Friday, January 18, 2013

Richard III: England's Black Legend

1983, 1984 Franklin Watts edition
Desmond Seward
Richard III: England's Black Legend
Original price unknown, purchase price $5.95
Good condition hardcover with worn dustjacket

Seward is even more of a conclusion-jumper than Josephine Tey, but this book is at least consistent in its portrayal of Richard III as being as bad as the worst you've heard.  And the book is quick and fairly entertaining, so even the military sections didn't bore me.  I was annoyed by the number of typos, and confused by the use of "condominium."  (Wikipedia gives its meaning in international law: "a political territory [state or border area] in or over which two or more sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium [in the sense of sovereignty] and exercise their rights jointly, without dividing it up into 'national' zones.")  Seward mentions a few good traits that Richard had, but he does believe that Richard was an incestuous, murderous usurper.  I'm still more inclined to the "grey legend," that Richard did some of the evil that he was accused of, but not necessarily all, such as the murder of Prince Edward of Lancaster.  (The family trees in the book are nice and clear by the way.)  After more than five hundred years, it often seems to be a case of various people's words against others, even more than with Mary, Queen of Scots.

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