I have been avoiding reading Shakespeare's Richard III for some time now. I did not want to have this villianized picture of him in my mind, no matter how popular. Preferring the Richard who is loyal, brilliant, loving, and tragic, I kept myself from this portrayal. Maybe neither extreme is completely true, and I quickly discovered that Shakespeare's beautiful dialog makes up for the atrocious level of historical accuracy. I will not delve into the historical missteps. If you know Plantagenet history, you already know what they are. If you don't know and are simply reading Shakespeare for his unequalled language, then you probably don't care.
I found that the characters created in this play were so compelling and their words so well-crafted, that I no longer minded that a true story was not being told. This is no small thing for me to admit, as I normally am peeved by all trails taken from the true road in historical fiction. Richard was written as such a characature of himself that I found it difficult to be offended by the eggagerations made and timelines shifted. This is clearly fiction, but brilliantly written fiction. It was not until the end when Henry Richmond with his few drops of almost royal blood is lauded by those who had died (supposedly all murdered by Richard) as God's choice of a king to remove the foul Plantagenets that I could feel that sensation of mounting irritation. Painting Henry VII as the savior of England was taking it a little too far for me, but Shakespeare, writing to his Tudor audience, surely did not want to lose his own head, or at least his livelihood, by portraying it any other way.