Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes

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9780060987381: Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes

Notoriously immortalied by Shakespeare and historians, he is history's most infamous royal villian: Richard III, king of England from 1483 to 1485. Crazed with power and paranoia, he is generally supposed to have killed the youthful Prince of Wales and the aged Henry VI, drowned his brother in a vat of wine, poisoned his wife, and, worst of all, murdered his two young nephews, the older of whom was the rightful king--a reign of terror ending only with his own cowardly death on the blood-soaked field of battle.

But is all this true? Modern revisionists, citing the unreliability of Shakespeare's sources and the political agenda of historians in Richard's own day, have offered a far different portrait. A brave and valiant soldier, a loyal brother, and an intelligent, able king popular with his subjects and defeated only through treachery, their Richard is the victim of a deliberate campaign of slander devised by his Tudor successors to the throne.

In this comprehensive, meticulously researched book, renowned litigator Bertram Fields outlines and evaluates the arguments of both sides, sifting through five hundred years of legend to apply his highly successful courtroom techniques to the available evidence. Clearing away the dust of time, Fields reconstructs one of the most dramatic and turbulent episodes in history, analyzing the motives and machinations of the many players and emerging with the most definitive account yet of this most fascinating figure--and a powerful argument against acquiescing to common belief.

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Review:

Prominent entertainment attorney Bertram Fields uses his legal expertise to analyze the life and times of Richard III in Royal Blood, shining a light on that most ambiguous and important period of English history, the years of the 15th century between the War of the Roses and Richard's bloody death at Bosworth Field. Rebuking traditional historians who have immortalized Richard as the treacherous usurper--the vile mastermind behind the deaths of his brother, nephews, and friends--as well as revisionists who treat him as the courageous victim of treasonous allies and Tudor power, Fields cross-examined all the earliest accounts, including Thomas More's history (which would serve as the basis for Shakespeare's play), exposing the geographical, political, and cultural influences that have shaped previous interpretations of Richard's career.

Among the many surprises is Fields's suggestion that Richard did not commit what is widely understood to be his most atrocious crime: the murder of his nephews, the Woodville Princes. With a lawyer's zeal for establishing doubt, Fields boldly entertains several possibilities for the princes' fates, arguing that other powerful contestants for the English throne, like Richard's Tudor successor Henry VII, could have been responsible for the deaths of the boys--or that the infamous killing might not have even taken place. Fields also speculates on what might have happened had Richard not become king. Would England have remained Catholic? Could the First World War have been prevented? Such conjectures may raise an eyebrow--they are as delightfully provocative as the rest of Royal Blood. --James Highfill

About the Author:

Bertram Fields is widely regarded as the most prominent entertainment lawyer in America. The author of Royal Blood, which was named Ricardian Book of the Year by the Ricardian Society, and two novels under a pseudonym, he lives in Los Angeles.

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