History is written by the victors. So Richard III might have anticipated that his death at Bosworth Field in 1485, the last English monarch to be killed on the battlefield, would only be the start of a downward reputational spiral. The last five hundred years have not been good for the man whose remains may just have been found under a Leicester car-park yesterday.
Shakespeare did much of the damage, forever fixing our image of this hunched Machiavellian schemer and his ignominious downfall – 'my Kingdom for a horse' – though the Bard was popularising an existing Tudor narrative. Sir Thomas More, seven when Richard died, deserves at least equal credit since his polemical history of Richard, written three decades later, is the main source for much of the legend of the Princes in the Tower, and the allegation that Richard murdered them.