Warwick’s links with Richard III

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Ever since the bones of King Richard III were discovered last year, buried beneath a car park in Leicester, international interest in the once infamous monarch has mushroomed.

The Richard III Society has more than 5,000 members. And now an American historian has written a new book claiming that the towers of Warwick Castle would have been higher if the king hadn’t died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Tennessee-based author and teacher Kristie Dean will next week publish The World of Richard III, in which she revisits the locations most familiar to the last king in England to die in battle.

And a significant part of Richard’s early history was Warwick Castle, the stronghold held by his cousin, Richard Neville, better known as the “Kingmaker”.

In her book Ms Dean writes of the time Richard spent under the tutelage of the 16th Earl, before going on to marry his daughter, Anne Neville, and eventually to take the crown of England, following the deaths of the young princes in the Tower of London.

But it was the towers of Warwick Castle that also interested Richard, whose rediscovered skeleton does indeed suggest a curvature of the spine as Shakespeare suggested.

Ms Dean writes: “As the husband of Anne Neville, Richard embarked on a great building plan at Warwick.

“He began construction of two towers, the Bear and Clarence towers - these project from the wall and were meant to be self-contained with a well.

“It was only due to his death at Bosworth that the two towers were not completed at the height Richard had intended.”

Ms Dean tells readers it was also at Warwick that the king formally received an ambassador from the Queen of Castile to discuss a proposed marriage between an infanta and his son Edward.

Following a very 21st century fight between Leicester and York, the reinstatement of Richard’s bones is due to take place at Leicester Cathedral on March 26 this year.

Ms Dean hopes her book, which has a section on “Visiting the Location Today” will act as a guidebook for the increased numbers of visitors expected in the UK, as well as home-grown history lovers, still arguing about whether or not the king was responsible for the convenient disappearance of the sons of his older brother, King Edward VI.

n The World of Richard III, is published by Amberley and also examines other castles, cathedrals and manors associated with the king during his turbulent reign. It costs £20.

* Wars of the Roses

The 16th Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, played a pivotal role in The Wars of the Roses - or The Cousins’ War.

He gained the epithet “Kingmaker” because at one stage he held both Henry VI and Edward IV prisoners while he decided which one to throw his considerable power behind.

Between 1456 and 1459 the beleaguered and often confused King Henry VI, aided by his wife Margaret of Anjou, ruled from Coventry where they held their Parliaments amongst subjects they regarded as more loyal to them than the hostile Londoners.