Book review: The Last Days of Richard III

Countdown: 14 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

Last Days of Richard III

The Last Days of Richard III 
by John Ashdown-Hill

As part of my upcoming trip to Leicester, I thought it would be a good idea to brush up on my King Richard III knowledge, so last month I read Finding Richard III: The Official Account of Research by the Retrieval and Reburial Project and The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III, so I thought I should read the book that inspired the dig, The Last Days of Richard III.

Written by Richard III Society member, author, historian, and member of the Looking for Richard team, John Ashdown-Hill, the book covers the last six months of King Richard III’s life, starting with the death of his queen, Anne, up to his own death at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Ashdown-Hill also addresses what happened to King Richard III’s body afterwards and his long-lost grave. Philippa Langley read this book shortly after it came out and from there began the Looking For Richard Project with Ashdown-Hill and others leading to the discovery of King Richard III underneath the Leicestershire County Council’s parking lot and now his upcoming reinterment later this month.

Ashdown-Hill makes a good point at the beginning of his book, that “this book deliberately seeks to see things as they might have appeared to contemporaries, most of whom must simply have assumed, at the beginning of 1485, that Richard III still had many year of life and reign ahead of him.” It is clear that as Richard travelled around England in the spring and summer of 1485 that Henry Tudor’s invasion was a worry, but that finding a wife and ruling his country were more important.

I enjoyed Ashdown-Hill’s discussion about genetics and the genealogical detective work that lead to Joy Ibsen, King Richard III’s collateral-line descendant. Since the discovery of King Richard III, Ashdown-Hill has added a chapter to the book’s subsequent editions, now called The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of his DNA, about the dig, discovery of the remains, and the identification of said remains. Unfortunately, I don’t have that edition, but even without the new chapter, this book was certainly an excellent read.

At $19.95 it’s well worth buying. Here are links to the book on and

The History Press, 2013 (new edition)
ISBN 978-0752492056
190 pages including several appendices, such as King Richard’s itinerary for March to August 1485; the approximate timetable for Monday, 22 August 1485; and John Speede’s account of the burial of Richard III; and index. Sixteen pages of black-and-white plates.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book review: The Last Days of Richard III

  1. Leslie says:

    Hi there — I’m enjoying your blog very much. Thank you so much for blogging about your trip to Leicester — for those of us who can’t make it, this is definitely the next best thing for getting that a sense of that personal experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s