Archive for April, 2016

Richard, Duke of York is here!

April 15, 2016

Really looking forward to reading this new assessment. It’s a great time to be interested in history as so many of the leading figures are being looked at again with fresh eyes and the old stereotypes demolished. Richard of York has always felt like rather a shadowy figure to me, eclipsed by his sons and his wife yet he remains a divisive figure, largely due to the York v Lancaster split which still exists among historians and social media bloggers. Before reading this book I have imagined him to be a complex but cool character who found himself in a difficult position and decided to gamble on an ‘all or nothing’ result and lost out to treachery from within his own camp. Whilst I do feel genuine sympathy for both Henry VI and Marguerite of Anjou due to his mental instability and incapacity to rule and her constricted ability to control events due to her sex and nationality, I have also always felt sympathy for the Yorks as well. It was no easy position to find yourself in and I felt that he was perhaps cornered into acting as he did. I will be fascinated to read this account and learn more about about the man.

Matt's History Blog


It’s here! Richard, Duke of York: King By Right is released in the UK today, 15th April,  and available to buy now.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the interest in this new examination of a man who has long fascinated me. The book will delve into the myths and reveal a complex man with wide ranging power and responsibilities to match.

Was he really a wildly ambitious man who sought to exploit a king’s weakness, or has he been painted in two dimensions, his true actions and motivations buried under myth?

If you read the book, and I hope some will find it on their doorstep today, I would love to hear what you think of it.

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Another Maligned King – or Propaganda Strikes Again

April 15, 2016

Interesting post and worth considering in detail. His response to the Peasant’s Revolt certainly suggests that he demonstrated courage (like his mother Joan) and ruthlessness (like his father, the Black Prince) at a young age. Lancastrian propaganda may well account for some of the popular perceptions held by modern day historians though we must balance this with Richard’s own propaganda and the legacy of ‘imperial kingship’ left by his grandfather, Edward III as well. He certainly is an interesting figure to consider with what appears to be a complex, multi-dimensional personality living in explosive times. Perhaps he was wise to take his mother’s counsel as Joan has been consistently undervalued, like most medieval women, by the traditional, male-focussed approach to history and she is also due for a major re-assessment.



This portrait of Richard II in Westminster Abbey is familiar. What is less well-known is that it is heavily ‘restored’ over the years, most recently in 1866. In Richard II, Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99, Christopher Fletcher reveals that when examined under infra-red reflectography the king’s beard was much more developed, covering much of his face, the line of his jaw was much more defined, the lips were less full. In other words, Richard’s image has been deliberately ‘feminised’ to match his reputation – or more precisely, the reputation Lancastrian propagandists attached to him as they went about distorting his character.

The fact is that only one contemporary Chronicler, that of Evesham Abbey, makes any reference to Richard appearing in any way feminine. He wrote that Richard had ‘fair hair, a white, rounded and feminine face, occasionally corrupted by a phlegmatic humour.’ But as this writer could not even get…

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