The Battle Of Bosworth

To begin wrapping up our Richard III month, I thought it might be appropriate to speak a little about the battle that ended the real Richard’s life, the Battle of Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485.

What does Shakespeare Say about the battle:

KING RICHARD III

Come, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse.

Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power:
I will lead forth my soldiers to the plain,
And thus my battle shall be ordered:
My foreward shall be drawn out all in length,
Consisting equally of horse and foot;
Our archers shall be placed in the midst
John Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Earl of Surrey, Shall have the leading of this foot and horse. They thus directed, we will follow                    In the main battle, whose puissance on either side Shall be well winged with our chiefest horse. This, and Saint George to boot! 

What think’st thou, Norfolk?

NORFOLK

A good direction, warlike sovereign. 

Richard III, Act V, Scene iii.
This speech matches very well with what the chronicles mention about the battle. In those days the English archers were more deadly than their cavalry, so Richard probably wanted to pick off as many soldiers as possible with the archers, then mow the rest down with his charge toward Henry.

Contemporary Accounts, (courtesy of the Richard III Society). The most complete, and unbiased account I could find was Polydore Virgil, which is also likely the one from which Shakespeare got his information. You’ll notice that it mentions the long line of foot soldiers and horsemen, and the mention of the Duke of Norfolk commanding one of Richard’s forces.


‘The day after King Richard, well furnished in all things, drew his whole army out of their encampments, and arrayed his battle-line, extended at such a wonderful length, and composed of footmen and horsemen packed together in such a way that the mass of armed men struck terror in the hearts of the distant onlookers. In the front he placed the archers, like a most strong bulwark, appointing as their leader John, duke of Norfolk. To the rear of this long battle-line followed the king himself, with a select force of soldiers.‘Meanwhile … early in the morning [Henry Tudor] commanded his soldiery to set to arms, and at the same time sent to Thomas Stanley, who now approached the place of the fight, midway between the two armies, to come in with his forces, so that the men could be put in formation. He answered that Henry should set his own men in line, while he would be at hand with his army in proper array. Since this reply was given contrary to what was expected, and to what the opportunity of the time and greatness of the cause demanded, Henry became rather anxious and began to lose heart. Nevertheless without delay he arranged his men, from necessity, in this fashion. He drew up a simple battle-line on account of the fewness of his men. In front of the line he placed archers, putting the earl of Oxford in command; to defend it on the right wing he positioned Gilbert Talbot, and on the left wing in truth he placed John Savage. He himself, relying on the aid of Thomas Stanley, followed with one company of horsemen and a few foot-soldiers. For all in all the number of soldiers was scarcely 5,000, not counting the Stanleyites of whom about 3,000 were in the battle under the leadership of William Stanley. The king’s forces were at least twice as many.

‘Thus the battle-line on each side was arrayed. As soon as the two armies came within sight of each other, the soldiers donned their helms and prepared for the battle, waiting for the signal to attack with attentive ears. There was a marsh between them, which Henry deliberately left on his right, to serve his men as a defensive wall. In doing this he simultaneously put the sun behind him. The king, as soon as he saw the enemy advance past the marsh, ordered his men to charge. Suddenly raising a great shout they attacked first with arrows, and their opponents, in no wise holding back from the fight, returned the fire fiercely. When it came to close quarters, however, the dealing was done with swords.‘In the mean time the earl of Oxford, afraid that in the fighting his men would be surrounded by the multitude, gave out the order through the ranks that no soldier should go more than ten feet from the standards. 

Here’s a short infographic I made about the kinds of weapons people used during the Battle Of Bosworth.

When in response to the command all the men massed together and drew back a little from the fray, their opponents, suspecting a trick, took fright and broke off from the fighting for a while. In truth many, who wished the king damned rather than saved, were not reluctant to do so, and for that reason fought less stoutly. Then the earl of Oxford on the one part, with tightly grouped units, attacked the enemy afresh, and the others in the other part pressing together in wedge formation renewed the battle.

Royal Portrait of King Richard III, holding a broken sword.

While the battle thus raged between the front lines in both sectors, Richard learnt, first from spies, that Henry was some way off with a few armed men as his retinue, and then, as the latter drew nearer, recognised him more certainly from his standards. Inflamed with anger, he spurred his horse, and road against him from the other side, beyond the battle line. Henry saw Richard come upon him, and since all hope of safety lay in arms, he eagerly offered himself for this contest. In the first charge Richard killed several men; toppled Henry’s standard, along with the standard-bearer William Brandon; contended with John Cheney, a man of surpassing bravery, who stood in his way, and thrust him to the ground with great force; and made a path for himself through the press of steel.

This is a re-construction of the kind of armor Richard might have worn into battle. Notice that the helmet has the crown ontop. Photo reprinted from the Bosworth Field museum

‘Nevertheless Henry held out against the attack longer than his troops, who now almost despaired of victory, had thought likely. Then, behold, William Stanley came in support with 3,000 men. Indeed it was at this point that, with the rest of his men taking to their heels, Richard was slain fighting in the thickest of the press. Meanwhile the earl of Oxford, after a brief struggle, likewise quickly put to flight the remainder of the troops who fought in the front line, a great number of whom were killed in the rout. Yet many more, who supported Richard out of fear and not out of their own will, purposely held off from the battle, and departed unharmed, as men who desired not the safety but the destruction of the prince whom they detested. About 1,000 men were slain, including from the nobility John duke of Norfolk, Walter Lord Ferrers, Robert Brackenbury, Richard Radcliffe and several others. Two days after at Leicester, William Catesby, lawyer, with a few associates, was executed. Among those that took to their heels, Francis Lord Lovell, Humphrey Stafford, with Thomas his brother, and many companions, fled into the sanctuary of St. John which is near Colchester, a town on the Essex coast. There was a huge number of captives, for when Richard was killed, all men threw down their weapons, and freely submitted themselves to Henry’s obedience, which the majority would have done at the outset, if with Richard’s scouts rushing back and forth it had been possible. Amongst them the chief was Henry earl of Northumberland and Thomas earl of Surrey. The latter was put in prison, whree he remained for a long time, the former was received in favour as a friend at heart. Henry lost in the battle scarcely a hundred soldiers, amongst whom one notable was William Brandon, who bore Henry’s battle standard. The battle was fought on the 11th day before the kalends of September, in the year of man’s salvation 1486, and the struggle lasted more than two hours.

Plaque erected near a small well on Bosworth field, which Richard himself supposedly drank from.


‘The report is that Richard could have saved himself by flight. His companions, seeing from the very outset of the battle that the soldiers were wielding their arms feebly and sluggishly, and that some were secretly deserting, suspected treason, and urged him to flee. When his cause obviously began to falter, they brought him a swift horse. Yet he, who was not unaware that the people hated him, setting aside hope of all future success, allegedly replied, such was the great fierceness and force of his mind, that that very day he would make an end either of war or life. Knowing for certain that that day would either deliver him a pacified realm thenceforward or else take it away forever, he went into the fray wearing the royal crown, so that he might thereby make either a beginning or an end of his reign. Thus the miserable man suddenly had such an end as customarily befalls them that for justice, divine law and virtue substitue wilfulness, impiety and depravity. To be sure, these are far more forcible object-lessons than the voices of men to deter those persons who allow no time to pass free from some wickedness, cruelty, or mischief.


Immediately after gaining victory, Henry gave thanks to Almighty God with many prayers. Then filled with unbelievable happiness, he took himself to the nearest hill, where after he had congratulated his soldiers and ordered them to care for the wounded and bury the slain, he gave eternal thanks to his captains, promising that he would remember their good services. In the mean time the soldiers saluted him as king with a great shout, applauding him with most willing hearts. Seeing this, Thomas Stanley immediately placed Richard’s crown, found among the spoil, on his head, as though he had become king by command of the people, acclaimed in the ancestral manner; and that was the first omen of his felicity.’


-Polydore Virgil, c. 1500. Reprinted from the Richard III Society:

http://www.r3.org/richard-iii/the-battle-of-bosworth/bosworth-contemporary-tudor-accounts/ 
What most people can agree:

  • The battle took place on August 22nd, 1485 in a small field in Leicester.
  • Richard had about 70,000 troops, and Richmond had far fewer, aided mostly by French, Scot, and Welsh mercenaries.
  • Many of Richard’s people like the Earl Of Stanley betrayed him and turned sides.
  • Several sources record Richard wearing the crown in battle, which Henry Tudor immediately seized after he murdered Richard.
  • Richard fought bravely against Richmond, charging alone into combat and refusing to be rescued by his army. One account has Richard say: “This day I will die as king or win.” In another account, a lone Welshman killed the king’s horse, which probably was the origin of the line “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
  • Richard’s body was hacked to pieces, stripped naked, covered with a noose, and displayed at a poor local church for the citizens to mock at for two days. Even contemporary accounts allege that Henry treated his vanquished foe shamefully.
    Infographic of Richard’s post-battle wounds.

    Above- infographic of Richard’s battle wounds, courtesy of Lifescience.com

To conclude, even Shakespeare admits that Richard was a great commander, who lost the battle when his own soldiers betrayed him, and he was piteously murdered by the man who took over the crown from him. It’s a good thing that the real King Richard’s remains were discovered in 2012, and we now know more about the real man in addition to the myth.

RIP Richard.

Useful Richard III Website, starring Ian McKellen!

Here’s a lovely website designed to help you learn about Richard’s first soliloquy by interacting with Sir Ian McKellen himself!

First, a video to see it in action:


And here’s the final website: http://www.stageworkmckellen.com/

As a bonus, here’s a review of Sir Ian’s new app, Heuristic Shakespeare:


http://www.avclub.com/article/ian-mckellen-launches-app-make-shakespeare-easier–236049

This app looks incredible, listen to this satisfied customer:

So far, the only play on the app is “The Tempest,” but hopefully if enough people buy it, it’ll expand and encompass all the plays. I hope you’ll check it out!
 

How Donald Trump Is Like Richard III

Last April, a NY post article called “The Bard’s Ballot,” compared the republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Bottom the Weaver from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I found the comparison amusing, but sadly misguided. Trump isn’t a foolish actor trying to play Fairy king, he’s a conniving, evil bully who has slaughtered his opponents and is poised to take all the power in this country. There is only one character in the cannon who matches this level of cruelty: the hunchbacked cripple Richard III.

As you know, I’ve written about this before, but even I felt hesitant to compare Trump to the most vile of Shakespeare’s villains but frankly, if the hump fits, wear it.

img_1226
Looks like a villain to me. Looks like Dr. Evil, playing with his “lasers.”
How did this happen? How did we as a country get here? To try and solve this question, let’s take a lesson from Shakespeare. What follows is an analysis of the careers of both Trump, and Shakespeare’s Richard of Gloucester. For both men I’ll try to report chronologically through the play and through the primary to the election. For you teachers, this is a good way to explore the plot of Richard III, and you might want to adapt this post as a project for your students.

But first, a short disclaimer- I use the name “Shakespeare’s Richard” because I want to be clear that I’m talking about the character and not the historical king, who, as I discussed in a previous post, bears little resemblance to Shakespeare’s iconic villain.

Analysis of Shakespeare’s Richard/ Donald Trump. Acts and Scenes taken from Open Source Shakespeare.com

Comparisons
Before both men were nominated to their positions of power, everyone thought they were a joke. Trump’s Orange face, ridiculous combover, and obvious lack of experience made news pundits literally laugh out loud when people even suggested he’d be the nominee.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Richard got plenty of jeers himself because of his hump, bad limp and tiny hands, (sorry I mean withered arm). The first time he speaks in Henry VI, Part II, Act V, Scene one, Lord Clifford (a Lancastrian) just tells him to shut up:

Lord Clifford. Hence, heap of wrath, foul indigested lump,
As crooked in thy manners as thy shape!

In both cases, it proved dangerous to ignore the man, because it gave him a chance to slaughter everybody- In Act 1, Richard gets his brother Clarence arrested for treason. Then in Act III he arrests Lord  Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn, chops off Lord Hastings’s head, and secretly has his own nephews murdered.

Trump’s kind of murder is more an assassination of character- he accused Ted Cruz of being Canadian, attacked Marco Rubio’s  sweatiness, and relentlessly attacked everything about Carly Fiorina from her business record, to her appearance. Which brings me to my next point about Trump/ Shakespeare’s Richard:

Slide07Both Blame all the country’s problems on women– Richard knew that the only way to get away with killing his opponents was to blame his murders on someone else, someone whom the nobles hated even worse than himself. His brother the king married Elizabeth Woodville, a poor widow who had no political influence. The nobles hated her for “cheapening” the English monarchy. Even worse, Elizabeth made  her brother Anthony into Lord Rivers and her son the Marquess of Dorset. Richard blames them for his brother’s death and has them sent to prison and execution. He even blames the queen king herself for his deformed arm, in a plot to get one of her supporters executed.

Trump’s feuds with Rosie O’Donnell, his overtly sexist remarks against female reporters, and of course, his infamous claim that Hillary Clinton is the co-founder of ISIS and that her legacy is one of death, destruction, and weakness, demonstrate his mysogynist, scorched-earth rhetoric when dealing with the first female presidential nominee.

Another parallel is that Shakespeare’s Richard is particularly nasty when attacking people’s sexual history. Just like Bill Clinton, King Edward IV had a widely publicized affair with a woman, which damaged his reputation.  Richard curses  Jane Shore, Edward’s mistress as a witch and blames her for the King’s death, (when actually Richard had a greater hand in it). Smearing his brother as an adulterer helps Richard establish himself as a pious, humble king in Act III. In the clip above, you see Richard accepting the crown dressed as a monk, complete with rosary and a prayer book in his hand. Trump mirrored this kind of hypocrisy when he attempted to attack Bill Clinton’s infidelity with Monica Lewinsky, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with Hillary’s campaign. In addition, it’s been well documented that Trump has been married four times, and cheated on his first wife with the woman who would become his second.

Both Men Stir Up deep Hatred and Animosity– As I mentioned in my previous Trump post, Trump has basically made his campaign on promising to deport immigrants and refuse Muslims into this country, which means he has created a power base of highly xenophobic people who have even resorted to violence in his campaign rallies.

Shakespeare’s Richard is just as vile. Not only does he get the nobles to support him because they’d rather see him on the throne than Elizabeth’s children, at the end of the play, he uses some extremely xenophobic remarks against his enemy Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. Henry was living in France for most of his life, and his army was mostly composed of Welshmen, which Richard exploits by condemning them all as foreigners.

Notice how at the end of the speech, Richard (in true Trump fashion), warns his followers that if they don’t destroy Richmond’s followers, (whom he calls ‘Bretons’), that they will rape the Englishmen’s wives and daughters, sound familiar?

In Order To Win, Both Men Have A Powerful mouthpiece- BUCKINGHAM V Surrogates

To convince the English people to reject King Edward’s sons as bastards, Richard enlists the help of the Duke Of Buckigham, an oily politician if ever there was one and a cunning orator. Basically, Buckingham is Richard’s campaign manager.

To get the nobles to support Shakespeare’s Richard, first Buckingham gets Will Catesby to spy on Lord Hastings, to see if he’ll side with Richard or the prince. When Hastings turns out to be indifferent, Richard calls on the Privy Council to chop off his head. Hmm, who else has asked his supporters to assassinate his opponent?


Then Buckingham stages a campaign rally to try and get the citizens to support Richard, and this leads me to the most bizarre example of life-imitates Shakespeare I’ve ever seen.

Both Richard and Trump paid people to support him:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, back on June 12th, 2016, Trump paid a bunch of actors to cheer at one of his campaign rallies. This was one of the most embarrassing dirty tricks of the Trump campaign (so far), and amazingly, it worked! But then again, it worked for Richard as well:

In Act III, scene 7, Buckingham plants a bunch of people in a crowd during a speech where he declares the prince illegitimate, and demands “All they that love their county’s good say: “God save Richard, England’s worthy king.”

  • Duke of Buckingham. I bid them that did love their country’s good
    Cry ‘God save Richard, England’s royal king!’
  • Duke of Buckingham. No, so God help me, they spake not a word; 2225
    But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
    Gazed each on other, and look’d deadly pale.
    Which when I saw, I reprehended them;
    And ask’d the mayor what meant this wilful silence:
    His answer was, the people were not wont 2230
    To be spoke to but by the recorder.
    Then he was urged to tell my tale again,
    ‘Thus saith the duke, thus hath the duke inferr’d;’
    But nothing spake in warrant from himself.
    When he had done, some followers of mine own, 2235
    At the lower end of the hall, hurl’d up their caps,
    And some ten voices cried ‘God save King Richard!’
    And thus I took the vantage of those few,
    ‘Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,’ quoth I;
    ‘This general applause and loving shout 2240
    Argues your wisdoms and your love to Richard:’
    And even here brake off, and came away.

Notice in line 2235, Buckingham makes it clear that the only people who call out to Richard are Buckingham’s followers, not members of the general public. Also note earlier where he has to speak for Richard second hand, like a modern Trump surrogate. It seems almost comic that Trump borrowed such a text-book piece of political villainy.

After the fake rally for Richard, Buckingham brings a group of citizens to Baynard’s Castle in order to”beg” Richard to accept the crown. As you saw in The Hollow Crown clip earlier, while Richard plays monk, Buckingham plays concerned citizen, trying to keep the “bastard” son of a letcheous king from disgracing the country by putting the “humble” Richard on the throne.

Trump has many people whose sole job is to lie about everything he says and does, from his campaign manager, ( who, by the way, believes that the reason women are raped is they aren’t as strong as men), to his campaign surrogates who try to twist and spin every racist, sexist, and downright ludicrous thing Trump says:

Richard/ Buckingham’s fall: 

The first three acts of Richard III are an upward climb for the title character, but then in Act IV, when Richard orders the murder of King Edward’s son, he slowly loses his supporters, including Buckingham. You’ll see in this scene from Act IV, Scene ii, once Richard is crowned, he is instantly faced with a multitude of threats to his power, leading him to murder his nephews and try to marry his own niece. Meanwhile, after Buckingham leaves King Richard, he is found, captured, and has his head chopped off.

Trump may be on a downward spiral already. True, he didn’t murder children, (although he does apparently hate babies). In the past three weeks, he slandered the family of a war veteran, declared that his opponent is the founder of ISIS, and is losing in almost every major poll. Also, his own Buckingham, his campaign manager Paul Manafort, got his head on the block by being forced to resign from Trump’s campaign. Manafort has a long history of getting money from people like Vladimir Putin, which raises suspicion that he might have been involved in the Russian hacking of the DNC emails. Even worse for Trump, he now knows that his immigration policy won’t work and won’t appeal to the majority of Americans, and is now promising to do nothing different from Obama, despite the months he spent promising to kick out as many undocumented minorities and Muslims as possible. Voters do not tolerate flip-flopping candidates, and this back pedaling could seem like a fatal weakness.

The aftermath/ the Future?:
Shakespeare’s Richard was a cruel tyrant who led the country into a civil war and spent all his time trying to keep the crown on his head. His allies deserted him, and he was left crying for a horse before he was eventually defeated… by a woman! Queen Elizabeth Woodville resisted Richard’s demands to give him her daughter to him in marriage, and instead gave  Henry Tudor her consent to marry the young princess (who was also named Elizabeth). The marriage legitimized Henry as heir to the throne.

Henry then challenged Richard to battle and defeated him at the Battle of Bosworth field, then took the throne as King Henry VII. His dynasty led England to the greatest period of peace and prosperity in its history, with a woman on the throne who was also called Elizabeth.

Let’s hope the election plays out as well as Shakespeare’s Richard III, just as Trump’s ominous rise to power has mirrored Shakespeare’s Richard’s infamous career.

Watch The Hollow Crown: Richard III

This amazing BBC series does all of Shakespeare’s histories, and for Richard III, they cast one of the greatest young Shakespearean actors: Benedick Cumberbatch!

The Hollow Crown: Richard III

As a bonus, here is an interview with the star, explaining why the play is still relevant today:

The Elephant In the Room: The Real Richard III

Before we continue our exploration of Shakespeare’s “Richard the Third,” I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a little time talking a little about the real Richard   Plantagenet, Duke Of Gloucester and king of England from 1483-1485. I have to get this out of the way first and foremost: although “Richard III” is classified as a history play, most of the facts in it are untrue, or severely exaggerated. In this post I will try to separate the character from the man to try and make clear what Shakespeare changed from history and why.

First, a video bio I created:

The facts are these:

-He was a real English monarch who  reigned 1483-1485.

– Richard was the younger brother of King Edward IV, and helped his brother take the crown away from King Henry VI, in a series of battles known as The Wars Of the Roses.

– The battles got their name because Richard’s family (the House Of York), used a white rose as its symbol, while King Henry’s faction used a red rose.

– Like Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, Richard was the undesputed “Warden Of the North,” in charge of crushing a potential Scottish invasion.

– In April of 1483, Richard’s brother King Edward IV died. As Lord Protector of England, Richard was entrusted to take care of the country, and Edward’s two sons (the new heirs to the throne). In late May, Richard arrested three lords on suspicion of treason while he guided the two princes to London. Within one month, the two princes were publicly declared illegitimate by the Archbishop, thus making Richard the new king.

– Sometime during Richard’s two year reign, Edward’s sons disappeared.  Many believe they were murdered and Shakespeare’s sources named James Tyrrell and Michael Forrest as the murderers, acting under King  Richard’s orders. In 1674, the skeletons of two boys believed to be the princes were discovered in the Tower Of London. The remains were interred by King Charles II. So far, nobody has confirmed if the remains belong to the princes or what happened to the young boys.

-Richard was defeated and murdered by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond at the Battle Of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. His successor founded the House Of Tudor which included Henry VIII, Mary I, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth I.

-in 2015, historian Phillipa Langley discovered King Richard’s remains in a parking lot in Leicester

Few contemporary sources survive from Richard’s day, so it’s unknown whether Richard did kill the princes. Even more mysterious, although he did work to depose a king, oppress the Scots, and take the throne from Edward’s kids, some sources claim Richard was actually a just and good king. In the lack of facts, Richard’s legend continues to grow

Reality check

-After finding his skeleton, scientists discovered that Richard was not deformed, although he did have scoliosis. Thomas Moore added the hump, while Shakespeare added the withered arm.

– There is no physical evidence that Richard killed the two princes, and many others wanted them dead, including Henry Tudor himself!

-Richard also probably was a good king according to some contemporary accounts, as you can see in this video with Monty Python’s Terry Jones:

Why were the facts twisted?


– Remember, Richard was defeated by Henry Tudor, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, so there was no way Shakespeare or anyone else in Elizabethan England could get away with portraying him as a good king.

– Shakespeare’s main source was a history by Sir Thomas More, who was 12 at the time of Richard’s reign. More was Henry VIII’s royal chancellor, so he couldn’t afford to be nice to Richard either. More’s history set the groundwork for Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard as a deformed monster.

The point is, people have known for centuries that Shakespeare’s Richard is no more true than the myth of Robin Hood. Even Laurence Olivier admits before his film even starts that this story has been “scorned in proof thousands of times.” Nevertheless, like Robin Hood, this story is part of the fabric of English society, and it still has value as a cautionary tale about corrupt governments, and how one man may lose his soul (and a horse) in pursuit of power and revenge.

Even today, people continue to gain power by manipulating fear, hatred, and religion, which is why we as a society need Shakespeare’s Richard. The play is so universal it was re interpreted in 2007 as “Richard III: an Arab tragedy.” Shakespeare’s Richard is so close to today’s dirty politicians that we have TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic inspired by him, (more on that later). And Richard himself is so compelling a character that centuries of great actors, cartoon characters, and even occasional rock stars have wanted to emulate him.
The lesson of the story is that a single demagogue can gain control of a corrupt system if we let him. Hitler, Saddam, Trump. It’s no accident that Olivier chose to play Richard right as the war was ending in Europe, and his popularity in that role rose exponentially after post war Britain saw the parallels between the “honey words” of Richard, which captivated England, to Hitler’s fiery rhetoric, which nearly destroyed it. The larger point through all four plays of Shakespeare’s history cycle, (not just “Richard III,”) is that greed and cruelty within one family can lead to chaos on a large scale, especially when it’s the royal family.

For more information:

Books:

  • The Daughter Of Time by Josephine Tey, 1951: This is the most famous book that sets down the case that Richard’s reign was maligned by history. In addition to having excellent research, it is also a compelling novel.
  • Shakespeare’s English Kings by Peter Saccio. To help students of Shakespeare separate fact from fiction, and get a sense of the lives of the men whose lives shaped Shakespeare’s history plays, Professor Saccio of Dartmouth College created a short, easy to read biography of all 10 of Shakespeare’s monarchs.

Websites:

The Richard III SocietyOfficial website of the society dedicated to preserving the memory of Richard III.

 Historic UK: Short biographies of English Monarchs

Leicester Cathedral’s Richard III Page: http://kingrichardinleicester.com See pictures and read about Richard’s final resting place, and how his remains were found, and re-interred.

Westminster Abbey- The tomb of most English kings and queens for over 1,000 years:

http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/royals?start_rank=1 

My Top Ten Shakespearean Apps For Teachers and Students, Part 2

As I said before, my criteria for these apps was “Free, functional (educational or useful in life,) and fun.”
6. Shakespeare by Shmop: incredible! This is a study guide for your phone of tablet. There are separate apps Hamlet, Macbeth, and R&J. Each one features a glossary, analysis, quotes, study questions, you get the idea. You can cover a lot of the play with this app. My favorite feature is “Why Should I Care?” This is a short essay that compares the themes and ideas of the play to modern life. Excellent app, and the website is great too for students and teachers: http://www.shmoop.com

7. Shakespeare for kids


 I believe nobody is too old or too young to enjoy Shakespeare, so I tried to find a Shkespeare app for young children and came up with this. To be honest, I was disappointed in this one; it’s basically an app version of Irene Lamb’s book “Tales From Shakespeare”. It consists of short summaries of the plays intended for children. There are no study guides, no quotes, and the games have nothing to do with Shakespeare. My advice, get the book, or go to these sites: 

8. Poems By Heart Made by the Penguin Publishing Co, it’s designed to help you learn a poem by quizzing yourself, one line at a time, (or one word if necessary). Friendly and enjoyable.


9. Soliloquy by playshakespeare.com. 

As you might expect, this app is a database of Shakespearean speeches. I normally don’t advocate actors learning speeches out of context without reading the whole play, but this app is useful for the professional actor on the go, who needs to pull out a speech in a hurry. It’s sort of a digital monologue portfolio. You can find a good speech, save it, then pull it out when you need to study it. There’s also a pro feature that allows you to edit the speech if it’s running long. What I really like is the fact that each speech is conveniently classified by gender/ genre/ length, and the helpful tips for young actors picking a good speech.

10. Shakespeare by Play Shakespeare.com


Well now we come to the end of the free Shakespeare app list I’ve compiled. Now what? I would recommend downloading Shakespeare by Playshakespeare.com, then BURN THE LIST! This is the most incredible Shakespeare app I’ve ever seen! It has tons of free and pay- only features and I’ve listed a few below:

  • Full text of the plays
  • A GPS feature where you can locate any Shakespearean theater near you.
  • A free passport to 57 theaters that offer discounts to members.
  • Study guides which include scene breakdown, poetry glossary, and notes on verse scansion
  • Shakeapeare quotes generator.
  • A glossary of over 40,000 Shakespearean words 

Much like this blog, I recommend this app to Shakespeare lovers of any age!


One more bonus review: this isn’t an app, but it’s a website created by Joel Eastman and Erik Hinton of the Wall Street Journal. Its purpose is to analyze the awesome lyric complexity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” http://graphics.wsj.com/hamilton/ 

The website uncovers the use of assonance, alliteration, near-rhymes, mid-line rhymes, and other strokes of Lin-Manuel Maranda’s lyrical brush. The best part is that you can feed any text you want into the website, and it will use the same algorithm to show you its lyrical elements, so I’d recommend using it as a tool to study Shakespeare. You’ll find that the Bard of Avon and Snoop Lion aren’t as different as they might seem.

So there you are, a few fun, friendly, and free tools for exploring the work and life of a timeless English playwright. As The Bard might say: “Sirs, betake you to your tools,” for such apps as these are only as good as the person who uses them.

Intro to Richard III

Hi everyone,

Introducing our new Play of the Month: Shakespeare’s dark history play about murder and corruption, Richard III. First, a short presentation I made that introduces the characters and themes of the play.

 

Second, a quick, funny summary of the play from the Reduced Shakespeare Company


And finally, this incredible animated version of the play, which looks like a stained-glass window come to life!