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Richard III of England

You may be looking for the play by William Shakespeare.

Richard III was the Duke of Gloucester in 1483, and King of England from 1483 until his apparent death in 1485.

Most sources agree that someone resembling Richard III was present at the Battle of Bosworth. However, sources disagree on if this was actually Richard himself. One in particular suggests that it was actually William Shakespeare who was present at the battle, and that Richard took his place afterwards.


Rise to power[]

In 1483, Richard was the Duke of Gloucester. On the night of 9 April of that year, Richard's brother, King Edward IV, died suddenly. His successor, Prince Edward V, was still a twelve-year-old (AUDIO: The Battle of the Tower) child whose mother's family was manoeuvring to keep the future king under their own control. The Queen Consort sent her brother, Earl Rivers, to escort the prince back to London. The escort passed through Buckinghamshire, where Richard and his ally Henry, Duke of Buckingham joined the Prince's party to keep close watch on both him and Rivers.

After the Prince and Rivers had retired at an inn, Richard and Henry went for a walk outside and were startled by the arrival of the Doctor's TARDIS. A mysterious bearded man dressed in black and calling himself Mr Seyton emerged, claiming to be a wise traveller who had come from the future to provide counsel to Richard. Seyton told Richard he would be crowned king, and centuries later there would even be a play based on his reign. Richard was dubious about Seyton's claims of foreknowledge, but considered his presence a portent. Richard decided to allow Seyton to prove himself as adviser.

Before the young Prince could be crowned King, he and his brother were declared illegitimate by the court when it invalidated the marriage of the deceased King Edward to their mother. Richard was crowned king.

Seyton remained the king's adviser, and continually insisted that removing the princes from the line of succession would not be enough to solidify his claim to the throne and they should be killed. Richard was unwilling to murder his brother's children and refused, insisting that locking the princes in the Tower of London was enough.

Encounters with the Doctor and Seyton[]

In 1485, the Fifth Doctor, Peri Brown and Erimem investigated the mystery of the princes' disappearance and discovered Seyton's true plan and identity: William Shakespeare, who had sneaked aboard the TARDIS and travelled to 1483 in an attempt to influence history to more closely resemble his play. However, Richard had realised Seyton/Shakespeare was untrustworthy from the beginning.

It was later revealed that there were no princes in the Tower at all. Edward IV had not had sons but daughters, Susan and Judith. Edward kept up the ruse that they were boys in order to guard his family's claim to the throne with male heirs. After Edward's death, Richard discovered the ruse and had kept up the pretence that there were two princes in the tower while in reality he had sent his nieces to live out their lives safely as peasants working for Clarrie, innkeeper at The Kingmaker. Clarrie was really Richard's other brother George, disgraced Duke of Clarence, who had been sentenced to death for plotting against Edward IV. Unwilling to have his brother executed, Richard had quietly effected George's escape into anonymity.


According to one source, Richard found himself in the TARDIS as the Doctor attempted to take Shakespeare back to 1597, arriving on-stage as an unruly performance was breaking up. Richard was enraged by the stereotypical portrayal in the play as an ugly, hunchbacked man with a limp and withered arm, and he chased Shakespeare through 1597 London. Shakespeare doubled back to the TARDIS, and threatened to detonate a Sontaran grenade unless the Doctor returned immediately to 1485 to pick up the missing princesses; with Richard, they would all be brought back to Shakespeare's own time and stand trial for their crimes against the crown. During the confrontation, Erimem broke Shakespeare's arm, and he was further injured by the publishing robot when he left the TARDIS once again, this time at the 1485 Battle of Bosworth, Richard's historically recorded final defeat. Shakespeare, with his injured arm and limp, matched the stereotypical description of King Richard, and was killed by Richard's enemies in his place at the battle.

This source suggested that Richard decided to return to 1597 and take Shakespeare's allotted place in history; he had never really wanted power, and had no desire to return to the throne in his own time when the common public sentiment was that he had killed his nephews. Richard saw taking up Shakespeare's writing career as his second chance at earning a place in history. The Doctor recommended Richard contact Francis Bacon for writing tips. Settling into his new life as Shakespeare, Richard was soon surprised by a visit from Susan and Judith, whom the Doctor had brought forward in time to join him; history recorded that not only had Shakespeare had a son who'd died, but two daughters, and since the princesses had no place in the history of their own time, the Doctor knew their true destiny lay with their uncle as he pursued his own. (AUDIO: The Kingmaker)

Richard is saved near the end of his life. (COMIC: A Rose by Any Other Name)

This source is one of the only to ever reference the switching of Shakespeare and Richard, and in fact most sources suggest that both men continued in their lives as historically suggested. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass, et al.)

By 2019, his remains had been found in a car park in Leicester. (TV: Resolution)

Other references[]

Actor Howard Keel starred as Richard III in the 1954 film Tricky Dicky!, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. (COMIC: The Good Soldier)

Behind the scenes[]

  • He has been played by Ron Cook and Ian McKellen in different versions of Richard III, Aneurin Barnard in The White Queen and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hollow Crown.
  • At the time of the recording of The Kingmaker, it was widely believed by historians that accounts of Richard III having a curved spine and shrivelled arm were based entirely in myth. The discovery of his remains in 2012 confirmed that while he was not a hunch-back, he did have scoliosis. DNA testings confirmed a match between the corpse and the descendants of Richard III, at least confirming to scientists that the body was not secretly that of William Shakespeare.