Richard III The Self-Made King Michael Hicks

Publication date:
22 Jun 2021
Yale University Press
448 pages: 197 x 127mm
12pp. b-w plate section
Sales territories:


An "excellent new biography" (Keith Thomas, New York Review of Books) of the wily and formidable prince who unexpectedly became monarch—the most infamous king in British history

“An intricately detailed account of Richard’s every recorded move on his journey from younger son of the powerful Duke of York to the last of England’s mediaeval monarchs.”—Mark Jones, Albion Magazine

The reign of Richard III, the last Yorkist king and the final monarch of the Plantagenet dynasty, marked a turning point in British history. But despite his lasting legacy, Richard only ruled as king for the final two years of his life. While much attention has been given to his short reign, Michael Hicks explores the whole of Richard’s fascinating life and traces the unfolding of his character and career from his early years as the son of a duke to his violent death at the battle of Bosworth.

Hicks explores how Richard—villainized for his imprisonment and probable killing of the princes—applied his experience to overcome numerous setbacks and adversaries. Richard proves a complex, conflicted individual whose Machiavellian tact and strategic foresight won him a kingdom. He was a reformer who planned big changes, but lost the opportunity to fulfill them and to retain his crown.

Michael Hicks is emeritus professor of medieval history at the University of Winchester and has been described as “the greatest living expert on Richard” by BBC History Magazine. His previous publications include The Wars of the Roses.

“The great merit of Hicks's academic study is that he anchors every known move in Richard's career to the (often conflicting) sources, making it easier for readers to form their own judgments.”—John Guy, London Review of Books

“[A]n intricately detailed account of Richard’s every recorded move on his journey from younger son of the powerful Duke of York to the last of England’s mediaeval monarchs.”—Mark Jones, Albion Magazine

“Whilst there have been multiple works published regarding the life of Richard III by Hicks and many others, few could command the authority of this title, or could be as well-argued. Hicks’ narrative rightly places Richard at the centre of events whilst retaining a balanced assessment of his life.”—Rebecca Wheddon, Northern History

“A thoroughly researched biography of one of England’s most infamous kings...Michael Hicks provides the reader with a detailed study of the world that Richard III was born into and lived in, and the political backdrop of a late medieval England dominated by the dynastic struggles of the Wars of the Roses.”—Marina Gerzic, Royal Studies Journal

“Hicks has thrown down the gauntlet.  Never has Richard the man been more convincingly portrayed. Who is ready to challenge the ruthless and driven Plantagenet drawn from the shadows? This Richard is not the creation of what followed his death, but the thirty two years of life that preceded it. A meticulous and thrilling biography, in which character is destiny.”—Leanda de Lisle, author of Tudor: The Family Story

"The best researched, most comprehensive study of Richard III, especially strong on Richard's formative experiences. Hicks presents the findings of a lifetime's archival research with impressive clarity. A must-have for scholars and interested general readers."—John Guy, author of Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years 

“Hicks has written a tour de force, based upon a deep understanding of the vast and divergent secondary literature and a career spent among the archives of fifteenth-century England. The book is at once scholarly and accessible and the definitive biography of this most controversial of kings.”—David Grummitt, author of A Short History of the Wars of the Roses

"The product of almost 50 years of research into Richard and those surrounding him, this is an impressive feat of scholarship from an authority on the tumultuous Fifteenth Century. An important addition to the bookshelves of any student of the Wars of the Roses and of this enduringly compelling monarch."—Lauren Johnson, author of Shadow King: The Life and Death