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Richard III Act 3, Scene 1 Summary

  • On a London street, Buckingham and Richard talk with young Prince Edward, who has just arrived in the city.
  • The young Prince asks why his other uncles have not come to greet him. (He has no idea they've been locked up at Pomfret Castle.)
  • Richard talks trash about them and says little Edward is better off without those guys. 
  • The Prince is greeted by the mayor of London, and he's left to wonder why his mother isn't there on the street with the city's welcoming committee.
  • Just then Lord Hastings enters and explains that Queen Elizabeth is in hiding.
  • Buckingham dismisses the queen's sanctuary as nonsense and instructs Cardinal Bourchier to go persuade the queen to release her youngest son so he can watch his brother be crowned king. As backup, he suggests Hastings go along to forcibly take the boy, should his mother refuse.
  • The Cardinal balks at Buckingham's suggestion – sanctuary is a sacred right. (According to the rules of sanctuary, if you were being hunted by The Man, you could escape into a church or holy place and they couldn't come after you.)
  • Buckingham, so as not to seem the kind of jerk that breaks sacred rights, jumps through some logical hoops. He argues that the queen may have invoked sanctuary, but her son didn't invoke it for himself, and certainly didn't do anything to need it – so taking him out of sanctuary isn't actually blasphemous.
  • The Cardinal, because he's kind of a pushover, is persuaded by Buckingham's logic and goes with Hastings to collect the boy.
  • Prince Edward wonders where he should stay until his coronation day.  His Uncle Richard suggests staying at the Tower of London, one of the strongest fortresses around.
  • Little Edward thinks this is a bad idea.  (The Tower, after all, is also a prison.)
  • Richard mutters under his breath that Edward doesn't have long to live.
  • Prince Edward talks about how he admires Julius Caesar (the Roman leader who was stabbed in the back by his frenemies).  Edward hopes he'll be a brave king. 
  • Hastings and the Cardinal return with Prince Edward's young, snarky brother, the Duke of York.
  • Together the two boys are a juggernaut of wit, and they get on Richard's nerves.
  • Finally the young Duke of York says he doesn't want to stay at the Tower of London because he knows his uncle, George of Clarence, was jailed and murdered there.
  • There's some uncomfortable joking about whether or not the little princes should be afraid of any of their living uncles (like Richard).
  • Finally the boys exit with a crowd to go to the Tower.
  • Left alone, Richard, Buckingham, and Catesby confer, first over what a cheeky pain little York is, and then over their grand plan for Richard to become the next king of England. 
  • Catesby says he doesn't think Hastings is going to be down with their plan to do away with Prince Edward.  Hastings hates the queen's family, but he really loved the Prince's father, the late Edward IV. 
  • Catesby is also sure Lord Stanley will do whatever Hastings does.
  • Buckingham wants Catesby to try to get Hastings on their side anyway. 
  • Buckingham's plan for the next day is to hold two councils: one to discuss Prince Edward's coronation and another secret council to discuss how Richard might steal the crown.
  • Richard wants the queen's captured family members killed at Pomfret castle the next day.
  • Catesby promises to bring back news to Richard's pad, Crosby House, and he exits to do his task.
  • Buckingham wonders what will happen if Hastings won't go along with their plan.
  • In a famous line, Richard gleefully declares that if Hastings doesn't comply, they will simply "Chop off his head!"
  • Even though Richard isn't the king yet, he promises to give Buckingham the earldom of Hereford for his faithful service.
  • Richard and Buckingham run off to have a snack.

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