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Stand up for the last Plantagenet

On this day in 1485, betrayed when the treacherous Stanleys switched sides in mid-battle, Richard III fell on Bosworth Field, shouting “Treason!” at the last.

Then the ascendant Tudor dynasty proceeded to blacken his reputation, with a biography by Thomas More and the supreme villainy of Shakespeare’s representation—what the BritLit professoriate refers to as the “Tudor propaganda machine.”

Perhaps you know better. You may have read Josephine Tey’s pleasant The Daughter of Time, in which a detective laid up in hospital gets fascinated by Richard II and gradually ferrets out the historical truth. You might have read in Paul Murray Kendall’s solid biography of 1956 that Richard was, by and large, a moderate and reforming monarch. You may have spotted a passing reference in one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries that Wolfe removed More’s Utopia from his shelves because More “framed Richard III.”

Still, not much to be done. A restoration of the Plantagenets looks even less likely than a restoration of the Stuarts, so we’re stuck with these dreary descendants of the Hanoverians.

But if you are reaching for a gesture of solidarity with fact-based history, you might wear in your lapel today the white rose of the House of York.



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