Young Folks' History of England HTML version

24. Richard III, A.D. 1483—1485
Richard III. seems to have wished to be a good and great king; but he had
made his way to the throne in too evil a manner to be likely to prosper. How
many people he had put to death we do not know, for when the English
began to suspect the he had murdered his two nephews, they also accused
him of the death of everyone who had been secretly slain ever since Edward
IV. came to the throne, when he had been a mere boy. He found he must be
always on the watch; and his home was unhappy, for his son, for whose sake
he had striven so hard to be king, died while yet a boy, and Anne, his wife,
not long after.
Then his former staunch friend, the Duke of Buckingham, began to feel that
though he wanted the sons of Elizabeth Woodville to be set aside from
reigning, it was quite another thing to murder them. He was a vain, proud
man, who had a little royal blood—being descended from Thomas, the first
Duke of Gloucester, son of Edward III.—and he bethought himself that, now
all the House of Lancaster was gone, and so many of the House of York, he
might possibly become king. But he had hardly begun to make a plot, before
the keen-sighted, watchful Richard found it out, and had him seized and
There was another plot, though, that Richard did not find out in time. The
real House of Lancaster had ended when poor young Edward was killed at
Tewkesbury; but the Beauforts—the children of that younger family of John of
Gaunt, who had first begun the quarrel with the Duke of York—were not all
dead. Lady Margaret Beaufort, the daughter of the eldest son, had married a
Welsh gentleman named Edmund Tudor, and had a son called Henry Tudor,
Earl of Richmond. Edward IV. had always feared that this youth might rise
against him, and he had been obliged to wander about in France and Brittany
since the death of his father; but nobody was afraid of Lady Margaret, and
she had married a Yorkist nobleman, Lord Stanley.
Now, the eldest daughter of Edward IV.—Elizabeth, or Lady Bessee, as she
was called—was older than her poor young brothers; and she heard, to her
great horror, that her uncle wanted to commit the great wickedness of
making her his wife, after poor Anne Nevil's death. There is a curious old set
of verses, written by Lord Stanley's squire, which says that Lady Bessee called
Lord Stanley to a secret room, and begged him to send to his stepson,
Richmond, to invite him to come to England and set them all free.
Stanley said he could not write well enough, and that he could not trust a
scribe; but Lady Bessee said she could write as well as any scribe in England.
So she told him to come to her chamber at nine that evening, with his trusty
squire; and there she wrote letters, kneeling by the table, to all the noblemen
likely to be discontented with Richard, and appointing a place of meeting with