Now that the remains of King Richard III have been discovered, what was Shakespeare saying about him in his famous play?
Shakespeare and Richard III
In the wake of the recent discovery of what appears to be the remains of King Richard III on the site of the former Greyfriars friary in Leicester, I have been sent an e-mail from somebody asking why Shakespeare, as a Catholic, would have written apparent Tudor propaganda in his depiction of Richard III. Here is my brief but hopefully adequate response:
One of Shakespeare's principal sources for Richard III was St. Thomas More's History of Richard III. Shakespeare and More both paint Richard III as a Machiavellian tyrant and usurper. He is a "monster", etymologically connected with monere (to warn). In More's case his warning proved to be prophetic with regard to Henry VIII; in Shakespeare's case Richard III, as tyrant and usurper, is an analogue to Elizabeth I.