Stunning Richard III "Discovery of the Year" Brings Much-Maligned King's Reputation Center-Stage, Says Historical Novelist Anne Easter Smith

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A discovery of 500-year-old bones under a UK parking lot positively identified as King Richard III has scholars reexamining the Yorkist king's image as "a monster".

No better or worse than other medieval monarchs.

With the 500-year-old remains of King Richard III at last identified in Leicester, England -- according to this article from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21063882 -- a great historical mystery has finally been solved. But even with this stunning finding, it is likely scholars and historians will continue to disagree about the man himself. Was the last Yorkist king of England the hunchbacked villain who killed his own nephews that Shakespeare portrayed? Or was the playwright’s characterization unjustly influenced by Tudor kings who had defeated Richard in the battle of Bosworth, and who wished to slander him?

“Was Richard III a monster?” asks historical novelist Anne Easter Smith, who has written five novels about the York family in the Wars of the Roses with the king as a major character. “I think not. Of the six murders laid at Richard’s door by Shakespeare and others, five are erroneous. Shakespeare telescoped 15 years into a little more than one in his play. Contrary to Tudor propaganda, Richard III was not a tyrant. In fact, when he became king, Richard enacted several statutes that show his compassion for his people.“ The novelist adds: “And -- as a writer -- I love that he was the first king to enact legislation to protect the art of printing and the importing or selling of books!”

Easter Smith, who has been a member of the Richard III Society for more than 20 years, says, “I believe he was a somewhat pious, overly serious young man whose sense of family duty was even greater than his duty to God.” This sense of duty led Richard’s decisions to be judged differently by different people, depending upon whose perspective they were being viewed.

Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, died in the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485. It was on August 25, 2012 that, during an archeological excavation, the bones of Richard were discovered. The Richard III Society, including individual members like Easter Smith, helped fund the dig in Leicester. While scholars may continue to disagree on the reputation of the king, it is agreed this finding and the interest in Richard’s reign generated by it has the power to rewrite the history books and restore Richard’s rightful reputation as a king “no better or worse than other medieval monarchs,” Easter Smith asserts.

ABOUT ANNE EASTER SMITH: A native of England, Anne Easter Smith has lived in the United States for more than forty years. She was the features editor at a newspaper in Northern New York State and now lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband. The author of five historical novels about the Wars of the Roses and featuring Richard III, Easter Smith’s next book, ROYAL MISTRESS (Touchstone Imprints at Simon & Schuster), will be released on May 7, 2013. Visit her website at http://www.AnneEasterSmith.com.

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Diane Saarinen
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