Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III

As the first significant challenge to the King’s received reputation in English histography, this book, on its release, propelled Horace Walpole into the vanguard of Richard III’s early defenders, and is widely recognised as a landmark in the controversy and argument surrounding the King’s troubled reign. Layton’s collection also includes a copy of F W Guidikins’ An answer to Mr Horace Walpole’s late work entitled Historical doubts on the life and reign of King Richard the Third, published in the same year.

Printed by J. Dodsley in Pall Mall, 1768. Layton Collection 8387

  • Walpole's highly readable account presents a persuasive argument in favour of Richard’s virtues and attempts to debunk the image of Richard as an evil and avaricious child murderer, focusing on the paucity of contemporary accusers and set against the evident self-interest of Thomas More’s character assassination. Subsequently, under the shadow of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, Walpole retracted some of his views on Richard the III, conceding that in times of excessive strife, individuals may indeed commit crimes that would otherwise be beyond them.


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