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Richard III was king of England for two turbulent years. He is best known for being accused of murdering his nephews to protect his throne.
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Born in England on October 2, 1452, Richard III served as king of England for only two years, but his reign was one of the most historic and turbulent. He is credited with the responsibility for several murders, including those of his nephews Edward and Richard, and of Henry VI. Shakespeare portrayed him as a tyrannical ruler in his play, King Richard III,
but modern scholars have pointed to evidence that Richard III was a successful leader. He died in England in 1485.
Born in Northamptonshire, England, on October 2, 1452, King Richard III remains one of England's most infamous rulers. Modern scholars, however, question how much his bad reputation is true and how much is myth. Richard arrived into this world with little expectation that he would win fame or claim power. He was the youngest surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and his wife, Cecily Neville. It is thought that Richard spent his early years at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.
Richard III was a child when his family, the House of York, engaged in battle against the Lancastrians for control of the country. This long and bloody civil conflict is known as the War of the Roses. Richard lost his father, an uncle and one of his brothers in December 1460 battling for the crown. Another brother, Edward IV, scored an impressive victory against King Henry VI, and his Lancastrian supporters the following February.
When Edward IV officially took power in March 1461, young Richard became a prince. He was also granted the title "Duke of Gloucester." When he was old enough, Richard assumed the rights and responsibilities with his noble status.
In 1469, the War of the Roses resumed with Richard's brother losing power in 1470. King Henry VI resumed his reign only briefly, however. Edward IV was back on the throne the following year. His loyalty to his brother Edward during this time brought Richard great rewards, including lands that once belonged to those who rose up against the king. He also was able to marry Anne Neville, the daughter of the earl of Warwick, and gain a share of her substantial wealth. Richard and Anne only had one child together, a son named Edward, around 1476.
In the early 1480s, Richard III distinguished himself in battle. He helped his brother invade Scotland and received an area of Cumberland and the right to other lands for his efforts. His role in the campaign against Scotland had increased Richard III's prominence and power.
When King Edward IV died in 1483, his oldest son took power as Edward V—the new king was only 12 years old at the time. As his uncle, Richard III wrestled control from his nephew in May 1483. He had himself appointed the king's lord protector, which allowed him to run the government.
Richard also set into motion other plans to ensure that he could usurp the crown. Both Edward V and his younger brother Richard were taken into Richard III's custody. The two boys were imprisoned in the Tower of London where they spent the remainder of their days.
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