richard III: Literary and Historical Studies. ([33], ([37], ([38])

[24] Richard the Third (New York: W. W. Norton, 1956).

[25] The manuscript of Dominic Mancini's Usurpatio (1483) was only discovered in 1936, and the account of the Croyland Chronicle (1486) was only published in 1684 (see n.19 and n.20).

[26] See Charles Ross, Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 96--104.

[27] Polydore Vergil's Anglica Historica (see n.21) was first published in 1534. More and Polydore Vergil were friends, but there is no conclusive evidence that More ever read Polydore's manuscript.

[28] F. J. Levy points to the affinities between the two texts: "In a real sense, though, More's Richard III is the true ancestor of Bacon's Henry the Seventh: separated though they are by almost a century, the two books are very much alike," The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1972), 37. See also M. F. Schuster, "Philosophy of Life and Prose Style in Thomas More's Richard III and Francis Bacon's Henry VII," PMLA 70 (1955): 474--97.

[29] See J. Chomarat, "More, Érasme et les historiens latins," Moreana 86 (1985): 71--107.

[30] For Budé's historical studies, see D. R. Kelley, "Guillaume Budé and the First Historical School of Roman Law," AHR 72 (1967): 807--34.

[31] See M.-M. de la Garanderie, "La correspondance de Guillaume Budé et Thomas More," Moreana 19/20 (1968): 41--68, esp. 50--51.

[32] I suspect that much of the supposed break or discontinuity, that many modern scholars find between More's early humanistic works and his later polemical and devotional works is really, when one comes down to it, a reflection of the differences between More's Latin and his English literary styles. The early English works, such as his English poetry, his translation of the Life of Pico and, of course, the English version of Richard III, show many of the same literary and stylistics techniques that More was to use so extensively in his later English works. While, on the other hand, More's last major work the De Tristitia, written in the Tower of London, shows that More never, even at the end of his life, lost the ability to compose in good humanistic Latin.

[33] I am not convinced by any of the attempts made by past critics to impose a four or five act structure on the text (see bibliography in n.23). However, as long as one does not push the analogy too far, the major and minor divisions, which I discern in the text, might be compared to the "acts" and "scenes" in an eight or nine act drama. For another critic, who divides More's History of Richard III into ten sections, see D. Goy-Blanquet, "Portrait à l'huile de minuit," L'Europe de la Renaissance: Cultures et Civilisations. Mélanges offerts à Marie-Thérèse Jones-Davies (Paris: Jean Touzot, 1988), 133--34.

[34] The scheme I present here in Figure 2.3, for the various sections and subsections in the text, was arrived at in a totally "ad hoc", empirical fashion on the basis of many readings of both the Latin and English versions. The text of both the English and Latin versions is a seamless whole without any breaks or subheadings. The only clues as to possible divisions within the text are given by the marginal glosses, reproduced in CW 2, added by William Rastell to the 1557 edition of the English Version. I have occasionally found these helpful in making my own analysis. {73}

[35] "I would estimate that the De Tristitia (which is almost as long as the Utopia) was written in about 25 sittings, averaging some 6 manuscript [or two printed] pages and ranging from hardly a page to over twenty pages [six printed pages]" (, p. 752, comments in italics mine). [The De Tristitia which prints the Latin text and English translation face-to-face with a facsimile of the autograph manuscript, averages nine lines of Latin per page, whereas the History/Historia averages twenty-seven lines for the Latin Version and twenty-nine for the English. So that one printed page in the Yale Edition corresponds approximately to just over three manuscript pages.] By comparison (ignoring the English Continuation), the History/Historia (The Latin version of which is about seventy-five percent the length of Utopia) consists of twenty-six subsections varying in length from one to seven pages, with an average of three pages.

[36] I have in mind the kind of dialectical movement that Clarence Miller sees running throughout More's works: "On these points, and others, the movement of his thoughts reveals the flux and reflux of a mind considering and reconciling opposite views. Reading the De Tristitia reminds us how pervasively such a dialectic of contrasting viewpoints is woven into the fabric of More's writings. The ironical cross-lights of Richard III, the give-and-take of the dialogues (whether between More and Hythlodaeus, More and the Messenger, or Anthony and Vincent), the statement and counter-statement of the polemical works emanated from a mind habitually accustomed to debating both sides of an issue, whether in an academic exercise on tyrannicide or an actual legal case" (, p. 769).

[37] Alison Hanham's analysis (see n.23) comes closest but is vitiated by her attempt to impose a rigid five-act structure on More's text.

[38] The only serious recent studies of the Latin version are Daniel Kinney's "Kings' Tragicomedies" (see n.23), and "Introduction: Historia Richard Tertii," CW 15, cxxiii--cliv.

[39] That this introductory material was also confusing to at least some sixteenth century readers, is clear from Grafton's attempts to rearrange the introductory sections in the Hardyng/Halle versions---for Grafton's changes see CW 2, xxv--xxvi Hardyng/Halle Versions).

[40] For More's extremely sophisticated use of narrative techniques in the History of Richard III see W. M. Gordon, "Exemplum Narrative and Thomas More's History of Richard III," Clio 9 (1979): 75--88; P. Grant, "Thomas More's Richard III: Moral Narration and Humanist Method," Ren&Ref ns 7 (1983): 157--82, rpt. in Language and the Discovery of Method in the English Renaissance, (London: Macmillan, 1985), 19--47, 160--67; A. D. Hall, "Early Tudor Prose and Civil History in Thomas More's History of King Richard III," Ceremony and Civility in English Renaissance Prose (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP, 1991), 53--100, esp. 88--100; J. Jones, Thomas More (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979), 46--59. See also my discussion in the next chapter of the role of Narrator More at the beginning of Book I of Utopia, where More as author shows a comparable sophistication in narrative technique. For the rhetoric of More's Richard III as inverted panegyric or vituperation of Richard, see E. S. Donno, "Thomas More and Richard III," RenQ 35 (1982): 401--47; and R. E. Reiter, "On the Genre of Thomas More's Richard III," Moreana 25 (1970): 5--16.

[41] Edward, Prince of Wales, is often known as Edward V, and was recognised as such in the later English monarchs, although, because of Richard's successfull usurpation, Edward was never formally crowned. More never refers to him explicitly by this title in his History/Historia, but does acknowledge him as king: "the young king and his tender brother" (CW 2, 82/18--19). Richard, Duke of York, was, together with Edward V, the grandson of the other already previously mentioned Richard, Duke of York. {74}

[42] This dichotomy between the somewhat idealised portrait of the dead Edward IV, and the portrayal right from the outset of Richard III as a villain, is partially undermined by Buckingham's later description of the the darker, more predatory aspects of Edward IV's reign (CW 2, 69--74; CW 15, 454--68), though Buckingham is himself a partisan source.

[43] The Arundel MS adds here "et pariter ipsi [and you yourselves also]" (CW 15, cxl--cxli) which makes the point even more explicit (cf. the English version already quoted).

[44] Verum si vos in pueri regno discordia occupet / multi nimirum viri boni atque egregij videntur ante perituri / nec Principe interim tuto et vobis ipsis imprimis periculo obnoxijs / quam populus intestina semel seditione seuiens in pacem rursus et concordiam redeat.

[45] Cf. Polydore Vergil's "apt both to counterfayt and dissemble" (Anglica historica, 227), and Mancini's "ad dissimulandum aptior erat" ["being better at concealing his thoughts"] (Usurpatio, 62/10).

[46] Personam quamlibet induere gerereque et tueri gnauiter / hylarem / seueram / grauem / remissam / prout sumere aut ponere suasit commodum. In vultu modestia / in animo fastus impotens / ingens / immanis / verbis adblandiens his quos intus impense oderat / nec eorum abstinens complexibus quos destinabat occidere.

[47] ... complicatis digitis suam suorumque fortunam complorantem.

[48] Huic orationi nobiles fere quotquot aderant suffragabantur.

[49] See CW 15, cxxxviii, n.1.

[50] For More's treatment of sanctuary, see W. M. Gordon, "The Religious Edifice and its Symbolism in the Writings of Erasmus, Colet, and More," Moreana 87/88 (1985): 15--23; for background, see P. I. Kaufman, "Henry VII and Sanctuary," Church History 53 (1984): 465--76, and I. D. Thornley, "The Destruction of Sanctuary," Tudor Studies Presented... to Albert Frederick Pollard, ed. R. W. Seton-Watson (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1924), 182--207.

[51] Ego certe hunc asylorum verum ac natiuum vsum esse semper sum arbitratus / vt eorum corpora tuerentur quos alioquin maneret malum tum magnum tum imprimis meritum. / Nam vt declinetur immeritum / non est cur implores peculiare cuiusuis loci priuilegium.

[52] Ceterum verbis ante visum est quam vi experiendum.

[53] Not "further" as glossed by Sylvester (CW 2, 283). See A. Hanham, Richard III and His Early Historians, 214--15 and G. Marc'hadour, Anglia 86 (1968): 214; cf. CW 2, 203, note to 37/12, and CW 15, 384/24--27. See also OED, "Feared," 2, which gives as an example More's "A Mery Gest, lines 349--51: "Yet was this man, well fearder than, lest he the frier had slaine."

[54] This is the first of three insertions, where More's nephew William Rastell included a translation of material taken from the Latin version. Each insertion is marked with a dagger and a *, and each with the gloss: "This that is here betwene this marke, [Dagger] and this marke * was not written by M. More in this history written by him in englishe but is translated oute of this history which he wrote in laten" (CW 2, gloss, 39/6--12).

[55] Ad hec periculo didicimus quam facile cognationis adfectum omnem execranda regni sitis obimbibet: frater fratrem amolitur / sobolesque per ipsum parentis corpus proruit ad imperium / et nepos de patruo securus est?

[56] Simul os admouit ori / cruce eum lustrata auertit sese / lachrimansque a plorante dicessit.

[57] "O dissimulacion" (CW 2, 42/17) reads the gloss of the 1557 edition at this point.

[58] Adductum Protector amplexus atque in vlnas e terra subuehans / "aduenisti / charissime nepos" inquit "ac domine / gratus nimirum omnibus / mihi longe profecto gratissimus." See also G. Marc'hadour, Anglia 86 (1968): 213. {75}

[59] Rastell translated this passage and inserted it in the 1557 edition, cf. CW 2, 42/24--44/18.

[60] See Mancini's account: Usurpatio, 74/6--12 and n.43.

[61] ... per homines astutos et tractandarum rerum artifices rem insinuat.

[62] Talia suggerendo fatigatum Ducis animum eo perpulere vti qua iam ingressum [via] penitebat / eadem pergeret / et quando semel ceperat / gnauiter vsque insisteret. Itaque scelestissimo consilio / quod depelli non posse credebat / fautorem sese sociumque adiunxit / malumque publicum statuit / quando nequiret corrigi / quam maxime posset in suum bonum vertere.

[63] Richard III, III. iv. 31-34, 46-47.

[64] "Pater" inquit "fragra tibi in hortis audio insignia mitescere. Non grauatim scio ferculum vnum tot nobilibus in prandium velut symbolum tuum conferes." "Vtinam" inquit ille "maius aliquid tam facile possim quam hoc libenter faciam" simulque ministrum qui adferret emittit.

[65] See CW 2, 277, notes to 47/6--7 and 47/9, and L. J. Ross, "The Meaning of Strawberries in Shakespeare," Studies in the Renaissance 7 (1960): 225--40, and J. Dover Wilson, "A Note on Richard III: The Bishop of Ely's Strawberries," MLR 52 (1957): 563--64.

[66] "'Videbitis' inquit 'vt hec scelesta mihi cum vxore Shori atque alijs prestigiatricibus fascinatum corpus magicis veneficijs exhauserit.' Simul subducta in cubitum manica brachium profert / admodum haud dubie miserum / sed quale tamen ab initio fuerat. Tum vero merito preter conscios cuncti pauescere / reputantes occasionem tantum rixae primum, deinde cedis apertae captari./ Nam brachium illud miserum probe nouerant." For Richard's deformities see the section The Deformity of Richard III in the Bibliographical Appendix.

[67] Igitur iam Hastyngus amicae commemoratione perculsus (nam eam deamare ferebatur) ....

[68] Sed Hastyngum Protector iussit ad mortem vt se accingeret ac si quid cum sacerdote vellet / adproperaret / "Nam ita Diuum" inquit "Paulum / cui peculiariter seruio / propitium habeam / vt non ante cibi quicquam gustabo quam tibi caput amputatum videam."

[69] ... videlicet homo pius ne peieraret.

[70] Sed quiduis quam humanae mentis vanissimam et exitio iam contiguam securitatem preterierim.

[71] Hastyngum repente confectum / ipsi viuo sic lancinatum caput vt sanguinis vbertim in sinus efflueret....

[72] "Haud satis commode diuisa sunt temporibus / Daue / hec tibi" inquit.

[73] More's portrait of Mistress Shore took on a life of its own, apart from Richard III, and inspired numerous ballads and plays, see the section in the Bibliographical Appendix: Richard III: Shore's Wife and Later Influence. {76}

[74] Pinkerus in medio orationis cursu destitutus voce descendit / auditorio rem in superos referente velut sacrilegae palpationis vltores. Shaus omnem honesti famam perdidit / haud multo post et vitam tedio solitudinis in quam sese pudore publici conspectus abdiderat / at frater perfrictissimae frontis / vt e qua sepe inter disputandum sputa deterserat / olim ad infamiam obtorpuerat.

[75] The Latin version explains the function of the Recorder as follows: "Appellant recordatorem Londinenses ibi eum qui prefecti assessor est / eruditus patrijs legibus / ne quid in reddendis iudicijs imperitia peccetur [The Londoners use the title 'recorder' for a mayoral assistant well trained in the laws of his country who prevents any erroneous judgments from being given through ignorance of the law]" (CW 15, 470/7--9).

[76] Sed nihilo secius durabat idem populi status / non aliter quam sileri concubia nocte solet obticentis / vultuque adeo immobili / nullo vt signo prorsus vllum animi sui sensum pre se ferrent. At Dux / nonnihil offensus quod eius orationem tam aduersis auribus animisque excepissent / auersus in prefectum "Querant" inquit "isti qui ferat silentium istud tam contumax..."

[77] Certe quod ad me attinet / quanquam alium neminem esse scio cui regnum hereditate iure debeatur / pluris tamen has voluntates vestras quam omnes leges / quarum vis omnis a vobis pendet / existimo: quorum quoniam tam solidum in me consensum perspicio / ne vel parum fortis videar in capescenda republica vel vestram in me beneuolentiam non agnoscere / en hic in me hodierno die moderamen vtriusque regni Angliae Galliaeque suscipio / alterum vt tuear atque inaugeam / alterum vt illi subijciam atque in ditionem vestram audiens esse quibus parere debet redigam: nempe administrationem eorum duntaxat meam duco / ius vero fructumque ac proprietatem vtriusque omnem vestrum haud dubie publicam. Quem ego animum quo die habere desiero / eo die precor vt superi mihi non regnum hoc vestrum modo / quod improbe conarer auertere / sed vitam quoque ipsam / vt indignam quae retineatur / eripiant.

[78] See Sylvester's notes in CW 2, 261--66, notes to 82/18 and following.

[79] Grafton also rearranged the order of this passage in the Hardyng/Halle versions, moving it from here and inserting it in the introduction after the death of Edward IV---see CW 2, xxv--xxvi.

[80] For More's treatment of Cardinal Morton in Richard III and Utopia, see J. C. Davis, "More, Morton, and the Politics of Accommodation," JBS 9:2 (1970): 27--49. For background on Morton, see C. S. L. Davis, "Bishop John Morton, the Holy See, and the Accession of Henry VII," EHR 102 (1987): 2--31; and C. Harper-Bill, "The Familia, Administrators and Patronage of Archbishop Morton," JRH 10 (1978/79): 236--52, esp. pp. 247--48, and "Archbishop John Morton and the Province of Canterbury, 1486--1500," JEH 29 (1978): 1--21.

[81] The fable is not found in any existing Aesop collection, see CW 2, 269, note to 93/1--2. More was fond of animal fables, and made use of them in several other of his English works, see especially the "Tale of Mother Maud" in the Dialogue of Comfort, Book II, Chap. 14, CW 12, 114--19.

[82] See A. F. Pollard, Essential Articles, 430; and P. L. Rudnytsky, "More's History of King Richard III as Uncanny Text," Contending Kingdoms: Historical, Psychological, and Feminist Approaches to the Literature of Sixteenth-Century England and France, ed. M.-R. Logan and P. L. Rudnytsky (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1991), 161--66.

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