• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain why Richard, Duke of Gloucester, made himself King in 1483.

Extracts from this document...


Explain why Richard, Duke of Gloucester made himself King of England in 1483. (12 marks) England in mid-1483 was an unstable and dangerous place. The King, Edward IV, had died and turmoil raged as to who was to be his son, the twelve-year-old King Edward V's Protector and rule as Regent until the King was old enough to rule by himself. Among the front-runners was Edward IV's brother and fastidiously loyal servant, Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of Gloucester, the uncle of the King. However, far from living up to his loyal reputation with the new King, within a couple of months he had usurped the throne, imprisoned the King and shown his ruthlessness by murdering both allies and enemies. There are a number of reasons why Gloucester ended up being King. Edward IV had married Elizabeth Woodville a decade and a half before he died and many disapproved of the marriage; considering the Woodvilles a large, common family which were nothing but a drain on resources. They were given large swathes of land and power during Edward's reign and came to be one of the most powerful Yorkist families. As such, after Edward's death, the Queen felt that her family should look after Edward V - after all, he was her son. ...read more.


He sent a message soon after the death of Edward to stop the Woodvilles seizing power while Gloucester was up north. If Hastings had not warned him of this Gloucester may have been too late to intercept Rivers and the King and therefore would not have had enough control to usurp the throne. Also pivotal to Gloucester's rise to power was the errors made by his sworn rivals for the throne, the Woodville family. The Woodvilles had many enemies. They were seen as a common and large family who were 'social climbers', elevated into power by simple luck. Gloucester, Hastings, Buckingham and many other nobles hated them. The Queen was a Woodville, and as a result Edward IV had given the family lots of land and power, which many felt that they did not deserve. They were also unpleasant according to primary sources - arrogant, scheming, vengeful and grasping. Upon Edward IV's death, the Woodvilles had an excellent strategic position. Edward V had been raised by the Woodvilles - he was more accustomed to them than his uncle. Edward was staying with Earl Rivers in Wales, whereas Gloucester was in Middleham Castle near Durham. Rivers also had the rights to move the Prince under armed guard and also to raise troops in the Welsh Marches. ...read more.


His cunning personality led to claims that Edward IV's sons were illegitimate. The late King had two sons; Edward, Prince of Wales and Richard, Duke of York. They were the rightful heirs to the throne, but both were now locked up in the tower. Many people were wondering what Gloucester intended to do. Late in June 1483, the friar Ralph Shaw held a sermon in London announcing that Edward's sons were illegitimate and therefore Gloucester was the rightful heir as the King's brother. This wasn't a rumour made up on the spur of the moment; rumours that Elizabeth Woodville had made Edward marry her through witchcraft had been around since the 1470s. Gloucester took full advantage of these rumours and Buckingham persuaded Parliament that it was true. They declared Edward's sons illegitimate and proclaimed Gloucester king. This was the final step in his master plan. So, in summary, many historians believe that the failure of the Woodvilles to capitalise on their strategic advantages was the key factor in Richard becoming King. If Rivers had left slightly earlier, Edward would be under Woodville control and Richard would probably have faded into insignificance as just another pretender to the English throne. Most historians consider that Richard's character itself, while somewhat important in that he took the initiative to seize the throne, was not that important, instead being superseded by his allies' roles and the fallacies of the Woodville faction. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explain why Richard III was able to usurp the throne of England in June ...

    4 star(s)

    Richard could not let the Woodville's take control of the young prince when he was to become king as they may have taken away his power and given it to a member of their family. From this idea Richard set into motion a chain of events where it became necessary for Richard to usurp the throne from his young nephew.

  2. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of women in Richard III. Are they convincing characters?

    She has extreme hatred for the Yorks and the Woodvilles as she feels that they have displaced her and are responsible for the killing of her own family. 'Thy honour, state, and seat is due to me,' she says of Queen Elizabeth and she also calls her a 'poor painted

  1. How effective was Richard III as a king from 1483 - 1485?

    was brought to Salisbury under Richard's power and executed in December 1483. In two months the rebellion had been effectively quashed. An important measure of good kingship is the domestic government. Richard continued and developed the Yorkist system of government, including the chamber system begun by his brother, Edward IV.

  2. How far does Somerset deserve his reputation as the Good Duke? (Somerset (then known ...

    started off successfully - bringing England victory with the Battle of Pinkie in September 1547. Nevertheless, Somerset failed to recognise the fierce economic problems that were facing the nation at the time. The previous ruler, Henry VIII had already mangled inflation with the debasing of the coins - yet Somerset

  1. Westminster Abbey

    The south led to the Refectory, for meals. 8. The Chapter House is an amazing show of human ingenuity. A soon as you walk in, you see the sunlight streaming in through the windows. It fills you with a sense of harmony.

  2. The Prince.

    James had been with the prince since he was born, and knew him better than anyone. They were reading Shakespeare's latest tragic drama, Romeo and Juliet, however it was one of the few books that James disliked intensely, for he said that it reminded him of an event in his youth with a young lady.

  1. How Successful was Edward Carson in His Defense of Unionism During The Third Home ...

    conservatives cannot accept the principle of Irish Home Rule but still leaves himself open to negotiating when he mentions the possibility of a compromise on Ulster if the terms are favourable. It can be said that Asquith?s handling of the Irish Question can be criticised but what cannot was the

  2. Explain why Richard, Duke of Gloucester seized the throne in 1483. [12 marks]

    This let Richard be more ambitious with his plans. Richard had the Duke of Hastings executed for treason. This was because Hastings had appeared eager to put Edward V on the throne and give the Woodvilles a lot of power. He had John Morton, Bishop of Ely at the time, and Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York imprisoned while Lord

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work