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  • Kaleidoscopic Concertina: The Dysfunctional Family of Richard III by Michael Hicks


    All of us were born into families that consist of 2 parents and 4 grandparents, plus many of us have siblings, uncles and aunts and cousins and in-laws. Some of us count a lot of people in these categories. Richard III had six siblings, whereas his enemy Henry Tudor was a posthumous child and an only child. In those days it was unusual for three generations of a family to be alive simultaneously. All Richard’s grandparents had died before he was born and one sister was already married. In the absence of contraception, fertility was high. Also high, however, was mortality at all ages. Life expectancy was low and marriages took place early (often being childhood matches). Taken together, these factors caused the personnel of the family to constantly change. The caste flickered past kaleidoscopically. Complex households abounded of full, half and stepchildren, the flotsam of vanished unions. Death rather than divorce broke up homes, many of which contained the half and stepchildren of vanished unions. We are all aware, of course, of how our families today evolve like concertinas – as the nest is filled, and emptied as offspring leave home, pair off and people their own nests which in turn become their priorities. Brothers and sisters head successor households. Such progression was and is eternal and inevitable. This concertina effect is charted in my latest book, The Family of Richard III.

    His father Richard, Duke of York and brother Edward IV His father Richard, Duke of York and brother Edward IV

    Richard III was the fourth son and seventh child of Richard Duke of York and Cecily Neville to achieve maturity. He had sixteen uncles and aunts and scores of cousins, most of whom surely were unaware of him. Their shared kinship clashed with other obligations – allegiance to the king, other blood relationships, landed interests, personal charm and incompatibilities. Brother Nevilles notoriously contested their inheritances from common ancestors in court and with force. Even the brothers and brothers-in-law of the child Richard fought on different political sides. The Wars of the Roses sharpened the lines of division. Not all of Richard’s kinsmen ended on the same side. His father and brother were killed by his uncles and his cousins in vengeance for the killing of their own fathers.

    The House of York proved particularly dysfunctional. It flouted contemporary standards of sexual morality. Adulterous liaisons, dubious marriages and breaches of promise, mistresses, bastards and incest litter the York family tree and cast doubt on the royal succession. Although united by blood, upbringing and common interests in the crown, the three York brothers – Edward IV, Clarence and Richard III – were rivals for their inheritances and ultimately all aspired to the crown. No holds were barred. Edward IV had no more

    Anne Neville, queen consort of Richard III Anne Neville, queen consort of Richard III

    insubordinate subjects than his brothers. There were a succession of public scandals. What was more shocking than Clarence’s defiant marriage, rebellion and subsequent deposition of his brother King Edward IV? What was more shocking than the struggle of the two younger brothers for the Warwick inheritance, in defiance of the rights of other heirs? It was a national issue from 1471 to 1475. What was more shocking than Edward’s fratricidal elimination of his brother Clarence? Surely even worse was Richard III’s bastardisation of the children of his brother Edward IV and probably the killing of his nephews the Princes in the Tower. That was the verdict of posterity. And what of Richard’s plan to divorce his queen and to marry his niece?

    The Elizabethan tomb of his parents at Fotheringhay The Elizabethan tomb of his parents at Fotheringhay

    For some years it appears that Richard headed a small but normal family of three – two parents bound by affection to Edward of Middleham, their hope for the future. Richard apparently had a stable relationship with a mistress who bore him the bastard son (and daughter) whom, unusually, he acknowledged and endowed as king. That family expired, however, as Prince Edward and Queen Anne died off. Replacements were planned. Although wifeless and childless, Richard III possessed a mother and mother-in-law, sisters, nephews, nieces and in-laws, less often sources of strength and service than impelled by blood to his destruction. But once he was dead, he had several nephews who aimed for his crown for another fifty years. And now, 540 years later, a host of distant relatives – the Plantagenet Alliance – claim to be the devoted heirs that Richard lacked in life.

    The Family of Richard III shows how families were expected to operate – very like how we expect them to today.

    The Family of Richard III

  • Richard III: Reinterment week

    3. Richard III slider with anti-alias on


    From 24th to 30th March you can get 25% discount off the RRP of any title in the Early History: c.500 to c.1450/1500 category on our website. All you need to do is enter the code Richard III in the Discount Codes coupon code box when you click on your shopping basket before proceeding to pay. Make sure the discount has been taken off before proceeding.

    Richard III’s reburial is almost here. The last Plantagenet king will be interred in Leicester Cathedral on Thursday 26 March, and the service will be broadcast live on Channel 4. It will be the first ceremonial burial of a British monarch since 1952.

    Watch the dramatic trailer from link below:

    King Richard III: The Reburial | Begins Sunday, 5.10pm | Channel 4 - YouTube.

    The mortal remains of Richard III will be received into the care of Leicester Cathedral on the evening of 22 March, will lie in repose for 3 days and will be reburied on the morning of Thursday 26 March. The following days, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 March, will mark the end of the journey with the reveal of the tomb and a service to mark the completion of the reinterment.

    The University of Leicester is organising a week of free events to celebrate the reinterment. Hear from the experts who made the historical discoveries, experiment with DNA extraction, meet a 14th century friar, examine real skeletal remains, sample a medieval banquet and much more:

    As part of these events David Baldwin will discuss ‘Leicester’s Lost King’, featuring an analysis of King Richard's reign and character. Baldwin is the historian who first identified the likely location of the grave. His 1986 paper for Leicester Archaeological and Historical Society (which can be found here) was the first serious suggestion that the King’s remains could still lie undisturbed beneath the Greyfriars car park. A former University of Leicester lecturer, he is the author of several books including the bestselling biography Richard III.

    Baldwin-Richard III PBK.indd

    A new edition of Richard III, updated with information on the reinterment will be available from 1 April 2015.


    This Saturday 21 March also sees the first of a series of programmes commemorating Richard’s life, death and discovery. A new Channel 4 drama-documentary made for the event, Richard III: The Princes in the Tower, will be broadcast at 9pm:

    Then on Sunday 22 March, the king’s remains will be processed through Leicestershire parading through the towns and villages Richard visited when he was alive. The King in the Car Park, on Channel 4 at 5.10pm, will show Richard III’s remains arriving at Leicester Cathedral with experts discussing his place in history: 

    Then on Thursday, in a show hosted by Jon Snow, the reinterment will be broadcast live at 10am with a second show in the evening (8pm) replaying highlights from the day.

    Remember the life and death of the only monarch of England without a marked grave. Be a witness to history and tune in!

    Relive the excitement of the investigating team who found Richard III's skeleton under a Leicester car park in this fascinating programme:

    Discovering Richard III, the King in the car park:

  • Welcome to the Amberley blog!


    We are delighted to be able to present our new website to you, along with our exciting new blog.

    The Amberley blog will consist of our new and forthcoming releases, interviews with our authors and regular guest posts on a variety of subjects.

    We shall have posts on the Women’s Institute which celebrates its centenary this year, the history of the railways in Britain, the legacy of Henry V, the history of British weather, the writings of Eustace Chapuys Ambassador to Henry VIII and the sinking of the Lusitania!

    Also read all about Richard III’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral on 26th March. Our bestselling biography by David Baldwin is being updated with information on the reburial and we will have posts on the events in Leicester that week.

    Out this month:

    Amberley Blog - small_9781445641041_3

    Our book of the month! With 25% off during March only, read the remarkable story of a life of privilege, tragedy and danger, of a woman who so nearly became the seventh wife of Henry VIII: Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady in Waiting to the Tudors.

    ‘A gripping biography... David Baldwin is a brilliant historical detective.’ Philippa Gregory

    Plus be in with the chance of winning a copy of this fantastic book on our Facebook page:

    Check out this fantastic article which recently appeared recently in The Times:



    Amberley Blog - times-review-henry


    ‘Rude and feisty widow was in Henry’s mind for seventh wife.’








    And this in this month’s BBC History Magazine:

    Amberely Blog - henry-bbc-history-1Amberley Blog - henry-bbc-history-2


    ‘David Baldwin tells the story of Katherine Willoughby, a great friend of the Tudor king, who seemed set to replace Katherine Parr as his bride.’







    Amberley Blog - small_9781445636795_3
    To commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, this is a new biography of Henry V, the warrior king. Teresa Cole looks at the life and legacy of a king whose heroic achievements and tragic early death may truly be said to have changed the course of British history.





    Amberley Blog - small_9781445621258_3
    In The Family of Richard III Professor Michael Hicks, described by BBC History Magazine as ‘the greatest living expert on Richard III’, reassesses the family ties and entrails of his wayward and violent family. Includes a scathing reappraisal of the 2012 dig which claims to have discovered Richard's remains and brings into question the authenticity of the find. Chosen by The Bookseller Magazine as one of their highlights of 2015.




    We look forward to telling you all about our exciting titles and up-to-date news. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates including exciting reviews, articles and interviews.

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