Richard III: The Self-Made King

John Guy writes:

O ne​ freezing february morning in 1461, a tall, charismatic, supremely intelligent, gimlet-eyed teenager with a fine mop of fair hair won a battle near a muddy crossroads in Herefordshire. At the outset of this fiercely fought encounter – later named the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – an optical illusion made by the refraction of sunlight on ice crystals in the atmosphere, known today as a parhelion, briefly created the appearance of three suns. For those who were about to fight, the phenomenon portended divine intervention: already the teenager had cast himself as England’s ‘deliverer’. And sure enough, after a second, still more resounding victory at Towton in Yorkshire, fought that same year in a blizzard on Palm Sunday, he took the throne from the weak, ineffectual Henry VI and was crowned King Edward IV.

(LRB 21 Mar 2020)

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