This document is copyright (c) 1995, 1996 by Romuald Ian Lakowski, all rights reserved. All sections of Interactive EMLS (iEMLS) and iEMLS as a whole are copyright (c) 1995, 1996 by Early Modern Literary Studies, all rights reserved, and may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Archiving and redistribution for profit, or republication of this text in any medium, requires the consent of the copyright holder and the Editor of EMLS.

Summary of the History/Historia of Richard III

Note: While the summary below can be used alone, it was originally meant to serve as an Appendix to my chapter on The History of Richard III in my Ph.D. dissertation:

I have also appended a figure from the same chapter dealing with the structure of The History of Richard III to the end of the summaries below. Further additions to these summaries may be posted on Interactive EMLS in the future.

Any comments or queries can be sent to the author at

Romuald (Ronnie) Ian Lakowski

Table of Contents

2. The History of Richard III

List of Figures from Richard III Chapter

Chapter on The History of Richard III

Return to Thesis Table of Contents

2. The History of Richard III

I) Introductory Section (CW 2, pp. 3--13 = CW 15, pp. 314--36)

1. CW 2, 3/1--6/8 = CW 15, 314/1--320/14
Death of Edward IV [9th April 1483], encomium of dead king; Richard is briefly introduced [6/2--8 = 320/10--14].

2. CW 2, 6/9--9/7 = CW 15, 320/15--326/18
Brief accounts of the deaths of Richard, Duke of York (father of Edward IV, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III), Clarence, and Henry VI (deposed predecessor of Edward IV); character sketch of Richard III (7/15--8/11 = 322/19--324/20); narrator blames Richard III for death of Henry VI, and suggests he was also implicated in the death of Clarence.

3. CW 2, 9/7--10/9 = CW 15, 326/18--328/23
Death of Edward IV; anecdote about Mystlebrook [rumor: 9/7--17 = 326/15--328/5]; Richard plans to usurp the throne and plots to destroy the Queen's party.

4. CW 2, 10/10--13/31 = CW 15, 328/24--336/23
Edward IV's last illness; his death bed speech on the dangers of court factions and civil strife [oratio recta: 11/10--13/24 = 330/16--336/16]; the courtiers pretend to make peace to please Edward IV.

Hardyng/Halle Versions
The Hardyng/Halle versions follow a different order in the introductory section (cf. CW 2, pp. xxv--xxvi): a) para. not in 1557: CW 2, p. xxv; b) = 2 (omits 6/9--13);
c) 6 lines not in 1557: CW 2, p. xxv--xxvi; d) = 4; e) = 1;
f) = CW 2, 88/1--89/2; g) 4 lines not in 1557: CW 2, p. xxvi;
h) to the end = 1557 (omitting Rastell's translations 39/7--24, 42/24--44/18, 81/11--82/12, and bridging the gap at 88/1--89/2).


II) The Deposition of Edward V and Flight of the Queen to Sanctuary (CW 2, pp. 13--22 = CW 15, pp. 336--54)

1. CW 2, 13/31--17/7 = CW 15, 336/24--344/5
The Queen sends her kinsmen to escort Edward V from Ludlow in Wales to London for his coronation [Edward V leaves Ludlow 24th April 1483]. Richard persuades the Duke of Buckingham (a powerful noble), and Lord Hastings (the Lord Chamberlain and an enemy of the Queen), to join with him in plotting against the Queen's party [oratio recta: 14/27--15/25 = 338/26--340/21]. Richard persuades the Queen, through intermediaries, to reduce the size of the young king's escort [oratio obliqua: 16/12--30 = 342/12--344/5].

2. CW 2, 17/7--20/17 = CW 15, 344/6--350/15
Edward V is met at Northhampton by Richard and Buckingham. Arrest of Lord Rivers (the Queen's brother), Thomas Gray (the Queen's eldest son by her first marriage), and Thomas Vaughan (knight and retainer of the Queen). The young king strongly protests [oratio obliqua: 19/9--18 = 348/5--14; oratio recta: 19/18--23 = 348/15--22]. The prisoners are later executed at Pontefract. The young king is escorted to London by Richard and Buckingham.

3. CW 2, 20/17--23/1 = CW 15, 350/16--354/28
The Queen flees to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey (next door to the Royal Palace) with her younger son Richard, duke of York. Informed of the events at Nottingham [oratio recta: 21/11--15 = 352/12--16], the Archbishop of York [Thomas Rotherham], then Chancellor of England, goes to comfort the Queen, and gives her the Great Seal [symbol of Royal authority; oratio recta: 22/4--11 = 354/3--11]. However, he later secretly recovers the Great Seal from the Queen.


III) The Meeting of the Lords in Council (CW 2, pp.23--33 = CW 15, pp.356--76)

1. CW 2, 23/1--25/17 = CW 15, 356/1--360/3
Hastings addresses the Lords and calms their fears [oratio obliqua: 23/4--24; oratio recta: 356/7--17]. The conspirators haul around some old armour to try to give credence to the claim that the Queen's kinsmen were plotting to seize power. Edward V arrives in London [4th May 1483]. He is welcomed by the Lord Mayor, Edmund Shaa (later one of Richard's henchmen). Richard is made Protector. The Archbishop of York is removed from office and John Russell, the Bishop of Lincoln is made Chancellor in his place (later to serve also as Richard's Chancellor). Hastings remains Lord Chamberlain.

2. CW 2, 25/10--28/19 = CW 15, 360/4--366/5
Richard plots to get the younger son out of sanctuary. He speaks to the Lords in council [oratio obliqua: 25/17--32 = 360/13--24; oratio recta: 26/6--27/18 = 360/25--364/15], and argues that Richard, duke of York, be brought out of sanctuary to keep his elder brother Edward company. The Lord Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury [Thomas Bourchier], is delegated by Richard to be sent to persuade the Queen to give up her younger son. The nobles approve Richard's speech. The Cardinal [not the Archbishop of York as the English version wrongly states: CW 2, 27/23, 28/9] agrees to go to the Queen as long as the rights of sanctuary are not impaired [oratio obliqua: 27/23--28/8 = 364/15--28; oratio recta: 28/9--19 = 364/28--366/5].

3. CW 2, 28/19--33/19 = CW 15, 366/6--376/17
Buckingham responds to the Cardinal and gives a long speech denouncing the abuses of sanctuary, and concludes that, since the young prince has committed no crime. there is no reason for him to be given sanctuary [oratio recta: the whole passage].


IV) The Debate on Sanctuary Between the Queen and the Cardinal (CW 2, pp. 33--42 = 376--96)

1. CW 2, 33/20--34/30 = CW 15, 376/18--378/20
The Lord Cardinal and a party of Lords go to the Queen to persuade her to hand over her younger son [oratio obliqua: 34/6--30 = 378/5--20].

2. CW 2, 34/31--40/8 = CW 15, 378/21--390/25 [CW 2, 39/7--24 = W. Rastell's trans.]
The debate between the Queen and the Cardinal. This whole passage smacks of the law courts. The Queen (aka "England's first woman lawyer") puts up a spirited defence of her rights as legal guardian to keep her son in the sanctuary [oratio recta: the whole passage].

3. CW 2, 40/9--42/24 = CW 15, 390/26--396/20
The Cardinal threatens the Queen, that Richard's men intend to seize the prince, and forces her to hand over her younger son. She appeals to the nobles not to trust Richard, and tearfully says goodbye to her son in a scene full of pathos [oratio obliqua: 40/8--23 = 390/26--392/8; oratio recta: 41/14--42/10 = 394/3--396/8]. The two young princes are then taken to the Tower of London, where Edward is supposed to prepare for his coronation [around 9-19th May].


V) The Execution of Hastings (CW 2, pp. 42--54 = CW 15, pp. 396--422)

1. CW 2, 42/24--45/5 = CW 15, 396/21--402/12 [CW 2, 42/24--44/13 = W. Rastell's trans.]
On how Richard persuaded Buckingham to conspire with him [retrospective: cf. CW 2, 87/24--89/4; oratio obliqua: 43/9--27 = 398/7--20]. Little by little the followers of King Edward V withdraw from the Tower and join the Protector's household instead.

2. CW 2, 45/6--46/26 = CW 15, 402/13--406/13
Lord Stanley, the Earl of Derby, expresses mistrust of Richard. Hastings assures him that his agent Catesby (who managed most of Hastings' estates, and who was also a member of Richard's council) would inform him of any decisions made by Richard [oratio recta: 45/11--19 = 402/20--26]. The treachery of Catesby: Catesby tells Richard that Hastings will not agree to the deposition of Edward V, and persuades Richard to have him killed.

3. CW 2, 46/27--49/24 = CW 15, 406/14--412/21
Richard holds a council meeting in the Tower [13th June 1483]. He asks the Bishop of Ely, John Morton (later Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England under Henry VII), for a "mess of strawberries" [dialogue: 47/5--10 = 406/16--22]. He then accuses the Queen and Mistress Shore (Edward IV's mistress) of plotting against him, and uses this as a pretext for arresting Hastings (who had taken Mistress Shore as his own mistress after Edward IV's death). In the melše that follows Stanley is wounded, and the members of the council (including the Bishop of Ely) are arrested. Hastings is executed before Richard has his dinner.

4. CW 2, 49/15--54/14 = CW 15, 414/1--422/26
Stanley's dream. He sends a messenger to Hastings, who refuses to take the dream seriously [oratio obliqua: 49/30--50/9 = 414/7--19; oratio recta: 50/10--25 = 414/19--416/6]. More portents. Hastings and the herald [dialogue: 52/1--13 = 418/13--19]. The Protector's edict justifying Hastings' execution. The citizen of London express scepticism.


VI) Edward IV's Love Life: Mistress Shore and Lady Elizabeth Grey (CW 2, pp. 54--66 = CW 15, pp. 424--448)

1. CW 2, 54/13--57/13 = CW 15, 424/1--430/14
Richard makes Mistress Shore do public penance. Retrospective: Portrait of Mistress Shore as Edward's favorite mistress. Her present existence living in poverty and beggary. End of digression.

2. CW 2, 57/14--59/2 = CW 15, 430/15--436/6
Execution of Rivers, Grey and Vaughan by Sir Richard Ratcliff. Richard prepares to seize the crown. He recruits two priests: Doctor Shaa (the mayor's brother) and Friar Penker to preach sermons alleging the bastardy both of Edward IV himself, and of his sons.

3. CW 2, 60/2--66/8 = CW 15, 436/4--448/16
Retrospective: On Edward IV's courtship: a young widow, Lady Elizabeth Gray, lays suit to Edward IV for some lands that had been confiscated. The king attempts to seduce her. She refuses his advances unless the king is prepared to marry her. He takes a fancy to her [oratio obliqua: 62/1--8 = 440/5--12]. However, the Queen Mother, the Duchess of York, opposes the match alleging a precontract with another woman, Elizabeth Lucy [actually Eleanor Butler]. Edward responds to his mother, insisting on going ahead with the marriage despite her objections [oratio recta: 62/9--64/19 = 440/12--446/4]. The Earl of Warwick (who had previously helped Edward IV depose Henry VI), opposes the wedding and restores Henry VI to the throne. The Queen takes sanctuary in Westminster Abbey where Edward V is born. The Earl of Warwick is slain and the crown restored to Edward IV. End of digression.


VII) Doctor Shaa and Buckingham Address the Citizens of London (CW 2, pp. 66--77 = CW 15, pp. 448--474)

1. CW 2, 66/9--68/34 = CW 15, 448/17--454/12
Doctor Shaa preaches a sermon at Paul's Cross [22nd June 1483] in which he claims that Edward's children by Elizabeth Gray were bastards since Edward was already precontracted to Elizabeth Lucy, and further that Edward himself and Clarence were probably bastards as well [oratio obliqua: 66/25--67/32 = 450/3--452/14]. Richard's stage-managed entrance goes awry: the crowds do not greet him enthusiastically as Shaa had hoped [oratio recta: 68/15--21]. Doctor Shaa dies of shame a few days later.

2. CW 2, 69/1--74/34 = CW 15, 454/13--468/14
A couple of days after Shaa's sermon [24th June 1483], Buckingham addresses the citizens of London in the Guildhall. He denounces the evils of Edward IV's reign and mentions some citizens whom Edward IV had punished or executed. He emphasises Edward's greed, rapacity and sexual libertinism. Elizabeth Lucy was Edward's lawful wife not Elizabeth Gray. The Protector is the only worthy claimant to the throne. "Woe to the kingdom whose king is a child" [oratio recta: the whole passage].

3. CW 2, 74/34--77/6 = CW 15, 468/15--474/2
The citizens do not respond to Buckingham's speech. He rehearses it again. The citizens still remain unmoved. The Recorder FitzWilliam (who is the only one who can officially address the citizens in the Guildhall) then repeats Buckingham's speech, but stressing that these are the Duke's words and not his own. The crowd remains stubbornly silent. The Duke addresses the citizens again [oratio recta: 76/1--11 = 470/19--472/5]. Then some of the Duke's servants and the Protector's retainers cry out "Richard King Richard." Buckingham then pretends that the citizens have acclaimed Richard as king [oratio recta: 76/28--77/1 = 472/20--25].


VIII) Richard's Acclamation as King and Coronation (CW 2, pp. 77--82 = CW 15, pp. 474--484)

1. CW 2, 77/7--81/10 = CW 15, 474/3--482/24
The next day [25th June 1483], the Mayor and the aldermen go to Baynard's castle, where Richard is staying. Buckingham also arrives with some of the nobles. He persuades Richard to accept his 'election' as king. At first Richard pretends to be reluctant, but finally agrees [oratio obliqua: 77/29--79/29 = 474/14--480/3; oratio recta: 79/29--80/16 = 480/6--23]. Cynical reflections by the onlookers about the whole thing being stage-managed.

2. CW 2, 81/11--82/12 = CW 15, 482/25--484/25 [W. Rastell's trans.) = CW 15, 482/25--484/25]
The day after [26th June 1483], Richard goes to Westminster Hall, and declares his intention to be crowned there. [He never acknowledges the death of the princes.] Pardon of Fogg. He begins his reign on this day, and is crowned on the 6th July 1483.


IX) The Continuation of the English Version (CW 2, pp. 82--93)

1. CW 2, 82/13--87/4
On the murder of the princes. Perkin Warbeck and doubts about the princes' death. Robert Brackenberry, the Constable of the Tower, refuses to kill the princes. Richard looks for a suitable murderer. Sir James Tyrell is suggested [oratio recta: 83/24--29]. Tyrell then recruits some accomplices. The princes are smothered. Their secret burial. The fate of the murderers.

2. CW 2, 87/4--90/17 cf. CW 15, 396/21--400/15 [CW 2, 42/24--44/13 = W. Rastell's trans.]
Richard becomes paranoid and starts acting strangely. Richard and Buckingham have a falling out. [Retrospective on Buckingham: 88/1--89/4; moved to "Introductory Section" in Hardyng/Halle Version. This account is placed earlier in the Latin version (and translated by W. Rastell in the corresponding place in the English version).] After Richard's coronation, Buckingham demands the Duke of Hereford's lands in exchange for his part in supporting Richard. Richard refuses. Buckingham then becomes alienated from Richard.

3. CW 2, 90/17--93/25
John Morton, Bishop of Ely (who had been placed in Buckingham's custody after his arrest), wins Buckingham's confidence. Encomium of Morton [90/22--91/21]. Morton leads Buckingham on to think of revolting against Richard [oratio recta: 92/4--93/25]. The account breaks off here suddenly.


List of Figures from Richard III Chapter

The Structure of The History 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


iEMLS Home Page