Exemplar Essay: Assessing the regional differences of the reputation of Richard III

A Level History teachers covering the Wars of the Roses may find this of use. Written for a University of Oxford Continuing Education course, this essay addresses important issues about the different level of repute that Richard III had in the North and elsewhere in England. Covering Richard’s time as Duke of Gloucester and his brief kingship, it is a useful tool for students to use when wanting to see examples of answers that assess issues to a high level. 

Assess the extent to which Richard’s reputation in the north differed from that elsewhere in the country.

Traditionally, Richard is viewed as being Lord of the North. This image has been reinforced over the years by popular literature and the arts. It forms part of a dark image and is attributed in part to the post Bosworth propaganda of the early Tudor dynasty. Popularised by Shakespeare, it became a symbol of the ‘pantomime villain’ type role that the villain of the piece, Richard, was shown to be. He was marked out as being different. Kings and Lords weren’t from the North, it was a portrayal of him being ‘bad’.

How true was this image? Well you have to strip away the plots as portrayed by the bard and look at events and evidence from Richard’s own lifetime. What did people think of him at the time? Was he more popular in the North than elsewhere and if so, in what ways is this evidenced and how does that relate to his reputation? The answer is more complex than you may imagine.

The essay has a nominal word count guide of 1500 words. It comes in just over that in web format as headings and captions have been added. The Bibliography will prove a useful reading list for any prospective A Level students or teachers.

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