Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History Comprising Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III
Polydore Vergil was a renaissance scholar, who wrote a history once much referred to in studies of Richard III. His text is now very much suspect and most historians agree has too many inaccuracies and biases to be relied on. None the less, it’s worth giving a bit of background about him – he was no mean scholar.
But the main reason for the post is to give you all access to the text itself. This text is an extract from an edition which is now out of copyright. It was produced in 1844 for the Camden Society in 1844, edited by Sir Henry Ellis. I have further extracted the text covering the period from Edward IV to Richard III’s coronation. I have rather crudely modernised some of the spelling, but none of the words, since it’s just easier to read that way. Subtitles are my own, to break the text up a bit.
Polydore Vergil’s personal history
Vergil was a native of Urbino in Italy, and came from a family with a history of scholarship. He went to Padua University. One of his earlier works generated a bit of controversy with Erasmus – arguments about who published what first, who was the best, the normal sort of spat in which academics delight. But essentially they were friends, sharing colleagues and friends, sharing a table and laughing with each
other about their former rivalry.
Vergil’s most famous work was De inventoribus rerum, first published in 1499 and to go through 30 editions; the point of telling you this is that, again, Vergil had genuine academic chops.
Vergil was a Papal agent, and served under the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI. He came to England in 1502 as an agent of an Italian Cardinal, and was greeted kindly and entertained by Henry VII. He appears to have done well in England, treated as something of a celebrity as part of the craze for anything Italian; on the way he picked up a number of livings; so despite a suspicion on the part of the Catholic church that he sympathised with Luther, he came into a deal of criticism later in life from English religious reformers. He returned to Italy in 1512, only to return in 1515 at the behest of Henry VIII. But he fell foul of politics, when his correspondence was opened, found to have critical comments on Wolsey, and spent a time cooling his heels in the Tower. He was released in September 1515 but brought out a hatred of Wolsey – of whom, spookily, he was critical in the later editions of Anglia Historia.
After that, he kept out of politics and religious reform. He lived comfortably in London in St Paul’s Churchyard, and all those prebends around the country didn’t get in the way of London literary and social life. He returned to Italy two years before his death in 1555, and died in his home town Urbino.
The Anglia Historia
Vergil was encouraged to write the Historia by Henry VII. The first manuscript of was finished in 1513, and first published in 1534. It was extended and went through further editions, published in 1546 and 1555. Vergil’s approach and style as a historian looks strange to us now, but he espoused and followed the relatively new critical approach, seeking to compare sources and create his own, accurate narrative. Though along the way, he would put his own made up speeches in the mouths of historical characters, which again looks odd to the modern mind.
True enough, he used many sources in his history; and he used his analytical approach for example to take Geoffrey of Monmouth to pieces as credible history, and deny the existence of Arthur. Which if course got him into trouble with traditionalists.
All of this is worth just bearing in mind, in light of the fierce (and often justified) criticism of his (im)partiality in the history of Richard’s reign.
There’s a lovely quote I picked up in the Oxford DNB, apparently delivered by an Oxonian, Edward Littleton, who is said to have demanded, ‘What have we to do with Polydore Vergil? One Vergil was a poet, the other a liar’. That was because Vergil had claimed Cambridge to be older than Oxford University. Plus ca change…
The quote might well be approved by observers of Richard III. Because Vergil’s narrative drips, oozes with anti Ricardian bias and value judgments about his motivations; you don’t have to read much of the text below to pick it up.
Riccardians point to inaccuracies and bias in Vergil’s account, and see him as deeply biased by living under the Tudor monarchy, and indeed encouraged to come to England by the Tudors, especially in the light of a Tudor propaganda campaign to bury Richard and the house of York. And unlike the Crowland Chronicle and Dominic Mancini, it’s clearly not strictly contemporary. There’s a website here http://www.richard111.com/polydore_vergil.htm where many of these are pointed out. In a lecturer to the Richard III Society, Dr Carole Cusak noted ‘It must be stressed that these texts in fact add nothing new to authentic knowledge of Richard III’s reign and in most cases add only gossip and rumour’ . So Vergil’s account needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
A general comment about Vergil’s views;
- His reading is that Richard wanted to become king on hearing of Edward IV’s death, but could see no way to do it-until he met up with the ambitious Buckingham. So, it’s the evil scheming Richard, rather than the helpless victim of events.
- In the critical declaration of Edward V’s illegitimacy, Vergil goes back to the story that Edward IV himself was a bastard; other commentators don’t agree, and the Titulus Regius was not made on this ground, but on Edward’s supposed prior betrothal. Vergil implies that Cecily Neville had this reversed later. But would I be very wrong to suggest Vergil went for this because it made Richard look even more despicable?
On hearing of the death of the king
RICHARD duke of Gloucester, at the self-same time that his brother king Edward departed this life, was in Yorkshire, unto whom William Hastings his chamberlain sent from London trusty messengers in post to certify him of his brother’s death, and from himself to signify, that the king at his death had committed to him only, wife, children, goods, and all that ever he had, and therefore to exhort him, that he would with all convenient speed repair unto prince Edward into Wales, and come with him to London to undertake the government.
When Richard had intelligence hereof, he began to be kindled with an ardent desire of sovereignty; but for that there was no cause at all whereby he might bring the same to pass that could carry any colour of honesty, so much as in outward show and appearance, he differred the devise thereof presently unto another time, and the mean while sent most loving letters to Elizabeth the queen, comforting her with many words, and promising on his behalf (as the proverb is) seas and mountains, and, to increase the credit of his carefulness and natural affection towards his brothers children, calling together unto York the honourable and worshipful of the country thereabout, he commanded all men to swear obedience unto prince Edward; himself was the first that took the oath, which soon after he was the first to violate. So all the residue plainly pronounced and swore the same.
These things done, having gathered no small force of armed men, he prepared to set forward when time should serve. Prince Edward, being but a child in years not able to rule himself, lay the same time within his principality at Ludlow, under the tuition of his uncle Anthony earl Rivers, Thomas Vaughan chief of his chamber, and Richard Gray, knights.
Elizabeth the queen, and Thomas marquis Dorset, her son by John Gray her former husband, who was at London, advised these men by often messages to conduct the prince forthwith to London, that after the funerals of his father solemnized, he might, after the manner of his ancestors, be crowned king. They according to the queen’s and marquis’s commandment took their journey not long after towards London.
The events at Stony Stratford
Richard also hastened thither, whom Henry duke of Buckingham met at Northampton, with whom the duke of Gloucester had long conference, in so much that as is commonly believed he even then discovered to Henry his intent to usurping the kingdom, and especially for because the duke following afterwards his humour, whether it were for fear or for obedience, held ever with him. And so Richard from thenceforth determined to assay his purposed spitefull practise by subtlety and sleight, which if by that mean should not fall out so fortunately as he hoped, then lastly, with malice apart, to attempt the same; not minding, miserable man, that he could offend therein without extreme detriment of the commonwealth, and the utter subversion of his house. Surely so it happeneth to graceless people, that who seeketh to overthrow an other, his own fraud, wicked and mischievous intent, his own desperate boldness, maketh him frantic and mad.
And thus when they had taken counsel Richard made haste unto the prince, who journeyed on before with a small train, and was now come to Stony Stratford (so is the town called) when he, together with Henry the duke guarded with a band of soldiers, overtook the prince and received him into his rule and government; but he apprehended Anthony and Thomas Vaughan, and divers others, whom after he had taken, supposing that they would not assent to his intent and purpose, he sent back to be kept in ward at Pontefract castle.
The Queen and Woodvilles seek sanctuary
But when the fame of so outrageous and horrible fact came to London, all men were wonderously amazed, and in great fear, but especially Elizabeth the queen was much dismayed, and determined forthwith to fly; for, suspecting even then that there was no plain dealing, to the intent she might deliver her other children from the present danger, she conveyed herself with them and the marquise into the sanctuary at Westminster.
The very same did other noble men who were of her mind for the safeguard of her children. But the lord Hastings, who bare privy hatred to the marquis and others of the queen’s side, who for that cause had exhorted Richard to take upon him the government of the prince, when he saw all in uproar and that matters fell out otherwise than he had wenyd, repenting therefore that which he had done, called together unto Paul’s church such friends as he knew to be right careful for the life, dignity, and estate of prince Edward, and conferred with them what best was to be done. Here divers of them who were most offended with this late fact of Richard duke of Gloucester, adjudged it meet with all speed to procure the liberty of prince Edward, whom they accounted as utterly oppressed and wronged by force and violence, that so the fire, which was kindling, might be put out before it should spread further abroad; affirming that from thenceforth no devise would be void of danger except the wicked enterprise, which gave good testimony that duke Richard had inwardly no good meaning, were with present force avoided. All the residue thought that there was no need to use war or weapon at all, as men who little suspected that the matter would have any horrible and cruel end. Wherefore they concluded to tarry while duke Richard should come and declare what the matter was, why he had cast them who had the prince in government into prison. And this resolution finally liked them all, because in appearance it stood with the profit of the commonwealth that every of the nobility, as much as might be, should avoid variance and contention.
Richard removes the young duke of York from Sanctuary
Not long after arrived the duke Richard and Henry with the prince, and lodged at the bishop of London’s house besides Paul’s, where their will was the prince should remain till other matters might be put in readiness. Then did duke Richard assume the government wholly; but it grieved him spitefully that he might not receive into his tuition, without some great steer, his brother’s other son Richard duke of York, whom his mother kept in sanctuary; for, except he might get them both together into his power and custody, he utterly despaired to compass that which he longed for. Conceiving therefore some hope therein, he bent all the forces of his wit hot to wrest and bereve him from his mother’s lap. And so, as he had purposed, he laboured to bring about by sleight which by force he could not, who calling to him a good number of the nobility, said:
‘I pray God that I never live if I be not careful for the commoditie of my nephews, whose calamity I know well must need redownd likewise to the commonwealth and myself also. Therefore, seeing that my brother Edward our king did upon his death-bed constitute and appoint me Protector of the Realm, I had more regard of nothing than to repair hither and bring with me prince Edward his eldest son, that in time convenient all things might be done by the advise of counsel; for I am determined to do nothing without your authorities, whom I am willing to have mine associates, aiders, and partakers in all dealings, that you thereby may well bear witness what soever I shall from henceforth do as touching the government of the realm, the same wholly to be employed, faithfully, and without fraud, for the utility the commonwealth, and the commodity of prince Edward, the charge and government of whom I suppose you know sufficiently that his father committed to me for that ownly cause. But Antony Rivers attempted of late to hinder me, that I should not according to my duty take on hand that charge, whom therefore we have bene compelled to commit with others who also made resistance therein, that by their examples other men might learn not to have our commandments in contempt. But what shall we say of the evil counsel which they who most malign and hate me have given to queen Elizabeth? who, without any just cause, counterfeiting fear so foolishly, hath enterprised to carry in all haste the king’s children as wicked, wretched, and desperate naughty persons into sanctuary, the only refuge in earth of poverty, debt, and lewd behaviour, as though we went about to destroy them, and that all our doings tended to violence. Which thing, though it be exceeding great dishonour to us and the whole realm, yet the sex is to be borne withall, from the which such rages readily proceed. But we are to provide remedy betimes for this womanish disease creeping into our commonwealth, to the worst example truly that may be. What a sight I pray you shall it be to see the day wherein the king shall be crowned, if, while that the solemnity of triumphant pomp is in doing, his mother, brother, and sisters shall be remained in sanctuary? What manner of concourse of people shall there be, by whose authority he is to be created king? What sign of rejoicing shall that assemble give unto the sovereign, the same being more full of heaviness than exultation? Surely there is not one amongst all the people who may not justly be in fear of himself, and think that all majesty of laws is already violated, if the Queen and her children shall remain any longer in sanctuary! May it like you therefore that some of you go to the queen herself, and procure the reducing of her and her children as soon as may be into the palace, whom, if peradventure yow shall be able by no mean to withdraw from her opinion, as seduced by them who love me not, who study to stir up envy against me, to lay some fault upon me, yet at the least to deal that she may upon general assurance yield Richard the other son into your hands, so that he may be present with other noble men at his brother’s coronation. You have already my mind, do now what you think best in the behalf of the commonwealth; for at my hand you both may and ought to expect all that is good and honourable.’
When he had spoken these words all men who suspected no subtlety thought duke Richard’s advise both meet and honest. And so it was agreed that Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry duke of Buckingham, John lord Howard, and sundry other grave men should deal in that cause, who repairing unto the sanctuary began to persuade the queen with many fayre words and persuasions that she wold return with her children into the palace, unto whom they gave both private and public assurance; but the woman, foreseeing in a sort within herself the thing that followed forthwith after, could not be moved with any persuasions to commit herself to the credit of duke Richard, which when they understood, finally they demanded to be delivered to them her son Richard only, which they obtained hardly after many fair promises. And so was the innocent child pulled out of his mother’s arms.
Richard re-assures London
Richard having by this mean obtained almost his heart’s desire, conveyed his nephews from the bishop of London’s house unto the Tower; and yet all this caused no suspicion, for that the usage is at the king’s coronation for the whole assembly to come out from thence solemnly, and so proceed to Westminster. This done, Richard, whose mind partly was enflamed with desire of usurping the kingdom, partly was troubled by guiltiness of intent to commit so heinous wickedness (for a guilty conscience causeth the offender to have dew punishment always in imagination before his eyes), thought afterward nothing better than to mollify the multitude with largesse and liberality, than to win the hearts of his adversaries with gifts, rewards, and promises, than in the Tower, where himself and his nephews remained, to consult, confer, and deliberate of new with the noble men daily in most crafty and subtle manner for the dealing and disposing of such things as were forthwith to be done. And this way his drift, that, while staying and tarrying made the people desirous of this solemn sight, he, by consulting from point to point, might sound and search out how the nobility was affected, saying always that he did not seek the sovereignty, but referred all his doings to the profit of the realm.
Thus covering and cloaking certain days his desire, under the colour and pretence of common wealth, he so enveigled the minds of the nobility, that they all, few only excepted who were not ignorant from the beginning what mark he shot at, did by no means espy the cause of his lingering, or to what end his practises would fall out, so many matters did he so often propone and so few explain, according as a guilty conscience is wont to be of many minds.
Richard and Hastings – the events of June 13th
But in the mean time perceiving that William lord Hastings was most vehement and earnest to have prince Edward once crowned king, who chiefly amongst all the nobility was, for his bountifulness and liberality, much beloved of the common people, bearing great sway among all sorts of men and persons of best reputation, whether it were that he feared his power, or despaired it possible to draw him to his side and opinion, he determined to rid the man out of the way before his purpose should be discovered to the residue, whom he did not yet fully trust. Wherefore, burning with rage incredible to bring to effect the thing which in mind was resolved, he drew a plot for the lord Hastings as followeth: he placed privily in a chamber adjoining to that with himself and other lords sat usually in counsel a sort right ready to do a mischief, giving them in charge that when he should give a sign they should suddenly rush out, and, compassing about them who should sit with him, to lay hands especially upon William lord Hastings, and kill him forthwith.
This trayne thus laid, about the day before the ides of June he commanded to be sent for specially by name Thomas Rotherham Archbishop of York, John Morton bishop of Ely, Henry duke of Buckingham, Thomas lord Stanley, William lord Hastings, John lord Howard, and many others whom he trusted to find faithful ether for fear or benefit. The residue of the nobility, together with John Russell bishop of Lincoln, lord chancellor of England, whom his will was not to have present at such an outrageous and foul spectacle, he commanded to be the same day at Westminster hall, with other magistrates, to proclaim the day of prince Edward’s coronation.
But the nobles who were called came well early all into the Tower as to deliberate of the whole matter. Here, when the doors were shut, while they thus alone without testimony of any other than only God, had goodwill to consult of the most weighty affairs, Richard duke of Gloucester, who thought of nothing but tyranny and cruelty, spoke unto them in this sort:
‘My lords, I have procured you all to be called hither this day for that only cause that I might shew unto you in what great danger of death I stand; for by the speech of a few days by past neither night nor day can I rest, drink, not eat, wherefore my blood by little and little decreaseth, my force faileth, my breath shorteneth, and all the parts of my body do above measure, as you see (and with that he showed them his arm), fall away; which mischief verily proceedth in me from that sorceress Elizabeth the queen, who with her witchcraft hath so enchanted me that by the annoyance thereof I am dissolved.’
To these sayings when no man gave answer, as making little to the purpose, William lord Hastings, who hated not duke Richard, and was wont to speak all things with him very freely, answered, that the queen deserved well both to be put to open shame, and to be duly punished, if it might appear that by use of witchcraft she had done him any harm. To these Richard replied:
‘I am undone (I say) by that very woman’s sorcery.’ Whereunto William made the same answer that before. Than Richard, to give a sign for them who were without laid privily for the nonce, spoke with more sherle voice:
‘What then, William, if by thine own practises I be brought to destruction?’
He had scarce uttered these words when as they to whom charge was committed in that behalf issued, and with open assault apprehended all at once William lord Hastings, both the bishops of York and Ely, and also the lord Stanley. These the last were cast there into several prisons; but William lord Hastings had scarce leisure to make his confession before his head was struck from his shoulders.
So that lord Hastings learned, by his own loss at the last, that the law of nature whereof the gospell speaketh (what soever you will that men do unto you, do you so also unto them) cannot be broken without punishment. He was one of the smiters of prince Edward, king Henry the Vth’s son, who was finally quit with like manner of death. Would God such kind of examples might once be a learning for them who think it lawfull to do whatsoever liketh them. Now I return to the matter.
As soon as this deed was done they cried treason, treason throughout the whole Tower; which noise when it spread abroad through the city the citizens and all other people, taking the first rumor to be true, and ignorant of that which was done within, began to cry out likewise; but after that they understood, by terrible speech bruited abroad, the truth of the matter done within, then began every man on his own behalf to fear the heart of inward enemies, and to look for nothing else but cruel slaughter or miserable flight; and all men generally lamented the death of that man, in whom both they and the nobles who favoured king Edward’s children had reposed their whole hope and confidence. Now perceived they well that duke Richard would spare no man so that he might obtain the kingdom, and that he would convert the regal authority into tyranny.
But the duke after this, being satisfied with the death of William lord Hastings, delivered Thomas lord Stanley safe and sound, fearing, perchance, least if he should have done him any wrong George lord Strange his son should have stirred up the people to arms somewhere against him. As for John Morton bishop of Ely, who did far exceed them all in wisdom and gravity, him he committed to the duke of Buckingham, whom the duke sent forthwith into Wales to his castle at the town of Brechnock. But Thomas Rotherham Archbishop of York he committed to the custody of sir James Tyrrell, knight. His meaning was to make those bishops sure whom he thought would not allow upon his purposed intent, until that, having gotten the sovereignty, he should need to fear no man. When these things were done, Richard, knowing then for certain that there was no cause why he should any further dissemble the matter, sent his letters of warrant to the keeper of Pontefract castle to behead in hast Anthony lord Rivers, Richard Gray, and Thomas Vaughan, which was done soon after.
The illegitimacy of Edward IV and his children
In the means while, himself at London, fearing now all things, guarded first his parson with a company of armed men, then after sought with all diligence to win unto him the chief of the nobility by large gifts and fayre promises, a good part whereof he drew unto his amity, seduced rather for fear then for hope of benefit; by the supportation of whose puissance and authority he determined to attempt soon after another devise. For surely he was out of all hope to be able so to bind the comonaltie to him by rewards, as that they would willingly away with his government, who he knew well would, for defence of liberty and conservation of the royal right, be readily stirred to take weapon in hand, wherefore he feared them.
Thereupon, revolving many matters in his mind, at last he bethought him of a devise whereby the people, being seduced by a certain honest pretence, should the less grudge at his doings. And so the man, being blind with covetousness of reigning, whom no foul fact could now hold back, after that he had resolved not to spare the blood of his own house, supposing also all regard of honour was to be rejected, devised and bethought himself of such a sleight as followeth: He had secret conference with one Raphe Sha, a divine of great reputation as then among the people, to whom he uttered, that his father’s inheritance ought to descend to him by right, as the eldest of all the sons which Richard his father duke of York had begotten of Cecily his wife; for as much as it was manifest enough, and that by apparent argument, that Edward, who had before reigned, was a bastard, that is, not begotten of a right and lawful wife; praying the said Shaw to instruct the people thereof in a sermon at Paul’s Cross, whereby they might once in the end acknowledge there true liege lord. And said that he greatly required the same, because he esteemed it more meet to neglect his mother’s honour and honesty then to suffer so noble a realm to be polluted with such a race of kings. This Raphe, whether dazed with fear, or bereft his wits, promised to follow, and obey his commandment.
But when the day came, duke Richard, who, under the colour of serving another Towerene, had made himself mighty, came in royal manner, with a great guard of men armed, unto the church of St. Paul, and there was attentively present at the sermon, in whose hearing Raphe Shaw, a learned man, taking occasion of set purpose to treat not of divine but tragical discourse, began to instruct the people, by many reasons, how that the late king Edward was not begotten by Richard duke of York, but by some other, who privily and by stealth had had knowledge of his mother; and that the same did manifestly appear by sure demonstrations, because king Edward was nether in physionomy nor shape of body like unto Richard the father; for he was high of stature, the other very little; he of large face, the other short and round. Howbeit, if such matters were well considered, no man could doubt but Richard, now in place, was the duke’s true soon, who by right ought to inherit the realm dew to his father; and therefore he exhorted the nobility, seeing they presently wanted a king, to make their king Richard duke of Gloucester, the true issue of the royal blood, and to forsake all others basely begot.
When the people herd these words, they were wondrous vehemently troubled in mind therewith, as men who, abashed with the shamefulness of the matter, all to be cursed and detested as well the rashness, foolhardiness, and doltishness of the preacher as the madness of Richard the dukes wicked mind, who would not see how great shame it was to his own house and to the whole realm, how great dishonour and blot, to condemn, in open audience, his mother of adultery, a woman of most pure and honourable life; to imprint upon his excellent and good brother the note of perpetual infamy; to lay upon his most innocent nephews an everlasting reproach. Wherefore at the very instant you might have seen some, astonyed with the novelty and strangeness of the thing, stand as mad men in a maze; others, all aghast with the outrageous cruelty of the horrible fact, to be in great fear of themselves because they war friends to the king’s children; others, finally, to bewail the misfortune of the children, whom they adjudged now utterly undone.
But there is a common report that king Edward’s children were in that sermon called bastards, and not king Edward, which is void of all truth; for Cecily king Edward’s mother, as is before said, being falsely accused of adultery, complained afterward in sundry places to right many noble men, whereof some yet live, of that great injury which her son Richard had done her. But Richard, when his mother was thus openly defamed as an adultress, and a slander published upon Edward his brother, was no whit ashamed, as he ought to have bene, but, rejoysing that a matter was bolted out in the face of the world whereby he sought to make apparent to all men that he had good right to the realm, returned into the Tower with a royal train, as though he had bene of the magistrates proclaimed king.
But Raphe Shaw, the publisher of the abominableness of so weighty a cause, (who not long after acknowledged his error, through the grievous rebukes of his friends that were ashamed of his infamy,) so sore repented the doing thereof that, dying shortly for very sorrow, he suffered worthy punishment for his lewdness. Now by these means was it thought that duke Richard had attained the sovereignty, and the same was everywhere so reported, though more for awe than good will; when, for fear of perils hanging every way over his head, he resolved that of necessity it was meet to stay a while, notwithstanding many of his friends urged him to utter himself plainly, and to dispatch at once that which remained, yet, least his doings might easily be misliked, his desire was that the people might be earnestly dealt withall, and the whole matter referred to the determination of others as judges in that behalf. And so, about the XIIIth calends of June, he commanded the judges and magistrates of the city, Robert Bylles, lord mayor, Thomas Norland and William Maryn, sheriffs, with the aldermen, to assemble in the Guildhall, and to them he sent the duke of Buckingham, with divers other noblemen that were of his council, to deal in his cause, and in his name to require that they, hearing the reasons concerning the dispatch of so weighty affair, would decree that which stood with the wealth of the whole realm and of the inhabitants thereof. The duke of Buckingham delivered, in long process, duke Richard’s mind, and in his behalf declared that there was not to enforce the cause any other thing but right, loyalty, constancy, honesty, and equity, seeing he demanded the kingdom from the which he had bene defrauded before by his brother Edward, and therefore prayed that by their authority they would deal and determine of so weighty a matter, whereby he might, with good will of the commonalty, who would be ruled by their judgement, enjoy once at the last his royal right, which would be for the profit of the common wealth; for as much as duke Richard was of that wisdom and modesty that all men might well hope for, at his hand, both right and reason.
Richard assumes the kingship
This was the dukes demand and determination also, against which, because where force is right beareth no rule, no man durst gainsay. But Richard duke of Gloucester, as though the terrified judges had decreed of his side, rode the next day after from the Tower through the middest of the city unto Westminster, in robes royal, and guarded with fyrme force of armed men, sitting in the royal seat. He then first of all took upon him as king; for some matters he determined, others he promised he would hear; to the magistrates he gave in commandment that from thenceforth they should do all things in his name; also he appointed a day for all the people and nobility to meet, and be ready to swear him homage.
Richard calls for support and has Rivers and Grey executed
When the fame of these doings were spread abroad through all parts of the realm, they were diversely taken: for who so were of king Edwards and house of York part detested the presumptuous boldness of duke Richard as a very pestilence that finally would consume and utterly ruin that house. Again, who so held in heart with king Henry the VI thought that all those things would be for their advantage, because within short time it would fall out that the rigor of Richard’s government would be intolerable to every man, and that the nobility, for the exterping utterly thereof before it should take any deep root, would, without doubt, yield their allegiance unto Henry earl of Richmond, king Henry’s brother’s son, and send for him to be king. Richard, in the mean time, according as his force and tyranny well required, was afeared least that many should become the queen’s friends, and procure the commonalty to commotion, when they should see the crown bereft from prince Edward; therefore he commanded forthwith five thousand soldiers which were levied in Yorkshire (for to them he most trusted) to be sent unto him, under the conduct of Rychard Ratclif, and gave to him in charge to dispatch divers things by the way. He, guarded with that company, stayed at Pontefract, and commanded the keeper of the castle to put to death Anthony Lord Rivers, Rychard Gray, and Thomas Vaughan, as the Gloucestryan had commanded (according as I have before written), that by reason of his presence such an horrible fact might be executed without uproar, which done he conducted his company to London. Richard, thus guarded with that number of faithful and trusty soldiers, attempted confidently to execute all other things. And so, having assembled together a company of the nobility, he was created king at Westminster the day before the nones of July, and adorned with the regal diadem, together with Anne his wife, the people rather not repining for fear then allowing thereof, and was called Rychard the IIIrd. That was the year of man’s salvation M.CCCC.lxxxiiij.
Thus Richard, without assent of the commonalty, by might and will of certain noblemen of his faction, enjoyned the realm, contrary to the law of God and man; who, not long after, having established all things at London according to his own fantasy, took his journey to York…