Apart from Shakespeare, Richard appears in many other works of literature. Two other plays of the Elizabethan era predated Shakespeare's work. The Latin-language drama Richardus Tertius (first known performance in 1580) by Thomas Legge is believed to be the first history play written in England. The anonymous play The True Tragedy of Richard III (c. 1590), performed in the same decade as Shakespeare's work, was probably an influence on Shakespeare. Neither of the two plays places any emphasis on Richard's physical appearance, though the True Tragedy briefly mentions that he is "A man ill shaped, crooked backed, lame armed" adding that he is "valiantly minded, but tyrannous in authority". Both portray him as a man motivated by personal ambition, who uses everyone around him to get his way. Ben Jonson is also known to have written a play Richard Crookback in 1602, but it was never published and nothing is known about its portrayal of the king.
Polydore Vergil and Thomas More expanded on this portrayal, emphasising Richard's outward physical deformities as a sign of his inwardly twisted mind. More describes him as "little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed ... hard-favoured of visage". Vergil also says he was "deformed of body ... one shoulder higher than the right". Both emphasise that Richard was devious and flattering, while planning the downfall of both his enemies and supposed friends. Richard's good qualities were his cleverness and bravery. All these characteristics are repeated by Shakespeare, who portrays him as having a hunch, a limp and a withered arm. With regard to the "hunch", the second quarto edition of Richard III (1598) used the term "hunched-backed" but in the First Folio edition (1623) it became "bunch-backed".
Richard's reputation as a promoter of legal fairness persisted, however. william Camden in his Remains Concerning Britain (1605) states that Richard, "albeit he lived wickedly, made good laws". Francis Bacon also states that he was "a good lawmaker for the ease and solace of the Common people". In 1525, Cardinal Wolsey upbraided the aldermen and Mayor of London for relying on a statute of Richard to avoid paying an extorted tax (benevolence) but received the reply 'although he did evil, yet in his time were many good acts made.'
Richard was not without his defenders, the first of whom was George Buck, a descendant of one of the king's supporters, whose life of Richard was completed in 1619. Buck attacked the "improbable imputations and strange and spiteful scandals" related by Tudor Writers, including the alleged deformities and murders. He located lost archival material, including the Titulus Regius, but also claimed to have seen a letter written by Elizabeth of York, according to which Elizabeth sought to marry the king. Though the book was published in 1646, Elizabeth's supposed letter was never produced. Documents which later emerged from the Portuguese Royal archives show that after Queen Anne's death, Richard's ambassadors were sent on a formal errand to negotiate a double marriage between Richard and the Portuguese King's sister Joana, of Lancastrian descent, and between Elizabeth of York and Joana's cousin Duke Manuel (later King of Portugal).
The most significant of Richard's defenders was Horace Walpole. In Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard the Third (1768), Walpole disputed all the alleged murders and argued that Richard may have acted in good faith. He also argued that any physical abnormality was probably no more than a minor distortion of the shoulders. However, he retracted his views in 1793 after the Terror, stating he now believed that Richard could have committed the crimes he was charged with, although Pollard observes that this retraction is frequently overlooked by later admirers of Richard. Other defenders of Richard include the noted Explorer Clements Markham, whose Richard III: His Life and Character (1905) replied to the work of Gairdner. He argued that Henry VII killed the princes and that evidence of other "crimes" was nothing more than rumour and propaganda. An intermediate view was provided by Alfred Legge in The Unpopular King (1885). Legge argued that Richard's "greatness of soul" was eventually "warped and dwarfed" by the ingratitude of others.
Some twentieth-century historians have been less inclined to moral judgement, seeing Richard's actions as a product of the unstable times. In the words of Charles Ross, "the later fifteenth century in England is now seen as a ruthless and violent age as concerns the upper ranks of society, full of private feuds, intimidation, land-hunger, and litigiousness, and consideration of Richard's life and career against this background has tended to remove him from the lonely pinnacle of Villainy Incarnate on which Shakespeare had placed him. Like most men, he was conditioned by the standards of his age." The Richard III Society, founded in 1924 as "The Fellowship of the White Boar", is the oldest of several groups dedicated to improving his reputation. Other contemporary historians still describe him as, a "power-hungry and ruthless politician" who was still most probably "ultimately responsible for the murder of his nephews."
The young king himself had been sent further south to Stony Stratford. At first convivial, Richard had Earl Rivers, his nephew Richard Grey and his associate, Thomas Vaughan, arrested. They were taken to Pontefract Castle, where they were executed on 25 June on the charge of treason against the Lord Protector after appearing before a tribunal led by Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. Earl Rivers had appointed Richard as executor of his will.
Marjorie Bowen's 1929 novel Dickon set the trend for pro-Ricardian literature. Particularly influential was The Daughter of Time (1951) by Josephine Tey, in which a modern detective concludes that Richard III is innocent in the death of the Princes. Other novelists such as Valerie Anand in the novel Crown of Roses (1989) have also offered alternative versions to the theory that he murdered them. Sharon Kay Penman, in her historical novel The Sunne in Splendour, attributes the death of the Princes to the Duke of Buckingham. In the mystery novel The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters (1974) the central plot revolves around the debate as to whether Richard III was guilty of these and other crimes. A sympathetic portrayal of Richard III is given in The Founding, the first volume in The Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
On hearing the news of her brother's 30 April arrest, the dowager queen fled to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Joining her were her son by her first marriage, Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset; her five daughters; and her youngest son, Richard, Duke of York.
One film adaptation of Shakespeare's play Richard III is the 1955 version directed and produced by Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. Also notable are the 1995 film version starring Ian McKellen, set in a fictional 1930s fascist England, and Looking for Richard, a 1996 documentary film directed by Al Pacino, who plays the title character as well as himself. The play has been adapted for television on several occasions.
Improbably, the excavators found the remains in the first location in which they dug at the car park. Coincidentally, they lay almost directly under a roughly painted 'R' on the tarmac. This had existed since the early 2000s to signify a reserved parking space.
In 2004, the British Historian John Ashdown-Hill had used genealogical research to trace matrilineal descendants of Anne of York, Richard's elder sister. A British-born woman who emigrated to Canada after the Second World War, Joy Ibsen (née Brown), was found to be a 16th-generation great-niece of the king in the same direct maternal line. Joy Ibsen's mitochondrial DNA was tested and belongs to mitochondrial DNA haplogroup J, which by deduction, should also be the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup of Richard III. Joy Ibsen died in 2008. Her son Michael Ibsen gave a mouth-swab sample to the research team on 24 August 2012. His mitochondrial DNA passed down the direct maternal line was compared to samples from the human remains found at the excavation site and used to identify King Richard.
His cathedral tomb was designed by the Architects van Heyningen and Haward. The tombstone is deeply incised with a cross, and consists of a rectangular block of white Swaledale fossil stone, quarried in North Yorkshire. It sits on a low plinth made of dark Kilkenny marble, incised with Richard’s name, dates and motto (Loyaulte me lie – loyalty binds me). The plinth also carries his coat of arms in pietra dura. The remains of Richard III are in a lead-lined coffin, inside an outer English oak coffin crafted by Michael Ibsen, a direct descendant of Richard's sister Anne of York, and laid in a brick-lined vault below the floor, and below the plinth and tombstone. The original 2010 raised tomb design had been proposed by Langley`s "Looking For Richard Project" and fully funded by members of the Richard III Society. The proposal was publicly launched by the Society on 13 February 2013 but rejected by Leicester Cathedral in favour of a memorial slab. However, following a public outcry, the Cathedral changed its position and on 18 July 2013 announced its agreement to give King Richard III a raised tomb monument.
In November 2014, the results of the testing were announced, confirming that the maternal side was as previously thought. The paternal side, however, demonstrated some variance from what had been expected, with the DNA showing no links to the purported descendants of Richard's great-great-grandfather Edward III of England through Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort. This could be the result of covert illegitimacy that does not reflect the accepted genealogies between Richard and Edward III or between Edward III and the 5th Duke of Beaufort.
Following the discoveries of Richard's remains in 2012, it was decided that they should be reburied at Leicester Cathedral, despite feelings in some quarters that he should have been reburied in York Minster. His remains were carried in procession to the cathedral on 22 March 2015, and reburied on 26 March 2015 at a religious re-burial Service at which both the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, and the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated. The British Royal Family was represented by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Countess of Wessex. The actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who is a distant relation of the king and later portrayed him in The Hollow Crown television series, read a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Despite this, the image of Richard as a ruthless power-grabber remained dominant in the 18th and 19th centuries. David Hume described him as a man who used dissimulation to conceal "his fierce and Savage nature" and who had "abandoned all principles of honour and humanity". Hume acknowledges that some historians have argued "that he was well qualified for government, had he legally obtained it; and that he committed no crimes but such as were necessary to procure him possession of the crown", but he dismisses this view on the grounds that Richard's exercise of arbitrary power encouraged instability. The most important late 19th-century biographer of the king was James Gairdner, who also wrote the entry on Richard in the Dictionary of National Biography. Gairdner stated that he had begun to study Richard with a neutral viewpoint, but became convinced that Shakespeare and More were essentially correct in their view of the king, despite some exaggerations.
The date of Paston’s letter suggests the marriage was still being negotiated in February 1472. In order to win his brother George’s final consent to the marriage, Richard renounced most of Warwick’s land and property including the earldoms of Warwick (which the Kingmaker had held in his wife’s right) and Salisbury and surrendered to Clarence the office of Great Chamberlain of England. Richard retained Neville’s forfeit estates he had already been granted in the summer of 1471: Penrith, Sheriff Hutton and Middleham, where he later established his marital household.