Publication Date



Richard III, English history


He is not the likeliest theme for an American undergraduate classroom: his reign lasted barely two years; he contributed nothing of lasting significance to history; he is more memorable for his spectacular final defeat than for any victory; he was accused of murdering children; and he was after all an English king, as far removed as possible from the typical experience of an American undergraduate. Even the times he lived in are against him. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, his century was “the brutalest, the wickedest, the rottenest in history since the darkest ages.”1 Yet he continues to fascinate students, mainly because he was also the victim of one of the most vicious smear campaigns in history, which turned him into a deformed, inhuman monster, the form in which he was immortalized as one of the most memorable characters in Shakespeare’s history plays. Now his defenders are out to set the record straight, with a society and even a journal bearing his name. The planets seem to be smiling upon their enterprise: in 2012 his body was discovered underneath a parking lot, and reinterred to great fanfare in Leicester Cathedral on 26 March 2015.