Richard III Haiku

One nephew mislaid

Is unfortunate. To lose

Two is carelessness.

Richard III became King of England 535 years ago today, which was a great decision that he definitely didn’t come to regret.

How did that even happen anyway? Short version: big bro Edward IV died earlier in the year, just shy of his 41st birthday, because he way overdid it on the wine, women, and song. This was especially bad, because his oldest son and heir, Edward V, was just 12 years old and as a general rule, your country’s not going to do well with a child head of state. Not the least because of the inevitable jockeying for power, which surprise, surprise, happened here. Richard was named Lord Protector. Elizabeth Woodville (Ed 5’s mother and subject of a previous haiku) thought to bypass this by speedily crowning her boy and so keeping her family’s hold on power.

Fast forward, he gets both the young king and younger brother in his custody and chops off the heads of certain members of Elizabeth’s family. The two neither liked nor trusted each other, so maybe it was a ‘kill or be killed’ situation. Nevertheless, he soon declared himself King on the grounds that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth was invalid. (A priest claimed he secretly marries another woman first, which is both reeeeeally convenient and just the shit Edward would pull.) Thus, Ed 5’s a bastard, and Dick’s your uncle. The nephews were never seen again.

While he did try to be an able and just administrator, his reign was marred by rebellion and he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth by Henry Tudor’s forces in 1485. Maybe it was a mistake to partly rely on forces led by Tudor’s danged stepfather.

So. Did he kill his nephews? There’s a high chance. (If they were indeed murdered and it wasn’t him, it was probably the Duke of Buckingham. I dismiss Henry Tudor as a candidate for lack of opportunity. Alternate fun theory: one or both could have died of some disease or another, which would have been incredibly awkward.) He was certainly free with the axe when he became King, too, although a lot of deaths attributed to him (his wife Anne, his brother George of Clarence, Henry VI, Henry’s son Edward), just… no.

Anyway, he died. Should’ve just stayed in York.

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