stf Theatre | Richard III
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Richard III

2013

Richard III

Directed by Andrew Hilton

14 Feb – 30 March 2013

Production Photos © Mark Douet 2013

CAST

Jack Bannell  Brakenbury & Richmond
Christopher Bianchi  Edward IV & James Tyrrell
Peter Clifford  Friar & Lovell 
Alan Coveney  Hastings
Paul Currier  Buckingham
Chris Donnelly  2nd Murderer & Blunt
Rupert Holliday Evans  Clarence & Lord Mayor of London
Marc Geoffrey  1st Murderer & Ely
Nicky Goldie  Duchess of York
Joe Hall  Catesby
Lisa Kay  Queen Elizabeth
Andrew Macbean Henry VI, Citizen & Sheriff
John Mackay  Richard III
Dorothea Myer-Bennett  Lady Anne & Citizen
John Sandeman  Rivers 
David Collins  Stanley
Piers Wehner  Grey
Charlie Wilkinson
& Luke Zollman Thomas  Young Duke of York
Olly Bell
& James Wearmouth Edward, Prince of Wales

PRODUCTION

Director  Andrew Hilton
Associate Director  Dominic Power
Assistant Director  Charlie Parker
Set & Costume Designer  Harriet de Winton
Costume Supervisor  Rosalind Marshall
Composer  Elizabeth Purnell
Lighting Designer  Matthew Graham
Fight Director  John Sandeman

Production Manager  Chris Bagust
Company & Stage Manager  Polly Meech
Stage Manager  Kevin Smith
Assistant Stage Manager  Rhiannon Rutley
Costume Maintenance  Catherine Sweet
Costume Laundry  Kim Winter

PRESS REVIEWS

The Guardian
****  
Richard III should probably thank Shakespeare. The playwright may have destroyed his reputation but, in doing so, he ensured the last Plantagenet lived on in the popular imagination. If the remains of a good, dull king had been dug up in a Leicester car park, we wouldn’t have cared. Richard’s enduring appeal lies in how Shakespeare has him play to the gallery – and makes the audience complicit in his determination to “prove a villain”.
Andrew Hilton’s superb revival, the first play in the annual Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory season, is typically plain, uncluttered and well-spoken; but, for all its stark simplicity, it has an irresistible theatricality, as it explores how Richard stage-manages his way to power. Only when he finally gets there is he suddenly caught in the spotlight, behaving like a bashful actor being wildly applauded at a curtain call.
As in all Hilton’s productions, it is the clarity of the storytelling and the attention to detail that makes Shakespeare slip down so easily, with every character brought fully to life. There is particularly fine support from Alan Coveney as Hastings and Paul Currier as Buckingham, ambitious but good men caught up in Richard’s power plays; and Nicky Goldie, Lisa Kay and Dorothea Myer-Bennett work well together as the grief-stricken and vengeful royal women.
But, rightly, the night belongs to John Mackay’s Richard, a cadaver-like figure in dull black dressed like a backstage worker – trying not to draw attention to himself, yet smarter than anyone else. Mackay speaks fast and persuasively, like a sincere used-car salesman who has doctored the mileage and seems constantly astonished by the ease of his own success. He usurps not just the crown, but the very stage itself. Lyn Gardner

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John Sandeman as Rivers & Lisa Kay as Queen Elizabeth

**** The Arts Desk
Stripped-down Bristol Shakespeare scores again
Performing Shakespeare in a former cigarette factory in South Bristol has become something of a ritual for Andrew Hilton and his close-knit company. Any act of ritual requires a dedicated space and the red-tiled floor on which the drama unfolds on this most intimate of stages has taken on a certain aura. With the minimum of sets and props, a deep probing of the text and the minimum of modish theatrical artifice, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory proves year after year that less is more, at least when it comes to awakening the imagination.
Hilton uses the space as an alchemical vessel, a place of transformation. Richard’s opening soliloquy is spoken with the house lights on, but when it’s over, the place goes dark, and the audience, facing each other across the four sides of the space, brought to rapt attention as if by the magic of Gloucester’s words and holding the illusion of the play between them, near miraculously create the container within which the tragedy will unfold.
John Mackay gives the twisted Duke of Gloucester’s ambition a psychopathic turn. Mackay is a tall man: at times, his gangling dysfunctionality – arms and legs flailing about as if only half under his conscious control – spills into thegrand guignol that always threatens a role in which excess is essential. Richard embodies human nature distorted, forced by frustration and anger into a manic and obsessive will to power. There is a whiff of Tarantino in this play – the spine-chilling combination of black humour and extreme violence – and this is where the danger lies. John Mackay mostly gets it right, not least, at the spell-binding moment when his conscience briefly awakens, on the eve of the final battle, and the ghosts of his victims come to haunt him …

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Paul Currier as Buckingham
Paul Currier, as Buckingham, plays the ultimate chancer with an all-too-human mix of fiendishness and vulnerability. This is a schemer we can believe in, even identify with … Lisa Kay as Queen Elizabeth navigates the difficult contrast between regal force and a mother’s grief with flawless brio. Nicky Goldie is equally assured and very moving as the monster Richard’s mother. There is a singularly powerful moment when Hilton has them both on the ground, facing in opposite directions, two mothers brought down by fury and grief, the Duchess cursing her murderous son and the Queen keening for her dead princes.
The production catches well the bare-faced ambition, treachery and spin which characterise politics. Forget the battered skeleton recently unearthed in a Leicester car park or the fact Shakespeare may have been spinning his own pro-Tudor propaganda: this is a play for today, a dark vision of power as addictive substance and the inconstancy of men – always reputed to be less easily swayed by sentiment than their wives. Once again, Andrew Hilton’s stripped-down approach to a classic pays off. If you haven’t yet tasted his potent brew, a visit to the Tobacco Factory is strongly recommended. Mark Kidel

The Observer
Have the ghosts that appear to Richard III ever been better done? …Fading and glowing in the blackness, the past comes back to haunt the present. How apt that this should be so, just as Richard’s own skeleton has been discovered: Andrew Hilton has parked his production with perfect timing. … John Mackay’s Richard is constantly unsettling. He looks like an eel wrapped in velvet, but is as quizzically attentive as a falcon, his head slightly to one side sizing up the prey. He is not histrionic but more dangerous. Susannah Clapp

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The night before Bosworth

**** Whatsonstage
Mackay’s Richard is first-rate. He captures his love of dissembling, his will to power, his desire to control others. He is convincing as seducer, plotter and fighter. He looks unnerving with his peroxide blond crew-cut and his withered arm, uneven gait and his cold dead eyes. John Campbell

**** Exeunt Magazine
The final fight is a work of art: Richard against Richmond, a vigorous and crucial dance between a terrible strength and a beautiful strength. Geraldine Giddings

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David Collins as Stanley & Jack Bannell as Richmond

**** Plays To See
This is a performance which is experienced rather than viewed. Unexpectedly hilarious in its gleeful sadism, it almost mirrors Tarantino in its unrelenting, guiltily pleasurable violence. Emily Derbyshire

Plays International – Summer 2013
Once again Bristol’s Tobacco Factory provided the highlights of the Spring season here, with two fantastic productions: Richard III was a timely choice as that monarch’s remains were recently unearthed in a Leicester car-park, and the stf (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory) team made a superb job of the bard’s most melodramatic historical play.
One of the strengths of this venue is its physical space, set centrally to the audience on four sides, and Andrew Hilton’s production relished this opportunity for imaginary landscapes from the intimate opening, when Richard’s casual entrance makes us all collusive witnesses, to the final battle raging imminently near as he calls for a horse, a horse … John Mackay is marvellous in the title-role, playing the lines for callous wit and near-psychotic ruthlessness. It’s a dominant but hugely subtle performance, with even room for fleeting pity for the killing-machine king as he watches impassively as his mother, the Duchess of York, pours out a torrent of loathing dating from the moment of his malformed birth, recalling that earlier declaration ‘since I cannot prove a lover, I am determined to prove a villain’. He’s not dog- scaringly deformed either – a bit gangly and with a useless arm which adds psychological depth.
A lead actor this charismatic needs counterbalance, and the rest of the cast provide that with strong performances all round, especially in moments of respite from terror and treachery: Chris Donnelly as an inept murderer, Piers Wehner and Jack Bannell bringing a younger energy, and of course the sweet & solemn little princes. Costumes designed by Harriet de Winton are sumptuously of the era and look fabulous – gorgeous jewel tones teamed with sable, black and gold, and Matthew Graham’s lighting design enhanced every mood. Crysse Morrison

PROGRAMME NOTES

King Richard III – History or Myth?

The recent excitement over the possible discovery of Richard III’s remains under a council car park in Leicester has reawakened the centuries-old debate about the reputation of the last English monarch to be killed in battle. Was he a monster, or a man no more bloody than many of his predecessors and successors in power? What’s more, was he perhaps – in complete contrast to Shakespeare’s portrait of him – a monarch to whom we remain indebted for enlightened legislation:  for example, the creation of the bail system to prevent unneceassry imprisonment before trial, the translation of the law into English (from Latin and French), the prevention of property seizure before conviction, and the creation of the ‘Court of Requests’ by which he made himself accessible to those too poor to afford to go to law?
This debate will have no end; in particular, the likely culprit for the cruel murders, as it is assumed, of the ‘princes in the tower’ will be hotly contested until the end of time. For most historians, Richard remains suspect number one; but it is unlikely that Henry VII (whose very shaky claim to the throne was certainly strengthened by the boys’ exit from the stage) will ever be definitively cleared of suspicion.
The writing of history is famously partial, and so much more often the work of the winner than the loser. The ‘history’ of Richard III, as Shakespeare received it, will probably remain one of the purest proofs of these truths. The grandfather of the story was Sir Thomas More, whose unfinished account – The History of King Richard III – was probably begun in 1512 or 1513, when More was an Under-Sheriff in London, five years before he rose to become a member of Henry VIII’s Council. But his attachment to, and dependency upon, the Tudor dynasty was complete. If there were any remaining doubts that Henry VII’s usurpation had been an unqualified boon to the nation then More’s account successfully scotched it. By the grace of God England had been delivered from a living hell.
More’s history was then adopted – to some degree verbatim – by Edward Hall for his The Union of the Two Noble & Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke (1542) and then, via Hall, by Holinshed for the relevant chapters in his massive and sometimes completely fanciful Chronicle of British history (1577 & 1587). Hall also used Anglica Historia, commissioned by Henry VII from Polydore Vergil, an Italian humanist become naturalised Englishman and Archdeacon of Wells, and probably begun as early as 1505.
Shakespeare used both Holinshed and Hall, and embellished the story himself, for example largely inventing the notion that Richard murdered his brother, George Duke of Clarence, while his sources had merely suggested that Richard’s defence of Clarence in the face of treason charges may have been somewhat halfhearted. His account of Richard’s marriage to Anne Neville is also wide of the mark. They were married for over a decade and had one son, who died of tuberculosis. Anne herself died of TB; she was not murderously dispensed with by Richard after only days or weeks of marriage, nor – as far as we can know – was she ‘hated’ by him and taken to his bed for strategic ends only.  
   And so it is that the accumulated notions of Richard’s reign are as much fiction as history; and, of course, it is Shakespeare’s play, far more than More’s, Hall’s or Holinshed’s prose that has characterised him in our common imagination. If infamy is to be preferred to obscurity then Richard owes Shakespeare a debt; if not …

Director’s Note

In writing this play Shakespeare is often accused of composing ‘Tudor propaganda’, as if over a hundred years after the end of the Plantagenet dynasty the case still had to be made for Henry Tudor’s French-sponsored invasion and his victory over Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Propaganda it inevitably is, but that Shakespeare’s essential purpose was propaganda is hardly credible. The story of the crookbacked King – a story that Shakespeare elaborated with great freedom – was exactly that: an urgently developed fiction about an extreme personality, its ruthless pursuit of power, and the psychological cost of success. Perhaps, even, the impossibility of success.
It is a theme that Shakespeare would return to some years later when he wrote Macbeth, where he once again mined unreliable history (again from Holinshed) for an even more profound journey into the most extreme depths of the human experience.
   More than Macbeth, Richard III explores the crossover between life and theatre. At times Richard acts almost as director and author, summoning the next character into the scene and composing the plot (‘complot’ is a word he uses repeatedly). He is also, as a personality, a man of many shapes; only his mother, the Duchess of York, knows him unwaveringly – and justly – for what he is. When the prize is won and the deceits (or most of them) are cast aside, only then does Richard become a character at the mercy of the play; and only then does he ask ‘Who am I?”. The nightmare drama that was his own devising for others becomes his own.

Date

Richard III was written and first perfomed between 1591 and 1593, and followed on from the Henry VI trilogy that retold the bloody story of the ‘Wars of the Roses’. The play proved popular, and it is likely that the leading actor, Richard Burbage, was the first to take the title role. He certainly played it at some point; in 1602 the lawyer, John Manningham, famously recorded in his diary:
   Upon a time when Burbage played Richard III there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him that before she went from the play she appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third. Shaksepeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained, and at his game ere Burbage came. The message being brought that Richard the Third was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard III.
   The play survives in several Quarto editions, and in the great Folio of 1623.

Sidelights

 “false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence”
   During the wars Clarence had changed sides twice, first deserting his brothers when Edward married Elizabeth Grey, then returning to them when persuaded by Richard. So he has, impossibly, sworn solemn allegiance to both York and Lancaster – to Edward IV and Henry VI.

“the King and Mistress Shore”
   Despite the fact that his marriage to widow Elizabeth Grey (née Woodville) was a love-match, King Edward has had a long-standing affair with a ‘Mistress Shore’. His procurer was Lord Chancellor Hastings (which might be why there is such bad blood between Hastings and Elizabeth and her brothers). No sooner is King Edward dead than Hastings scoops up Mistress Shore for his own amusement.

“Stanley, look to your wife!”
   When threatened by the Earl of Richmond (the future Henry VII) Richard has good cause to be suspicious of Stanley’s loyalties. By his marriage to Margaret Beaufort he is the young Earl’s stepfather.

“He hates me for my father, Warwick”
   Lady Anne is the daughter of the Duke of Warwick, who played a leading role in the Wars. Known as ‘the Kingmaker’, he was a formidable power backing the Yorkist cause and instrumental in putting Edward IV on the throne. Later he changed sides to support the restoration of Henry VI. He was killed by Edward at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.

Richard’s Final Battle

Richard was defeated by the much smaller forces of Henry, Earl of Richmond, at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22nd 1485.  The traditional site has a flag at the crest of the hill, a stone to mark the spot where Richard fell and a recently renovated visitors’ centre. But artefacts discovered in 2010 – including a gilded silver badge in the shape of a boar (Richard’s personal emblem), the largest collection of cannon balls of that date in Europe, and pieces of armour – suggest the battle actually took place some 3km to the south west.
No eye witness account of the battle survives, though Polydore Vergil’s acount in Anglica Historia may have been based on eye witness testimony. Vergil claims that a hundred rebels and a thousand members of Richard’s army died in the fighting, but as ever with the story of Richard III we are reading unreliable history.
The broad facts of the battle may be these:
Richard divided his army into three groups, or ‘battles’, two of which were assigned to the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Northumberland. He was also to be supported by Thomas Stanley, the Earl of Derby, who commanded his own powerful northern force. Unusually, Richmond kept most of his force together as a single fighting block, under the command of the experienced Earl of Oxford.
Richard’s vanguard, commanded by Norfolk, attacked but struggled against the mass of Oxford’s men. Northumberland took no action when signalled to assist. Seeing Richmond himself separated from the main battle Richard gambled on a charge across the battlefield to kill him. This may almost have succeeded, had not Thomas Stanley chosen then to intervene – on the Earl of Richmond’s side. In the ensuing bloody encounter, the king was killed – the last English king to be killed in battle.
There is a legend that after the battle, Stanley found the crown in a thorn bush and Richmond was crowned King Henry VII on a nearby hill – known ever since as Crown Hill.

SOURCES

from Sir Thomas More’s  HISTORY OF KING RICHARD III

The description of Richard

Richard, the third son, was in wit and courage equal with either of them [his brothers, King Edward and george, Duke of Clarence], in body and probity far under them both: little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard-favoured of visage and such as is in princes called warlike, in other men otherwise. He was malicious, wrathful, envious, and, from before his birth, ever froward. It is for truth reported that the Duchess his mother had so much ado in her travail that she could not be delivered of him uncut, and that he came into the world with the feet forward and (as the fame runs) also not untoothed: either men out of hatred report above the truth or else nature changed her course in his beginning who in the course of his life many things unnaturally committed. No evil captain was he in the war, as to which his disposition was more meet than for peace. Sundry victories had he and sometimes overthrows, but never for any lack in his own person, either of hardiness or politic order. Free was he called of spending and somewhat above his power liberal: with large gifts he got him unsteadfast friendship, for which he was fain to pillage and spoil in other places, and get him steadfast hatred.
He was close and secret, a deep dissembler, lowly of countenance, arrogant of heart, outwardly companionable where he inwardly hated, not hesitating to kiss whom he thought to kill, pitiless and cruel, not for evil will always but oftener for ambition and either for the surety or increase of his position. `Friend’ and ‘foe’ were to him indifferent: where his advantage grew, he spared no man’s death whose life withstood his purpose. He slew with his own hands – as men constantly say – King Henry the Sixth, being prisoner in the Tower, and that without commandment or knowledge of the King, who would undoubtedly, if he had intended that thing, have appointed that butcherly office to some other than his own born brother.
Some wise men also think that his drift, covertly conveyed, lacked not in helping forth his brother of Clarence to his death, which he resisted openly, howbeit somewhat (as men deemed) more faintly than he that were heartily minded to his welfare. And they that thus deem, think that he long time in King Edward’s life forethought to be king in case that the King his brother (whose life he looked that evil diet should shorten) should happen to decease (as indeed he did) while his children were young. And they deem that for this intent he was glad of the death of his brother the Duke of Clarence, whose life must needs have hindered him whether the same Duke of Clarence had kept him true to his nephew, the young King, or enterprised to be king himself. But of all this point is there no certainty, and whoso divines upon conjectures may as well shoot too far as too short.

from Holinshed’s CHRONICLE

The victory of Edward IV in 14?? and the death and obsequies of Henry VI

King Edward, having assembled an army of thirty thousand men (as some write) and accompanied in manner with all the great lords of England, came to London the one and twentieth of May, being Tuesday, where he was honourably received by the mayor, aldermen, and other worshipfull citizens: where even upon their first meeting with him he dubbed divers of them knights; as the mayor, the recorder, & other aldermen, and worshipfull commoners of the city, which had manfully and valiantly acquitted themselves … Moreover, here is to be remembered, that poor king Henry the Sixth, a little before deprived of his realm and imperial crown, was now in the Tower spoiled of his life, by Richard duke of Glocester (as the constant fame ran) who (to the intent that his brother king Edward might reigne in more surety) murdered the said King Henry with a dagger.
(Howbeit, some writers of that time, favoring altogether the house of York, have recorded, that after he understood what losses had chanced unto his friends, and how not only his son, but also all other his chief partakers were dead and dispatched, he took it so to heart, that of pure displeasure, indignation, and melancholy, he died the three and twentieth of May.)
The dead corpse on the Ascension even was conveyed with bills and glaues pompously (if you will call that a funeral pomp) from the Tower to the church of Saint Paul, and there laid on a bier or coffin bare faced, the same in presence of the beholders did bleed; where it rested the space of one whole day. From thence he was carried to the Blackfriars, and bled there likewise: and on the next day after, it was conveyed in a boat, without priest or clerk, torch or taper, singing or saying, unto the monastery of Chertsey, distant from London fifteen miles, and there was it first buried: but after, it was removed to Windsor, and there in a new vault, newly intombed. He reigned eight and thirty years, six months and odd days, and after his readoption of the crown six months. He lived two and fifty years, having by wife one only son, called Edward, prince of Wales.

from Edward Hall’s THE UNION OF THE TWO NOBLE & ILLUSTRE FAMELIES OF LANCASTRE AND YORKE   

The end of Clarence

… there fell a spark of private malice, between the King & his brother the Duke of Clarence, whether it rose of old grudges before time passed, or were it newly kindled and set afire by the Queen, or her blood which were ever mistrusting and privily barking at the King’s lignage, or were he desirous to reign after his brother:… The fame was that the King or the Queen, or both sore troubled with a foolish prophesy, and by reason therof began to stomack & grievously to grudge against the Duke. The effect of which was, after king Edward should reign, one whose first letter of his name should be a G. and because the devil is wont with such witchcrafts, to wrap and illaqueat the minds of men, which delight in such devilish fantasies they said afterward that that prophesie lost not his effect, when after Kyng Edward, Gloucester usurped his kingdome. … The king much grieved and troubled with his brother’s daily querimonye, .. . caused him to be apprehended, and cast into the Tower, where he being taken and adjudged for a Traitor, was privily drowned in a butt of Malmesey.
  But sure it is that although King Edward were consenting to his death and destruction, yet he much did both lament his unfortunate chance, and repent his sudden execution. Inasmuch, that when any person sued to him for pardon or remission, of any malefactor condemned to the punishment of death, he would accustomably say, & openly speak, ‘0 unfortunate brother, for whose life not one creature would make intercession,’ openly speaking, and apparently meaning, that by the means of some of the nobility, he was circumvented, and brought to his confusion.

The ‘strawberry’ council

These lords thus sitting communing of this matter, the Protector came in among them about nine of the clock saluting theim courteously, excusing himself that he had been from them so long saying merely that he had been a sleper that day. And after a little talking with them he said to the Bishop of Ely, ‘My lord you have very good strawberries in your garden at Holborn, I require you let us have a mess of them.’  ‘Gladly, my lord,’ quoth he, ‘I would I had some better thing as ready to your pleasure as that, and with that in all haste he sent his servant for a dish of strawberies. The Protector set the lords fast in communing and thereupon prayed them to spare him a little, and so he departed and came again betweene ten and eleven of the clock into the chamber all changed with a sour angry countenance knitting the brows, frowning and fretting and gnawing on his lips and so set him down in his place.
All the lords were dismayed and sore marvelled of this manner and sudden change and what thing should him ail. When he had sat a while, thus he began: ‘What were they worthy to have that compass and imagine the destruction of me being so near of blood to the king & protector of this his royal realm?’ At which question, all the lords sat sore astonished, musing much by whom the question should be meant, of which every man knew him self clear.
Then the lord Hastings as he that for the familiarity that was between them, thought he might be boldest with him, answered and said that they were worthy to be punished as heinous trautors what soever they were,’ and all the other affirmed the same. ‘That is ‘, quoth he, ‘yonder sorcerer my brother’s wife and others with her, meaning the queen. At these words many of the lords were sore abashed which favoured her, but the lord Hastings was better content in his mind that it was moved by her than by any other that he loved better, albeit his heart grudged that he was not afore made of counsel of this matter as well as he was of the taking of her kindred and of their putting to death, which were by his assent before devised to be beheaded at Pomfret, this self same day, in the which he was not aware that it was by other devised that he himself should the same day be beheaded at London.  Then said the Protector in what wise that sorceress and other of her counsel, as Shore’s wife with her affinity have by their sorcery and witchcraft this wasted my body, and therewith plucked up his doublet slieve to his elbow on his left arm, where he showed a weryshe withered arm & small as it was never other. And thereupon, every man’s mind misgave them, well perceiving that this matter was but a quarrel, for well they wist that the queen was both too wise to go about any such folly, & also if she would, yet would she of all folk make Shore’s wife least of her counsel whom of all women she most hated as that concubine whom the King her husband most loved.
Also, there was no man there but knew that his arm was ever such since the day of his birth. Nevertheless the lorde Hastings, which from the death of King Edward kept Shore’s wife … Yet now his heart somewhat grudged to have her whom he loved so highly accused, and that as he knew well untruly, therefore he answered and said, ‘Certainly, my lord, if they have so done, they be worthy of heinous punishment.’  ‘What?’ quoth the Protector, ‘thou servest me I wene with ‘if’ and with ‘and’, I tell the they have done it, and that will I make good on thy body, traiutor.’ And therewith (as in a great anger) he clapped his fist on the board a great rap, at which token given, one cried treason without the chamber, and therewith a door clapped, and in came rushing men in harneyes as many as the chamber could hold. And anon the Protector said to the lord Hastings, ‘I arrest thee, traitor.’ “What me, my lord?’ quoth he. ‘Yea thee, traitor!’ quoth the Protector.
And one let fly at the lord Stanley, which shrunk at the stroke and fell under the table, or else his head had been cleft to the teeth, for as shortly as he shrank, yet ran the blood about his ears.
Then was the Archbishop of York and Doctor Morton, Bishop of Ely, & the lord Stanley taken and divers other which were bestowed in divers chambers, save the lord Hastings (whom the Protector commanded to speed and shrive him apace) ‘for by Saint Paul,’ quod he, ‘I will not dine till I see thy head off.’  It booted him not to ask why, but heavily he took a priest at adventure and made a short shrift, for a longer would not be suffered, the Protector made so much haste to his dinner, which might not go to it till this murder were done, for saving of his ungracious oath. So was he brought forth into the green beside the chapel within the Tower, and his head laid down on a log of timber that lay there for building of the chapel, & there tyrannously stricken off, and after his body and head were enterred at Windsor by his master King Edward the Fourth, whose souls Jesu pardon. Amen.

The death of the Princes in the Tower

James Tyrrel devised that they should be murdered in their beds, and no blood shed: to the execution whereof, he appointed Myles Forest one of the four that before kept them … and to him he joined one John Dighton his own horsekeeper, a big, broad, square and strong knave. Then all the other being removed from them, this Miles Forest and John Dighton about midnight, the sely children lying in their beds, came into the chamber and suddenly lapped them up amongst the cloths and so bewrapped them and entangled them, keeping down by force the featherbed and pillows hard unto their mouths, that within a while they smored & stifled them, and their breaths failing, they gave up to God their innocent souls into the joys of heaven, leaving to the tormentors their bodies dead in the bed, which after the wretches perceived, first by the struggling, with the pangs of death, and after long lying still to be throughly dead, they laid the bodies out upon the bed, and fetched James Tyrrel to see them, which when he saw them perfectly dead, he caused the murderers to bury them at the stair foot, meetly deep in the ground under a great heap of stones.
Then rode James Tyrrel in great haste to King Richard, and showed him all the manner of the murder, who gave him great thanks, and as men say, there made him knight, but he allowed not their burial in so vile a corner, saying that he would have them buried in a better place because they were a king’s sons. Lo, the honourable courage of a king, for he would recompense a detestable murder with a solemne obsequy. Wherupon a priest of Sir Robert Brakenbury’s took them up & buried them in such a place secretely as by the occasion of his death (which was very shortly after) which only knew it, the very truth could never yet be very well and perfectly known. For some say that King Richard caused the priest to take them up and close them in lead and to put them in a coffine full of holes hooked at the endes with hooks of yron, and so to cast them into a place called the Black deeps at the Thames mouth, so that they should never rise up nor be seen again …
I have heard by credible report of such as were secret with his chamberers that after this abominable deed done, he never was quiet in his mind, he never thought himself sure where he went abroad, his body privily feinted, his eyes whirled about, his hand ever on his dagger, his countenance and manner like always to stricke again, he toke evil rest on nights, lay long waking and musing. For wearied with care and watch, rather slumbered then slept, troubled with fearful dreams, suddenly sometime start up, leapt out of his bed and looked about the chamber, so was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his abominable murder and execrable tyranny.

SOURCES

Please click on the button below to view the education pack on our Resources page.