The last Plantagenet king was born at one of his mother’s favourite residences, Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, the fourth and youngest son of his family.
He was named after his father, Richard, Duke of York, Henry VI’s challenger for the throne, and took after him physically – short and dark. His older brothers were Edward, who was ten, Edmund, nine, and George, four. Descended on both sides from Edward III, they were born into a desperately dangerous world and only the eldest would meet a natural death. The reigning king, Henry VI, was weak, inept and not quite right in the head, and Richard was still a baby when a battle at St Albans in 1455 ushered in the Wars of the Roses, thirty years of sporadic civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York which would end only with his own death in battle at Bosworth Field. Richard would have been trained in arms, hunting and hawking, dancing and courtesy. He grew into a capable soldier and administrator, and he remained staunchly loyal to Edward IV. [x]