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Old December 11th, 2012, 04:33 AM   #1
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Richard III - legal/judicial/political reformer?


hi,

with all the new attention on Richard III given the discovery of what may be his remains in Leicester, i had heard (can't remember where, or from whom...) that in his short reign he had initiated a number of significant legal/judicial/political reforms that that were, to some degree, 'goundbreaking' in changing the way that the law was created, what the law was, and then how it was administered in England and Wales.

is this true - was he another Henry I/II, or Edward I in the making, or is this makey-uppy rubbish, or indeed does it have some foundation in truth, but its blown out of all proportion in order to persuade people (like me perhaps..) that the less attractive accusations about Richards conduct are less likely to be true?

thanks - nice forum by the way, i've read some excellent peices here.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 05:12 AM   #2

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Could you elaborate? Where did you get this info from, what reforms exactly, etc.?
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Old December 11th, 2012, 05:26 AM   #3

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This might help the discussion along. Welcome to the forum Dried Fruit :

Richard III's Parliament
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Old December 11th, 2012, 05:56 AM   #4
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Richard's reign was too short for a fair assessment, but in earlier times he seems to have been an able council governor in Wales and the North and an astute politician; appearing at court , as well as at chapters of the Order of the Garter, in Parliament and royal council, and in major ceremonial occasions. Just in whose interests this all was, decide for yourself.

He committed himself to reforming justice and morality, remedying the what he called decadence and misrule during Edward IVís last years, the sexual license of royal court, and the Woodville's nepotism.He planned to improve the management of the royal estates and the north, and abolished the benevolences (forced gifts to the King) which had brother had used. But he was so desperate for money that he reinstated the benevolences.

But he was in any case doomed by controversy and his reputation as the wicked uncle. Most notable reforms in England had already happened in the early to mid 15th century; economic reforms, the rise of yeomen in the "golden age for English labourers, the transfer of estates to leaseholders, the enclosures, and the creation of schools and colleges, Eton and King's College. In any case, the Tudor reform from 1485 and its dynasty of 118 years largely overshadows Richard's short tenure.

Without being partisan, useful resources can be found at the R3 Societies and this from richardiii.com: "Was Richard III a good king?

With the untimely death of his brother, Edward IV in 1483, he was petitioned by the Lords and Commons of Parliament to accept the kingship of England. On July 6 1483, Richard III was crowned. His first and only Parliament was held during January and February of 1484. He passed the most enlightened laws on record for the Fifteenth Century. He set up a council of advisors that diplomatically included Lancastrian supporters, administered justice for the poor as well as the rich, established a series of posting stations for royal messengers between the North and London. He fostered the importation of books, commanded laws be written in English instead of Latin so the common people could understand their own laws. He outlawed benevolences, started the system of bail and stopped the intimidation of juries". Frequently Asked Questions
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Old December 11th, 2012, 06:03 AM   #5

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Richard instigated the Council of the North which greatly improved conditions for people in Northern England and boostrd economic activity in the urban north.
Only a few months into his short rein Richard instituted what later became known as the Court of Requests a court to which poor people who could not afford legal representation could apply for their grievances to be heard. Within a few months of that Richard introduced bail thereby protectecting suspected felons from imprisonment before trial and to protect their property from seizure during that time.
Not too shabby a start to his rein, who knows what might have been.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 06:21 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by funakison View Post
Richard instigated the Council of the North which greatly improved conditions for people in Northern England and boostrd economic activity in the urban north.
Only a few months into his short rein Richard instituted what later became known as the Court of Requests a court to which poor people who could not afford legal representation could apply for their grievances to be heard. Within a few months of that Richard introduced bail thereby protectecting suspected felons from imprisonment before trial and to protect their property from seizure during that time.
Not too shabby a start to his rein, who knows what might have been.
Just a couple of points to take issue with. The Council of the North was instituted in 1472 by Edward 1V and not Richard although he did use the statute to create a virtual Palatine in the North. As to benevolences while Richard did legislate for there removal he later resorted to forced loans which were arguably even worse. While agreeing that on the whole his reforms were good I think this has no bearing on whether or not he destroyed his nephews.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #7
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I'd argue that calumny and charges against Richard and the fate of his nephews aren't germane to the subject of his reforms, but they may have contributed to contemporary controversy, the rise of malcontents, and shortened Richard's reign. I also don't consider the episode with his nephews defines Richard, who could have made a reasonable administrator with his liberal policies and principles for justice. If he'd been given the chance. But I think there's a lot more in Richard's favour not least the reforms following Edward IV's fairly corrupt and self serving elite.

The distinction between public and private acts was also first made in Richard's one and only parliament along with control of corrupt practices in the manufacture of woollen goods. He checked corruption by reforming public offices, personally supervising the Exchequer. And on legal matters; in 1484 Richard's parliament ratified Titulus Regius/title of King, an Act for the Settlement of the Crown which became a statute of Parliament.

For the first time, statutes were published in English, Richard having encouraged printing which ironically allowed later publicists to print their versions and characterisations of Richard's life and person.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 12:25 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Paul View Post
I'd argue that calumny and charges against Richard and the fate of his nephews aren't germane to the subject of his reforms, but they may have contributed to contemporary controversy, the rise of malcontents, and shortened Richard's reign. I also don't consider the episode with his nephews defines Richard, who could have made a reasonable administrator with his liberal policies and principles for justice. If he'd been given the chance. But I think there's a lot more in Richard's favour not least the reforms following Edward IV's fairly corrupt and self serving elite.

The distinction between public and private acts was also first made in Richard's one and only parliament along with control of corrupt practices in the manufacture of woollen goods. He checked corruption by reforming public offices, personally supervising the Exchequer. And on legal matters; in 1484 Richard's parliament ratified Titulus Regius/title of King, an Act for the Settlement of the Crown which became a statute of Parliament.

For the first time, statutes were published in English, Richard having encouraged printing which ironically allowed later publicists to print their versions and characterisations of Richard's life and person.
Agreed, the fate of the two princes is not a subject of the OP and the reforms instigated by Richard are contary to the later assesment of certain Tudor personalities whose flair for literature outweighed their historical credentials
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Old December 11th, 2012, 01:22 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by funakison View Post
Agreed, the fate of the two princes is not a subject of the OP and the reforms instigated by Richard are contary to the later assesment of certain Tudor personalities whose flair for literature outweighed their historical credentials
A lot of people think of Richard as the King that had murdered his two nephews and they don't think about the Richard as a king that fought for social justice for the poor of the country.
While he was the Duke of Gloucester he had witness the corruption that had gone on in his brothers court. The Woodvilles had become very powerful and bad things happened to people who had got in their way. His brother George Duke of Clarence had also been one of the Woodville victims.
The landowners and nobles before Richard was able to to make new laws of Justice were able to exact fines from the common people before they were found guilty. If prisoners gave the Sheriff more money their sentence was more lenient.
He was very fair to the poor, and this annoyed the Nobles and was why he was brought and sold by Reynold Bray a man who had worked hard to convince the lords that Henry would be their man on behalf of Margaret Beaufort.
During the reign of the Tudors a massive PR campaign was underway to discredit all the good work that he had done for his people.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #10

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I agree with you Crystal, my views on the historical accuracy of a certain Elizabethan dramatist are well known
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