Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


DASSIER, Jean: England, 1731, Bronze, 41 mm
Obv: Bust of Richard III    RICHARDVS III. D.G. ANG. FR. ET. HIB. REX.
Rev: On sarcophagus, Fury holding crown and dagger, the object of Richard’s ambition and the means of obtaining it, near the two slain princes. On monument, a representation of the Battle of Bosworth Field.
Exergue:  CORONAT. 6. IVL. 1483. MORT. 22 AVG. 1485.
Ref: M.I. i, 19; Eimer 29/22; Eisler I, 259/20; Thompson 28/18;  Weiss BW609

Richard III (1452-1485), also called Richard Plantagenet, was Duke of Gloucester from 1461-1483 and King of England from 1483-1485. He was the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York. He was made Duke of Gloucester after his eldest brother, Edward of York, deposed the Lancastrian monarch Henry VI and assumed the throne as Edward IV. In 1470 Richard and Edward were forced into exile by the Earl of Warwick, who reinstated Henry VI. Richard returned to England, defeating Henry’s forces. Henry was imprisoned and then murdered in the Tower of London, likely with the complicity of Richard, thus securing Edward’s restoration. When Edward died, Richard became protector of the realm for his 12-year nephew Edward V and gained custody of Edward V and Edward’s younger brother. Both of these brothers were subsequently declared illegitimate and ineligible as heirs to the crown. The two princes, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard of York (shown on the reverse of this medal), were imprisoned in the Tower of London, never to again emerge alive, and Richard of Gloucester was crowned Richard III.

In the decisive War of the Roses at the Battle of Bosworth Field (alluded to on the reverse of this medal), pitting the Yorkist Richard against the Lancastrian Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), Richard was killed, making him the last of the Yorkist kings and ushering in the era of the Tudors and, because of the cessation of the War of the Roses, a more stable England.

Richard III has been portrayed by historians and in the literature, notably by Shakespeare, as a monster of unparalleled villainy, although many maintain that his ignominy has been exaggerated.