What is Earl Rivers' role in the play?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Anthony Woodvile, or Earl Rivers, was an historical figure of some importance who plays a minor role in two of Shakespeare’s plays, Henry VI and Richard III. Historically, in the Wars of the Roses, the Woodville family supported Lancaster against York, but eventually switched allegiance to Edward IV. When Edward IV married Elizabeth Grey, sister to Anthony, Earl Rivers obtained many important preferments. After Edward IV’s death, he was loyal to Edward V.

In Shakespeare’s Richard III, Earl Rivers is part of the court of Edward IV. He is imprisoned and ordered killed by Richard III because of his support for the young Edward V.