Interesting Facts about King Richard III — Part One

Countdown: 45 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.

Conversation flagging at a cocktail party? Tense moment at the family dinner table? Run into someone at the office water cooler? Hoping to impress your true love with a tasty bit of trivia? Try one of these interesting facts about King Richard III — part of an on-going series — to start the conversation or return it to a more even keel. (You’re most welcome.)

  • William Shakespeare wrote in King Henry VI, Part 2 that the future King Richard III killed the Duke of Somerset at the Battle of St. Albans in May 1455, which was when Richard would have been just two years old.
  • The future King Richard III was given the title of Duke of Gloucester in 1461. Until the 20th century, this title could be said to be an unlucky one as other princes who were given this were Thomas of Woodstock (1355-97) murdered and died a traitor; Humphrey of Lancaster (1390-1447) wife exiled for witchcraft and arrested for treason only days before his death; Henry Stuart (1640-60) died young of smallpox; Prince William (1689-1700) also died young; and Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-51) estranged from his father, George II, and died before he could inherit the crown.
  • As the Duke of Gloucester, Richard captured the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, then a Scottish possession, in August 1482 during an ongoing war with Scotland. Berwick has remained in English hands ever since.
  • William Caxton, England’s first printer, dedicated his translation of Ordre of Chyvalry or Knyghthode to King Richard III in April 1484.
  • King Richard III had the shortest reign of a crowned monarch since the Norman Conquest.
  • King Richard III was buried on 25 August 1485, his leg bones were discovered on 25 August 2012 during the now famous archeological dig in Leicester, 527 years later. (Finding Richard III: The Official Account)
  • The National Portrait Gallery portrait of King Richard III was painted in the late 16th century, about a century after his death. It is believed to be based on a now-lost earlier image and has a likeness to the facial reconstruction made from Richard’s skull.
  • Jane Austen wrote of King Richard III, “The Character of this Prince has been in general very severely treated by Historians, but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable Man.”
  • The earliest surviving American feature film is The Life and Death of King Richard III starring Frederick Warde from 1912.
  • The Richard III Society was founded by Liverpool surgeon S. Saxon Barton in 1924 as The Fellowship of the White Boar. The society became moribund during WWII, however in the 1950s, it was reinvigorated and was renamed The Richard III Society in 1959.
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