What are the historical implications of the play, Richard III?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's Richard III tells the story of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was the brother of Edward the IV and the Duke of Clarence.

Upon the death of his brother the King, Richard and his wife Anne usurped the crown of England by placing the legitimate heir to the throne, the 12 year old Edward V, and his brother in the tower of London from where they disappeared.

Eventually Richard died after only two years of reigning after the wife of the dead King used the help of a little known exiled Welshman from the Lancastrian lineage, Henry Tudor, to battle down Richard, marry the heiress of the Duchy of York, and become King Henry VII, the first Tudor King.

The historical consequences of Richard III is that it created several myths and legends about him that supercede his virtues- albeit fairly-and told a very explosive story a la reality show of what went on.

First, Richard became known as the possible plotter and murderer of "the princes in the tower"- a scandal of the time basically stating that two children were murdered by their sick uncle who had already betrayed their father.

Second, it tells the story of how he was first a loyal duke that stood beside his brother in battle only to later on betray him, bastardize his children, and usurp the crown.

3. Third, it tells the story of a queen whom he hated and plotted agains, and how she in turn took her daughter, a powerful heiress, married her off to the first Tudor, and battled HIM down.

4.Fourth, it sets a foundation to the future plays Henry VII and Henry VIII which are quite hot as well.

In not so many words, the saga of the Tudors began with Richard III, the last Plantagenet King, and the protagonist of a series of salacious events that changed the history of England in only 24 months.