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Over the last 10 years or so there has been a resurgence of interest in the English king Richard III, especially after his remains are found in 2012 after being lost or missing for centuries. Prior to this, there are many publications, reports, and documentaries alluding to a “smear” campaign being conducted against the king by either the Tudor monarchs who succeeded him and/or by their confederates and surrogates. It is alleged that this is done in order to promote and make the Tudor dynasty of the 16th Century (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary I, and Elizabeth I) appear to be much better leaders by comparison and to make the social and economic times of Tudor England look better than the bloody and bad times of the 15th Century. The latter is characterized by the continuation and final ending of the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses as well as by Richard’s alleged usurpation of the crown and tyranny during his brief reign (1483-1485). William Shakespear is even accused of being complicit in promoting the Tudor myth, although perhaps unwittingly due to his reliance on the history being disseminated in his time, long after the demise of Richard III. Since fairly advanced and well-reasoned conjectures of economic activity now exist for the 15th and 16th Centuries, this paper examines the economic times of Richard III and his predecessors of the 15th Century and compares these to those of his Tudor successors. The conjectures show poorer economic performance and higher taxation during the Tudor reign compared to the previous century, and this makes one wonder if another reason for the creation of the Tudor myth is to downplay bad economic performance during their reign. It also raises the question as to whether the vilification of Richard III also helps to obscure the bad economy of 16th Century England. When examined from a long run perspective, this poor economic performance can be considered part of the economics discussion of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Richard III’s demise and vilification possibly and partially can be understood in the context of this transition.


This is the pre-print version of the article to be published at a later date.

Original Publication Information

Lambert, Thomas. (2024). "Richard III, the Tudor Myth, and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism."



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