Richard III: England’s Most Controversial King

Written by Chris Skidmore
Review by Susan Higginbotham

For a king who has been the subject of so much controversy, Richard III has given rise to surprisingly few popular biographies. With the exception of a balanced but brief book by David Baldwin, most recent nonacademic work on Richard falls into the categories of hagiography, demonology, or disappearing-princes mystery solving. It was a pleasure, then, to see the latest foray into the lists by historian Chris Skidmore.

In constructing what he unapologetically calls a narrative history of Richard’s life, Skidmore relies heavily on primary sources and on sober secondary sources, mercifully sparing us scenes such as Paul Murray Kendall’s famous, and entirely unsupported, portrayal of Cecily, Duchess of York’s taking her stance at the market cross. His portrayal of Richard is balanced; his narrative detailed and engaging. For those familiar with Richard’s life, this will be a refreshing read; for those not, this will be an excellent introduction.