England's Black Legend
Foreword by Thomas Penn
In a newly revised edition, Seward’s riveting biography breathes new life into one of English history’s most divisive and infamous figures.
Richard III – the ‘Heathcliff of English Kings’ – has always been the subject of passionate debate, and all the more so since the discovery of his skeleton in 2012. As Desmond Seward writes in his chilling biography, Richard casts ‘a strange spell’ on academics, authors and the popular imagination. The author himself is no exception, writing in the preface to this edition that he has been ‘enthralled by him since I was a small boy’. Though initially drawn to the revisionist view, which mitigates Richard’s alleged crimes or absolves him of them entirely, Seward became convinced of the truth within the traditional version of Richard’s rise to the throne.
Here he builds a vivid picture of the ‘thin and pale’ man with a deformed spine who was born at the dawn of one of England’s bloodiest eras – the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Seward says, was in the midst of the violence: a ruthless ‘Machiavellian genius’ who would stop at nothing in his bid for power. Seward weighs the evidence for Richard’s role in the murder of Henry VI, his failure to prevent the bizarre and brutal execution of his brother George and, most disturbing of all, his disposal of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, who disappeared after ‘one of the most brilliant coups d’état in history’.
Bound in buckram blocked with a design by Joe McLaren
Set in Poliphilus
Frontispiece and 12 pages of colour plates, and 6 integrated brass rubbings
9½˝ x 6¼˝