The History of King Richard III

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Hesperus, 2005 - Fiction - 102 pages
Richard III’s reputation stands as one of the most evil men in history—a manipulating and murderous man who would stop at nothing to become king. Much of what modern scholarship knows of him stems from Thomas More’s critical biography, which itself proved the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play. Focusing on the final years of Richard III’s life, Sir Thomas More depicts a man captivated and corrupted by the thrill of power—a man who twisted God’s laws to justify not only his ruthless ambitions, but his most heinous crime: the imprisonment and murder of his nephews, the true heirs to the throne. The History of King Richard III is a powerful portrayal of a monstrous ruler and a fascinating insight into the mind and motivations of its author. Scholar, politician, and one-time favorite of the Court of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More is best known for his Utopia.

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About the author (2005)

Born in London, the son of a judge, More became an important statesman and scholar. He was also one of the most eminent humanists of the Renaissance. Educated at Oxford, More became an under-sheriff of London and, later, a member of Parliament. Under King Henry VIII he served as Treasurer of the Exchequer, speaker of the House of Commons, and, finally, Lord Chancellor. More is probably best known for his Utopia, which was written in Latin (then the language of literary and intellectual Europe). It was translated into English in 1551. As the first part of this small masterpiece indicates, when More was weighing the offer to be an adviser to Henry VIII he was well aware of the compromises, bitterness, and frustration that such an office involved. In the second part, More develops his famous utopia---a Greek word punning on the meanings "a good place" and "no place"---a religious, communistic society where the common ownership of goods, obligatory work for everyone, and the regular life of all before the eyes of all ensure that one's baser nature will remain under control. Inspired by Plato's (see Vols. 3 and 4) Republic, More's Utopia became in turn the urbane legacy of the humanistic movement (in which More's friends were most notably Erasmus (see Vol. 4), John Colet, and William Grocyn) to succeeding ages. More also wrote a history, Richard III, which, if arguably the first instance of modern historiography in its attention to character and its departure from chronicle, is also, in its responsiveness to the Tudor polemic of divine rights, largely responsible for the notorious reputation of Richard as an evil ruler. More's refusal to recognize Henry VIII as Head of the Church led to a sentence of high treason. Imprisoned for more than a year, he was finally beheaded. Eventually, More was granted sainthood.

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