Who was Richard III, and why was he vulnerable to a challenge to his right to rule? Who was Henry of Richmond, and on what basis could he claim the throne? Given the difference between these two men’s claims, why did Henry of Richmond manage to win so much support? Richard III (1452-1485) was the third son of Richard, Duke of York, (1441-1460) and Cecily Neville (1415-1495), and the younger brother to Edward IV (1442-1483), King of England (r. 1461-1470 and 1471-1483) and George, Duke of Clarence (1449-1478). He was born in Northamptonshire, England on October 2nd, 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle. Upon the ascension of his brother Edward to the English Throne as King Edward IV in March of 1461, Richard was made Duke of Gloucester at the tender age of 8 years old and sent to live with his cousin Richard Neville (1428-1471), 16th Earl of Warwick, (a.k.a. the “Kingmaker”) in Yorkshire to begin his formal education as a nobleman.
When Henry VI (1421-1471), ousted during one of his many bouts of insanity, came back to power in 1470, the young Richard fled with his brother to Europe to return a year later as the Vanguard Commander during the Battle of Barnet, April 14th, 1471, and the Battle of Tewkesbury, May 4th, 1471, during which the Earl of Warwick (Barnet) and the Lancastrian heir to the English throne Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (1453-1471) (Tewkesbury) died. Henry VI would mysteriously follow his son a few days later while imprisoned a few weeks later on May 21st, 1471.
With Edward back in power on the English throne, Richard married the widow of the slain Prince Edward, Lady Anne Neville (1456-1485) on July 12th, 1472 (estimated exact date is unknown) and moved to Middleham Castle in the northern county of Yorkshire to take up his duties as the Warden and Governor of the West Marches of Scotland. They would have only one child, Edward of Middleham (1473-1484). Edward was crown as the Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, and 1st Earl of Salisbury on August 24th, 1483. The young prince died at only 10 years old, tuberculosis is the suspected cause.
During his tenure in the north, Richard was diligent in the execution of his office and when the 1474 treaty between Edward VI of England and James III of Scotland, involving the future marriage of Prince James (1473-1513), heir to Scotland and future James IV (r. 1488-1513), and Cecily of York (1469-1507), second surviving daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492) began to fail over the Auld Alliance with France and the border attacks began again. In 1482, he led a successful invasion of Scotland to reclaim the town of Berwick that had been given to the Scottish king by Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou in 1462.
When Edward IV died on April 9th 1483, Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, was made Lord Protector over his nephew, the supposed to be next King of England, the 12 year-old Princess Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York. Richard as Lord Protector had the two boys taken to the Royal Apartments in the Tower of London. First Edward on his arrival on May 4th, then young Richard on June 16th, when he left his mother and sisters in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey to join his brother. The later left when his uncle supposedly discovered a plot against him led by Lord William Hastings (1431-1483), a Yorkist and Woodville family supporter, all this done in the name of protecting the heir and future of the English Monarchy. Lord Hastings would be executed immediately and his alleged co-conspirators Archbishop Thomas Rotherham (1423-1500), Bishop John Morton (1420-1500), and Lord Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (1435-1504). Lord Stanley was the stepfather of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
The super secret marriage of Edward to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464 would shatter this protected future when on June 22nd, 1483 that marriage was declared to be illegal and invalid