I cannot recall what Rosemary Sutcliff thought about or indeed knew of Richard III— last week it was reported his remains will now be re-buried in Leicester Cathedral, his skeleton having been found under a car park in Leicester City. Over 500 years ago Sir Thomas More was not over flattering.
Richard, the third son, of whom we now entreat, was in wit and courage, equal with either of them (his elder bothers); in body and prowess, far under them both; little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard favoured of visage, and such as in states called early, in other men otherwise; he was malicious, wrathful, envious and from his birth ever froward*. It is for truth reported, that the duchess, his mother, had so much ado in her travail, that she could not be delivered of him uncut; and that he came into the world with feet forward, as men be borne outward, and (as the fame runneth) also not untoothed.
[*Froward (sic): archaic word meaning difficult to deal with.]
- Source: Sir Thomas More, Richard III, 1515-16; first published 1557. Reproduced in The Oxford Book of Political Anecdotes, OUP, 1986.