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242pp Hardback Illustrated Amberley 2013; 320pp Paperback Illustrated Amberley 2015 [This is in fact a comparative analysis of Richard III and Henry Tudor]


‘… Terry Breverton goes back to contemporary evidence to place Richard in the context of his own time, but he also questions the actions of Henry VII when he became king. Critical to the reigns of both kings was the fate of the two young boys, Edward V and Richard who were put into the Tower by their uncle Richard for safe-keeping, who then usurped the throne…’


‘All too often historical works are published and all have the same basic fault and it is this: although scholarly they are inherently dull, but this is a rare exception which, although still painstaking and detailed, carries the reader along with its sheer enthusiasm for the subject. What it comes down to is this: was Richard III as villainous as the picture painted by Shakespeare, or was he some sort of unrecognised saint? Well, it rather depends on who was doing the painting and from what this author reveals one must keep in mind a number of factors. One is the context of the times in which Richard lived, another is that history is always written by the victors, and then there are the liberties taken by writers (both old and new) of popular historical fiction.

The first element shows that when King Richard was alive sensibilities were infinitely less outraged than now and besides, life was frequently arbitrary, harsh and often very short anyway. The other problem is that, aside from the political bias of chroniclers in these frequently troubled times, fiction writers need strong villains and heroes and frequently rewrite history as they think it should have been: however Terry Breverton does not and tells it like it was. Aside from the machinations of the various royal courts, there were the costly and calamitous Wars of the Roses and the final, ghastly ignominy of Bosworth Field, then there was the last of possibly most ignominious event of all: the discovery of the solitary, crook-backed skeleton in a car park in the city of Leicester. All is told in a matter of fact and immensely readable fashion and well worth the effort of spending a few hours learning something about the life and death of this important historical character.’

NERDALICIOUS WEBSITE [Australian] interview with author 3 October 2013

‘And Seem a Saint, When Most I Play the Devil: Interview with Terry Breverton

Interviewer: If there is one thing that we often fail to do, it is to place Richard III in the context of his times. So eager are we to break the shackles of Shakespearian myth and rehabilitate him as ‘Good King Richard’ that it is easy to overlook how his contemporaries viewed him. Some viewed the new king as one who would save the York reign from its former excesses and hedonism, some viewed him as a usurper and tyrant and some even viewed him as a murderer. But above all, they viewed him as their king. For the moment, at least. It never seems quite as simple as this to our modern eyes. Is it too difficult to let go of the caricature of Richard III, be it the Shakespearian monster of the Ricardian saint? Terry Breverton joins us to discuss his upcoming book Richard III: The King in the Car Park and invited us to take a step back, and look together at the true crimes of Richard III. You have written books on diverse subjects, including piracy, Welsh history and a complete herbal. Why did you decide to examine Richard III?

TDB: I was planning a series of books upon bad kings, bad popes, bad politicians, bad generals etc., when Richard’s bones were found in very odd circumstances. The publisher specialises in Tudor history, and asked me to take on Richard because of his topicality. I was pretty dubious that the bones were his, so I took it on. I still think that the scientific evidence is not of the highest quality.

Interviewer: Much of what we hear about Richard is from events that took place after he usurped his nephew’s crown. Will you shed some light on the young Richard of Gloucester?

TDB: He didn’t have much of a ‘good press’ even before he took the crown.  He was implicated in several murders before this period, which his supporters seem to overlook. He was brought up at the very centre of the internecine Plantagenet family warfare for the crown, which eventually wiped nearly all of them out. People blame the Tudors for the fall of the Plantagenets, but they were their own worst enemies usurping and killing one another. When it came to Bosworth, no-one wanted to fight for him. The great nobles did not turn up, and even his troops did not particularly want to fight. He lost the battle because nobody trusted him, or wanted him as king.

Interviewer: In the attempts to exonerate Richard for the murder of his nephews, opinion seems to swing between monster and martyr. Do you think the rehabilitation of Richard has gone too far?

TDB: From all the available evidence, only he could have killed them. He could easily have shown the princes, actually the king and prince, when he proclaimed them illegitimate, but nobody saw them after he took the crown. If you want to rehabilitate a known murderer, I have no problems with that. It’s the amazing attempts at Richard’s hagiography that I dislike. Some of the stuff written in alleged non-fiction books about him is more like science fiction.

Interviewer: It could be argued that Richard’s most notorious crimes were necessary to preserve his throne and thus protect the realm. Is it fair to apply modern sensibilities to a king who lived 500 years ago?

TDB: In the book I make a comparative analysis of the careers and reigns of Richard III and Henry VII, and also compare Richard’s Plantagenet predecessors. We can see a sea change in attitudes towards pragmatism and peace in the land when Henry took over. He was not vindictive, estate-grabbing or ruthless, all of which adjectives can easily apply to Richard. Henry VII was the first modern king – it’s just a pity that his heir Arthur died and his second son Henry succeeded him.

Interviewer: Why do you think Richard III inspires such passion, be it hatred or the desire to reform his character?

TDB: I think it’s a typical British feeling for the underdog, the loser. He died bravely in battle. Henry VII has suffered because the Plantagenets, a dynasty of remarkable cruelty and disloyalty, have been glamorised over the years regarding temporary victories over the French etc. Their greatest achievement was probably the invention of hanging, drawing and quartering victims while still alive.

Interviewer: Your book also incorporates the results of the Leicester dig and the discovery of Richard III’s remains. Where do you think his remains should be interred?

TDB: The Richard III Society pilloried Henry for having them thrown into the River Soar in Leicester, before they were found.  It has always been known that he was buried in Greyfriars Church in Leicester. I really think it is unseemly for cathedrals and religious societies to be squabbling over where he goes. It’s going back to medieval times when cathedrals forged relics to bring in pilgrims and income. Cathedrals and churches were corrupt institutions in Richard’s time, so he cold fit in anywhere. A mythology is being created, for financial reasons. There is a bunch of fanatical people who read romantic fiction and then purvey it as facts. I’m a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I have always dealt in facts, not absurdities. Henry is depicted as a coward at Bosworth by Ricardians for having a bodyguard. Of course, Henry had a bodyguard around him at Bosworth, as also did Richard when he charged. Henry’s record as a merciful king was considered astonishing by both foreign and British chroniclers in his day. He was not a murdered. Richard was a usurper and a murderer – end of story.

Interviewer: Thanks you for your time Terry, is there anything you would like to add?

TDB: I agree with the Ricardians that history is written by the victors – being Welsh I know this only too well. However, not only do the Plantagenet supporters disparage Henry, but so do the writers of his son Henry’s day. The success and power of the fledgling Tudor dynasty had to be attributed to Henry VIII, not his father. No achievements or greatness could be attributed to Henry VII as it would detract from the glory of his son. There is a myth of ‘Tudor propaganda’ about Richard, but people have to look at both sides of the argument. I will be attacked in all media for this book, which will sell, perhaps 2,000 copies at most with a small independent publisher. Not many people know how the book trade is controlled by very few major publishers. Random House and Penguin combined to become ‘the world’s biggest publisher’, but in turn they are controlled by another two massive publishers, Pearson and Bertelsmann. We see a publishing house and think that it is independent, but just ten companies make over 50% of global sales. Penguin pushes anti-Tudor writings with its massive marketing budget. My book will not make a dent upon people’s opinions, but it is not written to make money but to leave behind the truth. In the introduction to the book I quote John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689): ‘I have often thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.’ I have nothing to gain by writing this book – I will get only acrimony – but if you examine the actions of the protagonists before and after Bosworth, there is only one conclusion to be reached.’

Interviewer: Thankyou.

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