You may be watching the dramatised history of the White Queen currently on the BBC. Join us as Alison Weir reveals the truth behind the legends of this turbulent period in history and Richard lll.
Best-selling historian Alison Weir reveals the truth behind Shakespeare’s Machiavellian and monstrous tyrant. Shakespeare’s powerful and dramatic portrayal of him has had enormous impact on perceptions of the historical Richard, but Shakespeare drew on historical sources, and it is on these that Richard’s reputation largely rests.
Shakespeare’s Richard III demonstrates how the historical record can be distorted and misinterpreted. It depicts Richard III’s Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign which lasted from 1483 to 1485, portraying him as a sinister, bloody tyrant, a monstrous being incredible in any historical context.
Yet the play has been hugely influential. Richard III has always been an enigmatic, charismatic and controversial character, and furious debate still rages in regard to whether or not he ordered the murder of the Princes in the Tower. The recent discovery of bones that may be his has prompted huge public interest. Shakespeare’s powerful dramatic portrayal of him has had enormous impact on perceptions of the historical Richard. But Shakespeare drew on historical sources, and it is on these that Richard’s reputation largely rests.
Alison Weir has studied those sources for many years, and her research shows that the truth is stranger – and far more complex – than the fiction. Be prepared for some challenging insights!