Richard III: England’s Black Legend

  • England, 1983 (Hamlyn, History Book Club); 1997 (Penguin); 2013 (Thistle Publishing paperback and e-book); 2014 (Folio Society)
  • USA, 1983 (Franklyn Watts, History Book Club of America); 2014 (Pegasus)


Understandably, the usurping Tudor dynasty blackened the last Plantagenet’s reputation, and some historians claim that Richard’s ‘black legend’ is nothing more than political propaganda. Yet such an interpretation, as Desmond Seward shows in this powerfully argued book, suggests a refusal to face facts. Even in the king’s lifetine there were rumours about his involvement in the murders of Henry VI and of his nephews, the ‘Princes in the Tower’, while his reign was ‘a nightmare, not least for the king himself’. The real Richard was both chilling and compelling, ‘a peculiarly grim young English precursor of Machiavelli’s Prince’. Sweeping aside sentimental fantasy, this is a biography that offers a definitive picture of both the age and the man.

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Reviews of: Richard III: England’s Black Legend

  • Perhaps the best, and certainly the most readable, of recent biographies.

    John Julius Norwich, Shakespeare’s Kings and Queens
  • A well written and colourful account of an intriguing period in English history.

    New York Times Book Review
  • A valuable addition to the file, a biography of strong feeling and firmly held conviction arrived at after long thought … It is most readable.

    Financial Times
  • A sensible, reliable account

    A.L. Rowse
  • A newly revised edition of the celebrated biography … colourful, authoritative.

    Book Reporter