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Richard III

Richard III


by William Shakespeare

Richmond (a.k.a. Henry VII) Timeline and Summary

  • Act 5, Scene 2: We meet Richmond at a camp near Tamworth. He's speaking to his troops, who are on their way to meet Richard's army. He is full of noble and encouraging words, treating his men as peers. He tells the men the good news he's gotten from his stepfather Stanley and reiterates that they go forth to fight a tyrant who has brought ruin to the men's fortunes and the kingdom at large. He urges them to keep heart, as their battle will be for the noble cause of perpetual peace. Richmond speaks loftily, bordering on platitudes, when he says that hope makes kings gods and lesser creatures kings.
  • Act 5, Scene 3: Richmond meets with his men and cheerily announces that the sunset bodes a good day tomorrow.
  • Act 5, Scene 5: Richmond meets with Stanley and asks after his mother's wellbeing. He then decides to take a brief nap so he'll be well rested for the big day.
  • Act 5, Scene 5: Alone before he sleeps, Richmond says his prayers to God. We learn that he sees himself as an instrument of God's justice, and he prays for a victory over the usurpers. He also reiterates that the victory won't be his, but will belong to God. He asks that God defend him in his sleeping and waking.
  • Act 5, Scene 5: After his sweet dream, Richmond awakens and apologizes to his men for seeming to be lazy. He tells his men of his fateful dream of the dead, as it made his soul "jocund" (happy) with all its good omens of their imminent victory over Richard. Learning that it's time for battle, Richmond gives one of the most noble, stirring orations of the play as his pep talk to his troops.
  • Act 5, Scene 5: Richmond appeals to his men to remember that God, the saints, and Richard's victims are on their side. He describes Richard as a murderous tyrant who's betrayed his friends and who soils the crown by wearing it. In a rousing repetition, Richmond stresses that the men on his side are God's soldiers. They fight for peace in their land, against tyranny, for their wives and children and in the name of God. He reminds them that he's willing to die for this cause, and while the attempt against Richard is a bold one, his life is a sacrifice he's willing to risk. He ends on a high note, promising that if they achieve victory, it will be shared among all of them, even the most humble. He then appeals to God and Saint George before plunging into battle.
  • Act 5, Scene 8: Richmond slays Richard in battle.
  • Act 5, Scene 8: A victorious Richmond greets his friends, praising them and God for their good work. Richmond then asks after his stepbrother George Stanley and those who died in battle. He asks that all men of both sides be buried according to their births. All soldiers who fled are to be pardoned. Then, after taking the sacrament, he will finally unite the houses of the White and the Red Rose. Richmond says that England has been under a mad fit of civil war – self-mutilating through its divisions between brothers, fathers, and sons. All of this strife can be solved simply, he says, by his marriage to young Elizabeth, which will be the unity of the two true heirs of each house.
  • Act 5, Scene 8: Richmond then asks God that his heirs be able to keep up peaceful and prosperous days and vanquish any traitors and ne'er do wells who might try to reduce England to her previous bloody state. Having declared peace in the land, Richmond asks that it be long-lasting, ending with an "Amen!"